You’re going to be busy at Riot Fest with this year’s stacked lineup, but you’re also going to need your strength to make it through three days of music-filled partying. So don’t forget to eat! When you’re not stageside watching your favorite bands, take a little timeout to go visit all the Riot Fest food vendors and sample the festival fare. Chicago is a great food city and Riot Fest attracts some of the best local joints around, along with quirky festival dishes, international cuisine, and tasty pub grub. We don’t know the full lineup of food vendors for Riot Fest 2019 yet, but here’s a look at what you can (probably) expect based on past festivals…
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First off, you’re guaranteed to find something you enjoy among the 50-plus vendors who usually flock to Riot Fest. There will be spots that cater to vegans and vegetarians, as well as a few budget-friendly options for those who don’t want to splurge too hard on festival food – or those non-foodies among you who look at food merely as sustenance… we see you.
If you ARE into trying the best foods, according to the Riot Fest subReddit, here are some past fan favorites:
- Cheesie’s (a local joint that makes ridiculous grilled cheeses – think oozy, mac ‘n cheese sandwiches that fans line up for)
- Taco in a Bag (exactly what it sounds like, a portable taco with a range of toppings from a popular late night Chicago spot – get the Big Jim Reeves)
- Dumpling House (huge portions of Polish pierogies, potato pancakes, and stuffed cabbage rolls – often voted the best bang for your buck by hungry festivalgoers)
- Creme of the Crop (the potato skins and mac n’ cheese were crowdpleasers here)
- Los Comales (Mexican food)
- Art of Dosa (Indian food with vegan options)
- Cevapcici (tasty, grilled Balkan sausages)
- Reggies (what can we say, mac ‘n cheese is a hit at festivals!)
- And of course, there’s always pizza… this is Chicago after all.
In addition to those in the list above, a few other local Chicago spots have attended Riot Fest in the past to sling their cuisine too. The Billy Goat Tavern – yes, like the notorious Cubs’ curse – serves up its famous burgers. Porkchop from Randolph Street sells barbecue options like brisket and pulled pork sliders. And Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro from Lincoln Square had classic pub food and ribs.
You’ll also find traveling festival staples like Puffs of Doom selling their sweet and savory puffs, including a few vegan and gluten-free options. (They once had a squabble with Morrissey after he forced all meat sales to stop during his Riot Fest set.) Then there’s the festival-hopping Dark Matter Coffee tent if you need that extra pick-me-up.
Of course, you can always grab traditional carnival food like grilled corn on the cob, turkey legs, corndogs, and funnel cakes. This is where you can look for cheaper deals!
There’s no shortage of international options either. You’ll find Greek, Thai, Mexican, Chinese, Polish, Italian, Indian, and more. As for beverages, if you need a break from the beer or booze, there are also usually smoothies, juices, and/or lemonade spots amongst the food vendors. And of course, don’t forget dessert!
Pro tip: Get some friends together and split a variety of things. Festival food in general isn’t cheap, but this way, you don’t have to go all out on one thing. And if you’re eyeing the funnel cakes, word on the street is that they’re huuuge.
A couple of details: You’re not allowed to bring food into the festival grounds unless you have a verifiable medical condition and you’re not allowed re-entry unless you’ve got a VIP ticket, so chances are you will be taking part in the festival food situation. Make the most of it and try new things! Do bring that refillable water bottle though and save some cash that way…
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