Taste of Chicago, the massive food festival that helps the city ring in the Fourth of July, kicks off today! Now in its 30th year, the festival will bring more than 50 restaurants, dozens of big-name performers and hundreds of thousands of people to downtown Chicago for the ten days leading up to July 4.
Whether you're a foodie, a music fan, or just a commuter hoping to avoid the traffic, here's some of the information that you'll need to know about Taste of Chicago 2010.
The main event at Taste of Chicago is, of course, the tasting. There will be 53 restaurants with booths lining Columbus Drive and Jackson Drive from Columbus down to the lake.
CBS 2 recommends a few of the more exotic items from the more than 200 offerings on this year's Taste menu. Among them: the grilled tandoori turkey leg from Vermillion, a Latin American-Indian fusion restaurant; a shrimp and vegetable tempura from Guey Lon; and a sampler of empanadas with plantain from Las Tablas Colombian Steakhouse.
And then, of course, there are the desserts. Taste is a sweet-tooth's paradise, with everything from churros from the Churro Factory and beignets from Lagniappe-Creole to Italian ices from Franco's and bissap sorbet from Iyanze, a West African restaurant in Uptown.
Find a complete listing of restaurants and menu items here, from the official Taste of Chicago website.
Aside from a delicious sampling of local and international cuisine, this year's Taste features quite a line-up of performing artists. Performers include everyone from throwbacks like Doug E. Fresh and Salt-n-Pepa to tween icon Emily Osment and hip-hop sensation Trey Songz.
HuffPost Chicago has the complete line-up, as well as a sampling of music from some of the performers, here.
For all its pleasures, Taste does have a downside for Chicagoans: the throngs of people heading downtown can make commuting a headache.
Some street closures have already started, as ABC reported:
Crews were out Sunday morning, setting up barricades and putting up tents that will house the dozens of food vendors for the annual food fest.
Columbus is now closed from Balbo to Monroe; Jackson is closed from Michigan to Lake Shore Drive; and Congress is shut down from Michigan to Columbus.
Also, expect the CTA to be more packed than usual heading into downtown at peak Taste times, especially around lunchtime and on the weekends.
One way to keep all of the 2010 Taste of Chicago info with you is Taste's brand-new iPhone app, released Monday and enthusiastically reviewed by WGN. You can also visit the official Taste of Chicago website, or the Taste of Chicago 2010 Facebook page.
An interactive map of Taste booths, drinks, restrooms, souvenir shops and more can be found here.