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A quick hit, the Taste of Chicago Preview 2011 | Photo gallery

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

Digging in at the Taste of Chicago Preview

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

Texas de Brazil combo platter (sausage, chicken, sirloin) at the Taste of Chicago Preview

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

Texas de Brazil combo platter (sausage, chicken, sirloin) at the Taste of Chicago Preview

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

Connie's deep dish pizza at the Taste of Chicago Preview

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

Brazilian chicken breast wrapped in bacon from Texas de Brazil

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

Ladies from the Chicago Sweet Connection Bakery show off Super Atomic Cake slide and Oreo Parfait Cup at Taste of Chicago Preview

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

The busy Lao Sze Chuan booth at the Taste of Chicago Preview

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

A few of the offerings of Lao Sze Chuan at the Taste of Chicago Preview

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

Polo Caf´┐Ż's Cheesy Cajun Chips at the Taste of Chicago Preview

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

A slice from Beggars Pizza at the Taste of Chicago Preview

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

Taste of Chicago Preview June 7, 2011

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

Chowing down on Beggars Pizza at the Taste of Chicago Preview

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

Lao Sze Chuan spokesperson explains the restaurant's full menu

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

Lao Sze Chuan spokesperson explains the restaurant's full menu

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Photo Credit: Emily Rawdon

Super Atomic Cake slice from Chicago Sweet Connection Bakery

The Taste of Chicago offered a preview of this summer's food fest between 11am and 2pm today at Daley Plaza. The event featured nine out of the 59 participating vendors from Taste 2011, each presenting three or more affordable tasting portion options so lunchtime visitors could sample more than one stand. We hit a few stands, took some photos and tried a few bites. Here's what we liked and didn't like.

Hits and misses
La Sze Chuan's dry chili chicken ($5) is for lovers of all things hot and spicy—and came bundled in a takeaway box so we could bring it to the office. The dish itself is nearly as good as eating in Chinatown—exploding spice mixes with a crisp chicken balanced with some vibrant citrus overtones. If you're feeling bold, eat the chili peppers themselves—and have water handy, and a soda, and a beer.

Texas De Brazil's combo platter (Brazilian sausage, chicken wrapped in bacon, sirloin steak) sounded a bit too good to be true at $6, but did in fact feel like an actual worthwhile plate of food for not so much dough. The sausage was fairly innocuous—any Brazilian flavor was hiding away, but the chicken in bacon and steak were surprisingly well textured, not overdone—though probably not worth a special trip.

New to the Taste, Chicago Sweet Connection Bakery's Super Atomic Cake slice was cool with fresh strawberry flavor—and not too small for just $3.

Our pescaterian tried Polo Café and Catering's promising crab cake nuggets but found them a bit dry and flat—probably from sitting out in the sweltering heat. Some Louisiana hot sauce enhanced them. She also sampled two pizza stands—a slice of cheese pizza from Beggars Pizza was overwhelmingly greasy and a lack of sauce made it almost unpalatable—all of which made Connie's deep dish slice the winner.

The Taste of Chicago; runs June 24–July 3.

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