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Chicago summer food events

Warm weather means day drinking, gelato cones and—if you dare—the Taste of Chicago.

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Load up on local food

 (Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki)
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Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki

Picnic at Millennium Park

 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
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Photograph: Martha Williams

Day drink at Big Star

 (Photograph: Ellie Pritts)
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Photograph: Ellie Pritts

Taste of Chicago

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Find your new favorite patio

 (Photograph: Michael Kiser)
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Photograph: Michael Kiser

Drink a new craft beer

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Eat a scoop of gelato

 (Photograph: Paul Strabbing Photography)
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Photograph: Paul Strabbing Photography

Hang out with the city's best chefs

 (Photograph: Erica Gannett)
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Photograph: Erica Gannett

Party on a roof

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Track down a food truck

Dark bars and whiskey shots? You've got nine months of the year for that. Take full advantage of our short and (hopefully) sweet summer by ticking off this food-and-drink bucket list. 

1. Load up on local food!
The Green City Market moves outdoors May 4, and we have one word for that: rhubarb. Prepare yourself with one of our rhubarb recipes from Chicago chefs, be it Mathew Rice's rustic rhubarb buckle, Jeff Pikus's shaved-vegetable salad with rhubarb mustard or Stephanie Izard's asparagus-rhubarb-goat cheese salad

2. Picnic at Millennium Park.
Our idea of a picnic is a bottle of wine and a sub sandwich, but if you want to be fancy, study this guide to "Extreme picnicking," then pair your dinner with a concert of choice from this summer's Grant Park Music Festival, which kicks off June 12.

3. Day drink at Big Star.
And we don't mean on a weekend, when there's bound to be a line down the block to snag a table for an afternoon of margarita pitchers and tacos. We mean taking a day off from work, claiming your spot at 11:30am and not giving it up until the sun fades (or you do). (And if by chance you can't get in to Big Star, go to these places instead.)

4. Try not to hate yourself at the Taste of Chicago.
It's the festival that everyone loves to hate, a fetid pit of cheesecake-on-a-stick and overpriced corn on the cob. But it wouldn't be a Chicago summer if we didn't have the Taste of Chicago (July 10–14) to complain about. Check out this year's headliners and photos from the 2012 Taste.

5. Find your new favorite patio.
We have a feeling it might be the recently opened Parson's, the Longman & Eagle crew's new outdoor-centric chicken-and-fish spot, but check out our guide to outdoor dining and drinking for more sunny options.

6. Drink a new craft beer. 
Between new breweries, such as the re-branded Ale Syndicate, new festivals (like the American Beer Classic at Soldier Field on May 11), and the opening of the Lagunitas brewery in Chicago (slated for June), this one should be rather easy.

7. Eat a scoop of gelato.
Preferably from the inimitable Black Dog Gelato, whether at the Ukrainian Village or Roscoe Village location.

8. Hang out with the best chefs in Chicago.
With practically every notable chef in Chicago gathering in Lincoln Park to cook with local ingredients, it's no wonder the Green City Market Chefs' BBQ, which takes place July 18, is pretty much the ultimate food event of the summer. Tickets aren't yet on sale, but they will be soon ($125 general admission/$250 VIP). Plus, check out our guide to this year's farmers' markets, including, of course, Green City.

9. Party on a roof!
And what's more exiting than a new rooftop, like the retractable roof at newcomer American Junkie or the coming-soon Dec at the Ritz Carlton?

10. Track down a food truck.
Now that mobile eateries are starting to make their way through the city's labyrinth of red tape, it's time to find out whether cooking on board is actually going to make the food taste better. Keep tabs on the Salsa Truck, the first truck to get a license to cook on board, or chase down one of the city's other mobile wagons via our Chicago Food Truck Guide.

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