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Lollapalooza 2017 Dining Guide

For some people, music festivals are all about the music. But since the day-long nature of festivals require — at least for me and everyone I know — eating at some point, those of us who give AF what we put in our bodies face a challenge second only to scheduling conflicts about which of the 34 food stalls to grace with our presence.

But since catching all your favorite acts are key, I’ve taken some of the guesswork off your plate so that you can spend more time at the stages and less wandering the food court, staring at everyone’s plates as they leave the stalls. (Please, I know I’m not the only one who does that.)

If I’m being honest, I’m pretty disappointed with the Chow Town line-up, which is pretty anemic and nearly all the vendors have disappointed me at some point in time. A lot of my fave vendors of Lolla past won’t be attending this year, including Momofuku (though, honestly, they’ve been disappointing lately anyway). Plus, I just can’t stand Graham Elliot or his restaurants. But, Lolla has never claimed to have a Michelin star and there are still plenty of absolutely delicious and terribly unhealthy options, as well as some pretty good options for those of us who are tryna keep our summer bods going, don’t eat meat, or can’t/don’t eat a certain grain protein.

My Top Picks

Cheesie’s (Chow Town North) Grilled cheeses are pretty hard to mess up and easy to prepare quickly, meaning you’re more likely to get a freshly made ‘wich. Cheesie’s is famous among stoners and frat boys throughout Chicago for their mac n’ cheese grilled cheese, i.e., mac n’ cheese is the cheese in the sandwich.

Kuma’s Corner (Chow Town North) This Chicago staple is returning to the Lolla scene after 5 years. They have a reputation to uphold, so I’m going to assume they’ll do a good job, even if they aren’t able to make their ginormous metal-themed burgers with all the toppings.

Lifeway Kefir (Chow Town North) Refreshing, tangy, and totally acceptable as dinner during Lolla, Lifeway has yet to disappoint. You can load it up with fruit and it’s easy to walk with, so you can take it with you as you run from Bud Light to Samsung.

Goddess & The Grocer (Chow Town North) These guys are catering champs, so you don’t have to worry about them struggling to bring their restaurants to the small tent. I find Goddess to always be fresh, though perhaps a bit on the small side.

Windsor Ice Cream Shoppe (Chow Town South) One of the best deals in Chow Town. These GIANT ice cream scoops mean you’ll get more than one lick in before it melts all over your carefully curated festival wear.

Pork & Mindy’s (Chow Town South) In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve still never tried Pork & Mindy’s. However, I do know they’ve had some practice with big crowds and food stall life with Lolla 2016 and Taste of Chicago, which means they probably have worked out some kinks that will make them a solid option. Besides, nothing says summer like pulled pork, and I’d place them above Robinson’s on that front.

Sausage Haus (Chow Town North) Again, untested by yours truly. But since it is run by an events catering company, I put some faith in them to be experts at scaling up. Let me know if they don’t toast the pretzel buns though, cause I’ll quickly axe them from this list.

Godiva Summer Treats Truck (Across from Pepsi Stage) No idea what this is, but it sounds *sweet*

Chipotle (Across from Pepsi Stage) This is also new, and I also have no idea what this really means. If it’s truly Chipotle, this could be a great option! I’ll scope on Thursday and report back!

 

For those looking for healthy options or with dietary restrictions, I’ve just put categorical lists below, with my faves underlined:

Healthy Options

The Goddess & the Grocer (Chow Town North)
Kamehachi (Chow Town North)
Lifeway Kefir (Chow Town North)

In years past, there’s also been a farmers market that has fresh fruit and other healthy options. I don’t see it on the map, but I’ll update if it is indeed there on Thursday!

 

Vegetarian/Vegan Options

BJ’s Market & Bakery (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
Broken English (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Cheesie’s (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
Chubby Wieners (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Connie’s Pizza (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Country BBQ (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Dark Matter (vegan, Chow Town North)
Dia De Los Tamales (vegan, Chow Town North)
Edzo’s Burger Shop (vegan, Chow Town South)
Harold’s Chicken (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Harris Ice (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Kamehachi (vegan, Chow Town North)
Kilwins (vegan, Chow Town North)
Leghorn Chicken (vegan, Chow Town South)
Lou Malnati’s Pizza (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
Mad Social (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
MBurger (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
Rainbow Cone (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Pizano’s (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
Sausage Haus (vegan, Chow Town North)
Tallboy Taco (vegan, Chow Town North)
Goddess and the Grocer (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
Lifeway Kefir Shop (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
Smoke Daddy (vegan, Chow Town North)
Windsor Ice Cream Shop (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Wow Bao (vegetarian, Chow Town South)

 

Gluten-Free Options

BJ’s Market & Bakery (Chow Town North)
Connie’s Pizza (Chow Town South)
Kamehachi (Chow Town North)
Kilwins (Chow Town North)
Leghorn Chicken (Chow Town South)
Lifeway Kefir Shop (Chow Town North)
Smoke Daddy (Chow Town North)
Dark Matter (Chow Town North)
Dia De Los Tamales (Chow Town North)
Edzo’s Burger Shop (Chow Town South)
Pork & Mindy’s (Chow Town South)
Rainbow Cone (Chow Town South)
Tallboy Taco (Chow Town North)
Tank Noodle (Chow Town North)
Sausage Haus (Chow Town North)

 

Sweets & Treats

Harris Ice (Chow Town South)
Kilwins (Chow Town North)
Rainbow Cone (Chow Town South)
Lifeway Kefir Shop (Chow Town North)
Windsor Ice Cream (Chow Town South)
Godiva Summer Treats Truck (Across from Pepsi Stage)
Again, no idea what this entails, but Imma find out!!

 

Beverages

Da Beers Garden, which should be chillin’ across the street from Pepsi Stage, is likely to have solid craft beer options as well as some foods that are vaguely German, like pretzels and sausage — at least in prior years this has been the case.

Cupcake Vineyards can be found in the “wine lounge” west of Kidzapalooza, since nothing says “wine, please!” like kids, amirite???

If for whatever reason you find yourself craving coffee, Dark Matter is the way to go. I’m not even sure if there are other options for coffee around the festival, but regardless, Dark Matter is my #1 coffee in the city.

Also note that this year you can pre-order your beer through the Lolla App and skip the lines!!!!!!!!! I know, right?! I almost hesitated sharing this lest it increase wait times. But then I decided to go VIP so 😎. Enjoy, plebs.

 

Vendors I’ll Be Skipping

    • Graham Elliot and his overpriced and progressively smaller lobster corndog.
    • Leghorn Chicken, which was super disappointing at Mamby
    • Rainbow Cone, an unpopular opinion, maybe, but I think the layering of chocolate, strawberry, something yellow with maraschino cherries, mint chocolate chip, and orange sherbet is just disgusting.
    • Connie’s Pizza, Lou Malnati’s, Bacino’s and Pizano’s seem like a good idea — just grab and go. But I’ve found that pizza at festivals is usually soggy and never hot enough. If you must, I’d vote for Lou’s, since it’s classic Chicago, and Pizano, since it’s thin crust and therefore less likely to be a soggy mess. But, again, haven’t had pizza here since Lolla 2013, so I’ll have to scope the scene.
    • Tank Noodle, while beloved, tends to drop the noodle with their festival versions. The noodles tend to just be clumpy and oily (Sorry, Tank Noodle, I know this does not necessarily reflect on your restaurant!)
    • Broken English and Tallboy because they serve tacos, and festival tacos always come on nasty tortillas that are a shame to abuelas everywhere. They’re also usually a rip off.

 

General Rules of Thumb

  • If a vendor has a food truck, chances are they’ll be better at this food stall thing since they’re used to making things quickly in a small kitchen. There may even be a food truck lot on the south end of Grant Park.
  • Eat at weird times to avoid the lines.

For a guide to the festival as well as my 2017 guide discussing what’s new this year and who I’m seeing, head to TotalBadNass.com.

 

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