Taste of Chicago Begins Today

It is very big.
It is very big. Photo: Taste of Chicago

We spent a good deal of the winter discussing every detail about Taste of Chicago — except the food. Former Mayor Daley tried valiantly to privatize the festival, but balked after each one wanted to charge an entrance fee. Instead, the festival was passed off to the Chicago Park District, and the budget was slashed. Thanks to the huge crowds and generally lackluster food offerings, food writers and critics already didn’t love the festival, and the changes shouldn’t help matters much. Still, Taste of Chicago is the “world’s largest food festival,” and there are definitely a few places you should check out. Take a look at our quick guide before you make the trek.

Taste of Chicago takes place in Grant Park from June 22 to July 3. The festival will be open from 11 a.m until 8:30 p.m on every day except July 3, when it closes at 6 p.m.

The festival is legitimately set up for you to get a taste of a variety of things. Though you can definitely chow down on a whole turkey leg if you want, each vendor will be serving two smaller items for $2 or less.

Entrance to the festival is free, but you will need to buy tickets to get food, which includes a $2 charge for “Taste amenities.” Tickets are sold in strips of 12 tickets for $8.

59 Restaurants are participating this year, but only a few that are really worth checking out. Skip the greasy deep-dish slices, and look out for these instead:
- Iyanze, Jerk Chicken
- Lao Sze Chuan, Dry Chili Chicken
- Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen, Apple Pie Square
- Vee-Vee’s African Restaurant, Jollof Rice with Sauteed Goat Meat

We included the map above, but check out the much bigger version here.

We’ll be checking back in next week to see how it all goes, but let us know what you think of Taste of Chicago 2011.

Taste of Chicago Begins Today