Taste of Chicago

by Jenn (eating bender) on July 2, 2010

Can you believe today is the second day in July?

Bobby and I were talking about time the other day. It seems that when you want it to go fast, it goes slow, and vice versa. There are many things I wish would hurry up and arrive already – October, for one! – but then again, I tell myself that I should be living in the moment and enjoying every day instead of always planning for the future. It’s an endless cycle.

How do you tell yourself to just cool it already?

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to stop and enjoy life in the moment by using all five senses – but one in particular stood out. Can you guess what it is from the photo below? πŸ˜‰

My business partner Jill (that’s her gorgeous self on the left) and I had the opportunity to attend Taste of Chicago for the first time ever! This is my third summer in Chicago, but I’ve never wanted to go to Taste on a weekend as I’m not a fan of huge crowds – and my weekdays often left me busy and exhausted. This year, we decided to take a weekday afternoon to explore and truly enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of all the fabulous foods and drinks the Taste has to offer.

There are streets upon streets of restaurants and vendors. Jill and I began our experience by walking up and down each of them because we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss anything! A local Taste expert told us that in order to get the most out of it, we should stick to trying foods we “can’t get down the street.” Deep dish pizza is everywhere in Chicago, for example. I wanted to make sure that the restaurants I tried were ones I had never heard of or didn’t live near, with foods that hit the spot.

First up: a stop at the Vienna Beef booth to try a Chicago-style hot dog! It sounds crazy but I still had never had an authentic one before and I thought the Taste would be the perfect excuse to try one, since I rarely eat hot dogs on my own! If you’re wondering what Chicago-style means, a true Chicago-style hot dog is a steamed hot dog topped with yellow mustard, bright green relish, onions, tomato wedges, pickle spear, peppers and a dash of celery salt served in a steamed poppyseed bun.

The Taste has bite-sized portions so that you are able to enjoy even more options. This was half of a hot dog – but it was FULL of flavor. I’m officially a fan of Chicago-style even though I would usually use ketchup and that’s a big no-no. πŸ˜‰ Eating this reminded me of Mara’s Chicago Hot Dog Tour!

Next up…

Not really a Taste, per se, but a Bud Light definitely hit the spot on a hot, sunny day!

Moving right along, our next booth stop was at CarbΓ³n, a Mexican Grill near the Chinatown neighborhood that I had never heard of before. I’m always up for trying Mexican food, especially in the form of delicious, bite-sized corn tacos that are no bigger than a silver dollar! These were super cute tequila lime chicken tacos, which I topped with a medium tomatillo green salsa.

I looooooved the flavor in these tacos! I found this great recipe from Ina Garten and hope to recreate it in my own kitchen soon! Combined with the tomatillo, it really turned up the heat. :)

After the tacos, Jill and I decided we wanted one more salty food before we switched things up and went sweet. Our taste buds were deciding between an Indian curry, pad thai, crab rangoon and more, but ultimately, we decided barbecue was the way to go and paid a visit to Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs.

The sandwiches were bigger here, so we split a barbecue pulled turkey. It was phenomenal! The turkey was moist – which is sometimes hard to do – and the barbecue sauce was perfectly smoky and not too sweet. Maybe they should try recreating it with a little Humbecue? πŸ˜‰ Only time will tell.

After we had finished with the savory courses, we walked around the streets a bit more to do some exploring, passing by Buckingham Fountain and taking in the splendor of the city on a sunny summer day. I have such a love-hate relationship with Chicago weather! When the skies are blue, it’s almost possible to forget that the cloudy days outnumber the sunny days here. πŸ˜‰

Then it was time to embrace the sweet! There were so many options to choose from, everything from beignets to cheesecake to fudge brownies. In the end, I decided to have the whole color wheel when we visited the Original Rainbow Cone! If you aren’t aware of what makes up a rainbow cone, I found this delicious diagram from their website to help shed some light:

When I was younger, I always had orange sherbet. It wasn’t even a question! As I got older, I embraced Neapolitan, a mix of chocolate and strawberry. Combine that with pistachio ice cream and Venetian vanilla with cherries and walnuts – and you’ve got yourself the most amazing cone imaginable.

Talk about nostalgia. I can’t even remember the last time I went out for an ice cream cone, let alone one that incorporated all of my favorite flavors. Hands down the best decision I made at the Taste!

We left that afternoon with our bellies perfectly full, or taste buds sufficiently satiated and a little bit more vitamin D on our shoulders and cheeks. An epic summer day, if I do say so myself.

Do you have a “Taste” in your city? What neighborhood foods do you enjoy most?

The holiday weekend is upon us! I hope that you have some fun planned for the 4th with fireworks, grill marks and sunscreen – but not necessarily all together. πŸ˜‰ Tell me what you’re up to this weekend!

I will have the Insanity recap for you at the end of the week or beginning of next. Until then, I’m heading up north to Minnesota (where I’m originally from) to get in some fun time with Bobby’s family on a lake. Tubing, water sports and boat rides – I am truly excited!


1 Jessica @ How Sweet July 2, 2010 at 8:37 am

That cone looks perfect for these hot summer days. The taste of Pittsburgh would probably be thousand-calorie Primati’s sandwiches – they have fries and coleslaw right on them!

2 VeggieGirl July 2, 2010 at 8:58 am


“Taste” in my city (well, whole state) = buckeye candies!! chocolate-covered peanut butter balls :)

Happy 4th of July weekend!

3 MarathonVal July 2, 2010 at 9:02 am

I almost bought the dress you are wearing… super cute. And I’ve never been to the Taste either… I’d like to try it once, but everyone tells me it’s not worth it…. have a great holiday weekend! :)

4 Astrid July 2, 2010 at 10:17 am

Wow, I love ice cream cones. What I miss is ice cream stands and places where you can just sit and enjoy a real ice cream sundae. Texas doesn’t have that. You just made me really excited to come to Chicago! I cannot wait. I have this fascination with the city and want to see what it feels like being there when it isn’t January. I can’t believe it is July either.

5 Natalie (The Sweets Life) July 2, 2010 at 10:48 am

fun recap!! I’m going to be downtown Chicago all weekend with my family…I typically hate the crowds at the Taste but your pictures are tempting me to check it out!

Have fun in MN!

6 Angela @ A Healthy Fit July 2, 2010 at 10:56 am

I’ve never done one of these Taste things. Looks like fun. That ice cream cone looks fantastic. I’m not really an ice cream fan, but when I was a kid, bubblegum ice cream was my favorite!

7 Mara @ What's For Dinner? July 2, 2010 at 11:29 am

Thanks for the link back friend!!! I still am wanting hot dogs since the tour :)

That Rainbow Cone place was walking distance from the first school I taught at and i LOVED them! They’re so cheerful :)

8 Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers July 2, 2010 at 11:58 am

I lived in Chicago when I was little and used to go every summer :-) I have vivid memories of being very hot and getting sunburned often! The Husband had never been to Chicago so we were there last weekend and went to the Taste on Friday (so much better to go on a weekday! glad you were able to do the same). That rainbow ice cream cone was my favorite choice of the day as well :-) Glad you finally got to go this year!

9 janetha July 2, 2010 at 1:02 pm

wow, what a great event! that ice cream cone=<3

happy 4th! xo

10 cookeatburn July 2, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Hehe, Taste of Madison includes fried cheese curds and cookie dough egg rolls if I remember correctly. Only the best ;).

11 Melissa @ Tryingtoheal July 2, 2010 at 4:32 pm

i’ll find out the unique tastes of my town next month with their taste festival! i’m excited! i’ve never been to one!

12 Erica July 2, 2010 at 4:33 pm

I can’t believe its July either, when did this happen??? Ah (as I always say ;))! I went to the taste of down here and it was incredible. I loved being able to sample a little of this and a little of that. The rainbow cone looks like so much fun. Ice cream= summer! Enjoy the Fourth!

13 BroccoliHut July 2, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Phenomenal food! I am super jealous of that lovely rainbow cone!

14 Brittany July 2, 2010 at 6:46 pm

What a fun event to attend. We have something similar in Richmond called Broad Appetit. Isaac and I went this year and tried some delicious foods from restaurants we hadn’t ever been to. The tastes that you and Jill tried all looked delicious – particularly the baby tacos and ice cream.

I hope you and the Bobster have a lovely weekend of fun and sun!!


15 John July 2, 2010 at 9:53 pm

When they do soemthing similar here they always manage to hold it during my workday!
Have fun this weekend!

16 carolinebee July 3, 2010 at 4:59 am

UMMM i need to hit up all of those places next time I’m in Chi-town πŸ˜€ I didn’t get deep dish pizza OR a hot dog when i went!! I did hit up the Chicago diner and Molly’s cupcakes so I was fully ok, not to worry. Have so much fun this weekend…i don’t even KNOW what I’m doing bc all my friends are out of town and I don’t really know that many people here! :( O well i’ll stumble upon something i’m sure, haha love u mama!!

17 CaSaundra July 3, 2010 at 5:56 am

Now that’s my kind of event! I would make a road trip to Chicago just to attend haha! I am not sure if Minneapolis has one or not…
The hot dog sounds like it’d be my favorite besides the ice cream of course. Except I would definitely need to use ketchup haha.

18 beautyandafeast July 5, 2010 at 3:06 pm

I’m from Naperville/Chicago, so yeah, we’ve got a taste in both! I actually remember reading an article in the trib about that rainbow cone so I’m glad you tried it!
-Kati @ beautyandafeast

19 Emily July 6, 2010 at 6:28 pm

THAT IC CONE!!! Gimme gimmme!! :)

I am going to be visiting Chicago later this summer, so thanks for the sneak peek into their culinary offerings!

20 Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards) July 7, 2010 at 1:53 am

So awesome!!! I get so jealous reading all these “Taste of…” recaps. Looks amazing. I live in Mozambique which definitely does not have one (yet…?) but when I move back to California I am going to the first one that I can.

21 Maytina July 7, 2010 at 6:38 am

Toronto does this all summer in different areas of the city and each area highlights a different kind of food. My favourite is called Taste of the Danforth, all Greek food! The food at Taste of Chicago looks amazing, I’d love to get my hands on that ice cream cone!

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