Food & Drink

50 Heart-Pounding Dishes From Chicago's Baconfest

Published On 04/20/2015 Published On 04/20/2015
Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Most cities don't have the courage or girth to host a bacon festival with 170 restaurants showing off their food alchemy chops to cook more than 7,000lbs of bacon in a weekend. We went, and here're 50 dishes that we wish we could've eaten all at once (yes, we're mortal).

Budino al Caramello

Francesca’s Restaurants (address and info)
The pig faces were adorable enough to eat in the caramel Budino filled with applewood-caramel sauce and salty chocolate bacon-covered pretzels.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bacon Wrapped Onion Rings

Paddy Long’s (address and info)
Onion rings are nice. Alpha King beer-battered, bacon-wrapped onion rings are better, especially when complimented with house-made curry ketchup. It was easily the best use of beer in the room.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bacon “Snickers” Bar

Untitled Supper Club (address and info)
You’ve heard of candied bacon. Well, this is bacon candy. It was applewood-smoked bacon, bacon fat caramel, bourbon nougat, peanuts, milk chocolate, and sea salt. The white crumbles on top? Dehydrated bacon fat.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Letherbee Flying Pigs

Farmhouse Chicago (address and info)
All fairgrounds should have cotton candy with white chocolate, Letherbee Besk, and a bacon hand pie.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bacon Custard Pie

Table, Donkey and Stick (address and info)
TDS proved that bacon really does go with everything. That’s the only explanation for how bacon custard pie and peas could possible come together so perfectly.

colin joliat/thrillist

Chicago Style Bacon Dog
Howells & Hood (address and info)
If there’s one thing Chicago loves more than bacon, it’s hot dogs. But who says you can’t have both? It wasn’t the only bacon Chicago dog in the room, but it was easily the best.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Sweet Onion and Bacon Candle

Travelle (address and info)
Make a wish. More bacon? Okay, here you go, a candle that burns with bacon fat that may have perturbed any fire marshals working the event.

colin joliat/thrillist

When Pigs Fly

Quince (address and info)
Chocolate-bacon Oreos might be cute, but they were also delicious. The bacon Pop Rocks hiding beneath were definitely the most creative use of bacon and nostalgia.

colin joliat/thrillist

Irish Bacon Butty

Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro (address and info)
There’s nothing blah about this Irish-style back bacon on traditional blaa-style roll. The homemade “HP Sauce” (brown sauce popular in the UK) is the perfect finishing touch.

colin joliat/thrillist

Grilled Hanger Steak Wrapped in Bacon

Unite Urban Grill (address and info)
Steak and bacon should be the next big trend. This was like wrapping happiness with heaven then topping it with bacon-fat hollandaise.

colin joliat/thrillist

Pastrami Pork Belly

Signature Room at the 95th (address and info)
Pastrami might be the new bacon. The Signature Room's pork bell pastrami, scotch bonnet slaw, and scorched fruit on a bacon focaccia roll tasted as good as the restaurant’s view.

colin joliat/thrillist

Maple & Bacon Ricotta Gougère

Old Town Social (address and info)
You’ve probably never heard of a gougère, but the delicious pastry is irrelevant once you tack on baby bacon lardons topped with crushed pistachio and bacon-fat powdered sugar. Yes, the usually useless powdered sugar is bacon fat.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bacon Tarte Flambe

David Burke's Primehouse (address and info)
Picture a bento box made entirely of food. This is it, lead by Vidalia-braised applewood-bacon along with ramp soubise, black pepper hollandaise, and crispy leeks. It’s the most organized bite of food I took all day.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bourbon Braised Bacon Biscuit Slider

Stout Barrel House & Galley (address and info)
Buttermilk bacon cheddar jalapeño biscuit? Check. Bourbon-braised bacon? Check. Country-style bacon gravy? Check. All of that, and they still threw candied bacon on top. Hats (and belts) off to Stout.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

Whisk (address and info)
Shrimp wrapped in bacon is always a stellar choice, but Whisk upped the ante by stuffing the shrimp with pepper jack cheese. Mango salsa was the perfect finishing touch.

colin joliat/thrillist

Royal Bacon and Apple Galettes

Pleasant House Bakery (address and info)
This crusty open-faced tart topped with crispy bacon might just be the gateway drug to a lifetime of indulging in meat pies.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bacon S’mores

Kaiser Tiger (address and info)
Campfire snacks have never been as good as this roasted-bacon marshmallow with chocolate bacon bark melted between graham crackers. Normal s’mores will never again get the job done.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Smoked Jalapeño Bacon Cracker Jack

Barn & Company (address and info)
A welcome spin on a ballpark food that nobody likes, if only you could wash it down by chugging a beer that you caught a foul ball in.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Bacon Studded BLT Biscuit

Bang Bang Pie Shop (address and info)
Bang Bang won many a fans heart with red ham gravy BLT featuring its signature biscuits studded with bacon alongside potato chips dusted with bacon and ranch flavor.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Bacon Maple Cupcake

More (address and info)
Bacon-maple cake with a brown-sugar-maple buttercream garnished with house-made bacon brittle IN CUP FORM!


Smoked Bacon Garlic Soup & Bacon Hushpuppy

Husky Hog BBQ (address and info)
Soup at Baconfest; why not? Hickory-smoked bacon-garlic soup and a cherrywood-smoked bacon hushpuppy were the perfect pairing. They threw in some smoked bacon aioli for good measure.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bacon Whiskey River Lasagna

Flo & Santos (address and info)
Lasagna layers have never been better than bacon pasta, bacon ricotta, bacon bits, bacon sauce, and bacon bacon. They threw in bacon barrel-aged whiskey for good measure, too.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Pork Belly Risotto

Pinstripes (address and info)
Chef Cesar Gutierrez impressed with braised pork belly served with bacon-infused Parmesan risotto, even pairing it with a salted caramel bacon gelato.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Bacon and ‘Nduja Hot Link

3 Floyds Brewpub (address and info)
While gearing up for Dark Lord Day, the chefs at 3 Floyds assembled a bacon-y hot link topped with bacon jam, pickled fennel, and Dark Lord hot sauce (made from ancho and guajillo chili peppers used in their barrel-aged beer variants).

colin joliat/thrillist

Pork Belly Kare Kare

Randolph Tavern (address and info)
Stew on a plate could be a dicey operation, but it paid off with this peanut-braised pork belly, green beans, and bok choy. It was a single bite of Filipino heaven.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bacon Nem Nuong

Sparrow Coffee Roastery/HaiSous (address and info)
If this sausage with bacon and cold brew coffee along with banana blossoms, mint, and lemongrass is any indication of what we can expect from HaiSous, Chicago is about to fall in love with Vietnamese food.

colin joliat/thrillist

Fried Bacon Bologna Sliders

Autre Monde Cafe & Spirits (address and info)
My bologna has a first name; it’s A-U-T-R-E. If only childhood bag lunches were as good as this fried bacon bologna slider with Dijonnaise and bread-and-butter pickles.

colin joliat/thrillist

Pig Liver & Bacon Mousse

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate (address and info)
It might look like fancy chocolate mousse, but this is actually perfectly aerated pig liver topped with bacon with crostini. Dessert bacon is the new hotness.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Bacon Biryani

Naansense (address and info)
Fest-goers were free to dress their Bacon Biryani at the self-serve chutney station with garlic/mint yogurt, green chili chutney, apple tamarind, curry mayo, and red fire chili.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bacon Fromage Grillé

Troquet River North (address and info)
This was easily the most fancy grilled cheese I’ve ever had. It was confit of bacon, truffled brioche, camembert, Mornay sauce, shallot jam, and mustard caviar. Who knew grilled cheese necessitated eating with a pinky out?

colin joliat/thrillist

The Wedge

Browntrout (address and info)
This was the only lettuce in the room, but it was coated with grilled ramp ranch and added house-made bacon lardon and blue cheese. I’m still calling it healthy bacon though.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Chef Duo

676 Restaurant & Bar (address and info)
Mason jar bacon in the form of a crème brulee made with foie gras and lamb bacon, to be chased down with scallops tartine

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Candied Bacon Caramel Tart

Vanille Patisserie (address and info)
The creamy dome of maple mousse (topped with candied bacon) went well with the texture-contrasting base of bacon fat bourbon caramel.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Belly and Grits 

III Forks Prime Steakhouse (address and info)
Creamy white cheddar and bacon-stone-ground grits with red eye jus with some crispy citrus cured pork belly nestled on top.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bacon Parfait

Bacaro (address and info)
Dairy Queen could learn something from this amazing parfait comprised of chocolate bacon bits, white chocolate bacon mousse, and raspberry bacon crumble. That lesson? Every layer needs bacon.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bacon Grilled Cheese

Blue Door Farm Stand (address and info)
I’ve always thought grilled cheese would be better if it was made with bacon mac & cheese instead of boring slices, and Blue Door proves I was right.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bacon Fried Pickles

Burger Bar Chicago (address and info)
Bacon. Fried. Pickles. I repeat. Bacon fried pickles. This is clearly the greatest appetizer on Earth, even before factoring in the habanero BBQ sauce.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bacon Ravioli

Osteria La Madia (address and info)
This spinach- and ricotta-filled ravioli with a house-made tomato and bacon sauce was the best dish in the house. I might have had four of them just to be sure.

colin joliat/thrillist

Bacon Currywurst

Dönermen (address and info)
This house-made bacon sausage with bacon curry sauce and goat milk tzatziki tastes just as good when it’s not being served from a food truck.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Bacon Falafel 

Homestead On The Roof (address and info
Homestead chef Christ "Chip" Davies turned in some Mediterranean flavor from his native country, Egypt, with a green chickpea bacon falafel, spiced crème fraîche, and lemon/bacon jam.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Chocolate Bacon Candy Bar

Davanti Enoteca (address and info)
The key chocolate/bacon combo on Saturday was Davanti Enoteca's bacon candy bar drizzled with bourbon toffee sauce and pretzel bacon crumbles.

colin joliat/thrillist

Grilled Pork Belly

Celeste (address and info)
I’ve never been a grits man, but Celeste has changed my mind. It might have something to do with the perfectly grilled pork belly, honey-poached cranberries, and roasted carrots.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Bacon Durrito

nana (address and info)
Knowing that Dorito hybrid dishes have evolved into an art form, nana turned out a bacon-fat fried chip with a bacon salad.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

The Baconater

694 Wine & Spirits (address and info)
The open-faced Baconater BLT (trademark lawsuit to follow) served as a simple, refreshing bite topped with bacon aioli.

Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

Bacon and Albacore Poke

e+o Food and Drink (address and info)
Hawaiian-style bacon and albacore poke laced with inamona, avocado, ginger, chili water, sesame, and shoyu.


Bacon "Fried Rice"

Trenchermen (address and info)
Patrick Sheerin's crew took home the Golden Rasher Award on Friday for a fried rice dish made with cherrywood bacon and house-made bacon fat hoisin sauce.


Bacon Chiyawanmushi 

Slurping Turtle (address and info)
Ramen hub Slurping Turtle won the Golden Rasher for Saturday's lunch session with a chiyawanmushi cup of shiitake mushrooms, gingko nuts, bacon-dashi glaze, and wasabi.


Bacon Slim Jim

Vie (address and info)
Now the bar for a Slim Jim is pretty low, but Vie went over the top with a house-smoked bacon Slim Jim and a potato-bacon soup to win the Golden Rasher Award for Saturday's dinner session.


Bacon & Maple Macaroon

Le Bouchon (address and info)
Macaroons usually don’t look like much, but this bacon and maple macaroon was built to look just like a little burger. They nailed it right down to the poppy seed bun.  

colin joliat/thrillist

Apple Smoked Candied Bacon

Chicago q (address and info)
Q got right to the point of Baconfest with this apple-smoked candied bacon coated with its award-winning 13-spice Pig Powder Rub. It’s literally a slice of heaven.

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Colin Joliat is a freelance food and booze writer who escaped from Flint, MI on the back of a rickety old produce truck. Follow him @FlintSkinny.

Sean Cooley is a Senior editor at Thrillist, and he's still amazed that RBI Baseball 3 gave Dennis Eckersley his own special throwing animation. Follow him @SeanCooley.



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