What to Eat at Taste of Chicago

I usually have a glass is half-full attitude when it comes to my food allergies but I’m not going to sugar coat it. It really sucks to have food allergies at the Taste. It is just not fun watching millions of people eat food you can’t eat while they talk about how delicious it is. I also don’t enjoy the running commentary I get from well-meaning people. It goes a little something like this: “What you can’t it this? (while waving a Rainbow Cone in your face)” “I would just die if I couldn’t eat ice cream!” “Wow you really can’t eat anything can you?” Not fun.


What can the food allergic crowd eat at the Taste? The answer: not much.

If you experience anaphylaxis upon eating peanuts, corn, gluten, shellfish, wheat or dairy I recommend not eating at the Taste. The risk of cross-contamination is just too great. Of course you could go to people watch. Most of that food is covered in cheese or breading, or both. Even if what you order seems safe, your food could touch particles left on a grill or other surfaces. My advice is to give yourself an IOU. While everyone else is buying overpriced food at the Taste, treat yourself to an allergy free lunch or dinner somewhere special. Another option would be to have an awesome allergy free picnic near the lake complete with hummus, salads, gluten free crackers and treats like coconut macaroons. 

For those with moderate food intolerances, ask questions and bring digestive enzymes. I remember one year I was able to safely eat Vee Vee’s African Cuisine’s Jerk Chicken. If you order a hamburger or hot dog, you could always take the bun off if you have mild gluten allergies. Here’s a list of some foods that may work out for you if you do not have severe allergies but perhaps just intolerances. I still recommend asking questions, better to be safe than sorry. 

Franco’s Ristorante (300 W. 31st St.) Lemon or Watermelon Italian Ice

Yanze (4623 N. Broadway St.) Rice & Beans with Jerk Chicken and Plantain; Sorbet

Kasia’s Deli sausage or Chicken Kabob with Rice, Vegetables and Honey Mustard

Oak Street Beach Café (5700 S. Cicero Ave.) Grilled Lobster Tail with Potato; Grilled Shrimp on a Skewer with Potato; Sausage, Peppers and Potatoes

Vee Vee’s African Cuisine (6232 N. Broadway St.) Red Beans and Rice with Jerk Chicken

Dominick’s Food Stand. There will be some refreshing fruit to snack on: red/green seedless grapes, cherries, watermelon slices and pineapple bites.


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  • Thanks for this list! I was just talking about how if I couldn't find something like this I would have to call a lot of vendors this week.

    Another option: I remember last year I ate a tamale and mango sticky rice. No problems for this gluten-free lady!

  • In reply to JennFree:

    You're welcome. Tamales are a good option as corn is gluten free. I dream of a future where there is an awesome completely allergy free vendor!

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