Chicago summers are so amazing, people actually look forward to Mondays, and not just because of the warm weather. On Mondays and Thursdays, you can catch a free concert downtown in Millennium Park as part of the Downtown Sound series. The concerts, which take place at Pritzker Pavilion, feature an eclectic mix of musicians from Chicago and around the world.
And while you can arrive early and grab a seat up front, there's plenty of room on the lawn to spread out and enjoy a bite to eat. But don't just settle for cheese and crackers - why not sample the unique cuisine Chicago offers while enjoying the equally diverse talent on display? Use this picnic pairing guide and get the most out of your Downtown Sound experience.
The Very Best & Glass Lux
June 4, 6:30 p.m.
The Very Best is a collaboration between two British DJs and Malawian vocalist Esau Mwamwaya that mixes festive African sounds with traditional hip-hop. Together with Glass Lux, they will bring a decidedly tropical and dance-able vibe to the Pritzker Pavilion. While the Loop is light on African cuisine, the pressed Cuban sandwiches of Cafecito (26 E. Congress Pkwy) serve as a suitable median between the two artists. If you're in need of an early-evening pick-me-up, the cafe con leche is not to be missed either.
Andrew Belle is classic Americana, a folk-country musician at the forefront of Chicago's roots music scene. The husband and wife duo (JT Nero and Allison Russell) that comprises Birds of Chicago takes rock and roll and makes it poetry. What better way to enjoy them both than with a food that is both a Chicago and American classic: the Chicago-style hot dog. Stop in at Max's Take Out (20 E. Adams St.) to get your fix, but don't even think about putting ketchup on it!
eighth blackbird is a multi-Grammy-winning orchestral group known for pushing the envelope of classical chamber music. Their sound is rich and multi-faceted, not unlike Indian food, which makes for the perfect pairing. About a 15-minute walk away, Naansense (171 N Wells St.) brings classic Indian dishes into a modern, casual framework.
A young band with a big sound, Snarky Puppy have made a name for themselves in the jazz world in a very short amount of time. Their classic melding of rock and funk with jazz influences is sure to blow you away, even from afar. And what better food to enjoy them with than something equally zesty and varied as Mediterranean cuisine? Oasis Cafe (21 N. Wabash Ave.) serves Middle Eastern and Mediterranean favorites like falafel and shawarma, which also happen to be two of the most portable foods on the planet when packed in a pita.
There are several more bands playing in June and through July. Check out the full Downtown Sound lineup here.