If you haven't made the trek to BaconFest, you'd better start planning for 2016. It is a show of culinary porkdom, craft cockpigtailing, smokey sensory meaty goodness. I waded through a sea of people looking for a pork fix, piggy tricks and drink mix. There were cooks from Chicago restaurants like Big Jones, Duck Inn, Epic, Lockwood, Perennial Virant and Taco Joint. Meaty, salty eats everywhere surrounded by beer from Lagunitas, Goose Island and Lakefront Brewery along with Wirtz cocktails.
The biggest quandary on what to do is where to start or how. I figured it was best to start in the middle and work my way out, taking small bites from each vendor to save my stomach for later, while grabbing cocktails from Templeton Rye and Tito's and foregoing gutstuffing brews.
Wading my way through the masses, I managed to find my favorites:
- Tanta (118 W Grand Ave). They made my favorite dish of the Fest, a Chicharron Glazed Bocado, a spicy thick piece of bacon with pineapple which had the right amount of everything. Delicious
- Kanela Breakfast Club (1408 N Milwaukee Ave). This was an extremely close 2nd, with an amazing dessert- Bacon Infused Loukoumades (Greek Donut) accompanied by the most outrageous candied bacon I've ever tasted!
- The Duck Inn (2701 S Eleanor St). The most insanely delicious hot dog ever- The Frankenduckie: a duck fat dog wrapped in bacon with cheese sauce, pickled jalapeno and Calabrian chili relish.
- Acre (5308 N Clark St). Chicken Liver and Bacon Pate which was so delicious I almost asked for fourths!
- Sheekar Delights (Glenview IL). One of the best Baklava ever with bacon, pistachio, walnuts and simple syrup, which made it lighter and better.
- Velvet Taco (1110 N State). The Cuban Pig: a taco stuffed with grain mustard, slow roasted chili rubbed pork butt, cured ham, applewood peppered bacon, gruyere and pickles. Perfect Cuban taco.
- Rub's Backcountry Smokehouse & The Budlong (6954 N Western Ave). Nashville Hot Chicken Club was an insanely heat rubbed chicken paired with Nueske's smoked bacon. I love the heat.
- Old Town Pour House (1419 N Wells St). Ebel's Weiss Braised Pork Belly. It was like pot roast but 100x more delicious with onion marmalade, red pepper coulis and sweet serrano chili pepper. Love love love.
It's so hard to stop talking about the food but I'll stop there and leave your imaginations (and drooling) to wander). Too many cocktails to think about my favorite with Koval, Tito's and Templeton Rye in the house. You'll have to taste through the madness!