The 30 best pork-packed dishes from Baconfest
160 restaurants. 7,800 pounds of Nueske's bacon. 4,500 people ready for swine dining. Here's a sampling of the 30 best dishes that came out of Chicago's sixth annual Baconfest.
Maple-glazed pineapple & bacon donuts
The small-batch River North shop proves that there’s always time for frolicking in a delicious field of maple-glazed pineapple & bacon donuts.
Start the day off right with a well-balanced breakfast of bacon Golden Grahams in toasted marshmallow and maple milk.
Black pepper bacon mac and cheese
This image, by the way, was taken immediately before the black pepper bacon mac was met with a layer of BBQ sauce.
Beer and bacon sausage
Bacon-wrapped bacon is a great idea, and this hickory-smoked bacon, pork, spices, and Lagunitas IPA stuffed in a natural hog casing, wrapped in Nueske’s bacon, and served with pickled onion and house-made beer mustard was a brilliant idea.
The local roasters went above and beyond, offering a cup of cold-brew coffee-infused bacon alongside orange zest cotton candy filled w/ bacon bits.
A bacon float made with bacon ice cream and bacon soda with candied bacon on the rim proves that Lillie's understands exactly what arteries want.
Dirty Bastard bacon & shrimp sausage
Stout Barrel House
The founders of Baconfest probably had this Dirty Bastard sausage slaw in mind when they threw the first event. It was topped with roasted jalapeño, bacon cream, grilled red cabbage, and candied bacon.
Braised bacon tacos with Bourbon County molé
The BBQ crew brought their A-game with braised bacon tacos w/ Kitsetsu-pickled vegetables and a molé sauce made with Goose Island Bourbon County Barrel Stout. You had us at Kitsetsu!
Bacon and paneer samosa
We loved this bacon and paneer samosa with Madras strawberry-rhubarb chutney and pecans, even before looking up what all those words meant.
Bacon fat biscuits and gravy
Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Combine the words "honey butter" and "fried chicken" with "bacon", and you're liable to explode some heads. The Avondale chicken spot brought bacon fat biscuits and gravy with bacon rillettes and pickled mustard seeds to the table, too.
Bacon and egg tart
House-cured Canadian bacon atop bacon/egg custard with blueberry/maple sauce was a perfect complement to the Chicago Smoke beer that was poured alongside it.
Ground bacon burger
Rockit Ranch's latest project has taken big strides since its February opening, displaying a bacon burger topped with Vermilion blue cheese, special sauce, and shoestring potatoes.
Polenta with bacon
Table, Donkey and Stick
The Logan Square eatery brought polenta with bacon, mushrooms, and Gorgonzola to the table.
Edzo’s Burger Shop
Owner Eddie Lakin did not disappoint with this nitrate-spun baklava that subs in bacon for nuts and inserts maple and orange into the syrup.
Bacon forest cake
The new German beer hall in Logan Square took on a bacon chocolate sponge cake topped with bacon cherry jam, chocolate mousse, and bacon syrup.
The BLT gets a pan-Asian upgrade in this bacon, lettuce, and tomato roll with jalapeño sauce, eel sauce, and cream cheese wrapped in soy paper.
Pork belly steamed buns
These pork belly steamed buns were the only dish in all of Baconfest to be served on non-disposable plates, making them classy by default.
It's so simple it seems like cheating. Give one of Chicago's finest pizzerias a bacon challenge, and they come out with oven-cooked mozzarella wrapped in pancetta affumicata.
This bacon dashi soup dumpling, bacon/rabbit sausage, and spicy bacon mustard was meant to be eaten all in one bite, and you're not one to ignore an instruction like that. It was easily a top dish at the fest.
Applewood-smoked pork belly sliders
Sliders are common, but there was nothing ordinary about these pork belly sliders with red pickled cabbage & maple/horseradish cream.
Fried Mexican rice ball with bacon center
The Salsa Truck
The food truck pioneers put out a fried Mexican rice ball with a bacon center, tortilla chip crumble, and bacon/chipotle crema.
Caramel bacon buttermilk bar
Have room for a second helping of bacon donuts? Of course you do. Here's Stan's buttermilk bar, covered in a rich, caramel drizzle and loaded up with applewood bacon bits.
Cilantro is the easiest way to ruin a dish, but this bacon taco has just the right amount to remind people why we still bother growing it.
You’ve probably had bacon-wrapped dates... but not like these ones. They're almond-stuffed, and sitting on a red endive boat with Fuji apple, romaine lettuce & lavender-honey vinaigrette, and topped with blue cheese sauce.
Bacon-cured lake trout
The last time we caught Endgrain at a food fest, they were winning top honors at Donutfest with the Doughscuit. At Baconfest, they brought bacon-cured lake trout with smoked tomato-bacon fat vinaigrette and bacon fat confit shallots on a bacon-caraway cracker.
Balsamic-glazed pork belly
Troquet River North
Troquet's balsamic-glazed pork belly came with Parmesan white polenta, snap peas, and Spring onions.
Bacon nougat candy
The bacon-pecan nougat (along with toffee and cherry bacon marshmallows) went straight for the sweet spot.
Bourbon County bacon/coconut macaroons
Flo And Santos
This Loop restaurant known for its Polish food and tavern-style pizzas brought in pork sliders and macaroons both made with Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout.
Pig head croquette
Homestead's take on green eggs and ham is a croquette carrying egg yolk, salsa verde, ramps, and pickled carrot hot sauce.
Sweet potato and bacon tartlets
These sweet potato/maple/cajun bacon tartlets need to become a staple of buffet tables everywhere.
Sean Cooley is Thrillist's Chicago Editor, and judges his self-worth based on how many expired yogurts are in the fridge. Follow him @SeanCooley.
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.