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May 17, 2008 09:38 AM

Boston hound: Blues festival question

Coming to Chicago for a few days before a wedding (June 4-6), and we realize our time happens to overlap with the Blues Festival -- which is not a major interest for us, but we want to stop by. Thanks to a rec on this board, we had planned to go to the Art Institute and then have lunch at Pizano's Pizza. My question is this: will the Blues Festival have a bunch of local restaurants set up outdoors, so that we could actually sample a few places easily while just walking around, instead of going to Pizano's? Or are multiple interesting food stands not really part of the Blues Festival deal?

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    1. I am not sure who will be there - do not expect top flight restaurants but there will be food sold at the festival -

      4 Replies
      1. re: weinstein5

        The official website for the festival is at

        Based on the fact that there is nothing there about available food stated on the website, I would guess that there will be vendors selling food and beverage out of food trucks, where you can get stuff like hot dogs, and pizza that is NOT baked in a stone hearth on the premises, and similar fare. Not great food, but if you want to go to the festival for the blues, you won't have to go hungry. This is not the type of festival where our famous restaurants serve their specialties. (Taste of Chicago, a month later, is supposed to be like that, although even it is not the greatest sample of our best foods - which is why they're planning a "Chicago Gourmet" event at the end of September.)

        Based on your post, keep your plans for Pizano's.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          actually under the Admissions & Hours they do say:

          "Food and beverage tickets are sold in strips of 12 for $8.00. "

          So I would expect something similar to Taste but in a smaller scale -

          1. re: weinstein5

            Oh yes, you're right. Sorry about that.

            Given the fact that it's free and in Grant Park, you could always go, and if the food options don't satisfy you, walk over to Pizano's...

            1. re: weinstein5

              In the past the Blues Festival food/drink options have been very limited (usually one beer sponsor, a couple of sandwich/pizza/fried-stuff/ribs options). Nothing to write home about, or cancel a reservation elsewhere for. It's all about the music.

        2. Bluesfest, which is a great fest is obviously based on the music, where Taste of Chicago is more so on the food. We live in the burbs and when going to bluesfest always eat somewhere on the way in. And then go enjoy the music. One tip on bluefest... there's usually about 7-8 stages set up. We find it more enjoyable to hit some of the lesser-known talent on the smaller stages than to fight the crowds on the main stage (not to say we never hit the main stage). This year they've got some of the best lineups I've ever seen... probably because it's the 25th annual bluefest. Koko Taylor, Johnny Winter, James Cotton, BB King, Buckwheat Zydeco, Billy Branch; David Honeyboy Edwards is playing at one of the smaller stages... he's about 94 years old and still is going strong! I think he's the only one left that played with Robert Johnson. Sorry, I'm getting a little sidetracked here by giving you a little blues history!

          Enjoy your trip!! It's a great time of year to visit Chicago!

          1. Thanks very much to all of you. I do think we'll check out those smaller stages and enjoy whatever we happen to catch, but for lunch, yeah, probably stick with Pizano's.

            1. I am also a fellow Bostonian who is going to the blues festival and we are first timers to this particular festival and are curious what to do about food. We love Blues but we cannot go a whole day without food. Any recommendations for places to grab a bit within walking distance. Also, can you just bring food in with you? We are not super keen on the idea of eating from food trucks.

              Thanks so much

              2 Replies
              1. re: AmandaRG

                Stick with the Blues theme and hit Buddy Guy's Legends on the way to Bluefest. He has live entertainment during Bluefest day & night. Food is mostly cajun, but has some bbq items, great burgers, veggie burgers, salads. We've eaten there numerous time and the food, service, entertainment and just being at Buddy's is the best! There's also a good chance you may catch Buddy sitting at the back corner of the bar. Here's the link:


                1. re: AmandaRG

                  No problem about bringing in food, and a great place to pick up fixings for a picnic (cheese, bread, salami, sandwiches) would be Pastoral at their 53 E. Lake St. location: