This week, Bon Appetit magazine named Chicago its Restaurant City of the Year along with the headline: “If you’re coming to Chicago for deep dish, well, you need to try harder.”
That’s a healthy serving of snark for those who still know the city only for its pizza, Chicago dogs and Italian beef, but it’s plenty true. The article’s author, Chicago native and food critic Julia Kramer, went on to write, “I don’t own a single piece of Cubs paraphernalia. I don’t have Chicago’s four-star flag tattooed on my forearm. I don’t care if you put ketchup on a hot dog. But there’s one thing from my hometown that I will absolutely go to bat for, and here it is: Chicago is clearly America’s most exciting city to eat in right now.”
It’s true. And since marrying a bona fide foodie four years ago this past Thursday (Happy anniversary, honey), I’ve come to deeply appreciate all the food offerings that the Windy City doth provide — beyond deep dish.
While there’s never a bad time to eat in Chicago, August is in fact a great one as the dining scene includes not only the city’s many great restaurants, but also plenty of late-summer food festivals. Loosen your belt and take part.
Restaurant Week by River North
Aug. 14 to 20
Nicknamed RWxRN, Restaurant Week by River North is a weeklong event that highlights the culinary offerings in River North, one of the city’s hottest dining neighborhoods.
Spearheaded by the swanky Tortoise Supper Club (350 N. State St.), RWxRN features specially priced prix fixe menus ranging from $25 to 40 per person (example: a Three-Course filet mignon at Tortoise Club for $29.95) and limited-edition dishes from some of the city’s best restaurants, including Joy District, Hubbard Inn, Troquet and Baptiste & Bottle.
For more information, visit the “River North Summer Restaurant Week” page on Facebook.
Aug. 18 to 20
Stretching along Taylor Street between Ashland Avenue and Racine Street in the heart of Chicago’s delightful Little Italy neighborhood, the 12th annual Festa Italiana will serve up some of the city’s best food from some of its best family-owned restaurants.
For more information, visit starevents.com.
Tacos and Tamales Festival
Aug. 18 to 20
At the intersection of 16th and Peoria streets, the South Side of Chicago goes South of the Border with the second annual Tacos y Tamales Festival, designed to evoke a traditional open-air Mexican market known as a Tianguis.
For more information, visit chicagotacofest.com.
Taste of Streeterville
From 6 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 23, Chicago’s upscale Streeterville neighborhood offers the opportunity to sample many of its best restaurants all at once with the Taste of Streeterville taking place inside Lucky Strike Chicago at 322 E. Illinois St. Bonus: Afterwards, you could bowl at Lucky Strike, or catch a movie in the same building at AMC River East 21.
For more information, visit eventsprout.com.
Taste of Greektown
Aug. 25 to 27
Perhaps my favorite of Chicago’s ethnic neighborhoods, Greektown goes all out with its Hellenic pride and mouth-watering Mediterranean fare during the 28th annual Taste of Greektown at the intersection of Halsted and Van Buren streets.
For more information, visit chicagoevents.com.
Logan Square Food Truck Social
Aug. 25 to 27
Chicago’s hipster haven of Logan Square also will serve as Ground Zero for deliciousness when more than three dozen of the city’s best food trucks converge on Humboldt Boulevard between Armitage and Bloomingdale (the 606 Trail) for the Logan Square Food Truck Social.
Feast on everything from empanadas and Korean fare to lobster and jerk chicken to pierogis and Belgian frites, plus plenty more.
For more information, visit logansquarefoodtrucksocial.com.
• DAVE WISCHNOWSKY can be reached by email at email@example.com, or follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/wischlist, on Twitter at twitter.com/wischlist or his blog, wischlist.com.