This year, the annual Taste of Chicago will kick off with neighborhood pop-up events and this time Austin is first on the list.

The Austin event will take place this Saturday, June 11, on a vacant lot at 5720 W. Chicago Ave., from noon to 8 p.m. The event is free to attend and will include blues music acts and food from eateries and catering companies, including the nearby Schweet Foods, 5248 W. Chicago Ave.

The event is billed as a tribute to Austin’s blues heritage and African American cuisines. The city will be holding additional neighborhood events in Pullman and Little Village on the following Saturdays, and something closer to the traditional Taste of Chicago will take place at Grant Park July 8 through July 10.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Taste of Chicago was cancelled in 2020. The 2021 Taste was a series of neighborhood pop-up events. This year’s Taste is something of a mixture of last year’s iteration and the more traditional version, which takes place in Grant Park over the course of multiple days.

In a statement, Erin Harkey, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), which runs the festival, framed this year’s format as a way to “showcase the food and music of Pullman, Austin and Little Village this summer.”

“After an all-virtual Taste in 2020 and community pop-ups in 2021, we are thrilled to bring the Taste back to Grant Park and back into our neighborhoods in 2022,” she said.

The majority of the food vendors at the Austin event will be catering companies, including Cooking from the Soul Catering, which is based in The Hatchery food incubator, 135 N. Kedzie Ave. in East Garfield Park.

Other food vendors include Cynthia’s Gumbo Express, the Sole Ingredient Catering, and Quiles Mexican Food, among other others.

Musical acts will include Joe Pratt and the Source One Band, Mary Lane and The No Static Blues Band, Tail Dragger, Demetria Taylor, and Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials.

“The Taste of Chicago is a celebration of our city’s incredible culinary scene and cultural vibrancy that attracts thousands of residents and tourists alike,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot stated. “I cannot wait to welcome everyone to this iconic festival and enjoy classic Chicago eats alongside new cutting-edge dishes. Year after year, I discover something new and have a great time, and I hope our revelers do too.”

For more information about Taste of Chicago Austin, click here.

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...