The Taste: Convince Me
Ok, I'm putting my past back in my past and setting my point of view aside.
I know some of you LOVE The Taste of Chicago. I've been posting about what a waste it is.
Mr. CG and I are going to The Taste. We're going on Friday night, yep, the worst possible time to go, but may as well get the full experience. Gonna see the fireworks and give the Taste a shot.
I don't think we've been there since Jayne Byrne was mayor and started the whole thing (ok, so maybe not THAT long, but it's been a while).
And I need you to tell me:
where to go
what to try
what to avoid
how to find the good stuff
when to get there
what to bring
any tips and techniques you have to dealing with The Taste.
I totally trust you and will report on our adventure later.
I promised I would report back so to complete, we didn't go.
No one came close to convincing me. I was definitely not enrolled in
"a total mess"
"gator sausage" or "cumin-dusted fries" or "Irish egg rolls" (?)
"grin and bear and pray for rain"
pulling a shopping cart with an ice chest around.
I was intrigued by Querencia's Taste Alternative. Will try that.
You made the right decision. It's just a joke. I was going to see Buddy Guy, but it started pouring just as I left. It cleared up, but the seats were probably still soaking and frankly, the only decent food I have ever had was shrimp cakes at Blues Fest. I was at the French Quarter Fest a few years ago, well 10 years ago, and I got to see Allen Tousaint and eat great food for cheap. For $3, you could get shrimp etoufee, a huge oyster poboy, etc.
A Taste Alternative: The Taste is festive, a carnival atmosphere, and that's fun if you like it. But if you are visiting, hate crowds, and want to avoid The Waste of Chicago, try these alternatives: 1) Take Clark 22 bus (travels north on Dearborn) to Foster (5200 North). Strolling northward for a few blocks from there you can hit a) Middle Eastern Bakery (Foster just west of Clark) for spinach pies; Kalamata olives, Medjool dates, and baklava; b) Ann Sather's for cinnamon rolls; c) Swedish deli for sandwiches and salads; d) Swedish bakery for whatever looks good (it's all good); e) Pars Grocery for Persian dried cherries; f) little Italian patisserie next door to Brown Elephant just above Balmoral; g) Edgewater Produce for tropical fruit. Or, variously, 2) Take Red Line to Loyola, transfer to Devon 155 bus to Western Avenue where you will find yourself in Mumbai. Browse your way in and out of dozens of Indian/Pakistani all-you-can eat lunches, sweet shops, snack shops, and grocery stores. Or 3) Take Milwaukee 56 bus heading west from State & Madison, get off at Hamlin. First eat Polish Smorgasbord at The Red Apple, then check out several blocks of Polish delis and bakeries. You can make a do-it-yourself Taste of Chicago all over town for a fraction of the cost and avoid crowds.
get a pull cart of some sort if you can - like the shopping cart you see older (wiser) ladies with. fill a collapsable 6 pack sized cooler up with a six pack, some ice, throw it into a paper grocery bag, throw the bag in the cart. Top the cooler with a blanket, and top the blanket with the styrofoam containers of foods that you get, and cart it all off to a spot you've picked out to watch the fireworks.
The mustard catfish is usually a "must" for me.
"We're going on Friday night, yep, the worst possible time to go, but may as well get the full experience. "
I've always had pleasant enough experiences at ToC by following one inviolable rule: Off-days, off-hours. I'm afraid the above creates an insurmountable barrier, and I hesitate to give advice since it turns an essentially chancey exercise into a far chancier one. All i can say is, grin and bear it and pray for rain.
Jerk chicken is a waste. Always go for the unique.
I loved loved the mustard crusted catfish.
We also had goat and plantains from Vee Vees, great baklava, gator sausage (not so unique but good) and cumin dusted fries.
I admit, we go because we live practically across the street and bought our tickets early. Don't waste money on drinks and bring your own water. There are a few things I think would also be interesting to try, including Irish egg rolls and the crispy noodle shrimp and shark. Forget the pizza and hotdogs - get them somewhere cheaper.