More than 50 restaurant -- 59, to be exact, including 12 new ones -- will participate in the 2011 Taste of Chicago festival, which runs from June 24 to July 3, 2011, in Grant Park, located at Michigan Avenue and Congress Drive. Each of the restaurants will offer six items, two of which will be available in smaller "taste" portions. Prices range from $3 to $6 per full serving and $2 or less for the "taste" portions.
New restaurants this year include The Smoke Daddy, BBQ; Starfruit Cafe, frozen keifir; and Alhambra Palace, falafel, hummus; just to name a few. Taste of Chicago 2011 Restaurant List.
Food and drink tickets are sold in strips of 12 tickets for $8 at the festival, but are available for $6 at Dominick's stores until June 23, 2011, with a FRESH VALUES CARD. Dominick's will also have a "Dominick's Cooking Corner" that features dozens of chefs, including Giada De Laurentiis and many well-known Chicago chefs. 2011 Taste of Chicago Chefs
The free festival provides a backdrop to several musical acts on two stages. The highlights include Loretta Lynn, Everest and Natalie Cole. 2011 Taste of Chicago Performance Lineup
There are a lot of changes at this year's Taste of Chicago. The park district is running the festival for the first time this year. There are changes in the concerts and new focus on the menu.
"If you're concerned about your weight or your diet, or certain restrictions, we've got-gluten free items, we've got vegetarian, and you'll see a little apple by some of the items, and that's the Humana Healthy Choice items," said Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, Chicago Park District.
"We're roasting a whole turkey leg, and if you request it we'll take it off the bone for you and take off the skin and leave off the barbeque sauce," said Manny's owner Ken Raskin.
Entertainment is a little different this year, with fewer big national acts, but now Chicago's ethnic festivals are a part of Taste.
"Tonight in fact is Viva Chicago, a focus on Latin music, and we've got Gospel Fest coming up on Sunday, and we'll have Celtic Fest and Country Music Fest later in the week," said Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, Chicago Park District.
And there's a lot here for kids, like a 30-foot sandbox.
"I like making the sandcastles and digging holes," said Taste visitor Margaret Swanborn.
Traffic will be crazy around Grant Park. CTA is beefing up service on buses and trains.
New this year: Trolleys from the Soldier Field parking lot to Taste. Or you can duck the congestion by parking farther away and walking to the Taste.
City officials encourage residents to take public transit to the festival.