Your Complete Guide to the Taste of Chicago

Taste of Chicago crowd shot, courtesy of DCASE
Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - 8:49am

The Taste of Chicago is the Grand Poobah of free fests in Chicago. The city packs a ton into five days of food and music. With the inclusion of food trucks and pop-up restaurants, as well as booths from local restaurants, you can pack quite a lot into you!

Here's your complete guide to the Taste of Chicago, including the food, the schedule, and how to get there.

Taste of Chicago

When is Taste of Chicago?

The 2018 dates are July 11 - 15. 

Where is Taste of Chicago?

The festival takes place every year in Grant Park

Taste of Chicago Restaurants

This will be updated with specific restaurants and the schedule as soon as they're available!

With a name like Taste of Chicago this fest better be all about the food! The fest features five-day restaurants, pop-up restaurants, food trucks, cooking demos, and sit-down dinners. 

Food and beverage tickets are sold in strips of 14 tickets for $10 (includes $3 charge for Taste amenities). Ticket sales end at 8:30pm each day. Smaller "Taste of Portions" are available at each food vendor and are between 1-6 tickets.

There are beverage tents throughout the event featuring Pepsi soft drinks, Anheuser-Busch beers and specialty drinks plus wines.

Five-Day Restaurants - These restaurants will be at the Taste all five days. Standbys include Lou Malnatti's Pizzeria, Billy Goat Tavern & Grill, Star of Siam, and Eli's Cheesecake.

Pop-Up Restaurants - Only appearing for a day or two, these restaurants give you an opportunity to try a taste before heading in for a full meal. 

Food Trucks - There's just something about food trucks. Chicagoans love them, and there'll be a healthy representation with several options.

Celebrity Chef du Jour - at these events you can actually sit down and have a three-course dinner. Each day a different chef shares his or her expertise. These are ticketed events.

Lifeway Foods Taste Kitchen Cooking Demonstrations - you'll find chef demos galore in this tent. This is also where you can catch the chefs highlighted in the Celebrity Chef du Jour dinners. 


Taste of Chicago Lifeway Kefir cooking demonstration


Full Schedule Chefs–subject to change

Wednesday, June 11 - Chicago Neighborhoods

11:30 a.m.       Jeni Wahl, Dia De Los Tamales (Pilsen)

12:30 p.m.       Darnell Reed, Luella's Southern Kitchen (Ravenswood)

1:30 p.m.         Kaushik Guha, Hakka Bakka Indian Kati Rolls (Lincoln Park)

2:30 p.m.         Kevin Hickey, Duck Inn (Bridgeport)

3:30 p.m.         Chesaree Rollins, CheSa's Gluten Free Food Truck (Pilsen)

4:30 p.m.         James Lintelmann, Baptiste & Bottle (River North)

5:30 p.m.         Arun Sampanthavivat, Arun’s Thai Restaurant (Albany Park)


Thursday, June 12 – Wonder Women

11:30 a.m.       Rain Truth, The Cultured Vegan

12:30 p.m.       Yanitzin Sanchez, Bar Takito

1:30 p.m.         Gloria Hafer, After School Matters Chicago

2:30 p.m.         Sr. Alicia Torres, Mission of Our Lady of the Angels and Champion of Food Network's Chopped

3:30 p.m.         Katie Dong, Strings Ramen

4:30 p.m.         Ying Stoller, Ying's Kitchen, Inc. and author of Ying's Chinese Cookbook, Authentic but Simple

5:30 p.m.         Maisha Wynn, LiveToWynn and author of The Wynning Way


Friday, June 13 – Perfect Pairings

11:30 a.m.       Jorge Russomanno, Texas de Brazil

12:30 p.m.       Bravo’s Top Chef Season 15 Winner Joe Flamm with Rachel Lowe (Sommelier & Beverage Director), Spiaggia

1:30 p.m.         Cedric Harden, River Roast, and Carolina Diaz, Terzo Piano

2:30 p.m.         Corey Rice, Chef Corey's Kitchen

3:30 p.m.         Mario Palaggi, The Red Palm Bar, Grill and Banquets

4:30 p.m.         Andrea Lyons Dillon and Kendall Anthony Dillon, Bon Manger Catering & Events

5:30 p.m.         Evan Robinson, Evan The Chef and MasterChef Junior Season 5 Top 6


Saturday, June 14 – Save Room for Dessert

11:30 a.m.       Wilbert Jones, The Wilbert Jones Company

12:30 p.m.       Chris Tong, My Private Chef, Inc.

1:30 p.m.         Julius Russell, A Tale of Two Chefs, Inc.

2:30 p.m.         Erin Patsiopoulos, The Chopping Block

3:30 p.m.         Dana Cree, Pretty Cool Ice Cream and author of Hello, My Name is Ice Cream

4:30 p.m.         Leigh Omilinsky, Nico Osteria

5:30 p.m.         Joe Dela Pena, Warm Belly Bakery


Sunday, June 15 – Jeff Mauro’s Sandwich Smackdown

Noon               Sunday Brunch with Henry Hill, Hank’s Fish and Chips

Jeff Mauro's Sandwich Smackdown

1p.m.               Italian Sub Smackdown: JP Graziano Grocery v. Tempesta Market

1:45 p.m.         el Mejor Jibarito: La Bomba v. 90 Mile Cuban Cafe

2:30 p.m.         The Rueben Rumble: Steingold’s v. Manny's Delicatessen and Cafe

3:15 p.m.         The Battle of Da Beef: Harry Carey’s 7th Inning Stretch v. Buona Beef

4 p.m.              The Patty Melt Mix-Up: Lou Mitchell's v. Edzo's Burger Shop

5 p.m.              Sunday Supper with Anne Lanute, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts

CH Distillery Spirit Lounge plus Beer and Wine Gardens - as hot as Chicago's  craft beer and mixology scene is, you can't have a food-themed festival without featuring some craft cocktails and brews. Located by Buckingham Fountain, this lounge will be a great spot to relax and sip on some summer drinks.

Kids Eat Chicago - Chicago Parent partners with Taste of Chicago for two days of special activities just for kids. 

Taste of Chicago Music Lineup

The 2018 Taste of Chicago will be headlined by The Flaming Lips on July 14. Openers will be Le Butcherettes from Guadalajara, Mexico, and Chicago's Half Gringa.

The festival will present a diverse mix of chart-topping national and international acts at the Petrillo Music Shell, including Brandi Carlile, Juanes, yasiin bey & Talib Kweli areBlack Star, The Flaming Lips and George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic. The Bud Light Stage will feature five days of free programming with top local talent.

General seating tickets for the Taste of Chicago concerts are $18 - $50. Admission to Taste is FREE and for all concerts at the Petrillo Music Shell, the lawn is FREE.

Petrillo Music Shell - Schedule of Performances

Wednesday, July 11, 5:30 p.m.

Brandi Carlisle

Brandi Carlisle, photo courtesy DCASE

Grammy® Award-nominated singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, along with her longtime collaborators Tim and Phil Hanseroth, will headline the Petrillo stage on opening night. Their acclaimed new album, By The Way, I Forgive You, which received 4-stars in Rolling Stone, remains one of the best reviewed albums of 2018 and includes the breakthrough first single, "The Joke."

Opening the evening’s performances is the Martha Redbone Roots Project. Ms. Redbone is an award-winning musician celebrated for encompassing all boundaries of Americana in her music. Her latest CD, The Garden of Love - Songs of William Blake, produced by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band founder and Grammy® Award winner John McEuen, features a masterful cornucopia of roots music that includes folk, country, blues, gospel, soul and more.


Thursday, July 12, 5:30 p.m.

Juanes - photo courtesy DCASE

Juanes - photo courtesy DCASE

International Latin Pop star, Juanes will headline Taste of Chicago on day two. The Colombian musician has won more than twenty Latin Grammy® Awards and Grammy® Awards combined. He has received multiple Best Artist, Best Rock Song and Album of the Year awards for the songs “Me Enmora,” “Mil Pedazos” and albums such as Juanes MTV Unplugged, Loco De Amor, Mis Planes Son Amearte and Fijate Bien–his first album in 2001. Known throughout the world, Juanes is also involved in social activism, and in 2005 established the Mi Sangre Foundation to raise awareness and help the victims affected by land mines.

La Santa Cecilia is the voice of a new bicultural generation. In 2014, the band won a Grammy®Award for their major label debut Treinta Dias for Best Latin Rock Album, Alternative or Urban. The band is made up of accordionist and requinto player Jose “Pepe” Carlos, bassist Alex Bendaña, percussionist Miguel “Oso” Ramirez and vocalist “La Marisoul.”


Friday, July 13, 5:30 p.m.

Black Star - photo courtesy DCASE

Black Star - photo courtesy DCASE​

For the third day, Black Star, the Brooklyn hip hop duo formed in 1997 by rappers yasiin bey (Mos Def) and Talib Kweli, will headline. Arising from the rap underground movement of the 1990s, Black Star has put out a number of singles and one album Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star released in 1998 to critical acclaim and now celebrating its 20th Anniversary. While both Mos Def and Talib Kweli have gone on to even greater commercial and critical success in their solo careers, they together helped shape underground alternative rap and bring it into the mainstream.

Kiran Gandhi, who performs as Madame Gandhi, is an electronic music artist and activist based in Los Angeles. Having gained recognition as the former drummer for artist M.I.A, in 2016, she released her first EP Voices, and in 2017, she toured as the opening act for Ani DiFranco. Madame Gandhi is currently working on her debut full-length album and her mission is to elevate and celebrate the female voice.


Saturday, July 14, 4:30 p.m.

The Flaming Lips - Photo credit George Salisbury

The Flaming Lips - Photo credit George Salisbury

The Flaming Lips, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, have been together since 1983. They are famous for their elaborate live shows, which feature costumes, balloons, puppets, video projections, complex stage light configurations, giant hands, large amounts of confetti, and frontman Wayne Coyne's signature man-sized plastic bubble, in which he traverses the audience. Something to keep in mind for your bucket list, in 2002, Q magazine named The Flaming Lips one of the "50 Bands to See Before You Die."

Le Butcherettes is a garage punk band from Guadalajara, Mexico, and now based in El Paso, Texas. They have collaborated with a number of well-known artists including Jello Biafa of the Dead Kennedys, John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Iggy Pop, among others. Le Butcherettes have a dedicated fan base thanks to their unforgettable live shows and genre-defying music.

Chicago’s Half Gringa is set to kick off Saturday’s performances,led by Izzy Olive. Their debut album Gruñona explores the confluence of Latinx and Midwestern identity and was named one of Chicago Magazine’s 10 Best Chicago Albums of the Year in 2017.

This evening’s entertainment at the Petrillo Music Shell is presented by 93XRT.


Sunday, July 15, 4:30 p.m.

George Clinton - by William Thoren

George Clinton - Photo credit William Thoren​

George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic revolutionized R&B in the 1970s, twisting soul music into funk. With hits like “Flash Light,” “Aqua Boogie” and “(Not Just) Knee Deep,” George Clinton influenced the rise of funk-inspired rap and funk rap in the early 1990s, establishing the status of Clinton & Co. as one of the most important forces in the history of black music. His music has become the soundtrack for the rap movement. With renewed notoriety and respect, the award-winning George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic inspiration, dedication and determination have resulted in the elevation of funk as a true genre in and of itself.

BJ the Chicago Kid is a Chicago artist on the rise. Bryan James Sledge (aka BJ the Chicago Kid) proved his knack for soul with 2012's self-released album Pineapple Now-Laters, a diverse collection of songs that included "His Pain" featuring Kendrick Lamar.  In My Mind, his major label debut on Motown, transcends basic classification. The project is as imaginative as its title implies but as real as BJ the Chicago Kid's love for music.

The Boy Illinois composes and delivers lyrics with a raw and unabashed eloquence, weaving together prose and poetry that draw upon his upbringing in Chicago. His music and lyrics are influenced by his proud Haitian heritage and a contagious energy that pulls fans deeply into each one of his songs. In 2016 he was named a winner of the ChicagoMade A&R Auditions presented by DCASE and performed at the Taste of Chicago Bud Light Stage. The hype machine surrounding his burgeoning career attracted veteran rap maverick Lupe Fiasco, who invited him on some of his recent national tours.


Goose Island Stage - Schedule of Performances

The popular Bud Light Stage at the Taste of Chicago will offer five days of performances by Chicago’s best up-and-coming and more established artists. The entertainment stage, located at the south end of Taste of Chicago at Columbus and Balbo Streets, is open from noon to 8 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

This year, DJ Mike P will emcee the stage and spin each evening’s final set. The lineup offers an eclectic mix of genres and Chicago artists on the rise. Highlights include seven ChicagoMade A&R Audition winners that were selected by a panel of music executives in October 2017.

(subject to change)

DJ Mike P at Taste of Chicago

DJ Mike P, photo courtesy DCASE

Wednesday, July 11

Noon–1 p.m.               Raii and Whitney (R&B)

1:20–2:20 p.m.            You Are Here (Rock)

2:40–3:40 p.m.            NDPNDNT (Hip Hop)–ChicagoMade A&R Auditions Winner

4–5 p.m.                      Kiara Lanier (Alt/R&B)

5:20–6:20 p.m.            Archie Powell & The Exports (Rock)

6:20–7:20 p.m.            DJ Mike P


Thursday, July 12

Noon–1 p.m.               Co-still (Hip Hop)

1:20–2:20 p.m.            Lester Rey (Contemporary Latin)

2:40–3:40 p.m.            Aniba Hotep & the Sol Collective (Soul/R&B)

4–5 p.m.                      Dave Weld (Blues)

5:20–6:20 p.m.            Marina City (Rock)–ChicagoMade A&R Auditions Winner

6:20–7:30 p.m.            DJ Mike P


Friday, July 13

Noon–1 p.m.               Black Bear Combo (Balkan Brass Band)

1:20–2:20 p.m.            Friday Pilots Club (Rock)

2:40–3:40 p.m.            Beats y Bateria (Global Electronic)

4–5 p.m.                      Matt Muse (Hip Hop)–ChicagoMade A&R Auditions Winner

5:20–6:20 p.m.            MASN (Pop/R&B)–ChicagoMade A&R Auditions Winner

6:20–7:30 p.m.            DJ Mike P


Saturday, July 14

11–11:40 a.m.             DJ Mike P

Noon–1 p.m.               CASE (Pop)

1:20–2:20 p.m.            Kingfatz (Hip Hop)

2:40–3:40 p.m.            Fee Lion (Electro/Pop)

4–5 p.m.                      Emann & Jojo (Hip Hop)–ChicagoMade A&R Auditions Winner

5:20–6:20 p.m.            Bianca Shaw (R&B/Hip Hop)

6:20–7:30 p.m.            DJ Mike P


Sunday, July 15

11–11:40 a.m.             DJ Mike P

Noon–1 p.m.               Young DRA (Hip Hop)

1:20–2:20 p.m.            The Claudettes (Indie Blues)

2:40–3:40 p.m.            Adam Ness (Alt R&B)–ChicagoMade A&R Auditions Winner

4–5 p.m.                      Emily Blue (Pop)–ChicagoMade A&R Auditions Winner

5:20–6:20 p.m.            Sa’Rayah (Soul/R&B)

6:20–7:30 p.m.            DJ Mike P

What's not allowed at Taste of Chicago?

  • Alcoholic Beverages (except those purchased at the event, of course)
  • BBQ Grills (Open Flames)
  • Fireworks or Explosives
  • Illegal Substances & Weapons
  • Large Coolers or Bags
  • Pop-up Tents/Canopies
  • Beach/Picnic Umbrellas
  • Flag Poles
  • All Pets (except Service Animals)

How To Get To The Taste of Chicago

There's a huge mass of humanity that descends upon Grant Park for the Taste, so how do you get there with the least amount of hassle? You've got four options: driving, taxis and ridesharing, taking public transportation, and riding a bike.


While this is the least preferable of the three options you can save money with discount parking services SpotHero and ParkWhiz. Both let you enter where and when you're going and will offer cheaper parking alternatives. You may have to walk a bit, but when you can find parking for as low as $8 or $9 for the day, it's worth it. 

Taxis and Ridesharing

If you don't want to deal with parking near Taste of Chicago you can take a taxi or a ride-share service. If you're new to ride-sharing service use one of our codes and you'll get a credit with Uber and Lyft

Public Transportation

With its location in Chicago's front yard Taste of Chicago is one of the easiest fests to get to in the city. Basically all points converge within blocks of the fest. The simplest way to plan your route is to use Google maps and choose the Transit option. That will provide directions for both CTA and Metra. If you're taking Metra, tickets are one price for the entire weekend.

Riding a Bike

With the Divvy bicycle sharing program anyone can ride a bike to the fest. There are tons of stations throughout the city, especially by train line stops and downtown. If you've got your own bike there are bike parking spots around the perimeter of both Millennium and Grant Parks.

Hotels Near Taste of Chicago

If you're going to do the Taste of Chicago, then why not make a staycation or a vacation of it! There are several choices within walking distance. Visit TripAdvisor to search several booking sites, including Expedia,, and, to find the best deal.

Some of our favorite hotels are the snazzy Radisson Blu in the Aqua Building, the historic Palmer House Hilton, the majestic Intercontinental Chicago, and the just-plain-cool ACME Hotel.

The Taste of Chicago is located in Grant Park at Columbus and Balbo, Chicago, IL.

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About Theresa Goodrich

Theresa  Goodrich is the founder and publisher of The Local Tourist and author of the "" book series, uplifting and slightly humorous tales of American road trips.

Columbus & Balbo, Chicago, IL
Proudly referred to as Chicago's "front yard," Grant Park is a public park, 319 acres located in Chicago’s central business district in the Loop Community area.
Grant Park
Taste of Chicago
Grant Park
Columbus & Balbo, Chicago, IL
How Much: 
Free; concert tickets $15 - $50 (lawn seating free)

Taste of Chicago is the nation's premier outdoor food festival showcasing the diversity of Chicago's dining community.


I would like to know when Elis cheesecake is going to be giving out slices of cheesecake?

We'll check and let you know!

Hello! We heard back from Eli's and here's what they said:
Join us Saturday, July 8 at 12:30 for a slice of Eli's BIG Birthday Cheesecake while supplies last. A special celebrity guest will also be in attendance to sing happy birthday, and take a photo with Eli's Slice mascot while you indulge. All in honor of Eli's and Taste of Chicago's 37th Anniversary!