When: July 6-10, 2016, Hours: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, July 6-8: 11 am – 9 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, July 9 & 10: 10 am – 9 pm. Food and beverage sales end at 9:00PM.
Where: Grant Park, Columbus from Jackson to Balbo. For info 312-744-3316. Map.
When to go: mid-week between 3PM-6PM. Try to sneak out of the office early or take a late lunch. I’ve also had luck going as soon as it opens on a week day. Note: it was pretty empty at opening on Wednesday July 8. By 2PM is was pretty crowded but not mobbed like a weekend.
- If you’re planning to go on the weekend, when it’s crowded, the line to buy tickets can be very long.
- If you work in the area try to run over and buy tickets during off times (mid-day).
- Food and beverage tickets are sold in strips of 12 tickets for $8.50 (includes $2.50 charge for Taste amenities).
- Ticket sales end at 8:30 pm each night.
- In order to manage using up your tickets, as you walk through you may want to take a picture of the prices of things you’re thinking about trying then you can go back later.
- In 2015 the Tribune noted that there were 20 food items that cost more than a sheet of tickets (12 tickets). Here’s a ticket strategy from Phil Vettel.
- Humana Healthier Choice: Humana lists 75 healthy food options.
There are 2015 prices. Haven’t been yet this year. Too hot!
- Non-alcoholic beverages are six tickets or $4.25 for a 20 ounce soda or water. Bring your own.
- In the Beer Hall you can buy a 6 ounce beer on tap for 6 tickets ($4.25); 11 ounce for 11 tickets ($7.80).
- Bud and Bud light in cans is 10 tickets ($7.08). Stella Artois (14.9 ounces) and Goose Island is 12 tickets for a can ($8.50).
- In the E&J Gallo Winery Wine Gallery the wine is 9-12 tickets for tiny, maybe a 3 ounce pour ($6.37-$8.50).
- Skip the standard fare and head to the pop-ups here and food trucks here for something unique. Figure out how many tickets you’ll need and then purchase tickets. There are ticket booths adjacent to all those areas.
What to bring: Blanket or compact folding chair, sunscreen, bottled water. coolers with water and soft drinks (no glass containers) are permitted. Moist towelettes, hand sanitizer, extra napkins, and extra disposable silverware. Umbrella or a rain coat with hood. You cannot set up a folding chair on the street. You will have to go into the grass areas of the park.
What not to bring: Alcoholic beverages of any kind. Glass containers. Backpacks, coolers, etc. are subject to search. Note 7/8/2015: They searched through everyone’s backpacks, coolers etc.
Develop a plan of attack: Review all the restaurants ahead of time and decide where you want to go. At the minimum pick up a map when you buy tickets and take a look. I skip all the usual suspects that I can eat anytime (or don’t care to eat at all) like wings, pizza, hot dogs, cupcakes and restaurants I can eat at anytime. I hit the good restaurants that are located in areas of the city that I rarely or never venture in to.
The full meal value v. the taste: every vendor is required to offer at least one “taste” sized portion versus a portion that is a whole meal.
Where are the restrooms? There are two sets of restrooms at Buckingham Fountain. One is located behind the Mariano’s Kitchen demonstration tent (to the north of the tent). The other is on the south side of Buckingham Fountain behind a dining area tent just south of the Pure Leaf Celebrity tent. Don’t spread the word, if they become overwhelmed the Park District will close them.
Divvy Valet will be available: Wednesday, July 6 – Friday, July 8, 4pm – 9:30pm at Lake Shore Dr & Monroe Dr
Saturday, July 9 and Sunday, July 10, 3:30pm – 9:30pm at Lake Shore Dr & Monroe St.
- Bud Light Stage: south end of the Taste at Columbus and Balbo. Set up your chair or blanket. Concerts 12noon-8:00PM. FREE
- Petrillo Music Shell, Reserved seats start at $
1523 each. The lawn is FREE. Wed and Fri concerts start at 5:30PM; Thurs 5PM, Sat-Sun 4:30PM .
Other activities and Freebies:
- Saturday, July 9 at 12:30PM at Buckingham Fountain Eli’s will be giving away FREE cheesecake while supplies last.
- Food For Thought – New to Taste, this area will feature culinary podcasts from across the country. See link for schedule.
- Lifeway Foods Taste Kitchen: Cooking demonstrations in the Buckingham Fountain Plaza. Daily 11:30AM-6:30PM
- Wine Garden: Located at the NW corner of Buckingham Fountain Open daily 11:00AM-7:30PM.
- Beer Garden: Located at the NW corner of Buckingham Fountain Open daily 11:00AM-7:30PM.
- Chicago Made Marketplace: 28 Local crafters sell their wares at Columbus & Balboa. Open daily 11AM-7PM.
- Kids Dash: July 10, 2016, 10 am – 12 Noon; 10 am registration opensKids of all ages can get a taste of victory when they sign up for one of FREE Kids’ Dashes. There are structured races by age and distance for kids as well as an open 50-yard dash in which kids can race the clock (or their friends and family) in a head to head sprint – as many times as they would like. The free registration is day-of starting at 10am in Butler Field and includes a bib number and finisher medal. Columbus and Jackson.
- Celebrity Chef du Jour events: three- or four-course dinner ($45) prepared by local chefs served in an air-conditioned tent. Tickets.
There’s a charging tower inside the Beer Hall and a tent with three charging towers in front of the Bud Light Stage.
Five-Day Restaurants Menu items here
- Abundance Bakery
105 E. 47th St. (New)
- 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 Not participating due to E coli breakout in their restaurant.
• 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
• Frannie’s Café Inc 623 S. Wabash Ave. (New)
• The Fudge Pot 1532 N. Wells St. – Sweet Tooth 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
• 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
• Texas de Brazil 210 E. Illinois St. (New)
• Tuscany 1014 W. Taylor St. – World Tour Taste
• Vee-Vee’s African Restaurant 6232 N. Broadway St. – World Tour Taste
Pop-Up Restaurants (one- and two-day participants): Schedule (subject to change) and menu items here
• Armi 1829 W. Chicago Ave. (New)
• BRGRBELLY 5691 N. Milwaukee Ave. (New)
• Demera Ethiopian Restaurant 4801 N. Broadway (New)
• Doom Street Eats Located at Markets throughout Chicago (New)
• Garifuna Flava: A Taste of Belize 2518 W. 63rd St. – World Tour Taste
• Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken 847 W. Fulton Market (New)
• Jin Ju Restaurant 5203 N. Clark St. – World Tour Taste
• MAD Social 1140 W. Madison St. (New)
• nana 3267 S. Halsted St. (New)
• Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine 5212 N. Clark St. (New)
• Pork & Mindy’s 1623 N. Milwaukee Ave. (New)
• Puffs of Doom Located at Markets throughout Chicago – Epicurean Taste
• Riva 700 E. Grand Ave., Navy Pier – Taste of the Sea
• Rojo Gusano 3830 W. Lawrence Ave. (New)
• Stan’s Donuts & Coffee 1506 N. Damen Ave. – Sweet Tooth Taste
• Taco in a Bag 4603 N. Lincoln Ave. (New)
• Yum Dum Located throughout Chicago
Food Trucks: Truck locations, schedule (subject to change) and menu items here.
• Auntie Vee’s (New)
• Beavers Donuts – Sweet Tooth Taste
• Bruges Brothers – Epicurean Taste (New)
• Chicago Lunchbox – World Tour Taste
• Da Lobsta
• The Fat Shallot – Epicurean Taste
• Firecakes Donuts (New)
• Gino’s Steaks Truck – Classic Chicago Taste
• Giordano’s – Classic Chicago Taste
• The Happy Lobster (New)
• Harold Chicken
• Jack’s Fork in the Road – Epicurean Taste (New)
• Jerk. Modern Jamaican Grill – World Tour Taste
• La Cocinita – World Tour Taste (New)
• The Jefa (New)
• La Patrona (New)
• The Lifeway Kefir Shop
• Ms. Tittle’s Cupcakes
I’m not going to go into it but I’m not the biggest fan of Taste. Slogging around in ankle deep garbage with nowhere to sit while trying to eat isn’t my idea of a pleasant dining experience. Over the years I’ve developed a routine that minimizes most of that unpleasantness because let’s face it – the place is packed full of excellent restaurants so you still have to go.