Friday, June 14
31st annual Fiestas Puertorriqueñas in and around Humboldt Park. The Puerto Rican Festival and Parade is second in size only to the Taste of Chicago, and the biggest Hispanic fiesta in the country. The four-day cultural celebration includes food vendors of course, and is sponsored in part by La Bomba and Borinquen restaurants, the latter the inventor of the iconic Chicago jibarito. Be sure to taste mofongo (fried green plantains mashed with garlic and meat, classically pork, but preferably chicharrónes if I can help it) and arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas, and again, classically pork, cooked in aromatic sofrito). Admission FREE, food, drink, and carnival rides extra.
Saturday, June 15
I present the 27 food and drink destinations that best represent Chicago's intangible cultural heritage.
Here's why I felt compelled to compile this list, and how. At a recent dinner, I discovered that someone at WBEZ has never had Garrett's popcorn, specifically Chicago Mix, the unique sweet and savory mélange of caramel and cheese corns. Yes, he moved here from Alaska, but about a year ago, and he's a big food fan, plus there's a Garrett's at Navy Pier where the radio station is also located. I was so shocked that I literally slammed my fist on the table. How had I let this happen?
But then I realized we might have been saved by a close call. This particular first taste of our city is best had in a real part of our city, not the pier. For me it's the Madison Street location, the oldest remaining of the popcorn shops that first opened in 1949.