August sort of snuck up on us today, didn’t it? Hopefully it’ll bring some milder weather than the hot, humid, and sticky situation that we all found ourselves in July. Not that I’m asking the weather gods to hurry up and bring the deep, dark winter where we have to dig our cars out of the snow and 80% of the city’s attractive population effectively goes into hibernation, but I don’t think anyone would be upset if August stayed between 70 and 85. (With a slight breeze, too. Thanks in advance.)
In Chicago, the beginning of August means one thing: Lollapalooza is this weekend! Lollapalooza is one of those events where there’s a pronounced “It’s a Great Day to be Alive!” vibe in the air. During the course of the days, this vibe perpetuates and exponentializes–everybody has extra pep in their steps and wide smiles on their faces. Personal problems and concerns temporarily fade away as one cannot help but revel in Right Here, Right Now.
Held in Grant Park, the festival is situated with a view of Lake Michigan on one side as the city skyline looms on the other. When it starts to get dark, the smell of good herbs wafts through the air as the city of Chicago lights up with the crowd.
While Lollapalooza is first and foremost a music festival (click here for the line-up), I have a confession to make: I’m equally–if not more–excited for the food. Unlike most major events where you get gouged with crappy burgers, hot dogs, and fries once you’re inside, Lollapalooza brings in some of Chicago’s best restaurants to serve their real food at comparatively reasonable prices.
From the lobster corn dog from Grahamwich to the grilled cheese stuffed pretzel from Goose Island to the organic mushrooms from River Valley Kitchens, there’s lots of gluttony to be done once we get inside those gates.
If anybody knows anybody with extra tickets for Saturday, drop me a line!
Here’s an extensive guide to the food that will be served at Lollapalooza this weekend. (Full disclosure: I left off places that I couldn’t reach and couldn’t easily deduce what they would be serving.)
Grahamwich – Serving lobster corn dogs and truffle pop corn.
In the past, some restaurants have presented food that wasn’t music-festival-crowd friendly. This year, [Grahamwich restaurateur Graham] Elliot again recommends to newcomers they do what they do best, but still keep it simple and make it accessible to the masses. “Our first year we did buffalo chicken with beer bubbles and blue cheese and sold five of them,” he said. “But then you deep fry lobster on a stick and you sell 15,000.”
The Australian Truffle - I, uh, guess they’re serving truffles?
Chef Brunacci will be behind the stove at the Australian Truffle booth, guaranteed to be one of the most aromatic booths in this year’s lineup…Frank and his wife Lillian are importers of some of the most expensive subterranean fungus in the world. These Australian truffles in particular are Perigord, the famous black truffle, and they come from the largest Trufferie in the southern hemisphere The Wine and Truffle Co in Manjimup, Western Australia.
Bacino’s - Serving, amongst other slices, stuffed spinach pizza:
BJ’s Market and Bakery – Serving sweet potato fries, chicken tenders, peach cobbler, and mustard fried catfish (pictured below).
Burrito Beach – Presumably serving the South Park incarnation of Jennifer Lopez’s favorite dishes: tacos y burritos.
Chubby Weiners – Serving veggie hot dogs, signature fries and cheese fries, and the Chubby Dog – quarter pound hot dog custom-made for Chubby Weiners by Vienna Beef.
Do-Rite Donuts - My phone call went unanswered but is there’s any chance that the people behind this beautiful box would let you down when you need them the most?
Edzo’s Burger Shop – With ethically raised beef from Flagel Farm that will continue to be ground daily despite high festival volume, Edzo’s is serving up classic cheeseburgers and fries as well as a ”Wisconsin” burger topped w/ Merkt’s cheddar, ketchupeño, grilled onions, bacon, and pickled banana peppers and truffle fries topped w/ white truffle salt and parmesan cheese.
Here’s a picture of the delicious bacon cheeseburger I ate at Edzo’s last week:
Fresh Squeezed Best Lemonade – How big of an outrage would there be if this was anything other than exactly what it sounds like? Like, what if it was actually a nefarious orange juice stand seeking to capitalize on fresh squeezed lemonade’s good reputation? Anyways, feel free to go back to scrolling through the pictures and skipping over my bad jokes.
Gibson’s - Serving pulled pork, pulled chicken, and steak sandwiches.
Goose Island Brew Pub - Grilled chicken sandwich topped w/ bacon jam (reducing bacon, onions, brown sugar, coffee, and a little bit of beer until it’s smoky and sweet), cheddar cheese, and sauteed beer onions; Falafel pita topped with cucumber/tzatziki slaw; and Sambal Chili (Vietnamese chili sauce); Grilled cheese stuffed pretzel, whose base is locally sourced from Kim & Scott’s Pretzels:
Kamehachi – Serving edamame, teriyaki chicken rice rolls, and potstickers. (They were going to do sushi but were not permitted to.)
Kuma’s Corner - In my humble opinion, this is the best way to food coma yourself. Home to the best burger in Chicago (although it’s my third favorite to eat at behind Bad Apple and DMK Burger Bar), Kuma’s usually sells three burgers at Lollapalooza. Their menu wasn’t fully set yet when I called but they will at least be serving the Black Sabbath, a 10 oz. burger topped with Blackening Spice, Chili, Pepper Jack, Red Onion:
Lagniappe – The cajun-style restaurant will be serving barbecue pulled pork, cajun hot wings, catfish po boys, and a crawfish boil:
Lou Malnati’s - Serving the quintessential Chicago deep dish slices.
MBurger – The Lettuce Entertain You burger joint is serving single cheeseburgers, double cheeseburgers, and french fries.
Original Rainbow Cone:
Peeled - Serving fresh juices and nut milks.
Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs - Here’s a picture of their really good boneless rib sandwich:
Smoke Daddy - Here’s the pulled pork sandwich I got from Smoke Daddy at Do Division Festival:
Sweet Leaf Tea - Serving six iced tea flavors including Original, Mint & Honey, Peach, Citrus, Lemon and Raspberry.
Timothy O’Toole’s Pub - Serving pulled pork sandwiches with Carolina BBQ sauce, buffalo wings with with Stone Arrogant Bastard Chipotle BBQ sauce, gourmet fries (sea salt or garlic parmesan), and beer battered fish tacos with Baja Slaw & Chipotle Aioli.
Windsor Ice Cream Shoppe - Cool down from the 90 degree temperature with the Windsor Roll:
Wow Bao – Hot Asian Buns - Serving Spicy Mongolian Beef, BBQ Pork, Teriyaki Chicken and Whole Wheat Edamame buns.
Lollapalooza also features a farmer’s market with booths from Brunkow Cheese, Puffs of Doom, River Valley Kitchens, Rock ‘N Roll Noodle Company, Seedling, and Tiny Greens Organic Farm.