The 32nd Annual Taste of Chicago has many new features this year, but festival attendees who enjoy longtime vendors will be pleased at the lineup of five-day restaurants announced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE).
Eli's Cheesecake, a Taste vendor since the first event on July 4, 1980, will join other longtime Taste restaurants, including Bacino's Pizza, Billy Goat Inn, Harold's Chicken, Lou Malnati's Pizzaria and Robinson's No. 1 Ribs at the free summer festival, July 11-15 in Grant Park.
Pazzo's, which will be serving a Chicken Vesuvio Sandwich, Chopped Salad and Tiramisu, is the only restaurant making its debut as a five day restaurant this year, in addition to the previously announced 15 Pop-Ups restaurants that are new to Taste; three will be on site each day.
"While we love bringing in many new things to Taste of Chicago, we know it's a great tradition of summer, as families return to enjoy their favorite foods," said DCASE Commissioner Michelle T. Boone. "There are enough menu items to offer something delicious for everyone."
Four of this year's returning restaurants joined the festival last year and six joined the lineup in 2010.
Menu items will include such varieties as Tortilla Encrusted Tiliapia Taco from Carbon; Jolloff Rice with Sauteed Goat from Vee-Vee's African Cuisine; Deep Fried Chinese Bread from Lao Sze Chuan; Pork-filled Banana Dumpling from Sabor Latino and Mustard Fried Catfish from B.J.'s Market & Bakery.
The 2012 Taste of Chicago Five-Day Restaurants are:
3420 W. Grace
Fish and Chips; Roasted Corn on the Cob; Irish Egg Rolls
Taste of: Irish Egg Roll; Fries with Irish Curry
Since 1973, The Abbey has been Chicago's home for live music, food and features international sports telecasts (rugby, Gaelic, soccer) as well as major American sporting events.
2204 N. Lincoln
Stuffed Spinach Pizza Slice; Stuffed Sausage Pizza Slice; Thin Crust Cheese Pizza Slice
Taste of: Stuffed Spinach Pizza Slice; Thin Crust Cheese Pizza Slice
The first Bacino's was opened 30 years ago on Lincoln, Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Their "heart healthy" stuffed spinach pizza was the first to be recognized by the Chicago Heart Association.
Billy Goat Inn
1535 W. Madison
Rib Eye Sandwich; Double Cheeseburger; Single Cheeseburger
Taste of: 1/2 Cheeseburger; Baked Potato Chips
Founded by Billy Sianis, a Greek immigrant, in 1934 and became famous through Mike Royko's newspaper columns, a supposed curse on the Chicago Cubs, and the Olympia Cafe sketch on Saturday Night Live.
BJ's Market & Bakery
8734 S. Stony Island
Mustard-Fried Catfish; Chicken Tenders; Sweet Potato Chips
Taste of: Mustard-Fried Catfish; Peach Cobbler
Opened in May 1997 and was named one of the "Top Ten Restaurants in Chicago" by WLS-TV food critic James Ward.
5275 S. Archer
Maxwell Street Polish Sausage with Grilled Onions; Octa-Dog Platter; All Natural Ragin' Cajun Chicken Sausage
Taste of: Mini Maxwell Street Polish Sausage with Grilled Onions; Hunters Stew (Bigos)
Chicago based sausage company, which was founded in 1967. Bobak's is a USDA meat processor nationally and internationally.
Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill
300 W. 26th
Fire Grilled Steak Taco; Tortilla Encrusted Tilapia Taco; Tamale Wrapped in Corn Silk
Taste of: Tequila-lime Marinated Grilled Chicken Breast Taco; 1/2 Tamale Wrapped in Corn Silk.
Carbon started in Chicago in 2007 in the Bridgeport neighborhood and has opened a second location in the Ukrainian Village area of Chicago.
2214 S. Wolcott
Churros; Funnel Cakes; Ice Cream (2 scoops)
Taste of: 4 Mini Churros; Frozen Bananas
Established in 1996 at the Maxwell Street Market in Chicago. Since then, several other locations have opened at places like Navy Pier and at Westfield Chicago Ridge Mall.
2372 S. Archer
Deep Dish Cheese Pizza; Deep Dish Sausage Pizza; Meatball Sandwich
Taste of: Mini Meatball Sandwich; Chocolate Frozen Banana
Family owned and operated since 1963, Connie's pizza is known for its deep dish pizza pies. Connie's pizza is located on Archer Ave., Chicago, McCormick Place, Naperville, Navy Pier and Westmont.
1059 W. Addison
BBQ Beef Sliders; Garlic Fries; Mac & Cheese Bites
Taste of: Mac & Cheese Bites; White Chicken Chili
-Located across the street from Wrigley field, the Cubby Bear has been opened since 1953. It serves American style cuisine and has more than 75 plasma screen TVs throughout the bar.
Cherries or Grapes-Red/Green Seedless; Corn on the Cob; Watermelon Slice
Taste of: Watermelon 1/2 Slice; Pineapple Bites
Dominick's, a primarily Chicago based grocery store, started as the Original Corner Store in 1918 and in 1950 it was expanded and transformed into a chain of supermarkets. Today, Dominick's Finer Food operates 99 retail units in 70 communities.
Eli's Cheesecake Company
6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive
Turtle Cheesecake Smoosh w/ Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce; Cookie Cheesecake made with Oreo; Orginial Plain Cheesecake (with strawberries)
Taste of: Orginial Plain Cheesecake; Mini Chocolate Chip Crunch Dipper
Cheesecake Company based out of Chicago. Eli's original plain cheesecake has been called "Chicago's most famous dessert" by some.
300 W. 31st
All American Italian Ice Combo-Watermelon, Lemon & Blue Raspberry; Italian Ice - Lemon or Watermelon; Gelato-Straciatella (Vanilla w/ Chocolate Shavings) or Strawberry
Taste of: Italian Lemon Ice; Italian Watermelon Ice
Franco's is a family-run business that serves Italian cuisine. Located in Bridgeport in Chicago.
Gold Coast Dogs
225 S. Canal
Chicago Style Hot Dog or Plain; Maxwell Street Polish Sausage or Plain; Chicago Style Fries or Plain
Taste of: 1/2 Chicago Style Hot Dog; Pickle on a Stick
Gold Coast Dogs opened in 1985 and has been the only hot dog company in the official City of Chicago festivals such as The Taste of Chicago, Celtic Fest, Blues Fest and Jazz Fest.
2109 S. Wabash
(8) Chicken Wings; (3) Chicken Wings; Nuggets w/ Fries
Taste of: Green (Fried) Beans; Fries
Harold's Chicken was established in 1950 and has two locations on West 87th Street and on South Wabash.
4623 N. Broadway
Jerk Chicken w/ Red Rice & Beans and Plantain; Jollof w/ Oxtails; Bissup (Hibiscuss) Sorbet
Taste of: Jerk Chicken; Bissup (Hibiscuss) Sorbet
Iyanze serves authentic African cuisine at its location on N. Broadway St. and also has a delivery service.
2101 W. Chicago
Pierogi (Potato, Kraut, Beef, Potato Cheddar Jalapeno); Polish Sausage Sandwich w/ Sauteed Onions or Kraut; Chicken Kabob and Curry Rice w/ Vegetables
Taste of: Pierogi Potato; Potato Pancake w/ Apple Sauce or Sour Cream
Kasia's opened in 1950 and serves Polish cuisine and is most famous for its pierogis.
Lao Sze Chuan
2172 S. Archer
House Special Dry Ribs; Never Forget Chicken; Deep Fried Chinese Bread
Taste of: House Special Dry Ribs; Spring Roll (Vegetarian)
Lao Sze Chuan opened in 1998 and features Szechwan dishes ranging from mainstream to authentic.
Lou Malnati's Pizzeria
805 S. State
Cheese Pizza; Sausage Pizza; Bruschetta
Taste of: Chopped Salad; Bruschetta
The first Lou Malnati's Pizzeria was opened in Lincolnwood, a northern suburb of Chicago, in 1971. It is family owned and operated with 34 locations and growing throughout the Chicagoland area.
Oak Street Beach Café
5700 S. Cicero
Grilled Slipper Tail Lobster w/ Garlic Potatoes; Grilled Bourbon Style Chicken Wheat Wrap w/ Garlic Potatoes; Bourbon Chicken Nachos w/ Cheese Sauce & Jalapenos
Taste of: Grilled Bourbon Chicken Wrap; Garlic Potatoes
Oak Street Beach Café is located only steps away from Lake Michigan.
1528 N. Wells
Celtic Corn on the Cob; Corned Beef Sandwich; Black Angus Cheese Burger
Taste of: Sweet Potato Fries; Corned Beef Sandwich
O'Brien's Restaurant has been apart of Chicago's Historic Old Town Neighborhood for more than 30 years. They also have a location at O'Hare International Airport and along the Chicago River.
Original Rainbow Cone
9233 S. Western
Original Rainbow on a Cake Cone-Chocolate, Strawberry, Palmer House, Pistachio, Orange Sherbet; Original Rainbow on a Waffle Cone; Cookie Dough or Cookies and Cream on a Cake/Waffle Cone
Taste of: Taster Cup of Original Rainbow Cone; Dream Cup-Vanilla & Orange Sherbet
Original Rainbow Cone has been a Chicago tradition since 1926 and has participated in The Taste of Chicago for more than 25 years.
311 S. Wacker
Chicken Vasuvio Sandwich; Chopped Salad (vegan, glutan free); Tiramisu
Taste of: Chicken Vesuvio-open faced on Crostini; Chopped Salad
Polo Café and Catering Bridgeport U.S.A.
3322 S. Morgan
Garlic-Mozzarella Cheese Bread (2 pieces); Baked Crab Cake Nuggets (9 pieces); Assorted Pie (10" whole box)
Taste of: Garlic-Mozzarella Cheese Bread (1 piece); Assorted Pie Slice (whipped cream, optional)
Reggio's Pizza Express III
1339 S. Halsted
Turkey Sausage Pizza-Thin Crust; Sausage Pizza-Deep Dish; Red, White, Blue Italian Ice
Taste of: Small Italian Ice; Cheese Pizza-Thin Crust
Reggiano's has been providing its pizza to customers across the US for more than 40 years. Currently, Reggiano's is the only frozen pizza manufactured in the city of Chicago.
252 W. 26th
Italian Breaded Steak; Beef & Sausage Combo; Fresh Cut French Fries
Taste of: Italian Breaded Steak; Boneless Buffalo Chicken Wings
Ricobene's has been serving the southside of Chicago for more than 65 years. The restaurant is most famous for its breaded steak sandwich.
Robinson's No. 1 Ribs
225 S. Canal
BBQ Rib Tips; Pulled Pork Sandwich; Boneless Rib Sandwich
Taste of: Rib Tips; Hot Link
-In 1982, Charlies Robinson beat out 400 people in a Ribfest held by columnist Mike Royko, who claimed he made the best ribs. Since then, Robinson's has been serving in the Chicago Loop area and caters as well.
3810 W. North
Puerto-Rican Steak & Onions w/ Rice & Pigeon Peas; Steak Jibarito; Pork Filled Banana Dumpling
Taste of: Steak Mini Jibarito; Coconut Ice
Sabor Latino has been serving Puerto Rican cooking in the Chicagoland area for more than 27 years. In addition to the West North Ave location, they have Sabor Latino No. 2 on West Fullerton Ave.
Star of Siam
11 E. Illinois
Pot Stickers (Chicken 'n Vegetable Dumpling); Pad Thai Noodles (Vegetarian); Grilled Chicken Satay w/ Peanut Sauce n' Cucumber Salad
Taste of: Steak Mini Jibarito; Coconut Ice
Star of Siam serves a standard Thai menu just off of Michigan Ave. The Restaurant provides dine in, carry out, delivery and catering.
Texas de Brazil
51 E. Ohio
Chicken Breast Wrapped in Bacon; Combination Platter of Chicken Breast; Sausage, and Garlic Sirloin; Brazilian Sausage
Taste of: Brazilian Sausage; Chicken Breast Wrapped in Bacon
Texas de Brazil is an authentic Brazilian-American steakhouse that combines the cuisine of Southern Brazil with the spirit of Texas. Texas de Brazil has restaurants both nationally and internationally.
The Fudge Pot
1532 N. Wells
Chocolate Frozen Banana: Milk or Dark; Chocolate Dipped Strawberry; Combination Plate: Frozen Banana, Fudge, and Strawberry
Taste of: Fudge; Chocolate Frozen "Baby" Banana
The Fudge Pot has been making candy fresh daily since 1963. Some of their specialties include: toffee, truffles and homemade fudge.
The Noodle Vietnamese Restaurant
2336 S. Wentworth
Marinated Beef on a Stick; Crab Rangoon; Banh Mi Sandwich
Taste of: Marinated Beef on a Stick; Crab Rangoon
The Smoke Daddy
1804 W. Division
Pulled Chicken Sandwich; Pulled Pork Sandwich; Pulled Pork Mini
Taste of: Pulled Chicken Mini; Smoke Pit Beans
Timothy O'Toole's Pub
622 N. Fairbanks
House Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich w/ Carolina BBQ Sauce; Footlong "Chicago Style" Corn Dog; Buffalo Wings (6) Tossed in Buffalo or Chicago BBQ
Taste of: Gourmet French fries with Sea Salt or Garlic Parmesan; Buffalo Wings (3) Tossed in Buffalo or Chicago BBQ
1014 W. Taylor
Italian Sausage Sandwich; Italian Beef Sandwich; Tiramisu
Taste of: Italian Sausage Sandwich; Toasted Cheese Ravioli
501 S. Wells
Fried Cheese Ravioli Marinara; Pot Roast Sandwich with Roasted Mushrooms & Onions; Grilled Chicken Mozzarella Sandwich
Taste of: Fried Cheese Ravioli Marinara; Lemon Ice
6232 N. Broadway
Red Beans & Rice w/ Jerk Chicken; Fried Plantain w/ sautéed Goat; Jollof Rice w/ sautéed Goat
Taste of: Red Beans & Rice w/ Jerk Chicken; Fried Plantain w/ Jollof Rice