Fall Preview Week 2013: Chicago's Ten Best Food Festivals

Fall Preview Week 2013: Chicago's Ten Best Food Festivals
Chicago Gourmet Food Festival in Millennium Park

The cool days of fall signal a shift in dining choices. Crisp apples and apple crisp, rich burgers with even richer toppings, fast food, slow food, more food--piling on the layers, not unlike the squirrels, as we prepare ourselves for the cold days of winter.  So check out what's cooking in Chicago this fall with our list of the ten best food festivals and events and what makes them great on day two of Show Me Chicago's Fall Preview Week.

1. The Best of the Chefs

Bon Appéti's sixth annual Chicago Gourmet, always a hot ticket and already sold out for Saturday, September 28, features 175 of Chicago's top chefs cooking up their gourmet specialties for the masses who invade Millennium Park for the crown jewel of food fests. Chicago Gourmet showcases Chicago's world-class culinary community via two days of food, wine, spirits and beer tastings; celebrity chef demos; educational seminars; book signings and more. Attendees have the chance to interact with hundreds of culinary experts and eat and drink to their hearts content. Saturday, September 28 from 12 to 6 p.m. and Sunday, September 29 from 12 to 5 p.m.

Click here for tickets. General-admission tickets: $159 for a One-Day Pass per person. General admission allows full access to the main festival area. Grand Cru tickets which allow access to an area of premium wines are $199 per person + regular admission.

2. The Best Beers for Fall

Chicago Botanic Garden is holding an Autumn Brew tasting party in McGinley Pavilion overlooking their beautiful gardens. Guests can sample the best brews of the season accompanied by lite fare and additional beers by the bottle available for purchase.
  Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door ($5 off for Garden members) Ticket purchase includes tasting sheet and glass.  Thursday, October 10, 
6 to 8 p.m.
 Lake-Cook Rd. just East of Edens in Glencoe. Parking fees apply.  Click here for tickets.

3. The Best of the Food Trucks

Chicago's popular Food Truck Social of the past two years has a new name and a new location. The newly named Chicago Food Social will take place in the Kendall College parking lot. In addition to your favorite food trucks the fest will feature some brick-and-motar restaurants plus a cocktail lounge and live music. 
 All for the very affordable price of $5  Fee, benefits Share Our Strength. 
Goose Island.  Saturday, September 21, 11 a.m. to 10 a.m. 900 N. Branch St., near Chicago Ave. and Halsted.

4. The Best Tacos

It looks like a soft landing for the first weekend of fall (officially September 22) at Lakeview's Taco Fest in the bustling Southport Corridor. Taco Fest will feature more than a dozen seasonal beers on tap to compliment the tacos at tents throughout the event. There will also be beer and taco pairings, an activity/play area for kids, and visitors can text their vote for Chicago's "Best Taco."  Saturday and Sunday, September 21 and 22, on Southport between Addison (3600 N) and Newport (3500 N). Hours are noon-10:00 p.m. on Saturday and noon-9:00 p.m. on Sunday.

5. The Best Burgers in Chicago

If you think $115 is a lot to pay for a burger, you may be right. But how about 15 burgers from Chicago's most creative chefs (plus, wine, beer and spirits).  Get ready for round six of  Chicago’s Burger Wars, at this year's sixth annual Hamburger Hop featuring the following of Chicago's finest vying for Chicago's best burger: Jim August, Cortland's Garage, Peter Coenen, The Gage, Joe Farina, Rosebud Restaurants, Christian Fantoni, Phil Stefani's 437 Rush , Rick Gresh, David Burke's Primehouse, John Hogan, Keefer's, Carlo Lamagna, Benny's Chop House, Bernie Laskowski, Park Grill, Radames Lugo, Stanley's Kitchen & Tap, Jeff Mauro, Host of the Food Network's "Sandwich King" and "$24 in 24", Ryan Pitts, RL, Joseph Rosetti, Harry Caray's Restaurant Group, Matt Troost, Three Aces (People's Choice Winner, Hamburger Hop 2012), Genaro Villa, Hackney's Restaurant, Scott Walton, Howells & Hood. Click here for tickets.

6. The Best of Local

Celebrate all things Chicago at Andersonville's City Made Fest.  The fest is the first all-local street festival that highlights Chicago artisans and musicians along with Chicago-made craft brews.  $5 suggested gate donation.  Noon to 9 pm, September 21  and  22,  runs on Clark from 5000 to 5100 north (from Argyle to Carmen).

7. The Best of James Beard

Named the "Dean of American cookery" by the New York Times in 1954, James Beard set the groundwork for today's foodie nation.  On Sunday, September 22nd, The Signature Room at the 95th will be hosting a James Beard Preview Dinner presented by Executive Chef, Rosalia Barron. The night will include a reception with hors d'oeuvres and a five-course menu paired with exceptional wines. The event will begin at 6 p.m. and tickets are offered at $95 per person. Call 312-280-0472 for reservations.

8. The Best of Chicago Vendors

The 1st Annual Vendy Awards in Chicago features Chicago's favorite sidewalk chefs in a head-to-head for the title of best street vendor. The inspiration for this fun fest is borrowed from New York City's popular Vendy Fest Street Food Championship.  Nominations for the city's favorite chef can be made in advance here.
$55/adult, $35/child.  Other ticket options available.  Saturday, October 5, 1:00 p.m., Kendall College

9. The Best Block Party

Always a popular event, Shaw's Crab House hosts their 25th Annual Oyster Fest Block Party.  This year's fest features food, cocktails, and live music acts including the Million Dollar Quartet, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, Quinn Sullivan, and headliner Buddy Guy.  
$30/person. Tickets go on sale now.  Near North Side. Friday, October 18, 12:30 p.m.

10. The Best Cheese

Do you like yours soft or stinky? You can make up your mind with a carefully curated selection of "soft and stinky" cheeses paired with classic wines at Lincoln Square's Softies & Stinkers event at Provenance Food and Wine. 2312 W. Leland Avenue,  
$25/person. Participants receive 15% off any purchases made that evening. Click here for tickets.


Still looking for more, click here for a link to Chicago's Oktoberfests.

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