There’s more to Chicago food than deep-dish pizza and ketchup-less hot dogs. Hit up these summer festivals for a whirlwind culinary tour of the city. They offer a day’s worth of activities, and get you off the hook for cooking dinner. So whether you’re a picky eater or a full-time foodie, the Chicago food scene’s got your back. Here is a list of the top picks from The PHOENIX.
Mole de Mayo — May 26-28 (2701 N. Sheffield Ave.)
For the eighth year in a row, Mole de Mayo will take place in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Check out this fest if you want to see local chefs battling it out for the title of best mole in Chicago, or see some of Pilsen’s crafters in their open-air market. Bonus: Mole de Mayo will also feature a professional wrestling exhibition with a live lucha libre wrestling ring. There’s a $5 suggested donation for individuals and $10 suggested donation for families, but prices vary once inside.
Wingout Chicago — June 3-4 at St. Michael’s Parking Lot (1633 N. Cleveland Ave.)
Located in Old Town, the Wingout Chicago festival is perfect for the wing lover looking to sample the best wings in the city. Wingout Chicago is a necessary stop if you’re a chicken wing enthusiast looking to try all kinds of different wings from local restaurants. Although the vendors for 2017 have yet to be announced, some restaurants involved with last year’s celebration include Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 25 Degrees and The Wild Hare. Once you’ve filled your belly, stick around for the live reggae music. Single day tickets can be purchased for $55.
Chicago Food Truck Fest — June 24-25 at South Loop Green Space (2400 S. Dearborn St.)
Ideal for the adventurous eater, Chicago’s Food Truck Festival will feature more than 50 of Chicago’s best food trucks. Whether you’re looking to stick with a tried-and-true truck like Cheesie’s or branch out to try Naansense Indian-inspired eats or sample Bruges Brothers’ hand-forged frites, there’s something for everyone at this fest. Be sure to get there early as the best options run out early in the day and lines get long. Admission is free and food and beverage tickets are available for purchase at the festival.
Taste of Chicago — July 5-9 at Jackson Street & Columbus Drive
Taste of Chicago is the largest food festival in the city, and one of the largest outdoor food events in the nation. Over the course of five days, the festival will feature a variety of rotating pop-up restaurants, local food trucks and daily appearances from celebrity chefs that have yet to be announced all in its beautiful lakefront location. If you’re looking to check out one of the major artists performing at the festival, this year’s lineup includes Alessia Cara, Passion Pit and the O’Jays. Admission is free and food and beverage tickets are available for purchase at the festival.
Windy City Smokeout — July 14-16 at 650 W. Grand Ave.
If you’re into smoky, meaty barbecue, craft beers and country music, this is the food festival for you. This festival, which will take place along the Chicago River, promises to have finger-lickin’ eats from 13 of the finest pitmasters nationwide and beers from 16 craft breweries. Country music fans will be delighted to see a star-studded lineup, including headliners Jake Owen, Kip Moore and Lee Brice along with 30 other world-renowned country artists. Single-day tickets range from $40 to $45 and weekend passes cost $110.
Chicago Hot Dog Fest — Aug. 11-13 at the Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark St.)
A summer of food festivals is not genuine without the presence of a hot dog fest. When August rolls around, make your way over to the Chicago History Museum’s Chicago Hot Dog Fest. This is a family friendly event that celebrates Chicago’s love affair with the classic food, loaded high with toppings. The event will feature local bands, including Chicago’s School of Rock and Robert Cornelius & Friends. “Dog dollars” for purchasing hot dogs can be purchased up until the start date of the festival and purchasing beforehand could save you 20 percent. $20 USD equals $20 Dog Dollars and each vendor will have their own menu and costs. Hot dogs range in price from $4 – $8 dog dollars.