Skip to main content

Eight Enticing Vendors at the Taste of Chicago 2023

Daniel Hautzinger
A woman smiles under a hat while holding food in front of a restaurant stand
The Taste of Chicago is back in Grant Park, in a new month. Credit: Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

Get more recipes, food news, and stories by signing up for our Deep Dish newsletter.

The Taste of Chicago may have been shunted from its customary calendar spot by the NASCAR race downtown, but the long-running food festival is still taking place this year, just in September rather than July. From 11:00 am to 9:00 pm on Friday, September 8 through Sunday, September 10, 35 restaurants and 15 food trucks will offer samples of their specialties to festival-goers in Grant Park. You can also sample local breweries on Friday evening, Chicago food trivia everyday, and a 1,000-lb. Eli's Cheesecake on Saturday.

In addition to the food, there’s music, including a celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary featuring KRS-One and others on Friday, Chicago’s all-female mariachi band Mariachi Sirenas on Saturday, and Chicago natives Whitney on Sunday. There's also a karaoke stage.

Here are eight of the more intriguing vendors offering food this year. 

Note: We do not know what each vendor will be serving at the Taste of Chicago, so dishes mentioned may not be available.

African Food Palace

Many Americans are still not familiar with the cuisines of Africa, but there are various restaurants throughout Chicago serving food from across the continent, including entrepreneurs like Dozzy Ibekwe who are trying to popularize it. African Food Palace, a restaurant located near the Indiana border in South Chicago, offers primarily Nigerian food. There’s egusi soup, thickened with melon seeds, braised oxtail, various “peppered” proteins, and the soft pounded yam fufu to accompany it all, as well as the Nigerian staple jollof rice and a variation of fried rice. 

Arun’s

The fine-dining Thai restaurant run by Arun Sampanthavivat in Albany Park is a legend. Opened in 1985, it was a staple of Chicago’s upscale restaurant scene, introducing Americans to artful Thai cuisine beyond pad thai and satay. And it’s still going strong today, even as the dining world has shifted and caught up to it over the decades. 

Take a look inside Arun’s in an episode of our digital series Foodphiles.


Badou Senegalese

Senegal’s location on the West Coast of Africa is evident in its national dish, thiebou djen, which consists of jollof rice and fish and is on the menu at Badou Senegalese in Rogers Park. You can also try mafe, a peanut-based stew, and attiéké, cassava that is fermented and grated to become like quinoa. The hibiscus drink bissap is a refreshing way to wash it all down.

We visited another Senegalese restaurant, Yassa in Bronzeville, and got a recipe for their signature dish. 

La Esperanza

This Pilsen Mexican restaurant somewhat unusually offers vegan options for their hearty fare of enchiladas, burritos, huaraches, and more. 

LC Pho

Torrance Ly, the owner of this Lincoln Square Vietnamese restaurant, is no stranger to food festivals: when we profiled his restaurant in 2019, his concession business was catering some 50 festivals a year. That business sells standard American festival fried fare, but LC Pho serves a variety of Vietnamese food prepared by Ly’s wife Lieu Nguyen.

Pies of London 

You don’t see that much true English food in Chicago, other than fish and chips—and while there is Pleasant House Pub, meat pies are rarities. Pies of London is a ghost kitchen that prepares classic combinations like chicken and leek or steak and stout within a flaky crust. And you can even get mushy peas as a side, if you really want to feel English. 

Yvolina’s Tamales

Marcelina Hernandez has an incredible story, as she related in our below video: a single mother and immigrant who at one point was homeless now owns her own restaurant in Pilsen, serving banana leaf-wrapped tamales in a variety of flavors, including vegan and vegetarian options.


Soul and Smoke

This barbecue has taken the Chicago area by storm, starting as a catering business based in Evanston before appearing in Time Out Market and then closing that location to open a permanent spot in Avondale on the Chicago River. Their signature brisket and mac ‘n’ cheese are also available in a food truck, which will be at the Taste of Chicago.