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15 new dishes at Taste of Chicago 2014, ranked worst to best

Going to the Taste of Chicago? We ate the 15 new dishes for 2014, so you know what to eat—and what to avoid

1/14
Photograph: Martha Williams

Taquero Fusion pork taco (5 tickets)
We took one bite of the Latin-inspired taco and stopped eating, since the meat was almost mealy and swimming in a watery sauce. Skip it.

2/14
Photograph: Martha Williams

Chicago’s Dog House infused cheddar bacon sausage (5 tickets)
The sausage itself was passable but we’re not sure why it had to be served on a bed of shredded cheddar cheese and giardiniera. 

3/14
Photograph: Martha Williams

Spritzburger Poutine burger (5 tickets)
A smattering of limp fries sit atop a sliver of a tasteless patty and a bun. A thin layer of watery cheese coats it all. It is sacrilege to call this poutine.

4/14
Photograph: Martha Williams

Chicago’s Dog House smoked alligator sausage (5 tickets)
Alligator sausage may sound exotic, but this encased meat served with caramelized onions was one of the blandest things we tried.

5/14
Photograph: Martha Williams

Lawrence’s Fisheries large fried shrimp (4 tickets)
While the breading was nicely flavored, it was too heavy and dominated the shrimp.

Lawrence’s Fisheries cocktail shrimp (3 tickets)
Two little cocktail shrimp in a plastic cup is sad, no matter how many tickets it costs.

6/14
Photograph: Martha Williams

The Savoy grilled shrimp po’boy (5 tickets)
While there was a hefty serving of slaw dressed with spicy sauce, we had to go hunting through the toppings to find any shrimp (there was one).

7/14
Photograph: Martha Williams

Taquero Fusion chips and salsa (5 tickets)
Did you come to the Taste to eat perfectly fine chips and salsa? Didn’t think so.

8/14
Photograph: Martha Williams

Spritzburger Mac & Cheeto (5 tickets)
Basically Velveeta Shells & Cheese sprinkled with Cheeto dust. Tastes just fine, but would taste much better if we were stoned.

9/14
Photograph: Martha Williams

M Burger bacon grilled cheese (5 tickets)
Remember the grilled cheese sandwiches you ate in your grade school cafeteria? This dish replicates the gooey, American cheese goodness and adds a few slices of bacon.

10/14
Photograph: Martha Williams

M Burger old fashioned hamburger (5 tickets)
It’s an M Burger without the cheese (you’ll need to cough up extra tickets for that) and easily one of the largest “taste portions” we sampled.

11/14
Photograph: Martha Williams

The Savoy crab cake (5 tickets)
You should probably get the full size crab cake. The well-spiced cake was one of the better items we ate today and the tasting portion left us wanting more.

12/14
Photograph: Martha Williams

Bridgeport Pasty spinach and mushroom pasty (4 tickets)
The half pasty was stuffed with a ton of spinach and is one of the better vegetarian options at the Taste.

13/14
Photograph: Martha Williams

Mariano’s chocolate-covered banana (3 tickets)
Hand-dipped in chocolate while you wait and so phallic it’s comical, this giant dessert is as refreshing as it is filling—and a huge value.

14/14
Photograph: Martha Williams

Mariano’s Italian sausage and Melrose peppers (5 tickets)
The sausage is zesty and has a nice snap, the onions and peppers are piled high, and the bun is thick and fresh. The fact that this is a full size Italian sausage for the price of a tasting portion, and it’s something we’d go back and eat again and again, make this the stand-out winner. 

Ah, the Taste of Chicago, our annual chance to take an extended lunch break and go to town on sausages, fried food and Rainbow Cones. While standbys like Billy Goat Tavern, BJ's Market and Ricobene's are back again, this year there are six new stands setting up each day. Plus, there's a rotating selection of food trucks and pop-up restaurants. We tried all the "taste portions" from the new stands, most of which cost 5 tickets (about $3.50), plus some food truck items. Here's our ranking, from worst to best.

Want more food recommendations? Since most longtime vendors haven't changed their menus in years, here's our reviews of food from 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010.

RECOMMENDED: Taste of Chicago guide

 

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