Taste of Chicago 2011 | What to hit, what to skip, plus photos
More than 40 tasting portions reviewed plus complete menus for every stand
Published: June 24, 2011
Taste of Chicago 2011 | Friday
14 Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison St.
Garlic Fries; BBQ Beef Sandwich; Mac and Cheese Bites; Maine Lobster Roll
“Taste Of”: Mac and Cheese Bites; White Chicken Chili
Only three bites come in a “Taste Of” portion (Mac and cheese bites, 4 tickets) and visually these things are pretty laughable, resembling a puny dried apricot dunked in batter and deep-fried. However, one bite reveals that these bad boys are nothing to sneeze at. The piping-hot inside gushes with melty cheddar cheese and elbow-shaped pasta both kids and adults will love. We wanted, like, five more orders.
43 Dominick's, Chicagoland Locations
Red/Green Seedless Grapes; Cherries; Watermelon Slice; Roasted Ultra Sweet Corn on the Cob
“Taste Of”: 1/2 Watermelon Slice; Pineapple Bites
28 Eli's Cheesecake Company, 6701 W. Forest Preserve Dr.
Eli’s Frozen Chocolate Chip Crunch Dipper; Eli’s Cookie Crazy Oreo Smoosh with Vanilla Ice Cream; Eli’s Turtle Cheesecake; Eli’s Original Plain Cheesecake; Eli’s Original Plain Cheesecake w/ Strawberries
“Taste Of”: Eli’s Original Plain Cheesecake; Eli’s “Skinny Chocolate” Cheesecake
We tried: Eli’s “Skinny Chocolate” Cheesecake, 3 tickets
Notes: The slice and price (three tickets) is right. Undoubtedly, one of the best foods we sampled. If this cold, cocoa goodness contains artificial sweeteners, we couldn't tell.
47 Franco's Ristorante, 300 W. 31st St.
Italian Ice Combo (Lemon, watermelon, blue raspberry); Italian Lemon or Watermelon Ice; Homemade Strawberry Gelato; Homemade Staciatella Gelato
“Taste Of”: Italian Lemon Ice; Italian Watermelon Ice
We tried: Italian lemon ice, 4 tickets (tasting portion)
Notes: Lemon? This tasted like unflavored, vaguely dirty, chunky ice.
18 *The Fudge Pot, 1532 N. Wells St.
Chocolate Dipped Strawberry; Chocolate Dipped Frozen Banana; Combination: Strawberry, Fudge, Banana
“Taste Of”: Baby Chocolate Frozen Banana; Chocolate Fudge
Notes: As tasting portions go, the baby chocolate frozen banana (3 tickets) from the Fudge Pot can’t be beat—it’s a civilized-sized dessert with a thick layer of rich chocolate that actually cools you without dripping all over you on a muggy day.
22 Garrett Popcorn Shops, Chicagoland Locations
Popcornsicle; The Chicago Mix; ½ lb. Mixed Nuts; Ice Cream
“Taste Of”: Popcorn Ball; Mixed Nuts Sampler
Is this Popcornsicle, 6 tickets, almost entirely a novelty purchase? Yes. Does the fact that a faux-hawked weirdo from Top Chef came up with this silly idea make us like it more? Maybe. Is three minutes of liquid nitrogen smoke rolling off a super-cold ball of classic cheese-and-caramel mix on a stick worth three dollars? Totally.
9 Guey Lon Restaurant, 3968 N. Elston Ave.
Orange Chicken w/ Fried Rice; Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura; Egg Roll; Crab Rangoon
“Taste Of”: Vegetable Tempura; Pot Stickers
We tried: Vegetable Tempura; Pot Stickers
Notes: Guey Lon Chinese Restaurant has been in business since 1946, making it one of the oldest restaurants at Taste, and also it has been participating in the Taste of Chicago since its very first year. For only four tickets, you could try either its very excellent vegetable tempura or its traditional Cantonese pot stickers. Neither too greasy—both winners in our book.
45 Harold's Chicken # 71, 2109 S. Wabash Ave.
Chicken Wings; Chicken Nuggets; Fried Okra; Fries
“Taste Of”: Fried String Beans; 1 Wing and Fried Okra
We tried: Fried-chicken wing with fried green beans, 4 tickets (tasting portion).
Notes: The wing was juicy inside and crunchy outside, and the green beans were solidly fried. There's an enormous vat of "mild sauce" at the front of the stand; ignore it and find the small bottle of hot sauce.
34 Harry Caray's Restaurant, 33 W. Kinzie St.
Holy Cow Potato Chips; Fried Dough; Toasted Cheese Ravioli
“Taste Of”: Toasted Cheese Ravioli; Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
23 Hashbrowns, 731 W. Maxwell St.
Sweet Potato Fries; Sweet Potato Hashbrowns; Maxwell Street Burger; BBQ Meatballs
“Taste Of”: Sweet Potato Fries; Sweet Potato Hashbrowns
Notes: We love sweet potatoes, we love hashbrowns, but sweet potato hashbrowns? Here, they just don’t stand up—a bit too yammy and neither sweet or buttery enough to make an essential side dish.