Tastes of the Taste of Chicago

I'm a Minnesota State Fair kind of girl. I grew up attending the third largest state fair in the country religiously. I even wrote my college entrance exam on the cream puffs I enjoy every year from the stand on the corner of the Midway across from Famous Dave's BBQ. The state-wide party features every-food-on-a-stick, and every year I have a ritual: I buy the discount coupon book, print off a full-page map, and plot out every single food stand I want to stop at during my day on the grounds. My record is eating 26 food items in one day.

So when I moved to Chicago and heard about the Taste of Chicago, I thought, "Nah, this will never compare to the Minnesota State Fair...why go waste my time and money?"

Until a friend told me I had to go to "truly experience Chicago." Keen on the challenge, I figured because I have been living here seven years now, I should probably "truly experience Chicago."

So we headed to the city Thursday night where people were standing shoulder to shoulder in Grant Park. As I took in the sights (lots and lots of quality people watching out there), sounds (Robin Thicke was playing at the Taste Thursday night - cue bass bumping, subwoofing, and crowd-swooning), and smells (so many smells happening down there - most of them good), I made friends with several Cubs fans (impressive because I bleed Cardinal red), realized how friendly most Chicagoans are when they have food and beer in their hands, and discovered the glorious "taste" portions of foods from restaurants all around Chicago. What's unique about the Taste of Chicago is that pop-up food stands literally represent restaurants that exist all around the Chicago area - so I can go find the foods I love after the festival is all over!

Here are the top three foods I experienced at the Taste of Chicago this year (plus a gallery of all 15 items I sampled in 3 hours, below):

1. Lemon Gelato / Chocolate hazelnut Bacio from Caffe Gelato

2. Peach cobbler from BJ's Market and Bakery

3. Box of sweet cherries from Dominick's

Don't miss out on the fun of the Taste of Chicago - it truly is a taste of the city, and ends tomorrow.

Check out the Taste's daily schedule and food map, and let me know - have you been to the taste? What's YOUR favorite taste of the Taste?

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