Taste of Chicago 2015: A Guide to Getting Around

Taste of Chicago 2015: A Guide to Getting Around
Taste-goers picnic on the lawn. Credit: Adam Alexander Photography

Chicago's five-day food and entertainment festival Taste of Chicago – the world's largest food festival – comes to Grant Park,  on the heels of 4th of July weekend, kicking off Wednesday, July 8 through Sunday, July 12th.

The fest, which turns 35 this year, has made some positive changes the last few years. Although the major focus is still on Chicago's diverse culinary scene and admission is still FREE, the city's addition of trendy pop-up restaurants, food trucks, chef demos, gourmet dining and a great music line-up in addition to the 5-day restaurants offers something for everyone.

With so much to do, it can be hard to know where to start. Here's a rundown of the who, what, when and where for the five day fest.

THE FOOD...

Taste of Chicago 2015 will feature 60 restaurants--19 newcomers--including five new food trucks and eight new pop-up participants who will sell for one or two days. Vendors will offer signature items, as well as the popular “Taste Of” portions priced at $2.50. Tickets for food and beverages can be purchased in strips of 12 tickets for $8.50.

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Five-Day Restaurants

Beat Kitchen 2100 W. Belmont Ave. – Epicurean Taste
Billy Goat Tavern & Grill 1535 W. Madison St. – Classic Chicago Taste
BJ's Market & Bakery 8734 S. Stony Island Ave. – Taste of the Sea
Bobak Sausage Co. 5275 S. Archer Ave. – Classic Chicago Taste
Caffe Gelato 2034 W. Division St. – Sweet Tooth Taste
Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill 300 W. 26th St. – World Tour Taste
Chicago's Dog House 816 W. Fullerton Ave. – Epicurean Taste
Churro Factory 3755 W. Armitage Ave. – Sweet Tooth Taste
Connie's Pizza 2373 S. Archer Ave. – Classic Chicago Taste
Dia De Los Tamales 939 W. 18th St. – World Tour Taste
Eli's Cheesecake Co. 6701 W. Forest Preserve Dr. – Classic Chicago Taste
Emerald Isle 6686 N. Northwest Hwy. – Classic Chicago Taste
Farmer's Fridge 111 E. Wacker Dr. – Epicurean Taste
Franco's Ristorante 300 W. 31st St. – World Tour Taste
Gold Coast Dogs 225 S. Canal St. – Classic Chicago Taste
Iyanze 4623 N. Broadway St. – World Tour Taste
Kasia's Deli 2101 W. Chicago Ave. – World Tour Taste
La Bomba Restaurant 3221 W. Armitage Ave. – World Tour Taste
La Mexicana 4171 S. Archer Ave. – World Tour Taste
Lawrence's Fish & Shrimp 2120 S. Canal St. – Taste of the Sea
Lou Malnati's Pizzeria 805 S. State St. – Classic Chicago Taste
Mariano's Chicagoland Locations – Classic Chicago Taste
Miller's Pub 134 S. Wabash Ave. – Classic Chicago Taste
Oak Street Beach Café 5700 S. Cicero Ave. – Taste of the Sea
O'Briens Restaurant 1528 N. Wells St. – Classic Chicago Taste
Porkchop 941 W. Randolph St. – Epicurean Taste
Punky's Pizza & Pasta 2600 S. Wallace St. – World Tour Taste
Ricobene's on 26th Street 252 W. 26th St. – Classic Chicago Taste
Robinson's No. 1 Ribs 225 S. Canal St. – Classic Chicago Taste
Star of Siam 11 E. Illinois St. – World Tour Taste
The Fudge Pot 1532 N. Wells St. – Sweet Tooth Taste
Tuscany 1014 W. Taylor St. – World Tour Taste
Vee-Vee's African Restaurant 6232 N. Broadway St. – World Tour Taste

Pop-Up Restaurants

Burger Bar Chicago 1578 N. Clybourn Ave. – Epicurean Taste
Dinky Donuts, Inc. Located at Markets throughout Chicago – Sweet Tooth Taste
DönerMen Located throughout Chicago – World Tour Taste
Garifuna Flava: A Taste of Belize 2518 W. 63rd St. – World Tour Taste
Haire's Gulf Shrimp 8112 S. Vincennes Ave. – Taste of the Sea
Jin Ju Restaurant 5203 N. Clark St. – World Tour Taste
Luke's Lobster 134 N. LaSalle St. – Taste of the Sea
Old Crow Smokehouse 3506 N. Clark St. – Epicurean Taste
Puffs of Doom Located at Markets throughout Chicago – Epicurean Taste
Riva 700 E. Grand Ave., Navy Pier – Taste of the Sea
Sono Wood Fired 1582 N. Clybourn Ave. – Epicurean Taste
Stan's Donuts & Coffee 1506 N. Damen Ave. – Sweet Tooth Taste

Food Trucks

Beavers Coffee + Donuts – Sweet Tooth Taste
Bruges Brothers – Epicurean Taste
Chicago Cupcake – Sweet Tooth Taste
Chicago Lunchbox – World Tour Taste
Gino's Steaks Truck – Classic Chicago Taste
Giordano's – Classic Chicago Taste
Harold's Chicken – Classic Chicago Taste
Jack's Fork in the Road – Epicurean Taste
Jerk. Modern Jamaican Grill – World Tour Taste
La Cocinita – World Tour Taste
Ms. Tittle's Cupcakes – Sweet Tooth Taste
Starfruit Café – Sweet Tooth Taste
The Crave Bar – Sweet Tooth Taste
The Fat Shallot – Epicurean Taste
Yum Dum – World Tour Taste

THE MUSIC LINE-UP...

Tickets are required for music performances in Jay Pritzker Pavilion but the lawn is free.  Click here for tickets and availability.

Crowd from Lollapalooza 2014. Photo: Chicago Tribune

Crowd from Lollapalooza 2014. Photo: Chicago Tribune

Wednesday, July 8, 5:30 p.m. WEEZER with Saint Motel opening.

Thursday, July 9, 5:30 p.m. Pavilion SOLD OUT ERYKAH BADU with Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue opeinging.

Friday, July 10, 5:30 p.m. THE CHIEFTAINS - Ireland’s official “Musical Ambassadors” with Special Consensus opening.

Saturday, July 11, 4:30 p.m. SPOON with Houndmouth and Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear opening.

Sunday, July 12, 4:30 p.m. MAZE FEATURING FRANKIE BEVERLY with Duane Powell, DJ opening.

SPECIAL EVENTS...

The Celebrity Chef du Jour

The Celebrity Chef du Jour program for 2015 will be spotlighting Chicago's impressive stable of James Beard nominated and winning chefs. The celebrity chefs will be preparing sit-down, three-course meals served in an air-conditioned and decorated dining pavilion located in Buckingham Fountain Plaza, 301 S. Columbus Drive for $45 per person. Limited tickets are available at the Taste Website. 

In the kitchen with Mariano’s

In the kitchen with Mariano's will offer daily chef demos from 11:30 a.m. through 6:30 p.m. featuring both local and nationally known chefs sharing their trade secrets. Copies of the recipes demonstrated will be made available by the participating chefs.

Highlights include:

  • Food Network personality and co-founder of Pork & Mindy’s Jeff Mauro (July 9, 12:30 p.m.),
  • Julius Russell of A Tale of Two Chefs Catering, Inc. (July 9, 3:30 p.m.),
  • Food Network personality Sunny Anderson appearing (July 10, 2:30 p.m.),
  • Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Brewmaster George Reisch (July 10, 3:30 p.m.),
  • TV host Adam Richman of “Food Fighters” and “Man Finds Food” (July 11, 1:30 p.m.),
  • Judson Todd Allen of Healthy Infused Cuisine and Jocelyn Delk Adams of Grandbaby Cakes (July 12, 3:30 p.m.). Copies of the recipes demonstrated will be made available by the participating chefs.

In the kitchen with Mariano's will be held in Grant Park by Buckingham Fountain, 500 S. Columbus Dr.

Graham Elliot

Graham Elliot will make a one-day appearance at the Taste of Chicago on Wednesday, July 8 offering taste-goers an opportunity to purchase his signature Lobster Corndogs throughout the day.

Food For Thought Podcasts

A “Food For Thought” area at Taste of Chicago will feature live shows and celebrity guests including Doug Sohn of Hot Doug’s, Chef Curtis Duffy, Chef Mindy Segal, Chef Carrie Nahabedian and members of music group Spoon plus culinary podcasts from across the country. Highlights include: Dan Pashman of Sporkful, Dan Gebert of Airwaves Full of Bacon, Stephanie and Arden of Your Chicago Podcast, the Radio Misfits Network including On The Road with Eddie V, and others.

The "Food for Thought" area will be located in the grove at the southwest corner of Jackson and Columbus Drive. Hours are: noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday; 1:30 to 6, Thursday; noon to 6 p.m., Friday; noon to 4 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Eli’s Very Big Cheesecake

Eli Schulman and special guests at the Taste of Chicago in 1987 cutting Chicago’s 150th Birthday Cake which is the inspiration for this year’s Taste Cake

Eli Schulman and special guests at the Taste of Chicago in 1987 cutting Chicago’s 150th Birthday Cake which is the inspiration for this year’s Taste Cake

Eli’s Cheesecake is turning 35…just like Taste of Chicago. Reportedly, Eli’s has their cows working overtime to produce the 700 lbs pounds of cream cheese needed to prepare the giant 1500 lb. cake that they will serve free to the public on Saturday July 11th. Come for the cake or come for the show. Here's Saturday's schedule:

Noon: 
Watch the forklift take the giant birthday cheesecake off the truck and see 
Eli's pastry chefs put final touches on the cake
12:30p.m. 
Cake Cutting Ceremony begins, Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park.


Look for the sign “The Big Cake Is Here”

Taste of Chicago hours and location...

Hours for Taste of Chicago are 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Wednesday–Friday, and 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free with tickets needed for food and music events inside the Pavilion. Location is Grant Park at Jackson & Columbus.  For more information call (312) 744 3316 or visit the website.

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