Get a taste of Chicago’s award-winning dining scene at the city’s packed schedule of food festivals, featuring everything from barbecue to international cuisine to Chicago-style hot dogs. Mark your calendars for some of the biggest foodie events, like Taste of Chicago and Chicago Gourmet, or enjoy the summer block party vibes at a neighborhood food festival.
Check out some of the can’t-miss food fests and events in Chicago each year.
Taste of Chicago
Chicago’s biggest food festival and one of the largest outdoor food events in the country, Taste of Chicago is an epic eating extravaganza in the city’s downtown. Some of the city’s most beloved and iconic local restaurants set up shop in lakefront Grant Park, along with rotating pop-up restaurants, local food trucks, and live chef demos. And don’t miss the free concerts featuring big-name acts at the Petrillo Music Shell.
This five-star culinary event is the city’s quintessential fine-dining festival. Chicago Gourmet celebrates great food and wine, showcasing some of the finest restaurants in the city. The fest is set on the Harris Theater Rooftop in Millennium Park, where fest-goers mix and mingle with top chefs, TV food personalities, master sommeliers, and winemakers. The multi-day fest includes the crowd-favorite Hamburger Hop and other themed events.
International food festivals
Mole de Mayo
The annual Mole de Mayo in Chicago’s historic Pilsen neighborhood put a spotlight on this traditional Mexican staple. This outdoor fest each May also features a number of the city’s finest food vendors, and an open-air market brimming with the wares of local businesses and artisans. And don’t miss the lucha libre wrestling ring for an over-the-top show.
Lincoln Park Greek Fest
You don’t have to travel all the way to the Mediterranean to find authentic Greek cuisine. Experience live music, dance performances, and traditional dishes — like zippy hummus, tasty gyros, and baklava galore — at the annual Lincoln Park Greek Fest every June. Opa! The food fest also includes a craft fair, live music, and Greek folk dancers.
Chinatown Summer Fair
Sample both traditional and contemporary Chinese fare at this annual summer extravaganza in the heart of historic Chinatown. Chinatown Summer Fair in July brings together the neighborhood’s best restaurants, plus mesmerizing entertainment like traditional dragon and lion dances and live music.
Ginza Holiday Festival
The annual Ginza Holiday Festival celebrates all things Japanese each August with delicious food and spectacular cultural arts performances, including Minyo dancers, Taiko drumming, and other groups. Foodies should head to the huge teriyaki cookout, where they can dig into traditional teriyaki dishes and other dishes.
Tacos y Tamales Festival
Chow down at the Tacos y Tamales Festival — a July street fest based on a traditional Mexican market known as the Tianguis. Festival-goers are immersed in the sights and aromas of Mexico, with local vendors selling their unique take on traditional dishes. The two performance stages feature live music throughout the weekend, with traditional acts during the day, interactive dance performances, and high-energy Latin rock into the night.
Lincoln Square Greek Fest
Expect plenty of “philoxenia” (Greek hospitality and generosity of spirit) at the family-friendly Lincoln Square Greek Fest. Highlights include classic Greek dishes, dancing, and an entertainment stage featuring a mix of both pop/rock tribute bands and Greek music and dance troupes. There’s also beer, wine, and other beverages, activities for kids, and arts and crafts.
Little Italy Festa
The August Little Italy Festa is all about la dolce vita. Longtime family-owned restaurants and neighborhood newcomers serve up some of the best Italian food in the city. Not only that, but fest-goers can play Italian card games, compete in meatball and cannoli-eating competitions (of course, not at the same time), and buy handmade art, jewelry, decor, and other merchandise.
Taste of Greektown
Taste of Greektown in August blends old-world traditions, delicious Hellenic cuisine from neighborhood eateries, and a big dose of Greek culture every summer. Taking place in the heart of Chicago’s Greek community in the West Loop, the fest features an array of dance troupes, lively Greek bands, a gyro eating contest, and more.
Taste of Polonia
Get your fix of all things Polish — kielbasa, pierogies, potato pancakes, cabbage rolls, blintzes, and more. Taste of Polonia is the oldest Polish festival in Chicago, and the largest Polish festival in the United States. The fest takes place outside the Copernicus Center each September in Jefferson Park, with not only authentic eats, but also a great selection of specialty beers, over 30 live bands on four stages, and traditional folk dancing and cultural performances.
Lakeview Taco Fest
Whether you prefer yours with a hard or soft shell, the August Lakeview Taco Fest in the bustling Southport Corridor is a wildly popular addition to Chicago’s food fest scene. Sample your way through an array of local taco vendors, then cast your vote for Chicago’s best taco. After, check out the two music stages, Mexican wrestlers, and family-friendly activities.
Celebrate Chicago heritage, German style. One of Chicago’s most popular celebrations of fall and all things Bavarian, Oktoberfest Chicago is held in and around the stunning St. Alphonsus Church in Lakeview every September. Get your fill of traditional German specialties, like brats, pretzels and, of course, beer.
Food fests for meat lovers
Windy City Smokeout
Expect the hottest country stars and a whole lotta smoked meat at Chicago’s annual Windy City Smokeout. This rockin’ summer event does three things extremely well: barbecue, country music, and craft beer. In fact, Forbes called it “one of the best BBQ events anywhere.” The culinary line-up includes some of the best local pitmasters, along with visiting pros from around the country bringing all different styles of barbecue.
Celebrate (and feast on) the top chicken wings in town! WingOut Chicago each September gives you the opportunity to taste what the city’s best restaurants are serving up in the wing department. Discover your favorite flavor from sweet barbecue to spicy habanero, while enjoying adult beverages, live music, and a fun party atmosphere.
Dig into some of the best barbecue from top rib pitmasters at the August Ribfest Chicago in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood. Chow down and compare rib nuances — sweet or smoky, tender or charred, dry rubbed or dripping in sauce — and see who gets awarded top marks from the celebrity judges.
Roscoe Village Burger Fest
Savor some of the city’s best burgers and a rockin’ musical lineup are in the spotlight for the annual Roscoe Village Burger Fest each July. In addition to flippin’ good food and playing great music, arts & crafts, and a “Kids’ Zone” are on the weekend menu in Roscoe Village.
Windy City Hot Dog Fest
The humble frankfurter is celebrated at this outdoor event, held in the Portage Park neighborhood in June. The Windy City Hot Dog Fest features a music stage with local and regional acts, kids’ activity area, arts and crafts vendors, and multiple vendors selling their best hot dogs, from classic Chicago-style to creative options.
Great American Lobster Fest
Live lobsters, live music, and plenty of libations define the Great American Lobster Fest, the Midwest’s largest seafood festival. The menu at the waterfront weekend event includes delicious options like lobster rolls, lobster mac and cheese, seafood tacos, ceviche, and beyond. And you get all that, surrounded by the sweeping lakefront views at Navy Pier.
Neighborhood food fests
Taste of Randolph Street
Located in the culinary hotspot dubbed “Restaurant Row” in the West Loop, Taste of Randolph Street in June features some of the city’s best-known chefs and top-rated restaurants, including Girl and the Goat, Publican Quality Meats, City Winery, and many more. This is a bucket-list fest for any foodie.
Taste of River North
Enjoy this alfresco event in a neighborhood known for outstanding dining options. Taste of River North is a summer food fest featuring some of the area’s top downtown restaurants, plus two full days of live music, wine tastings, a dog parade, and more.
Flavors of Albany Park
This global neighborhood is truly a melting pot of cultures from around the world. And the local dining scene reflects that. Each June, Flavors of Albany Park showcases more than 60 neighborhood restaurants for the ultimate multicultural tasting experience.
Taste of Lincoln Avenue
One of the city’s largest and most popular summer celebrations, this trailblazing fest celebrates has been a Chicago staple for decades. Each July, Taste of Lincoln Avenue features the neighborhood’s top restaurants, as well as more than 30 music acts on three stages, and activities for the kids.
Chicago Food Truck Fest
This family-friendly food festival in the South Loop highlights the very best of Chicago’s booming food truck scene. Now in its 10th year, Chicago Food Truck Festfeatures more than 50 unique food trucks serving up all kinds of cuisines and specialties.