Taste of Chicago 2011

Celebrate July 4th early at this year's ten-day food-fest

We don’t know about you, but July 4th weekend can’t come soon enough for us. We’re ready to fire up our grills and enjoy all-American eats — from hot dogs to coleslaw to potato salad — to get us in the holiday spirit. But for those of you who can steal a week or more away (and wouldn’t mind taking a break from the coals), we highly suggest taking a trip to the Windy City to satisfy your summer culinary cravings at Taste of Chicago 2011.

Held in Grant Park from June 24th to July 3rd, this ten day, free-admission festival of food, now in its 31st year, promises great eats at can’t-be-beat prices from 59 of Chicago’s most celebrated restaurants. Representing the city’s diverse and delicious dining landscape, the festival will dish up pulled pork and BBQ chips from The Smoke Daddy, collard green egg rolls and Cajun meatballs from C’est Si Bon!, and frozen chocolate dipped cheesecake bars from JR Dessert Bakery. And if that’s not enough to get your mouth watering, each of the vendors is offering “Taste Of” portions priced at $2 or less, meaning more room to try an array of items from as many vendors as you can stomach.

Not only does this festival boast wide-ranging menu options, but they also have insured that food won’t be the only thing keeping you entertained. For the first time, four of Chicago’s lakefront music festivals will be incorporated into the event — Viva! Chicago Latin Music Day, Gospel Music Day, Celtic Music Day, and Country Music Day — to give attendees something to take their mind off of what to eat next. In addition, each day of the festival features a different music theme — so if rock and pop are really more your thing, you can plan your visit around those performances.

From June 24th to July 2nd, the festival is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and July 3rd, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Despite free admission, the fodder will cost you some. Food and beverage tickets are sold in strips of 12 tickets for $8. Smaller “Taste Of” portions available at each food vendor are between two and four tickets.