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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, May 25

Gapers Block

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Ray / June 29, 2009 7:46 AM

The only thing they could do to get me back is get rid of all the carnival food and instead have interesting restaurants from a variety of locally represented ethnicities serve tasting-size portions of interesting dishes that are actually on their menus. I want to see dishes that I have never heard of before, or ones that I would not have thought to try.

David / June 29, 2009 9:01 AM

It was SO nice this weekend with the city being so quiet. My wife and I really enjoyed being out on two beautiful days and not fighting through traffic.

Things which would lure me back: No more alcohol, more cops, and maybe some sort of minimum dress code.

That being said, the Taste is probably some of the best people-watching in Chicago.

mike / June 29, 2009 9:20 AM

I'm tempted to go on the 4th, but only because of Guster and Booker T. with the Drive By Truckers. Otherwise, I'd rather grill on the back porch than endure that shitstorm.

Jenn / June 29, 2009 9:35 AM

If the city could intice high end restaurants, or places that are usually less accesible to the general public to come out and do The Taste, I'd go. I can get Connie's Pizza anywhere, and seeing fat, sweaty people in tube tops doesn't make it more appealing at Taste. The only thing that really ever lures my is the Rainbow Cone, and even that is coming to the North Side now.

mary / June 29, 2009 9:59 AM

only going bc i will be volunteering at the MCA kids booth. that being said, i generally avoid the Taste like the plague. to echo previous post-ers, i would be more enticed by more exotic/high end food (although there are some classics that shouldn't be shunned either) and if the crowds were more manageable.

chicago gets hailed for being such a food town, but when we are able to showcase the talent, it ends up being cheesecake on a stick, meat on a stick, and elephant ears. ok, i like these things, but not enough to wade through masses of sweaty, underdressed people. chicago needs to be more selective with what foods are sold.

Josh / June 29, 2009 10:10 AM

the taste could be an amazing opportunity for people to learn about other foods, portion control, and how food affects our health. Instead, it's a celebration of the same salt and fat laden food that is killing everyone.

Yesterday I jogged through the park at Montrose and there was some kind of african american celebration for the gay pride parade with hundreds of people sitting around tents they had set up. The level of truly morbid obesity was unsettling..I wanted to cry. I am 20 pounds overweight but it seemed that at least 75% of these women were carrying close to 100 extra pounds. I realize the issue is not restricted to African Americans but it was clear to me that these people are victimized by a marketing system that sells them endless varieties of fatty, unhealthy food.

Taste should promote a healthier lifestyle...not more obesity.

V / June 29, 2009 10:55 AM

I've been looking forward to seeing 11 th Dream Day on Thursday. That might drag me there... Mike, I didn't even realize Guster's playing, That's a good way to spend the Fourth of July.

Mucky Fingers / June 29, 2009 11:42 AM

Ditto with Ray and mary that more exotic food needs to be represented. I do remember such unique fare once offered at the Taste, but that was at least a decade ago.

I was more than enticed to attend opening day for the privilege of seeing performances by both The Gap Band and Cameo, but I didn't bother given the sporadic hostility of the crowds and the seen-it-all-before menus.

maardvark / June 29, 2009 11:55 AM

I agree with everyone else. But I'm posting to add that what I've always wanted to see is a "high-end" Chicago food festival, possibly in conjunction with the Taste. For each evening of the two-week festival, you get three area (or, heck, worldwide) chefs to collaborate on a three-course meal. Rent out a ballroom at one of the big downtown hotels to do this (or use the one at the end of Navy Pier, maybe). Reservations only; pay the chefs an honorarium but encourage them to provide the food at cost; charge a prix-fixe rate, proceeds from which would be donated to the charity du jour (Oxfam would be an obvious choice).

It'd be a great way to sample our better chefs' work, three at a time, in service of a good cause. I'd go to an evening of that.

Valentine / June 29, 2009 12:23 PM

Not goin' - To lure me back: Put all the 300lb + people on a serious 2 year mandatory diet or ban them from wearing spandex and halter tops - Christ, I would go but once you see something like that you either yak up what you've just grossly over-paid for or you lose your appetite.

Andrew Huff / June 29, 2009 12:34 PM

There is a high-end food fest in Chicago: In fact, there is: Chicago Gourmet, which returns to Millennium Park in September. As I just said in Merge, the downside is, high-end comes with high prices -- early bird discounted tickets start at $120. Not exactly average consumer friendly, but at least you know the worst of the Taste rabble won't be there.

beretta moxie / June 29, 2009 12:38 PM

ew. nothing.

flange / June 29, 2009 12:40 PM

honestly: i miss back when the country music festival was held the first weekend of the taste. they usually managed to get some decent alt-country bands, often thanks to bloodshot records. and even an occasional headliner would be worth catching, if only for the kitsch value.

i have no idea why the country music festival was broken off and sequestered in a goddamned football stadium in the cold weather, but i lost two events.

David / June 29, 2009 1:13 PM

I went to Gourmet Chicago last year (free tix), and I can attest: the only thing funnier than fat slobs wilting in the heat is skinny bitches wilting in the heat.

But at a hundred and twenty bucks a pop? Please. I'd rather go to Hot Doug's and fan myself with the five twenties I'd have left over.

Cheryl / June 29, 2009 1:24 PM

I'd go if we had a new Mayor.

Sarah / June 29, 2009 2:18 PM

Flange: They did do a Bloodshot Records showcase this past weekend at The Taste. Maybe they'll do it again next year.

Carrie / June 29, 2009 2:22 PM

Actually the weather might be enough to get me back this year. While I love the heat, humidity included, I do not do so well with it when I'm surrounded by a ton of people, pushy people, and extra extra heat b/c of the grills.

R / June 29, 2009 2:24 PM

It's dangerous, dirty, overpriced, and uncomfortable. People just standing around wolfing down food. Where's the fun in that?

Baldeesh / June 29, 2009 3:11 PM

It has just never appealed to me.

Standing outside in the heat surrounded by lots of people eating food that my mom could do 100 times better does nothing for me. Also, I'm kind of a messy eater. I kind of like being able to go to an actual sink with water and soap if I need to.

Steven Spielberg / June 29, 2009 3:39 PM

I'm the same way, Baldeesh.

Movies just never appealed to me, because sitting during a movie that I know I can make 100 times better does nothing for me.

And the Taste?

I'm not poor enough to enjoy the Taste of Chicago.

spook / June 29, 2009 9:10 PM

"It's dangerous, dirty, overpriced, and uncomfortable"

This should be the official slogan!

p.s I love the "dangerous" part like a skull and cross bones should be posted at the "door"

mike / June 30, 2009 10:01 AM

Flange, I heartily second you. The old country music fest was also great because it was at the far southern end of the Taste. You could get off the el at Jackson or Harrison and walk over to that area (surrounded by shady trees) and not really know you were even at the Taste Shit Sandwich. My friends and I even brought our own beer and food so we could completely avoid walking east into the sweaty mess. As far as I'm concerned, Chicago no longer has a country music festival.

Guy Smiley / June 30, 2009 10:12 AM

Stretch it out. Sureit means more grounds for the cops to cover and more streets closed. But cramming that feeding frenzy into that relatively small area makes the crowds unbearable. Space it out, stretch it down to the park near the Field Museum and let people BREATH!

eee / June 30, 2009 12:07 PM

I'm with Guy Smiley. I don't do well in crowds that just meander aimlessly, so having more space would potentially lure me to come back. As it is, I went once years ago and the crowds were so thick that I wanted to throw elbows to get some breathing room.

kelly / June 30, 2009 12:23 PM

Hah, what a bunch of misanthropes! I, too, am not a huge fan of crowds, extreme heat, or eating while awkwardly standing; but I still love the taste for many reasons mentioned above: trying a bunch of different food, people-watching, being outside on the street in the middle of downtown Chicago on a beautiful summer day.

I've gone to the taste nearly every year of its existence thanks to my proud-Chicagoan parents, and I don't plan to stop yet.

Guy Smiley / June 30, 2009 1:12 PM


I've been going to Taste of Chicago since it was called Chicagofest and the Blues Brothers were the opening night act at an unfinished Navy Pier. So I've earned some right to critique it as a "proud Chicagoan" and not a misanthrope. There are a bunch of different occasions to try different food, be outside and people-watch without having to go belly-to-sweaty-belly with some loudmouth from Elgin (no offense to Elgin).

Have fun there on July 3. I'll be at Summerfest on a much more expansive Milwaukee lakefront.

Benjy / June 30, 2009 1:20 PM

I'm not planning to go this year...

In part because of the cost, because much of the food is overpriced and money is invariably wasted by having random tickets left that aren't enough to buy something.

I'm also bored by the taste because there is so little variation in vendors from year to year. There should be some rule requiring that a certain number of vendors were not at previous Taste to keep it fresh. Also, too many of the places are mediocre, tourist trap type places--let's have more LTH Forum GNR type stands.

y a j / June 30, 2009 2:04 PM

So, to sum it up, we want something kinda like the high-end food fest, but it needs to be more affordable and feature more of Chicago's great ethnic food. Yeah, I'd go to that.
Oh, and it seems like a lot of you think there should be a maximum weight limitation on attendees.

Greg / June 30, 2009 2:27 PM

The Taste is way too crowded and annoying, yet I'll likely go to two state fairs again this year, where I will eat ensticked food that's far worse (and worse for me). If I worked downtown, going at an off-peak time might have some appeal. But otherwise the Taste outgrew Grant Park long ago.

sd / June 30, 2009 3:21 PM

No, not going this year. Too crowded, too pricey, food too boring. And yeah, some of the people who show up at this thing should be embarrassed of themselves. Sloppy, obese, drunk...gluttony runs rampant.

A. Lewellen / June 30, 2009 3:22 PM

Normally no and I have not for years but I actually went for a walk and totally forgot it was even going on until I saw all the big tents. Walked around for a bit, no intentions of eating anything as I just had lunch. Seems pretty much the same as it has always been. Giant turkey legs still seem to be the favorite and it was not even really that crowded. Granted it was a rainy Tuesday afternoon. However as someone who has an office downtown and is fully aware of the limited accessibly to decent lunch options the Taste offers a few more decent (for downtown) options for it's duration. That's probably the only almost good thing I can say about it. And of course, I think it's been said, great people watching.

Jonathan Nelson / June 30, 2009 4:10 PM

I went to the Taste.
Billy Goat burger six bucks.
Short walk, only three.

My haiku dedicated to the absurdity of the Taste of Chicago.

Paul / June 30, 2009 6:58 PM

Not going.

The only thing that would get me to buy the food offered there would be delivery.

fluffy / June 30, 2009 7:15 PM

I've gone a couple of times. The last time I went I think there was a shooting or something violent like that. I don't care about what people wear or eat or how much they weigh; it's just not my cup of tea. It's all about food, but no culture. Sorry if I sound snotty.

irisheyes1212 / July 1, 2009 12:27 PM

I don't know that i'd ever go again...The last time I went I was 10 and with my parents. We sat down and I managed to sit next to an assorted pile of chicken bones, crawfish shells, etc. I will never go back after that. People are disgusting slobs...they treat the beaches like a garbage can, I can hardly expect better at an overcrowded fest.

jj / July 1, 2009 1:12 PM

I love the Taste. It lets me try out restaurants from neighborhoods I might not be as familiar with, and then go to those restaurants later when I discover something I like - which is pretty much what it is designed to do, I think. Yes, it's crowded, but so is every festival, we do live in a city of millions - go during off times and you'll be fine. Also, it's a tradition, it's outside, and there's often some good music to listen to while you snack.

The fat phobia in these responses really rubs me the wrong way.

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