When people think of Chicago, several things usually come to mind: wind, Al Capone, and the Sears (not Willis) Tower, to name a few.
But what’s the most important source of pride for Chicagoans? Ask any native and the answer will most likely boil down to one thing…food! Whether it’s finding the best local spot for a hot dog with “the works” or deciding between deep dish and thin crust pizza, Chicagoans love celebrating that which brings us all together.
This summer, tackle one of the many food festivals around the city and suburbs for a fresh taste of Chicagoland culture!
Chicago Food Festivals to Check Out
Naperville Ribfest, July 1 – 4
The name says it all on this one: ribs, ribs, and more ribs! Each vendor that you’ll find at the Naperville Ribfest has their own individual recipe, so no two tastings will be the same. In fact, vendors wait for this annual event to compete for Best Ribs and Best Sauce!
Though BBQ takes the spotlight, there are plenty of vendors who serve other options such as burgers, chicken skewers and funnel cakes, so everyone can find something to enjoy. This fest is also family-friendly, complete with a petting zoo, magic show, rides and games.
Oh, and here’s a bonus you can feel good about. Ribfest is a fundraiser put on by the Exchange Club of Naperville, helping fight child abuse and domestic violence. In the last 28 years, nearly $14.5M has been given back to the community!
Taste of Chicago, July 6 – 10
Capture the heart of Chicago cuisine in one of the biggest food festivals of the summer. This year, the 36th Annual Taste of Chicago promises to be the best yet with participation from several famous staples for the city, including Lou Malnati’s Pizza, Eli’s Cheesecake, Gold Coast Dogs, Billy Goat Tavern & more!
Situated along the lakefront in Grant Park, this 5-day fest has free admission, with tastings priced at $2.50 or less so you can try a little bit of everything, from “wet” and “dipped” Italian beef to upside down caramel cupcakes.
Spend the day with good eats, then stay into the evening hours for live music at the Petrillo Music Shell. Musical acts this year include The Roots, KONGOS, Billy Idol, The Decemberists and the Isley Brothers.
Chicago Margarita Festival, July 30 – 31
Perhaps your palate is craving something of the, we’ll call it, ‘liquid variety.’ Then this festival’s for you! One of Chicago’s newest events in its second year, the Chicago Margarita Festival is your anything-but-typical day on the beach.
Loaded with any sweet or sour flavored margarita you can imagine, this 2-day fiesta takes place in the South Shore neighborhood and features beach volleyball, outdoor Jenga and Latin & Caribbean music to transport you to an island far away.
When you get hungry, there will be an assortment of food trucks for you to choose from. But take our advice on this one: bring a chair and have cash on hand!
Ethnic Food Fests, Various Dates
You can literally (yes, literally) find any kind of cultural cuisine in Chicagoland. Since the city is a melting pot of different heritages, just driving down the street can take you on an international tour of different flavors.
So, it’s only fitting that there are plenty of ethnic food fests around the city and the ‘burbs to choose from. Here’s just a short list to get you started:
- Irish Fest in Arlington Heights, July 15-16; Guinness, fish & chips
- The Big Greek Food Fest in Niles, July 15-17; Souvlaki, gyros, and loukoumathes (Greek donuts)
- Aurora Puerto Rican Festival, July 23 – 24; Arroz con Gandules (rice & pigeon peas), pasteles, roasted pork
Centrally located in the middle of all the action is Eaglewood Resort & Spa. Nestled on 106 acres in Itasca, Eaglewood is just 12 miles away from O’Hare airport and 35 minutes away from Downtown Chicago – an easy trip by Metra rail or expressway.
Eaglewood is not only the perfect home base for your summer escape, it’s also ringing in the month of July with a bang. In honor of National Grill Month, Eaglewood is offering a special smokey chili crusted tequila skirt steak. Paired perfectly with grilled sweet corn and sweet potato cakes, this steak is marinated for 24 hours and adds a kick to your al fresco dining experience.
So get ready, because this summer is all about good eats, tasty drinks and lasting memories!