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 quintessential fine-dining festival. Chicago Gourmet celebrates great food and wine, showcasing some of the finest restaurants in the city. The fest is set in Millennium Park, surrounded by the stunning downtown skyline, where visitors mix and mingle with top chefs, TV food personalities, master sommeliers, and winemakers.
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 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. Take a break from eating and watch a ‘professional’ wrestling exhibition at the lucha libre wrestling ring while you’re there.
Lincoln Park Greek Fest
You don’t have to travel all the way to the Mediterranean to find authentic Hellenic cuisine. Experience live music, dance performances, and authentic dishes — like zippy hummus, tasty gyros, and baklava galore — at the annual Lincoln Park Greek Fest. Opa!
Chinatown Summer Fair
Sample both traditional and contemporary Chinese fare at this annual summer extravaganza in the heart of historic Chinatown. Chinatown Summer Fair brings together the neighborhood’s best restaurants, plus mesmerizing entertainment like traditional dragon and lion dances and live music.
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 prepared by parishioners, 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.
Ginza Holiday Festival
The annual Ginza Holiday Festival celebrates all things Japanese with delicious food and spectacular cultural arts performances, including Japanese folk dance and Taiko drumming. Foodies should head to the huge teriyaki cookout, where they can dig into traditional teriyaki dishes that have been made with the same family recipes for decades.
Tacos y Tamales Festival
Chow down at the Tacos y Tamales Festival — a 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.
Little Italy Festa
The 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 Italian-themed art, Christmas ornaments, and other merchandise.
Taste of Greektown
Taste of Greektown blends old world traditions with modern food trends. Delicious Hellenic cuisine from neighborhood eateries takes center stage at this acclaimed festival. Expect an array of spirits, dancing, live music, and family-friendly games throughout the heart of Chicago’s Greek community in the West Loop.
Taste of Polonia
Get your fix of all things Polish — polska 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. Each year, it takes over the grounds of the massive civic center 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.
Sam Adams Lakeview Taco Fest
Whether you prefer yours with a hard or soft shell, Sam Adams Lakeview Taco Fest in the bustling Southport Corridor is a 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.
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, Rolling Stone commented that this event shines “a light on the next generation of Nashville heavyweights,” while Forbes called it, “one of the best BBQ events anywhere.”
Celebrate (and feast on) the top chicken wings in town! Wingout Chicago in Old Town gives you the opportunity to taste what the best restaurants are serving up in the wing department. Discover your favorite flavor from sweet barbecue to spicy habanero, while enjoying adult beverages and live reggae music.
Dig into some of the best barbecue from top rib pitmasters at the annual Ribfest Chicago in Chicago’s Northcenter. 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. 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. 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 specialty encased meats.
Great American Lobster Fest
Live lobsters, live music, and plenty of libations define the Great American Lobster Fest, the Midwest’s largest seafood festival. And you get all that, surrounded by the sweeping lakefront views at Navy Pier.
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. Get your fill of traditional German specialties, like brats, pretzels and, of course, beer.
Neighborhood food fests
Taste of Randolph Street
Located in the culinary hotspot dubbed “Restaurant Row” in the West Loop, Taste of Randolph Street 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
Head to the banks of the Chicago River to enjoy this alfresco event in a neighborhood known for outstanding dining options. Along with an extensive list of renowned restaurant vendors offering sizable tasting portions, River North Live! features non-stop live music highlighted by an electrifying party and tribute bands, kitchen demos, local artisans, and plenty of cold Goose Island beer.
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. 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 highlights Chicagoans’ growing obsession with food trucks. Expect to see in more than 50 trucks catering to every type of craving at the Chicago Food Truck Fest.