Taste of Chicago 2015 underway at Grant Park

Leah Hope Image
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Taste of Chicago kicks off in Grant Park
The Taste of Chicago began Wednesday in Grant Park.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The soup's on at the Taste of Chicago, as are the barbeque ribs, tacos, churros, cream puffs and more available at the five day food festival in Grant Park.

The Taste opened Wednesday morning and runs until Sunday. Hours are 11a.m. to 9 p.m. during the weekdays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free and food tickets can be purchased in the park.

Food lovers will be able to sample cuisine from 60 vendors, including five food trucks and eight pop-up restaurants. There are 19 newcomers and more than 30 vegetarian and gluten-free samples.

PHOTOS: Try something new at Taste of Chicago

Though temperatures are only in the 60s, not all attendees and vendors are upset with the cool weather.

"Oh it's been fantastic," says Kathy Navarro. "The weather is kind of gloomy but it's nice and cool, so at least it's not horribly hot."

"This is good, this is good eating weather here," says longtime vendor Charles Robinson of Robinson's No. 1 Ribs.

It's good cooking weather as well, according to Allen Singleton of Miller's Pub.

"Oh I'm very happy," Singleton says. "Ecstatic to be honest, because if you add 90 degrees to 400, you do the math!"

There are new options for vegetarians and health-minded people on the menu this year, as well.

"The last time I just had corn on the cob," says Garima Nahar. "And French fries. So yeah, there are definitely more options than five, six years ago."

"I think they've done a lot of things this years to bring new vendors in and bring new people and honestly we've been busy all day so I think a lot of people are open to healthy food even here," says Luke Saunders of Farmers Fridge.

Craving celebrity treatment? Guests can sit down to a three-course meal prepared by James Beard Award-recognized chefs on Buckingham Fountain Plaza at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Tickets are $45 per person and must be purchased in advance. Chef Tanya Baker of Boarding House is cooking Wednesday night.

Phillip Foss is the executive chef at El Ideas in Chicago's Douglas Park neighborhood. He showed ABC7's Tanja Babich what happens when liquid nitrogen-chilled ice cream is mixed with hot potato leek soup and French fries.

WATCH: Playing with liquid nitrogen at the Taste

This year's musical lineup includes Erykah Badu, The Chieftains, Spoon and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.

Weezer is headlining Wednesday night. Tickets must be purchased for the seating area at Petrillo Music Shell.

PHOTOS: Bands playing at Taste of Chicago 2015

Last year's food and entertainment festival drew 1.1 million people and made $5.46 million over four days.

The city recommends taking public transportation to and from the Taste. Extra CTA trains and buses will be running through the weekend. The CTA urges riders to load their Ventra cards ahead of time to avoid lines.