5 best bites to eat at Riot Fest this weekend

From www.chicagotribune.com
Adam Lukach, Sadé Carpenter

With more than eight hours of music under the sun, Riot Fest makes for a long day. Don’t go hangry. We’ve got some prime food bets to help you make it through the weekend.

Mac and pork bowl at Reggie’s: $10

To be honest, the mac and pork bowl from Reggie’s might be my favorite food item from all of music-festival season. For $10 you get a sizeable bowl of gooey, creamy mac and cheese, topped with a substantial portion of tender, juicy pulled pork. Normally, that would be enough of a rich, savory delight in and of itself, but Reggie’s lets you take it to another level with a counter of condiments that includes a variety of sauces, salsas, pickles and peppers. My suggestion: top the bowl with some giardiniera, then maybe add a splash of hot sauce or barbecue sauce (or both), if you’re so inclined. The giardiniera adds a necessary crunchy element for texture, as well as some acidity and heat. The sauce helps round it out to be sweet and/or spicy, but the mac and pork and giardiniera is what makes this bowl work.

Single slice at Connie’s Pizza: $5

Grabbing a slice from Connie’s isn’t the most exciting festival food, but it’s certainly one of the most practical. A single slice will run you just $5, not bad at all for a festival setting, and that price includes the one-topping options. You know exactly what you’re getting, another positive when it comes to music-festival food, and pizza hits your major carbs / protein / cheese notes nicely. There are some other pizza options at the fest, but they don’t offer the same kind of value as Connie’s.

Ice cream at Grumpy’s Homemade Ice Cream: $6 single, $9 double. + $1 for waffle cone.

The warm weather at Riot Fest can be both a blessing and a curse: perfect music-festival weather, but in a place that offers little shade. In such a scenario, ice cream is obviously a necessity. Riot Fest offers two ice-cream options, but Grumpy’s gets my vote. The vendor offers a slightly cheaper option than Coldstone, and its cool treat works better for the warm weather: not as thick or rich as Coldstone, but just as flavorful, and Grumpy’s offers a ton of options. A scoop of the 420 – vanilla ice cream with brownie bits, caramel swirls, crushed Oreos, Heath bar and mini peanut-butter cups – mixed with a scoop of the strawberry cheesecake option did me good.

Noodles with vegetables at Island Noodles: $9

Eating hot, steaming noodles under the beaming sun doesn’t sound ideal, but these wok-fried strings of dough are worth it. You get a carton piled high with yakisoba noodles and different veggies, including broccoli, carrots, green beans and zucchini, all coated in a spicy, savory sauce. The generous portion size and dose of flavor makes this a great option for vegetarian and vegan festgoers, but you can also get the version with teriyaki chicken. It’s a little messy, but don’t let that stop you. Slurp on.

Al pastor, steak or chicken tacos at Taqueria Los Comales: tacos $4 each or 3 for $10

Tacos are perfect as festival food — they’re perfect anytime, really — because you can hold them with one hand and walk and eat if you please. We got one taco as an after-lunch snack, but you might as well take advantage of the deal and get all three. I would’ve been happy with a bit more sauce and more intense flavor, but the al pastor is crispy, cradled by soft corn tortillas and topped with cilantro and onion.

adlukach@redeyechicago.com | @lucheezy

smcarpenter@redeyechicago.com | @sademichelle

Want even more fests? Check out our ultimate guide to 150+ Chicago summer festivals.