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Thursday, February 27

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Luke / June 28, 2004 4:06 PM

If by Taste you mean the yearround food festival that is Chicago, where a quality meal of any conceivable ethnicity is within walking distance, and where the portions are affordable and generous, then, yes, I have been often.

If by Taste you mean a certain carnival at a downtown park, where I can pay $4 for an out-of-season ear of corn and $7 for plates of dumbed-down ethnic food, all the while crammed shoulder to sweaty shoulder with the loud and obnoxious, then, no, I have never been. When does it start?

jennifer / June 29, 2004 9:13 AM

I've been once, and never again. It's bad enough that I work two blocks from it, and have to deal with walking through throngs of people flocking toward Grant Park while on my lunch hour.

I hate the Taste.

Vit / June 29, 2004 10:17 AM

Once in awhile I'll go, but I've been going to this thing since they started it around 1980 (my parents used to love to drag me to it as a kid), I think I'm going to sit this one out and create my own personal "Taste of Ukrainian Village" instead, much less crowded.

dce / June 29, 2004 10:33 AM

I went with my parents around 83 or 84 and haven't been back since. While I remember it with a certain fondness (I recall corn and extreme amounts of butter) it's an unpleasant throng best left to tourists.

Naz / June 29, 2004 10:38 AM

The first time I went, it was exciting in a way, expectations were high, but by the end of the day with a belly full of mediocre food and empty pockets, spirits were a little low. I went back the two years after hoping for better but it always seems to be the same. I haven't been in the past two years and probably not this year. It's not a bad thing but by far in no way representative of the diverse and excellent food that Chicago truly holds deep in it's city.

heather / June 29, 2004 10:43 AM

I go every year - I've never eaten anything, but I LOVE the crowds and people watching opportunities.

The mix of suburbanites, from north, south, and west, along with the city folk, is truly entertaining.

I'm not sure it's all tourists, tho. There are plenty of urbanites who like crowds!

Andrew / June 29, 2004 10:44 AM

I went a couple years back, and was unimpressed. But then again, I'm an adventurous eater, so there was little there to intrigue me. I would guess that the majority of Taste patrons aren't adventurous at all, and that bowl of chicken with curry rice or nibble of goat may be the first and only times they'll be exposed to such dishes.

Carly / June 29, 2004 10:46 AM

I'm going this Thursday during the day, but only because I won a contest at work that entitles me to free tickets and an opportunity to leave the office.

Having lived in Chicago for a few years, most of this stuff isn't anything I wouldn't be able to get on my own, and it definitely doesn't represent all the city has to offer.

I often wonder what people are thinking when they choose things like corn on the cob or a stop at the McDonald's booth.

The taste portions are the way to go, even though they aren't always what you want. At least you can stretch your tickets a bit more. Don't go on the weekend if you can help it.

And I will NEVER EVER EVER go for the fireworks again. That is quite possibly the worst night in the world to be downtown.

(P.S. Glad you guys are back up and running!)

christiana / June 29, 2004 11:01 AM

I went this past Saturday for lunch. The weather was BEAUTIFUL and it wasn't very crowded (compared to visits in the past where there were so many people that you didn't even have room to bring your hands up to your mouth, rendering you unable to taste anything).

Taste portions are always the way to go. If you do want to try the regular size, split it with your friends! Bring your own water and avoid the $4 beer (mostly foam) and soda.

Most importantly, make sure you get a Rainbow Cone! Rainbow cones are the best possible thing you can get at the Taste.

In summary: I know y'all are haters on the Taste, but I respectfully disagree; I think it's a fun summertime Chicago tradition. (And yes, I've lived here my entire life.)

Carly / June 29, 2004 11:17 AM

I totally agree about the Rainbow Cone. I get one every time I go to the Taste.

Vit / June 29, 2004 11:19 AM

I'm not a Taste hater at all, it is something I've grown up with and enjoy, I just don't go every year. I went last year, twice, and find I enjoy it more when I take a year off here and there.

Jake / June 29, 2004 11:20 AM

I went on Sunday because a friend's band was playing. It was my first Taste since I moved to Chicago, and I had only been one other time before. I actually really enjoyed it. I only had a couple different food items (some falafel and some catfish), but I was fascinated by the diversity of the crowd. There were tons of people who I never see in the places I go in Chicago. White teenagers, for example. So that was fun. And the fact that Brad Paisley was playing brought out a lot of cowboy hats and line dancers, and that's always interesting to watch (like a Madonna video, minus the overt gaiety). For people watching, I don't think it can be beat.

My only real beef with the Taste is the convoluted pricing of the tickets... 11 for $7? Is that done purposefully so I can't possibly do the math? Using a calculator just now I figured out that 7/11=.63, so even though it said 50-cents on the tickets, they were actually charging 63 cents! Scandalous!

Naz / June 29, 2004 11:32 AM

Didn't it use to be $6 for 11 tickets? Admittedly, I did enjoy the recent Taste of Randolph, but it was a lot more smaller and actually had some good food from neighbouring Greektown. That said, all this talk makes me hungry.

Steve / June 29, 2004 11:40 AM

Jake, I think the city has learned from the Cubs that it's okay to scalp your own tickets -- hence the 50 cent ticket for 63 cents scam!

Actually the extra buck and a half per ticket strip is supposed to go to cleanup and support costs, but I don't understand why those have managed to climb at such a rapid clip. (Once upon a time I believe there was no cleanup cost for Taste visitors; then they added 50 cents a few years back, then a buck, and now a whole buck fifty, which is almost enough to ride the el!)

I'm doing Taste Thursday. Should be a trip -- my suburbanite sister is bringing the nephew (9) and niece (6) into the city for the day, and I'll get to be the guide/extra kid wrangler. And experience it all through the eyes of a child or whatnot.

And I'll get to have some delicious chocolate baklava from Cousin's, who should give it to me for free by now the way I've been pimpin' it....

A lex / June 29, 2004 11:59 AM

The last time I went, I took my nephew who was 5 years old. He just graduated high school -- so its been a while. While the various foods on sticks are cool, all the tourists and masses of half-eaten nasty crawfish heads in the gutters are not.

jima / June 29, 2004 12:05 PM

We get free tix at our office, so I'll probably be going later on in the week. They did a story on yesterday's Eight Forty-Eight about the best booths to hit at the Taste, so I'll keep their picks in mind. Gotta get that Rainbow Cone, too!

chi-kid / June 29, 2004 12:08 PM

Summerfest in Milwaukee destroys the Taste.

Benjy / June 29, 2004 12:19 PM

I went to the Taste on Saturday and had a good time. By sharing with friends and going for the tasting items, I got to sample a lot of things. I tend to avoid the places that I've been to the actual restaurant or ones that are actually near where I live. I love being able to try all the south side places I've heard about but never around to making the trek to.

They sure do a good job of making it impossible to figure out what anything actually costs, though. 11 tickets for $7? What's that per ticket? And there always seems to be those extra 2 tickets at the end of the day...

MC High Life / June 29, 2004 12:38 PM

Hating on the Taste? That's about as safe as hating on Bush or rooting for the Cubs. My biggest beef with the Taste isn't with the crowds, prices, snarled traffic or even enjoying food in a bee-filled atmosphere. My biggest complaint is the special interest groups (IllinoisPIRG, Greenpeace, etc.) that are out in such force that I can hardly go a block without someone asking me "if I had a minute". I was walking on Columbus from Balbo to Adams just this past noon hour and got asked SIX TIMES!!! What, am I wearing a sandwichboard that says "talk to me about the environment"? Christ. I think the problem is that I'm too nice a guy and make eye contact. Perhaps I could enjoy my lunch hour in peace if I gave them an eye of the crook, stink or evil variety.

On a positive note, the best attraction at the Taste is obviously the Charmin Ultra "Potty Palooza" featuring the tag line "We're on a Roll!" Total, classic, bear-selling-TP action...

lena / June 29, 2004 2:12 PM

i think the taste can be entertaining. and it is the only time i eat eli's cheesecake and harry carey's holy cow chips so i look forward to going. i think the afternoon of july 4 is the best time -- i've found it to be a lot less crowded and if you're there midday you avoid the lunch rush and the freaks there at night to make a hook up.

Naz / June 29, 2004 2:28 PM

One more thing: I do like the elephant's ears at the Taste. That's pretty damn good. Anyone ever had the alligator on a stick?

Carlos / June 29, 2004 4:54 PM

I haven't been in years.

It's nice and all but it's a bit too expensive!

Shasta MacNasty / June 29, 2004 11:05 PM

I just got back from the Taste today. I peeved that they didn't have berry weiss like they did last year. But I DID have the sausage macaroni and cheese, which was quite tasty. And of course, had to have the funnel cake with ice cream and chocolate sauce while listening to New Edition sing "Mr. Telephone Man" behind the music shell.

I don't go to the Taste for adventerous food. I just go for the tasty food and people watching. And this year, I've learned something. Call me a bit old fashioned, but the Taste is ghetto. Seriously. The phrase "clothes don't care who wears it" is true here. Bad outfits strain themselves on people from every walk of life here. To this day, I'm mystified how someone can wear booty shorts and high heels to Taste and not snap a kneecap.

cinthia melesio / June 30, 2004 12:32 AM

Well I was suppose to go the taste on Sunday but there was change of plans. It was beautiful so I went bar hopping in the boat... Anyway, I heard it was OK but if you think about it there is so much you can actually do there. My friends went and said they stayed for a lil bit and then left to Navy Pier and on Michigan to shop. So I guess its not that entertaining...but keep me updated b/c I am going on Saturday.

'That Ian' / June 30, 2004 5:53 AM

To me the taste is merely a place to buy food I don't eat for an inflated price, freak out about how close all the people are standing to me and twitch whenever I feel "that sweaty mulleted guy over there" brush my shoulder.

Not that the taste isn't wonderful and a really kickass idea because it is -- it is just not a place for me (read: neurotic anti-socialites).

Trance / June 30, 2004 9:36 AM

Haven't been this year. I like going primarily for those ridiculously sweet mai tais - which are inexplicably probably the only mixed drinks I ever drink - and the people watching.

I'm with Shasta on the fashion faux pas - I know it's hot, but people tend to get a little silly at the outdoor fests in terms of clothing. Wouldn't surprise me to see people walking around in thongs at the taste!

Kevin / June 30, 2004 10:23 AM

I'll save you all the trouble:

Chicago tastes like gunpowder, steel, B.O., cotton candy and ass.

There, I just saved you the 44 food tickets you would have used on half of a hotdog.

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