Taste of Chicago

Taste of Chicago began as a humble food festival on July 4, 1980, and has since grown into a five day food celebration that attracts more than 3,000,000 people each summer. Well, the signature Chicago event begins today and runs through the weekend, foodies rejoice! With a growing culinary reputation on the national stage, this event is a platform for showcasing Chicago's wonderfully diverse restaurant scene. This year, Taste welcomes a lineup of 35 vendors, a wide spectrum of worldwide cuisines, and the imminently enormous crowd. How do you navigate the many tastes of Taste of Chicago? Let us guide you.

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The Rookies 

Produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in coordination with the Illinois Restaurant Association, Taste of Chicago is set to feature a handful of delicious newcomers. Bombay Spice Grill & Wine (450 N Clark St.) presents healthy Indian fare to festers, while Chicago's French Market favorite Flip Crêpes will be featuring its own crepes for the first time at Taste. Chef Tony Hu's Lao Ma La Chinese restaurant, 2017 S Wells St, will be new to the scene as well. Wishbone Restaurant, with two Chicago locations, considers itself "southern reconstruction cooking" with healthy summer dining options and is sure to serve up classic southern dishes with a modern and (a tad) healthier twist. There seems to be a trend towards healthier choice selections and lighter food samples in many of Taste 2013's menus.

The Music

Robin Thicke

If you like your meat served on a stick and your concerts outside, then today is your day. The City of Chicago and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events presents fun., Robin Thicke, Robert Plant, Jill Scott and Neon Trees as this year's headline entertainment. Tickets in the seating area of the pavilion will run $25 a pop while lawn seating remains free-99. Tickets can be purchased at tasteofchicago.us, you'll be thrilled to know that there are no additional fees or surcharges added to the $25 ticket.

Pop-Up Restaurants

Taste of Chicago

Taste of Chicago will once again include the popular feature of Pop-Ups, restaurants that "pop up" (get it?) for just a day or two. The Pop-Up restaurants, presented by WTTW11's Check, Please!, include Terzo Piano, Punky's Pizza & Pasta, Pecking Order and more.

New restaurants participating in the Pop-Ups program this year are: Hearty Restaurant, Taco Joint Urban Taqueria & Cantina, and Kilwin's Chocolates. They will be located on Columbus Drive.

the Mazda6 Celebrity Chef du Jour

Paul Kahan
This daily dining experience offers a sit-down, three course meal by one of the city's top chefs. This year's menu of celebrity chefs is: Rick Bayless, Carrie Nahabedian, Giuseppe Tentori, a special pairing of Gale Gand and The Hearty Boys and the newest James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef Award winner for 2013, Paul Kahan. For more information on the program, click here.

A True Taste  of Chicago

Hotdogs

Throughout the menu, you'll be sure to find influences ranging from African to German, Indian to Italian, Vietnamese to Caribbean, but through all of these exciting options are of course some staple Chicago local favorites: Eli's Cheesecake, Gold Coast Dogs, and Lou Malnati's. Be not afraid, tasters! When you're feeling adventurous but a little nervous about sampling, go for the "Taste Of" portion to get a quick taste of something new!

The Fine Print

Admission to Taste of Chicago is free, with food and beverage tickets on sale for $8 for 12 tickets; these tickets are available for purchase at Dominicks' grocery stores throughout the Chicagoland area, as well as at the festival. Go forth, taste boldly, and enjoy the world-renowned Chicago culinary scene in festival form. For more information on the event, click here.

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