Of all the free activities and events in Chicago throughout the year, few offer such an iconic and eclectic experience as Grant Park’s Taste of Chicago.
Established in 1980, the uniquely Chicago summertime tradition features numerous food vendors and trucks, all showcasing the diversity and world-class talent of Chicago’s culinary scene in the city’s most beloved park.
With an array of live music acts, the free Chicago festival has fast become one of the city’s most cherished annual traditions with more than a million attendees in recent years and it’s set to return this coming weekend.
According to an official release by Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the 2023 Taste of Chicago will feature 50+ food vendors and food trucks as well as “a robust slate of world-class musical performances.”
The adult beverage stations that attract plenty of admirers each year have been enhanced for 2023 and now include a designated beer hall, a wine garden, and a wide range of cocktail lounges including a new frozen beverage bar featuring Windy City Punch slushie cocktails.
The popular Friday Night Flights tasting event will once again take place on Friday from 4 to 9 pm offering guests the opportunity to choose 10 sample-size portions from 25 local breweries.
A variety of activities will be on offer throughout the weekend including food trivia, a karaoke competition, and the Chicago SummerDance. Starry-eyed singers can brave the Chicago Sings Karaoke Stage throughout the weekend and be in with the chance of winning a $500 grand prize on each of the three days. Registration can be made at ChicagoSingsKaraoke.com.
The fan-favorite annual outdoor live music and dancing series, Chicago SummerDance is one of the event’s most popular activities and turns Buckingham Fountain Plaza into a dance party with free dance lessons and music all weekend at the Taste of Chicago. This year will feature a variety of genres to celebrate dance in all its forms, including Reggaeton, Country Two-Step, Bollywood, Salsa, and much more.
Made in Chicago: Food Trivia, meanwhile, will offer food history enthusiasts the opportunity to show off their Chicago food knowledge at the Chicago Sings Karaoke Stage from 4 to 5 pm each day Monica Eng and David Hammond, coauthors of Made in Chicago: Stories Behind 30 Great Hometown Bites (2023) and Jacoby Cochran, host of the City Cast Chicago podcast.
For those families unable to dance their summer blues away or spend the day jumping between adult beverage stations due to parental duties, the Lifeway Foods Family Village will provide kid-friendly fun on the Taste of Chicago festival grounds throughout the weekend with inflatables, a digital photo station, and interactive art activities such as a coloring station and an interactive mural installation.
Meanwhile, for anybody wanting to burn those calories Run Mag Mile will shut down the Magnificent Mile on Saturday, September 9 with participants choosing between a 5K or 10K run to jog through Chicago like never before.
Runners can stick around after the finish line to enjoy an exclusive post-race brunch at Taste of Chicago featuring beverages from Goose Island, live music from Maggie Speaks Unplugged, and early access to select Taste of Chicago booths. More information can be found at www.runmagmile.com.
There will also be a DJ Casper tribute on Friday, September 8 in honor of the late legendary hometown hero and creator of the world-famous “Cha Cha Slide” who passed away this summer.
Taking place on the Taste Main Stage at 5:55 pm, the tribute will culminate in a festival-wide rendition of the iconic “Cha Cha Slide.”
Food vendors involved in the Taste of Chicago 2023 include Cumin Club Indian Kitchen, Sapori Trattoria, Arun’s Thai Restaurant, The Original Rainbow Cone, Healthy Substance Kitchen, LC Pho Restaurant, Yum Dum, Churro Factory (Xurro), African Food Palace, Porkchop, The Eli’s Cheesecake Company, Esperanza, Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs, Classic Cobbler Baked Goods Company, Tacotlan, JJ Thai Street Food, Doom Street Eats, Badou Senegalese Cuisine, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, Billy Goat Tavern, Chicago Eats, Gaby’s Funnel Cakes, Frannie’s Café, Prime Tacos, The Sole Ingredient Catering, BJ’s Market & Bakery, Connie’s Pizza, Seoul Taco Chicago, Chicago’s Doghouse, Tandoor Char House, Pies of London, Banato, Mr. E Chef Catering, Josephine’s Cooking, Yvolina’s Tamales and a wide variety of food trucks.
The 2023 edition of Taste of Chicago, takes place Friday, September 8th – Sunday, September 10 in Grant Park from 11 am until 9 pm each day.
As always, general admission to Taste of Chicago is free and cash or credit cards are accepted by all food vendors.
More information can be found at chicago.gov.
[Featured image courtesy of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events]