7/10/2013 02:30:00 PM

How to Survive the Taste of Chicago

Headed to the Taste of Chicago? If you don’t mind the crowds and heat and promise of tiny food, then we suppose that the annual food festival is worth a trip. Before you go, check out some need-to-know information about the Taste.

Where to go
This one is easy - Grant Park with entrances on Montrose Drive, Balbo Ave., Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Ave. Public transportation is the best bet to get there, with nearby bus stops as well as Red and Blue Line El Stations. Bike racks are also located at the perimeter of the festival. If you insist on driving, the nearest parking lot is the Millennium Garage, which will cost you $13 for the first hour and an arm or a leg for each additional hour. If you are still confused, here's a map.

When to go
Expect crowds, which are likely to increase exponentially in size and sweatiness beginning today and continuing though Sunday. To avoid the masses, stay away during peak eating times – like dinnertime on Saturday. Instead, go on a weekday afternoon, if you can, or scope it out when the weather is less than ideal. The festival is open every day from 11 AM- 9 PM.

How to purchase food
The festival itself is free to enter, but food must be purchased with tickets. There is no way around this, so don’t try throwing dollar bills at the taco vendor. Twelve tickets cost $8 and are sold throughout the festival. Tickets are sold until 8:30 PM each night.

What to eat
With nearly forty vendors, the important thing to realize right away is that you cannot eat it all. New vendors this year include Tony Hu's Lao Ma La, Bombay Spice Grill & Wine, Flip Crêpes and Wishbone. Old favorites include Eli’s Cheesecake, Original Rainbow Cone, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria and The Smoke Daddy. More ethnic options are Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill, Star of Siam as well as Vee-Vee’s African Restaurant.

What to see
In addition to the displays of gluttony, music concerts and chef-prepared meals are featured each day. All of the concerts are sold out except for Neon Trees, the closing night concert. Tickets are also still available for brunch prepared by chef Gale Gand and The Hearty Boys on Saturday. Guests can also spot chefs such as Carrie Nahabedian, Giuseppe Tentori and Paul Kahan presenting demos at the Dominick's Cooking Corner.

Where to find food trucks
Food trucks are a new addition this year. Find them parked northeast of the Petrillo Music Shell. Seven trucks will be featured each day, offering regular and taste-sized portions in exchange for tickets. Check out the complete schedule of trucks, including The Fat Shallot, Cheesie's 
and Beavers Coffee & Donuts.

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