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A new Chicago food festival highlights homegrown delicacies like Malört and jibaritos

A new Chicago food festival highlights homegrown delicacies like Malört and jibaritos
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

These days, there's a festival for just about every food group, from wings and pizza to doughnuts and ramen. This spring, the folks behind Baconfest are debuting a brand-new event that celebrates the city's rich culinary history through iconic Chicago eats. Hosted on Friday, April 17 at UIC Dorin Forum, Da Best Fest invites local restaurants to create traditional and inspired spins on pizza puffs, hot dogs, jibaritos, sweet steak sandwiches and Malört.

The growing lineup already includes more than 30 vendors, with the likes of Black Dog Gelato, Hermosa, Le Bouchon and the Duck Inn leading the pack. Festival organizers promise a mix of traditional fare, creative takes and lesser-known delicacies, like aquarium-smoked rib tips. (If you're scratching your head, this 2016 piece from Eater Chicago fills in the blanks.) Sweets vendors Black Dog Gelato and XO Marshmallow are both tackling Malört, aiming to transform the bitter-tasting liqueur into something delicious. The one-day festival even pulls Doug Sohn of Hot Doug's fame out of retirement as a keynote speaker and event host.

Da Best Fest takes over UIC Dorin Forum on Friday, April 17 from 7 to 10pm. General admission tickets are $75, while VIP passes go for $130 and allow early access at 6pm. Attendees are treated to tasting portions from all participating chefs as well as seven boozy beverages. Tickets for Da Best Fest are on sale now, so start brushing up on the difference between a Jim Shoe sandwich and a sweet steak hoagy.

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