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••• The International Writers Magazine: Food and Travel

Taste of Chicago
• Fred C. Wilson III
What is the biggest, the most popular, and most well attended culinary event in the world…take a guess…give up? The Taste of Chicago is the world’s largest outdoor food fair. It’s the quintessential event of Chicago summers.

Taste Chicago

The five-day food fest offers more than 300 different culinary delights from over 70 restaurants throughout the city. Though admission is FREE food and drinks will cost you. Ticket prices vary according to food sample sizes. All major credit cards are accepted for food purchases and all events. This citywide gastronomical extravaganza opens on July 6th and goes through July 10th. The Taste of Chicago is located in Grant Park with the borders being between Monroe Avenue and Balbo Drive to the north/south and between Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive to the east/west. Hosted along the city’s beautiful lakefront the hours are from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays. To find out what this year’s Taste of… features go to ‘Taste of Chicago 2016’ ( This site contains a wealth of information of the ‘Taste’ and Chicago history past, present and future.

Crowds at Taste This world class food fair has something for everybody. It’s guaranteed to offer delicacies to please everybody palate. If you consider yourself a gastronome the ‘Taste of…’ is right for you. If you came for the main event-the food-you came to the right place; Taste has over 70 food booths each representing some of Chicago’s finest American and ethnic restaurants. In a city that boasts of great eats according to a number of Internet/newspaper articles Chicago has the best food on the planet…now that’s saying something! In the fine food department I’m what you may call a ‘heavy weight’…331 pounds worth; so I know good food when I taste it.

According to most US newspapers and magazines Chicago was voted the fattest city in America for the year 2007! We know how to eat here! Throughout most the year including the so-called summer months it's cold. The few warm very late spring and summer days we do get her it's hotter than the blazes of Perdition; very hot. Global Warming appears to have skipped Chicago.

Five-Day Restaurants

Abundance Bakery, Beat Kitchen, Billy Goat Tavern & Grill, BJ’s Market & Bakery, Bobak Sausage Company, Caffe Gelato, Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill, Chicago’s Dog House, Churro Factory, Connie’s Pizza, Dia De Los Tamales, Dinky Donuts, Inc., The Eli’s Cheesecake Co., Farmer’s Fridge, Franco’s Ristorante, Frannie’s Cafe Inc., The Fudge Pot, Gold Coast Dogs, Ivanza, Kasia’s Deli, La Bomba Restaurant, La Mexicana, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, Miller’s Pub, Oak Street Beach Cafe, O’Brien’s Restaurant & Bar, Porkchop, Punky’s Pizza & Pasta, Ricobene’s on 26th Street, Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs, Star of Siam, Texas de Brazil, Tuscany, Vee-Vee’s African Restaurant

Pop-Up Restaurants

Armi, BRGRBELLY, Demera Ethiopian Restaurant, Doom Street Eats, Garifuna Flava: A Taste of Belize, Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Jin Ju Restaurant, MAD Social, nana, Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine, Pork & Mindy’s, Puffs of Doom, Riva, Rojo Gusano, Stan’s Donuts & Coffee, Taco in a Bag, Yum Dum

Food Trucks

Auntie Vee’s, Beavers Coffee & Donuts, Bruges Brothers, Chicago Lunchbox, Da Lobsta, DönerMen, The Fat Shallot, Firecakes Donuts, Gino’s Steaks Truck, Giordano’s, The Happy Lobster Truck, Harold’s Chicken, Jack’s Fork in the Road, La Cocinita, La Jefa, La Patrona, The Lifeway Kefir Shop, Ms. Tittle’s Cupcak

When you come to The Taste you can sample foods from around the world. We have Bolat’s African cuisine, the Abby Pub, Zam Zam’s, C’est Si Bon-that’s French folks, the Star of Siam that’s Thai, Tutto Italiano, Robinson’s Ribs-yummy! Harold’s fried Chicken, Ricobene’s, Legniappe Creole Cajun Joynt, the Fireplace Inn-elegant-elegant-all the way to the Bobtail Ice Cream Company; and there are plenty PLENTY more… much more-but a word of caution: BRING $$$.

There’s so much to sample that it would be a cryin’ shame to run out of cash. No problem. There’s plenty of ATM’s around for you to get some ready cash, but if you’re counting calories - DON’T COME.

* If you worry about anaphylaxis shock upon eating peanuts, corn, gluten, shellfish, wheat or dairy I suggest not eating at the Taste. But come for the atmosphere at least.

The Taste of Chicago is all about eating, eating, and more eating-turkey legs! Corn of the cob! Barbeque RIBS! REAL Italian pizza! Japanese food, lobster, fried fish, Chinese, Korean, Thai foods; you name it our chefs can ‘burn’ it (cook it). Why even city celeb Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef Art Smith and wine expert Alpana Singh’s attends this annual event… Polish, Middle Eastern, some good ole’ Soul Food, Puerto Rican, Chilean, Jamaican, Swedish, Mexican, Spanish tapas, Philippine they serve it ALL -you name it they got it- in fact this event has turned binge eating into one of the Seven Lively Arts instead of one of the Seven Deadly Sins. It’s an event where food is king/queen. It’s a once a year thing where you can just kick back, stuff yourself, and have fun doing it. Besides you always have the rest of the year until the other annual eat-‘em-outs (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s) to work off the excess tonnage you gained - right?

Throughout Grant Park - the site of the Taste-you can take food breaks to savor some of the many side attractions as you regain your stamina build up your strength your momentum to go back and do some really serious gorging. Each day throughout the 10 day event (June 29th thru July 8th) the Taste has something new by way of entertainment.

Are you a music lover? You can listen to a variety of performing groups playing music ranging from Country & Western, Classical concerts with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, POP, Rock, Disco, Chicago styled Blues, to R & B at the Petrillo Music Shell at Millennium Park adjacent to the fair grounds. A generous sampling of bands and individual performers will be on hand at the Taste of Chicago.

Petrillo Music Shell Lineup

Wednesday, July 6: The Roots, Donnie Trumpet
Thursday, July 7: KONGOS, Elle King, Transviolet
Friday, July 8: The Decemberists, Shakey Graves
Saturday, July 9: Billy Idol, Sons of the Silent Age

Are you a music lover? You can listen to a variety of performing groups playing music ranging from Country & Western, Classical concerts with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, POP, Rock, Disco, Chicago styled Blues, to R & B at the Petrillo Music Shell at Millennium Park adjacent to the fair grounds. A generous sampling of bands and individual performers will be on hand at the Taste of Chicago.

A word of caution - DON’T DRIVE! Take a CTA (city’s public transportation system) bus or elevated train to the Taste. Parking will be a major hassle so take it from a native-take-the-train or the bus to Downtown (Chicago’s central business district) and leave the driving to the professionals.

One more word of caution - if you’re an out-of-towner don’t you dare act like one! No words will suffice to say that Chicago has a well deserved ‘rep’ for being one rough place despite that at the Taste there will be legions of blue with white shirted police officers to supervise the event. So blend in. Don’t you ever look or dress like a ‘mark’ (a moving target). This writer nearly learned that lesson the hard way when doing a story in Rome, Italy so be careful! You can reminisce and get laid back as much as you want to when you get home. Use common sense; they don’t call this place ‘Chiraq’ for nothing. Last year when I was on my way home from church I was strong armed by 3 crooks and robbed of some ‘change,’ my credit cards along with my wallet. I was ‘caught napping.’ Naturally I made out a police report which came to naught. The funny part was a few days later my wallet and all information was returned to me via the mail, now get this, another credit along with a Starbucks gift card was included with my returned wallet! Even our thieves have a sense of humor. Though it bruised my pride I just didn’t think it would have been to my best interest to attack the three 20 somethings who would more than likely would have done me in. Like I said when visiting our fair city take care. The ass you save will be your own.

Alcoholic beverages are sold during the Taste of…with the usual state rules applied - drink but don’t over do it. We want you to be guests of our fair city’s many fine hotels not at Cook County Jail so be civilized about it. The legal drinking age here is 21.

Don’t like humongous crowds? Go take a lake shore or city skyline boat tour. Wanna’s see our world famous skyline from Lake Michigan - take a boat tour for some of the best world class photo OPS on planet earth! Boats depart from Buckingham Fountain and from other strategic locations along Grant Park and along Michigan Avenue Downtown on a regular basis days and evenings. The rides are cheap, provide tourists with reasonable amounts of time for the price on the lake, and at night you get to see all the pretty lights that light up the city from the water…simply breathtaking…I was raised in Chicago (I’m a native San Franciscan.) and still I find the boat ride to be right near the top of my personal list of the wonders of the world. My beloved wife and I will be celebrating our Silver Wedding Anniversary on July 5th with our annual Wedding Mass of Thanksgiving, a city cruise up the Chicago River and dinner at ‘Gibson’s’ the city’s primer steakhouse!

Another word of caution; Chicago is #1 in the nation for bedbugs so beware and check your luggage upon departure. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to check you bed in your hotel room either. Bedbugs are costly to get rid of and virtually indestructible. For the past two weeks we had to seal and heat our apartment to get rid of those little bastards. The process is costly, time consuming and exhaustive. Try moving every piece of furniture, food items, art works from walls, hiring people to help you vacate the premises as well as paying big bucks to stay in hotels until the bugs are exterminated at 70 years old. This ‘legacy’ could all be yours if you take the little buggers back to your city and your family. Friends and neighbors back home will treat you like a leper so urge you to check your hotel room and all baggage. This article was supposed to be about our anniversary trip to the Canadian Niagara Falls not the Taste if the truth be told. The bugs nixed that article.

Are you afraid of deep water? Then take a Chicago River cruise. If something were to happen as you sailed down the Chicago River, look on the bright side, you won’t have too far to swim back to shore. Just kidding, but on a serious note historically speaking the last time our city had something really bad happen to sightseeing tourists was way back in 1915 when the Eastland capsized and drowned hundreds of tourists while docked near the Clark Street bridge four years after the Titanic went under. The sinking of the Eastland was one, if not the worse maritime tragedy in world history. Last year was the 100th anniversary of that horrible disaster. There was a special commemoration service event held. I couldn’t attend since it was private for family of the victims only. It was a very sad day...

pizza Just a brief history of The Taste of Chicago the city’s premier gut busting event; it all started on the 4th of July 1980 and since then it regularly attracts upwards of some 3,000,000 people each year. Folks from all over the world come to Chicago to attend the Taste and enjoy selecting from the previously mentioned 300 plus food items from more than 70 different restaurants. What started out as a one time thing has since ballooned into a global festival of food with people from all over the world coming to the Windy City just for the edibles.

I think most people think Chicago got its nickname because of the winter wind aka ‘The Hawk’ that sweeps in from the far Arctic reaches to freeze the daylights out of us during late November through March but no…not so; lemme’ me-speak ‘Chicagoese’ to educate you; it was during the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 held here, now THAT was a REAL worlds fair! According to Wikipedia; The City of Chicago has been known by many nicknames, but it is most widely recognized as The Windy City. Possible explanations for this particular nickname include Chicago's weather, politics, World's Fair, and rivalry with Cincinnati. The earliest known references to the "Windy City" are from 1876, and involve Chicago's rivalry with Cincinnati. A popular myth states that the term "Windy City" was first used by New York Sun editor Charles Dana in the bidding for the 1893 Columbian Exposition. The popularity of the nickname has endured, even after the Cincinnati rivalry and the Columbian Exposition both ended, enough of city history-back to the Taste. For a complete listing of all restaurants, events, and other happenings at the Taste of Chicago please log into the following websites: Taste of Chicago: City of Chicago’


In the mean time I’ll see you at the Taste of Chicago!
© Fred C Willson 111

Driehaus Museum - Edwardian Era - Fred C Wilson 111
The Dreihaus Museum is a living testament to a much quieter time when quality craftsmanship was the measure of a person. It’s a study of the Gilded Age and all things Edwardian.

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