It's pleasantly surprising to see legendary Chicago businesses like Bobak's Sausage participating at this year's Taste. The city is clearly trying to attract homegrown companies. This year, a new rule takes effect: your business must have at least one location in Chicago.
Shaw's Crab House. A seafood treasure in Chicago, it's been importing, preparing and serving some of the best seafood for more than 25 years. Their oyster bar next door to the main dining room still shucks-to-order, and their East Coast lobster roll has few peers in the city.
On the West Side, Mexican posole is the specialty at Pozoleria San Juan in West Humboldt Park, and one you're likely never to see at The Taste. This earthy soup comes in either white, green or red - the latter two are indicative of the chiles used. Loaded with hominy and chunks of pork, this filling dish can be garnished as you like: fresh radish, chopped onions, cilantro and avocado are typical.. and it's not something you'd want to eat roaming around Grant Park, since it requires so much real estate on the table.
On the Northwest Side, two icons scream Chicago, but again, it's doubtful they would ever show up in a booth on Columbus Avenue. For more than 60 years, Superdawg has been both drive-in and sit-down restaurant. They recently opened a second location in Wheeling. Their dogs feature the rare pickled green tomatoes and crinkle-cut fries, tucked gently into their own private boxes.
While Smak Tak speaks to the city's strong Polish population. This Jefferson Park charmer feels like you're dining in someone's home: from the well-made pierogi to the mammoth potato pancakes stuffed with goulash, it's rib-sticking food that's hard to duplicate in a portable booth.
And while the only certainties in life may be death and taxes, you can bet you'll never find the city's best pizza joint at The Taste. Great Lake has carved out a unique niche in Andersonville: limited hours, limited menu, limited seating and NO delivery. But owner Nick Lessins makes every pie himself, using a homemade dough recipe that is unparalleled in Chicago. He makes his own cheese, sources toppings from local farmers and has a relationship with his pies that rivals any love affair.
Of course, there still is pizza to be found here, and plenty of various edible things on sticks. But while you enjoy the booths and the crowds here over the next 10 days. Consider this: there are plenty of other great finds - beyond Grant Park - that speak to our city's diversity and deliciousness.
SHAW'S IN CHICAGO
21 East Hubbard St
SHAW'S IN SCHAUMBURG
1900 E. Higgins Rd., Shaumburg, IL. 60173
Pozoleria San Juan
1523 N. Pulaski Rd.
6363 N. Milwaukee Ave.
333 S. Milwaukee Avenue, Wheeling, IL 60090
5961 North Elston Avenue
Chicago, IL 60646
Great Lake Pizza
1477 W. Balmoral Ave.