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posted: 7/6/2014 5:45 AM

Diverse menus draw thousands to Taste of Chicago

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  • For $45, Taste of Chicago visitors can enjoy a sit-down, three- or four-course meal at the Pure Leaf Celebrity Chef du Jour air-conditioned tent.

      For $45, Taste of Chicago visitors can enjoy a sit-down, three- or four-course meal at the Pure Leaf Celebrity Chef du Jour air-conditioned tent.
    Courtesy of city of Chicago

  • An estimated 1.5 million people attended Taste of Chicago in 2013. This year's festival runs Wednesday through Sunday, July 9-13.

      An estimated 1.5 million people attended Taste of Chicago in 2013. This year's festival runs Wednesday through Sunday, July 9-13.
    Courtesy of city of Chicago

  • Eight new two-day pop-up restaurants are among the 66 food vendors at the 34th Taste of Chicago, which runs Wednesday through Sunday, July 9-13, in Grant Park.

      Eight new two-day pop-up restaurants are among the 66 food vendors at the 34th Taste of Chicago, which runs Wednesday through Sunday, July 9-13, in Grant Park.
    Courtesy of city of Chicago

  • Crowds settle in early to enjoy the free Taste of Chicago concerts at the Petrillo Music Shell.

      Crowds settle in early to enjoy the free Taste of Chicago concerts at the Petrillo Music Shell.
    Courtesy of city of Chicago

 
 

Hot dogs and burgers, grilled corn and churros. It's early July and already you've had your fill of festival food. So why should you put Taste of Chicago on your to-do list?

Because this year's five-day extravaganza, which runs Wednesday through Sunday, July 9-13, in Grant Park, offers palate-pleasing fare that reflects the Windy City's growing reputation as a world-class culinary destination. Among the 66 vendors -- 22 of them new -- you'll find marinated white fish, chicken potpie, fried cheesecake bites, and beet and apple gazpacho.

Adding to the already diverse lineup are: seven new five-day food vendors (The Big Cheese Poutinerie, Chicago Dog House, Lawrence Fisheries, M Burger, Mariano's, The Savoy and SpritzBurger), eight new two-day pop-up restaurants (Brasserie by LM, Brazilian Bowl Grill, Kamehachi, Mama Mia, Mayan Sol Latin Grill, Restaurant Veneno de Nayarit, Sol de Mexico, and Stan's Donuts and Coffee) and seven new food trucks (Bridgeport Pastry, Chicago Lunch Box, Gino's Steak, Harold's Chicken, Ms. Tittle's Cupcakes, Starfruit Cafe and Windy City Patty Wagon).

Abbey Pub & Restaurant, Bobak Sausage, Lou Malnati's Pizzeria, Original Rainbow Cone and Star of Siam are among the longtime favorites returning for the Taste's 34th year.

Each vendor offers signature items, as well as the popular "Taste Of" portions priced at $2.50 or less, allowing guests the opportunity to sample an even greater variety of items. Many booths also sell Humana Healthier Choice selections for those seeking lighter options.

Admission to the Taste of Chicago is free; tickets for food and beverages can be purchased in strips of 12 tickets for $8.50.

For those who want to kick up their Taste experience a notch, Pure Leaf brings back its nightly Celebrity Chef du Jour program with chefs Art Smith of TABLE fifty-two and LYFE Kitchen; Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia; Paul Virant of Vie and Perennial Virant; Erling Wu-Bower and Amanda Rockman of Nico Osteria; and Matthias Merges (a Charlie Trotter alumnus) of A10, Yusho and Billy Sunday. The sit-down, three- or four-course meals in an air-conditioned and decorated dining pavilion cost $45 per person (limit four tickets per person). Tickets must be purchased in advance at tasteofchicago.us.

"The Pure Leaf Celebrity Chef du Jour program is a wonderful way to experience the Taste of Chicago and get up close and personal with some of our city's most revered chefs," said Michelle T. Boone, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

The chefs also will show off their culinary skills at the In the Kitchen with Mariano's demonstration area located on the Buckingham Fountain Plaza. Demonstrations are free.

As much as Taste of Chicago is about the food, the musical lineup should not be overlooked.

Stake your claim to a patch of grass at the Petrillo Music Shell early in the day if you want to catch Awolnation on Wednesday, Janelle Monae on Thursday, Nickel Creek and Emmylou Harris on Friday, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and Lucinda Williams on Saturday and The Wailers on Sunday. To purchase reserved seating and for the full music schedule, head to tasteofchicago.us.

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