From Little Village to Little India in Devon, Chicago is steeped in a rich culinary tradition. In a community brimming with dining options, it can be hard to get a sense of all the city has to offer.
As Chicagoans try to soak up the summer sun while indulging in the city’s celebrated cuisine, comes a flurry of food festivals, each claiming to offer the best grab-and-go dining experience the region has to offer.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the options at your disposal, look no further—we’ve compiled a list of Chicago’s most worthwhile summer food festivals, so all you have to worry about is how to pack it all.
Stop in for a traditional Greek feast lovingly made by the folks at St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church, from gyros and spanakopita to Greek-style lasagna known as pastitsios and homemade baklava for dessert. But food is just one element to awaken your senses at the three-day festival; Greek folk and dad-rock bands will perform, along with displays by traditional Greek folk dance companies from the Deerfield-based Hellenic Music and Dance Company of the Perifania School. Can’t come this weekend? Visit the Taste of Greektown in late August for more tasty Mediterranean bites.
June 2-4. Suggested donation of $10. 2701 N. Sheffield Avenue, 773-525-1793, lincolnparkgreekfest.com
At the city’s second annual hot dog festival, enjoy creations from beloved Chicago vendors Byron’s Hot Dogs, Chicago Doghouse, along with some fascinating versions of the dish that’s making waves on the hot dog scene. Stop by Carnitas Roldan and try a bacon-wrapped Sonoran hot dog (a 20th-century Mexican creation). Stop by Lee Concessions and try an Asian-inspired hot dog, or grab a snack at Tandoor Char House’s Tikka Masala Dogs. While enjoying Chicago classics, enjoy listening to local musicians perform on the main stage, visit the festival’s craft vendors, and keep an eye out for the highly anticipated hot dog eating contest.
June 3-4. Suggested donation of $10. 4000 N. Milwaukee Ave., seiscornerschamber.com
If you’re craving a drink, a change of scenery, or just some four-legged company, Craft Brews at Lincoln Park Zoo might be for you. Continuing its annual tradition, Lincoln Park Zoo will open its doors in mid-June for its craft beer festival. As guests enjoy more than 100 craft beers and ciders, they’ll have the chance to explore Chicago’s beloved animal exhibits. Find local heavyweights like Half Acre along with lesser-known brewers like Obscurity Brewing and Soundgrowler.
June 17. Tickets $55. 2001 N. Clark St., lpzoo.org
This summer, the 30th International Africa and Caribbean Festival of Life has joined forces with the Jerk, Seafood and Vegan Festival. While the latter is entering its seventh year, it has been celebrated for its efforts to encourage healthy eating among the African Diaspora and beyond. The festival can be broken down into three key components: Jamaican Jamaican cuisine, seafood, and plant-based foods. Visit The Jerk Shack, popular for its Jamaican jerkies and JackShack’s “Nice It Up” sauce. The self-described “Carnival of Nations” will complement its gastronomic component with live performances spanning a host of genres that act as fixtures in black and African culture, including hip hop, R&B, reggae and Afro beats.
July 1-4. $20 general admission ticket. Washington Park, 55th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue, 312-427-0266, festivalinternationaloflife.com
If you’re looking for an all-American dining experience this July, head to the Roscoe Village neighborhood and explore the offerings of nine Chicagoland burger joints. At Roscoe Village Burger Fest, you can unleash your inner food critic as you vote for the festival’s highly anticipated People’s Choice Best Burger award. If you want to know the results of the vote, stick around for the big reveal on Sunday night. Along with its classic beef burgers, Roscoe Village Burger Fest features Indian-style Aloo Tikki burgers prepared by the Tandoor Char House and the award-winning Select Cut Steakhouse burger. The festival’s offerings aren’t limited to food, though: you can also check out arts and crafts stations, two stages packed with live performances, and the Kids Zone.
July 7-9. Suggested donation of $10. 2000 West Belmont Avenue, 773-472-7171, lakeviewroscoevillage.org
On a weekend stroll through the Pilsen neighborhood, Chicagoans will have the chance to sample a wide variety of Latin American cuisine at the Tacos and Tamales Festival. While sampling neighborhood delicacies, visitors can view local art installations, relax in the beer garden, and dance along to notable performances. A key feature of this festival is its focus on giving back to the community in which it takes place. After the event, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Pilsen community groups and conservation projects.
July 21-23. Suggested donation of $10. West 16th and South Peoria Streets, 312-579-3635, chicagotacofest.com
If you find yourself constantly scanning your peripheral vision (or, more likely, your social media feed) for the latest food truck trends, this is the festival for you. This nationally recognized event, billed as one of America’s top food truck festivals, can be found right in the South Loop. Last year’s lineup included opportunities to indulge your sweet tooth at Ms. Tittle’s Cupcakes, a Black woman-owned mobile bakery, while also featuring stations packed with savory treats, like Yum Dum’s Thai Chicken Basil Dumplings. and the classic street-style lobster roll from The Happy Lobster. . Entering its tenth season, this festival features a family-friendly atmosphere, dishes prepared by tasting chefs, and many of Chicago’s best gourmet food trucks.
July 29-30. Free with general admission. 2300 S. Indiana Ave., chgofoodtruckfest.com
Big screen or streaming at home, takeout or dine-in, Tribune’s writers are here to guide you to your next great experience. Sign up for their free weekly Eat. Look. Do. Newsletter here.