Taste Of Chicago: What To Know Before You Go

taste of Chicago 2017
Crowds sample the rows of food vendors at the Taste of Chicago on Thursday, July 6, 2017. G-Jun Yam / Associated Press
taste of Chicago 2017
Crowds sample the rows of food vendors at the Taste of Chicago on Thursday, July 6, 2017. G-Jun Yam / Associated Press

Taste Of Chicago: What To Know Before You Go

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The 39th annual Taste of Chicago food festival in Grant Park will showcase 82 eateries and serve up more than 300 menu items when it starts cooking Wednesday.

Restaurants, food trucks and pop-ups will offer cuisines from Chinese to Jamaican to Thai to Brazilian. There will be 36 new vendors this year. More than a feast of some of Chicago’s best food, the festival also offers concerts, family-friendly activities and arts programming.

Don’t let hunger cloud your Taste-planning. Here are useful details to know before you visit.

Where and when is Taste?

It’s in Grant Park near the lakefront and runs Wednesday, July 10 through Sunday, July 14. Operating hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

What does it cost?

Admission to Taste is free, but strips of 14 food and beverage tickets can be purchased online or on site for $10 until 8:30 p.m. each day of the event.

Here’s a breakdown of what the tickets are worth, according to the city:

  • “Taste of” food portions: 5-6 tickets

  • Full food portions: 10-12 tickets

  • Soda/water: 7-8 tickets

  • Beer: 11-14 tickets (Alcohol sales end at 8:45 p.m.)

  • Wine/Cocktails: 10-14 tickets

  • A $3 event amenities surcharge is included in each ticket strip

How do I find my way around?

The city has this handy Taste map showing the whole fest layout.

How will traffic be affected?

Drivers should be prepared for these streets to be closed during Taste through 4 p.m. Monday, July 15:

  • Columbus, from Monroe to Balbo and from Balbo to Roosevelt (Balbo remains open to traffic)

  • Jackson, from Michigan to Lake Shore Drive

  • Congress, from Columbus to Congress Parkway semi-circle

Parking is available at Millennium Garages.

What are my mass transit options?

The CTA will operate longer trains on all six lines and will set up a sales facility on Jackson, just west of Columbus, for people to purchase passes.

Metra will offer extra trains and altered schedules on its BNSF and Union Pacific West lines. Additional inbound and outbound BNSF Line trains will be available throughout the five-day festival, and the Union Pacific West Line will provide additional inbound service on Saturday, July 13.

No alcohol will be permitted on Metra trains after 7 p.m. July 12, and all day July 13 and 14. Due to the expected crowds, Metra says it may not be able to accommodate bicycles on trains July 12 to 14.

Aside from food, what else is going on?

Taste will feature live performances at the Petrillo Music Shell and at the Goose Island Stage. Tickets can be purchased online, and lawn seating in Butler Field is free. Some of this year’s acts include De La Soul, India.Arie and Bomba Estéreo.

Inflatables, a Ferris wheel and “Farm to Festival” area with horticulture-themed activities will be available for kids.

Other events include a Theatre Garden, showcasing Chicago’s local theater; a Silent Disco (bust a move with a pair of headphones); and Chicago SummerDance, an outdoor live music and dance series.

Still need more info? Here’s the city’s Taste web page.

Marley Arechiga is a news intern for WBEZ. Follow her @marleyarechiga.