Where to Eat During Chicago’s Summer Festivals

Staff Writer
A guide to Windy City eats fit for hungry music-lovers

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

This summer, music lovers from across the nation will gather in Chicago as they do every year for two weekend-long extravaganzas known as the Pitchfork Music Festival and Lollapalooza. Both festivals feature the best and brightest acts in music — spanning genres from alternative rock to hip-hop and everything in between. 

This year 40 bands will take the Pitchfork stage, including the likes of Neko Case, Animal Collective, and TV On The Radio, while acts playing at Lollapalooza include Eminem, Foo Fighters, and Coldplay. Since both festivals will take place at parks located in the heart of downtown Chicago, concert-goers should take the weekend as an opportunity to explore the city's vast culinary offerings. So when it comes time to refuel between sets we've taken the guesswork out and crafted a guide to the local gems that are sure to satisfy even the pickiest music enthusiasts.

Breakfast: At M.Henry a simple glance at the constant stream of people gathered the outside the door signifies a meal worth waiting for. The only thing more comforting than the hearty portions of expertly made breakfast classics is how reasonably priced everything is. For an extra-special treat order the blackberry bliss cakes, which taste like a cross between pancakes and a fruit crumble. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Buffawhat)

Lunch: Rick Bayless is one of Chicago's most prized culinary icons. For a taste of his innovative Mexican fare without the price tag of his two upscale restaurants, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, venture around the corner to Xoco. This quick-service spot offers a variety of bold-flavored tortas, caldos, and bean-to-cup hot chocolate (the cacao beans are roasted on site). Bear in mind that Xoco is closed on Sundays, so don't wait until the end of the weekend to eat there. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/WhitneyinChicago) 

Dinner: The Purple Pig encourages diners to enjoy the wonders of pork and wine in an compact space furnished with long communal tables. Since opening a couple of years ago, the restaurant has garnered critical acclaim from culinary bigwigs across the city and beyond. The Purple Pig even received the Bib Gourmand award in this year's Michelin Guide. Items on the menu that should not be missed include the pork neck bone with ricotta smear and the milk-braised pork shoulder. 

Drinks: Some venues transport you to another world the minute you step inside. Welcome to The Violet Hour. Lush velvet drapes and dark leather furniture are paired dramatically with shimmering crystal light fixtures to impart an impeccably luxe atmosphere, while cleverly placed mirrors make the space appear larger than it really is. To make the most of your experience at The Violet Hour stick to the extensive list of handcrafted cocktails. Depending on your liquor of preference, there are offerings to delight spicy, sweet, bitter, and sour-leaning palates. 

Wildcard: West Rogers Park is a neighborhood known for its burgeoning cultural and ethnic diversity, and it is also the home of Loyola University Chicago's lakeshore campus. It is no wonder, then, that one of the city's most iconic coffee shops would be located there too. But Metropolis Coffee Company is much more than a simple coffee shop — it's a full-fledged roastery, a bakery, and an educational center. On any given day owner Jeff Dreyfuss can be found leading a cupping tutorial or roasting up the latest batch of award-winning beans. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/DjD)