Newcomers at Taste of Chicago

CHICAGO Of the 65 vendors this year, there are nine new entries. Ranging from South Side vegetarian to Maxwell Street Hashbrowns and Chinese bao. We checked out three of the first-timers' menus to see what they'll be offering taste-goers over the next 10 days.

Meat plays a big role in the life of the Suarez family. At their Colombian steak house - Las Tablas in Lincoln Park - they've been cooking the dishes from back home for nearly 20 years.

Newcomers this year to the Taste, their reasoning was simple.

"The biggest reason we're doing this is to be able to show a wide amount of people Colombian cuisine," said Leo Suarez, Las Tablas.

That means skewers of beef and chicken, arriving with plantains or potatoes; disc-shaped arepas, the corn-and-cheese pancakes served all over Colombia. Chorizo sausage will be grilled and their unique empanadas are also worth checking out.

"We put ground beef, rice, hardboiled egg and potato all together. It's by far our most popular appetizer," said Suarez.

And since the restaurant uses fresh fruit in all of its cocktails, they'll be making a refreshing Colombian fruit salad, made with a native, non-alcoholic soda.

From the South Loop, pan-Asian favorite Tamarind is another newcomer. They'll be offering a mildly spicy chicken red curry, we well as a dish called "Taiwan Shining Noodles," a simple dish with veggies and thin egg noodles. Orange chicken is another safe option, and the taro fries may not sound enticing, but they're surprisingly good.

Another newcomer - and familiar site at neighborhood summertime street fairs - is Adobo Grill, which has two city locations and another in Lombard. Chef Freddy Sanchez is keeping it simple: homemade guac and chips, a corn-based chicken tamale and those smoky, soft pork tacos, also know as cochinita pibil.

"Taste of Chicago actually has been very helpful with us. We talked to a couple of people there that are been there for many years and they're actually the ones that are kind of coaching us how much food to prepare, so we really appreciate that these people are trying to help as well," said Freddy Sanchez, Adobo Grill.

Sanchez says since this is his first "Taste," the hardest part is planning on how much food to make.

"We are looking forward. I know it's going to be a lot of work, but I think it's going to be a lot of fun," said Sanchez.

By the way, due to the salmonella tomato issue, Adobo will omit them from its guacamole, until all tomatoes have been cleared.

Las Tablas
2965 N. Lincoln Ave.

614 S. Wabash

Adobo Grill:

    Old Town
    1610 N. Wells

    Wicker Park
    2005 W. Division

    365 Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard

Other new additions this year:
Wow Bao
Soul Vegetarian East
Canady le Chocolatier
Now We're Poppin'
The Breakfast Club
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