For the most part, I’ve avoided the Taste of Chicago despite my living here for many years as I tend to steer clear of crowds.
But, there is some very good food to be had, and if some preparations are made, I’ve found I can even have a pretty good time. Here are some thoughts towards enjoying a trip to the Taste …
- Take the day off work. Not only are things more fun when you’ve taken the day off, it also leads to the next tip …
- Go mid-week. The significantly lighter crowds can make all the difference between enjoying yourself and not.
- Check the weather report.
- Plan to bring at least a blanket, bottled water or drinks, sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat. Also bring napkins and wet-naps. You will not get enough from the vendors.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, especially if you plan on eating ribs.
- If you have kids, consider asking extra family and friends to help. Try to outnumber them. If your child wants to ride the carousel, you’ll want to have someone able to accompany while another is hanging out by a home base or getting food.
- Show up early. In fact, try to show up just before they begin serving. You’ll have little to no lines to deal with and the food is fresh.
- Take public transportation. You don’t want to constantly be worrying about getting back to the car or calculating the costs associated with a long stay. Finding parking downtown is a nuisance better avoided in any case.
- When you get there, create a home base. Stake out a good spot in the shade. It can also be useful as a safety spot to go if someone gets lost. Even without the concerns of safety, it is comforting to have a place to return. We found the family area to be a nice area.
- Get maps for everyone. The map has all the names of restaurants and descriptions of food available listed alphabetically and by location.
- Map out plans. Circle the places you want to go on a single map. This allows an optimal pathfinding to get grub. You can also avoid the crowds around the booths as you’ll know what food is where. You can walk on the outskirts and jump in when necessary.
- Assign a “go-fer”. Whoever is willing, and hopefully several people are, can take turns getting food for the bunch. It’s much easier for a single person to zip through the crowd than for two or more. This allows you to go back and forth more readily rather than decide you want something but pass it up as it’s on the other side of the event.
- Walking on the other side of the crowds also means you’ll be walking past free drink samples. (Go-fer bonus).
- Always ask for napkins, as meager as they may be. You won’t find them anywhere other than at the vendors.
- Visit the family stage, even if you are not going with family. There are some excellent acts like hula dancing, martial arts exhibitions, and spanish guitar performances.