Your Guide to Food Trucks at the 2017 Chicago Summer Ale Fest

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We love beer fests because breweries bring their beer to us. At the Chicago Summer Ale Fest, the food will come to us, too--in the form of food trucks.

It’s hard to pin down just what’s so fun about food trucks. It’s probably the combination of many little things. The novelty of ordering food from a restaurant with an engine. The bustle of the cooks in that tiny kitchen. Receiving that big basket of food, with all its colors and promise, down through a window. Enjoying the open air and sun the whole while.

Nine different food trucks will be on hand over the two days of the Ale Fest. That’s a lot of choices. But just like you skim over the brewery list before you go to a beer fest, why not sneak a peek at the food trucks?

To make your life a little easier when you start getting hangry and need some solids to balance all your beer samples, here’s a quick run-down on your choices:

Grumpy Gaucho

ARGENTINIAN

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Photo credit: Grumpy Gaucho

These guys are all about empanadas, and people love them on Yelp! The tip here is that empanadas are smallish, so you can order a couple or three. Expect subtler and more savory flavors than the Mexican street food we get in the States--and expect to want more. Don’t forget to order the Chimichurri sauce on the side.

What looks good: I’m eyeing the BBQ Pork and the Spinach & Ricotta.

Happy Lobster

SEAFOOD

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Photo credit: Happy Lobster

Did someone say “lobster roll”? I have to admit I didn’t know there was such a thing, but when I first heard of it I said, “I want to go to there!!” Started by a guy whose family has been in seafood for a long time, the Happy Lobster made a TimeOut Chicago list of best food trucks.

What looks good: Um, the Lobster Roll, obviously. But the Fried Haddock Sandwich could sway me, too.

Mimi’s Chicago Humble Pie

CHICAGO-STYLE PIZZA, PASTA, & FAMILY RESTAURANT FOOD

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Photo credit: Mimi’s Chicago Humble Pie

This is the kind of truck where you’ll get that home-cooked dinner feel. Think chicken, pork, and veggies. People like the Chicken Vesuvio Sandwich, but Mimi’s boasts that you’ve never tasted a deep-dish pizza like theirs. Challenge accepted.

What looks good: I’m always game to see what someone does with Deep-Dish pizza. According to one Yelper, it involves ricotta. He didn’t sound too happy about that, but I don’t see any problem, here.

Roaming Hog

PORK-CENTRIC CUISINE

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Photo credit: Roaming Hog

If you love pork, then you should check out what’s on special at Roaming Hog. Inspired by the versatile pig, they craft their burgers around international cuisines. How about pork on naan? Or an Asian pork sandwich made with ginger, hoisin sauce, and shallots? Check out this review on Chicago’s Best that will have you driving out to Naperville this weekend.

What looks good: They reviewed the Asian Sandwich on Chicago’s Best, and I gotta say it looks pretty amazing.

Rogue Curbside Kitchen

HOT SANDWICHES & PARMESAN FRIES

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Photo credit: Rogue Curbside Kitchen

Did you catch the part about parmesan fries? They come with all sandwiches. Chef Mark Eckert and family loved creating unique dining experiences for hotel guests, but they wanted more face-to-face interaction with their customers, so they put their food on rolls and their kitchen on wheels. Fine dining at the fest!

What looks good: How about their namesake, the Gone Rogue, a braised-beef sandwich with cilantro, some cheese I’ve not heard of, and a ciabatta roll.

The Roost Carolina Kitchen

FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICHES

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Photo credit: The Roost Carolina Kitchen

Carolina native Joe Scroggs can claim The Roost as Chicago’s first fried chicken food truck, and now he has two brick-and-mortar locations as well. Considering he was trying to start a second truck when the restaurants took root, this must be some pretty great chicken. They made the TimeOut list, too.

What looks good: You can get spicy, but when they’re claiming authentic Carolina flavor, I’d go for the Original Chicken Sandwich. That way you can enjoy the spices on their own and see what this place is all about.

Sausage Fest

SAUSAGES (I’M PRETTY SURE)

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Photo credit: Sausage Fest

Like a good native-born Chicagoan (and an ethnic Eastern European), I like me some sausages. We’re spoiled in Chicago: even our fast food joints can do good sausage (don’t get me started on the D.C. food truck polish). Sausage Fest sources great meats, and they do a grilled-bun thing that makes their sandwiches look like the most mouth-watery bagel dogs you’ve ever seen. They even have a vegetarian option.

What looks good: I like a good veal Bratwurst, but I know when I get to the window I’ll order the authentic Polish.

The Slide Ride

GOURMET SLIDERS

Photo credit: The Slide Ride

One of Chicago’s oldest food trucks, they combine a hip diner chic aesthetic with the fun of variety--you can’t eat just one slider, after all. The Bacon Baby is their most popular (as featured on Chicago’s Best), and it does sound pretty irresistible. They also have vegetarian options like the Caprese, Mediterranean, and Black Bean sliders.

What looks good: The Bacon Gouda and the BBQ Pork.

Taurus Flavors

HOAGIES

Taurus began as an ice cream shop, but people loved their sandwiches, too, and now they have several physical locations around the city. This looks like your choice if you want to bite into a big, satisfying sandwich.

What looks good: I’m looking at their Supreme Steak, which is their Chicago-style take on a Philly Cheesesteak.

Yum Dum

BAOWICHES / ASIAN FUSION

Josh Seago