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2018 Pitchfork Music Festival - Day 1
Pitchfork Music Festival returns this weekend to Chicago.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Best Casual Eats Around Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago

When diners don’t have time for a lengthy sit-down meal between sets

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Pitchfork Music Festival returns this weekend to Chicago.
| Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Chicago’s Union Park, home of the Pitchfork Music Festival, stands in the shadow of Randolph Street and Fulton Market, home of some of the city’s fanciest restaurants. But for concert goers — or fans attending events at the nearby United Center — spending 90 minutes on a sit-down meal doesn’t make sense while rushing toward an event.

The fest, which takes place Friday, July 15 to Sunday, July 17 will still sell food on site. The vendor lineup is family to Chicago street fest attendees: Beat Kitchen, Connie’s Pizza, Quang Noodle, Don Pez, Festibowls, BenjYehuda, Island Noodles, LC Pho, Billy Goat Tavern, Bumbu Roux, Black Dog Gelato, Goddess and Grocer, and Donerman. For Pitchforkers who opted for the deluxe “Plus” tickets, they’ll be feted with “curated food and cocktails from a notable Chicago restaurant and private bars.” The identity of that restaurant remains a mystery.

But not everyone enjoys festival food. So here are more casual and faster options around Union Park that will satisfy on the way or back from a concert or sporting event in the area.

A reminder: Parking is always a premium around Randolph Street, so bike, take public transportation, or even try an electric scooter.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Bartoli's Pizzeria & Catering - West Town

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Chicagoans shouldn’t reject deep dish, its locals just need to be more picky. Bartoli’s deep dish isn’t the cheesy mess outsiders like to lambaste. This is thoughtfully layered pizza topped with fresh ingredients. And there’s also no need to wait extended periods. Bartoli’s offers pizza by the slice. it also has a Roscoe Village location.

Duk's Red HOTS

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Chicago dogs come in a variety of preparations. For those who like their encased meats deep fried, Duk’s is the place. Once called Donald Duk’s, until Disney attorneys came calling, this old-school hot dog stand is a classic.

Taqueria Traspasada 2

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This tiny Mexican restaurant is known for quick and affordable tacos, tortas, burritos, and more. Find everything from steak, to cesina, to vegetarian options. There’s something for everyone — even breakfast options like chilaquiles and huevos.

Billy Goat Tavern (near United Center)

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The old Saturday Night Live sketch maybe a little dated, and the original location in Lower Wacker Drive is no longer the epicenter of Chicago’s journalism scene, but Billy Goat is still is a solid choice for beer and a burger. Some may resist the Kaiser rolls or the pickle station, but there’s a little history in each bite which makes Billy Goat worth a visit.

Bunker’s name reveals a lot: a bar with all the needed resources to survive without leaving. For this new bar, armed with a large patio, that means coolers full of canned beer and fun burritos created by the owners of Antique Taco, one of the city’s favored Mexican restaurants.

Crave Kabob

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Crave Kabob also has a suburban Skokie location, and is quick and casual spot for Mediterranean bowls, gyros, and kabobs. Most of the selections are halal (notable not the gyros), and there’s plenty of veggie options.

Harold's Chicken Shack West Loop

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For much of Chicago — especially its Black residents — Harold’s outpaces hot dogs, pizza, and Italian beef as the definitive taste of the city. The locations, mostly on the South Side, vary in quality as each is run independently. The West Loop location is meant to capitalize on the United Center crowds. The chicken is fried in beef tallow and fans love to smother their birds in mild sauce, a unique Chicago condiment that has cult popularity.

Red sauce drizzles from a cup over a basket of fried chicken and fries.
Harold’s Chicken Shack is a Chicago icon.
Kim Kovacik/Eater Chicago

Bari Foods

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This Italian American grocery store features a deli in the back with some of the best subs in town. The Italian is a meat-lovers’ dream, but the turkey, meatball, and Italian beef (the latter a Chicago classic) are tough to beat. Grab a sandwich and walk to a nearby park.

McDonald’s Global Menu Restaurant

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The Golden Arches left suburbia for a new headquarters along Randolph Street. In doing so, it also opened a restaurant with a twist. This McDonald’s offers standard fare and items exclusively available at locations outside the U.S. Currently, the menu includes a double-barbecue chicken sandwich from France and goat cheese burger from Spain.

A digital menu board from McDonald’s with four vertical screens with photos, prices, and more.
McDonald’s international menu changes regularly.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Nonna's Pizza & Sandwiches

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The little sibling of Formento’s, the massive Italian-American restaurant along Randolph Street, Nonna’s is a little sub shop meant to remind customers of sandwich counters in Little Italys across America. The roasted turkey with marinated broccoli is a highlight. There’s also Sicilian and N.Y.-style pizza slices. Veggie and vegan options are available.

Bonci Pizzeria

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With flour imported from Italy, this Roman-style pizzeria has made it stateside brining the same impeccable quality as the one near the Vatican. Post up near the display case, point to the pies you want and tell the workers how much you want. It’s like a deli for pizza. The rectangular pies come with an airy crust. You won’t find pepperoni here, but instead old-world ingredients. This is a great place for vegetarians or vegans.

A display case full of uncut square pizza pies.
Bonci Pizza is unique.
Barry Brecheisen./Eater Chicago

Time Out Market Chicago

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Food courts were always good to mall goers for a quick bite, and their modern incarnations, food halls, prove no exception. This food hall, curated by media conglomerate Time Out, contains a Polish-Colombian spot (Polombia), stellar barbecue (Soul & Smoke), Indian street food (Bar Goa), and Pan Asian noodles and other items from acclaimed chef Bill Kim (Urbanbelly). It’s a great place to grab a drink and cool off.

Time Out Market’s space features multiple food vendors, a full-service bar, and a massive skylight.
Time Out Market Chicago is back open.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

J.P. Graziano Grocery

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Graziano’s is the last great independent along Randolph Street, an Italian-American grocer that pivoted toward its deli business and now is collaborating with musicians, other restaurants, and street artists to keep the brand fresh. Italian subs are popular in Chicago, and Graziano’s routinely place in the top tier. Don’t forget the giardiniera.

Tamale Guy at Lone Wolf

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After bouncing around between Wicker Park and West Loop, Claudio Velez is back at Lone Wolf, the divey bar along Randolph Street. The Tamale Guy has delivered tamales to Chicago’s bars for years, but now has a licensed space to cook those famous chicken, cheese, and corn tamales that come sealed in a plastic bag. They’ve saved numerous customers from a hangover during the years.

A plate of tamales in corn husks.
A plate of tamales.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Bartoli's Pizzeria & Catering - West Town

Chicagoans shouldn’t reject deep dish, its locals just need to be more picky. Bartoli’s deep dish isn’t the cheesy mess outsiders like to lambaste. This is thoughtfully layered pizza topped with fresh ingredients. And there’s also no need to wait extended periods. Bartoli’s offers pizza by the slice. it also has a Roscoe Village location.

Duk's Red HOTS

Chicago dogs come in a variety of preparations. For those who like their encased meats deep fried, Duk’s is the place. Once called Donald Duk’s, until Disney attorneys came calling, this old-school hot dog stand is a classic.

Taqueria Traspasada 2

This tiny Mexican restaurant is known for quick and affordable tacos, tortas, burritos, and more. Find everything from steak, to cesina, to vegetarian options. There’s something for everyone — even breakfast options like chilaquiles and huevos.

Billy Goat Tavern (near United Center)

The old Saturday Night Live sketch maybe a little dated, and the original location in Lower Wacker Drive is no longer the epicenter of Chicago’s journalism scene, but Billy Goat is still is a solid choice for beer and a burger. Some may resist the Kaiser rolls or the pickle station, but there’s a little history in each bite which makes Billy Goat worth a visit.

Bunker

Bunker’s name reveals a lot: a bar with all the needed resources to survive without leaving. For this new bar, armed with a large patio, that means coolers full of canned beer and fun burritos created by the owners of Antique Taco, one of the city’s favored Mexican restaurants.

Crave Kabob

Crave Kabob also has a suburban Skokie location, and is quick and casual spot for Mediterranean bowls, gyros, and kabobs. Most of the selections are halal (notable not the gyros), and there’s plenty of veggie options.

Harold's Chicken Shack West Loop

Red sauce drizzles from a cup over a basket of fried chicken and fries.
Harold’s Chicken Shack is a Chicago icon.
Kim Kovacik/Eater Chicago

For much of Chicago — especially its Black residents — Harold’s outpaces hot dogs, pizza, and Italian beef as the definitive taste of the city. The locations, mostly on the South Side, vary in quality as each is run independently. The West Loop location is meant to capitalize on the United Center crowds. The chicken is fried in beef tallow and fans love to smother their birds in mild sauce, a unique Chicago condiment that has cult popularity.

Red sauce drizzles from a cup over a basket of fried chicken and fries.
Harold’s Chicken Shack is a Chicago icon.
Kim Kovacik/Eater Chicago

Bari Foods

This Italian American grocery store features a deli in the back with some of the best subs in town. The Italian is a meat-lovers’ dream, but the turkey, meatball, and Italian beef (the latter a Chicago classic) are tough to beat. Grab a sandwich and walk to a nearby park.

McDonald’s Global Menu Restaurant

A digital menu board from McDonald’s with four vertical screens with photos, prices, and more.
McDonald’s international menu changes regularly.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The Golden Arches left suburbia for a new headquarters along Randolph Street. In doing so, it also opened a restaurant with a twist. This McDonald’s offers standard fare and items exclusively available at locations outside the U.S. Currently, the menu includes a double-barbecue chicken sandwich from France and goat cheese burger from Spain.

A digital menu board from McDonald’s with four vertical screens with photos, prices, and more.
McDonald’s international menu changes regularly.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Nonna's Pizza & Sandwiches

The little sibling of Formento’s, the massive Italian-American restaurant along Randolph Street, Nonna’s is a little sub shop meant to remind customers of sandwich counters in Little Italys across America. The roasted turkey with marinated broccoli is a highlight. There’s also Sicilian and N.Y.-style pizza slices. Veggie and vegan options are available.

Bonci Pizzeria

A display case full of uncut square pizza pies.
Bonci Pizza is unique.
Barry Brecheisen./Eater Chicago

With flour imported from Italy, this Roman-style pizzeria has made it stateside brining the same impeccable quality as the one near the Vatican. Post up near the display case, point to the pies you want and tell the workers how much you want. It’s like a deli for pizza. The rectangular pies come with an airy crust. You won’t find pepperoni here, but instead old-world ingredients. This is a great place for vegetarians or vegans.

A display case full of uncut square pizza pies.
Bonci Pizza is unique.
Barry Brecheisen./Eater Chicago

Time Out Market Chicago

Time Out Market’s space features multiple food vendors, a full-service bar, and a massive skylight.
Time Out Market Chicago is back open.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Food courts were always good to mall goers for a quick bite, and their modern incarnations, food halls, prove no exception. This food hall, curated by media conglomerate Time Out, contains a Polish-Colombian spot (Polombia), stellar barbecue (Soul & Smoke), Indian street food (Bar Goa), and Pan Asian noodles and other items from acclaimed chef Bill Kim (Urbanbelly). It’s a great place to grab a drink and cool off.

Time Out Market’s space features multiple food vendors, a full-service bar, and a massive skylight.
Time Out Market Chicago is back open.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

J.P. Graziano Grocery

Graziano’s is the last great independent along Randolph Street, an Italian-American grocer that pivoted toward its deli business and now is collaborating with musicians, other restaurants, and street artists to keep the brand fresh. Italian subs are popular in Chicago, and Graziano’s routinely place in the top tier. Don’t forget the giardiniera.

Tamale Guy at Lone Wolf

A plate of tamales in corn husks.
A plate of tamales.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

After bouncing around between Wicker Park and West Loop, Claudio Velez is back at Lone Wolf, the divey bar along Randolph Street. The Tamale Guy has delivered tamales to Chicago’s bars for years, but now has a licensed space to cook those famous chicken, cheese, and corn tamales that come sealed in a plastic bag. They’ve saved numerous customers from a hangover during the years.

A plate of tamales in corn husks.
A plate of tamales.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

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