All the Foods and Drinks You Need to Try at This Year's Lollapalooza

From Neapolitan-style pies and endless craft beers to BBQ and bourbon in the park, refuel and rehydrate like a pro.

Budlong Hot Chicken
Budlong Hot Chicken

Crop tops. Leggings. Acid wash jeans. Muscle tees. Wayfarers. Chicago, get your wardrobe ready because music festival season is officially here. You’ll need to prepare if you’re going to wring every last bit of enjoyment out of this year’s Lollapalooza—from ensuring you’re hydrated to regular sunscreen applications to creating a spreadsheet with cost-benefit analyses that will help you decide which act to see when two of your favorites are playing at the same time.

That said, perhaps the most important preparation you’ll need to do is to plan your meals. It sounds daunting, but we’re here for you. In case you didn’t splurge on the $4,200 premium tickets with access to on-site catering (for the deal-seekers among us, you can still cop a day pass for a cool $2,000), here’s everything you need to know about the best spots for eating and drinking during Lollapalooza 2022, both inside Grant Park and throughout the surrounding neighborhoods. There’s no need to smuggle in that Clif Bar.

Inside the gates:

Smoke Daddy

This Chicago BBQ darling is setting up shop inside GrubHub’s sprawling Chow Town food court, keeping fest-goers fed and happy with a steady stream of meaty, saucy offerings plus sides of all sorts. Just don’t forget the napkins, pal.

The Original Rainbow Cone

Ice cream? Hell yes. Channel your inner child with a technicolor frosty treat from this Chicago ice cream fixture’s Lolla rendition. Sturdy cake cones arrive piled high with layers of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House, and pistachio ice creams beneath a crown of sunny orange sherbert. Good luck finishing yours before the great melt-off begins.

Everyone’s favorite local mini-chain is front and center inside GrubHub’s Chow Town this year, bringing its delectable roster of Asian street food—bao, pan-seared potstickers, steamed dumplings, rice and noodle bowls—to the famished festival faithful all weekend long.

Whether you’re signed up to be a designated driver or just sleepy from the previous evening’s headliner, this local roastery has you covered with all things caffeinated goodness. Grab a canned cold brew, with or without CBD, and gear up for another long night of Lolla madness.

Bar Cargo

Sidle up to a slice or four from this Roman-style pizza legend, set to peddle its famous crispy-crusted, mozzarella-laden, red-and-white wonders inside GrubHub’s Chow Town throughout the festival.

Fatso’s Last Stand

If you haven’t yet sunk your teeth into a late-night Double Fatso with Cheese, you’re either vegetarian or don’t live close enough to either of the beloved burger specialist’s two counter-service operations. See what all the greasy fuss is about at GrubHub’s Chow Town this festival season and don’t you dare skimp on sides like fresh-cut fries and stick-to-your-ribs mac ’n cheese.

Table to Stix Ramen

A ramen joint? At a music festival? In July? It’s an idea so crazy it just might work. And if anyone’s going to get it done, it’s this Korean-tinged Evanston original and its exhaustive bill of gyoza, takoyaki, chicken karaage, tempura, overstuffed bulgogi pork buns, and, perhaps, even a bowl of spicy tonkatsu teeming with pork belly, spicy ground beef, menma, scallions, wood ear mushrooms, egg, and nori. There’s only one way to find out.

Broken English Taco Pub

Tacos and summertime festivals—can you name a better pairing? Pop over to Chow Town and pick up a few handheld beauties from this upbeat tri-location Mexican street food specialist, whose expertise runs the gamut from chips and queso and cotija-sprinkled elotes to chile-rubbed brisket, chicken al pastor with charred pineapple, and melt-in-your-mouth carnitas.

Chicago’s legendary fried chicken landmark will be making an appearance at Lollapalooza thanks to GrubHub’s Chow Town. Take it from us, a half-mixed chicken dinner or a crispy-crunchy chicken sandwich covered in mild sauce is the perfect pick-me-up if all that dancing has you at a worrying caloric deficit.

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Outside the gates:

MBurger

Why make the trip over to Chow Town to get your hands on a delicious MBurger? Let’s start with fresh-ground, all-natural midwestern Black Angus beef and organic free-range turkey, before moving onto locally produced pickles, squishy Martin’s potato buns, fresh veggies, and house-made sauces. And we haven’t even mentioned the Oregon Kennebec fries laced with quality sea salt.

The Exchange

Loop
This downtown addition from James Beard-nominated Chef Brian Huston and DMK is your answer for stylish post-and-pre-fest eats just a block from Grant Park. Grab a Vesper from Theo’s and wander throughout the plush five-room space sampling Chef Huston’s A-list, veggie-forward creations. Be sure to visit The Exchange’s new Japanese-inspired Listening Room—a loungey, 50-seat drinking den and dining room stocked with a state-of-the-art sound system blasting top-shelf selections from the spot’s extensive vinyl collection, plus biodynamic wines and local beers, among other enticements.
How to book: Reserve online.

Nonnina

River North
Fuel up before or after hitting the park at this River Walk-adjacent Italian mainstay. Every Monday through Friday from 3 pm to 6 pm, guests can drink their fill of $6 glasses of wine and $7 house cocktails spanning warm-weather delights like margaritas, Aperol spritzes, and more. Pair your poison with Parmesan truffle fries, meatballs, oysters on the half shell, arancini, and other European finger foods without breaking the bank.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

The Dearborn

Loop
This Grant Park area staple has you covered with brunch options fit for royalty. Peaches Foster-style sticky buns, hash browns in duck gravy, New Orleans-style beignets, Buffalo chicken sandwiches, and more are guaranteed to lay a substantive foundation for whatever debauchery lies behind those festival gates.
How to book: Reserve online.

PB&J

West Loop
PB&J—a.k.a. pizza, beer, and jukebox—pairs Neapolitan-style pies with tasty craft beer and endless jukebox jams curated by the diners themselves. Throw on some Journey and hold on to that feelin’ with half-priced pizzas and select cocktails on Thursdays from 3 pm to 6 pm.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

The Smith

River North
This New York import is locked and loaded with happy hour deals and a killer brunch spread for all your Lolla weekend needs. Patio seating lets you work on your base tan as you dive into $2 oysters, $6 shareables, and $10 cocktails Monday through Friday from 3 pm to 6 pm. Don’t forget to supplement your feast with an order of the joint’s signature mac ’n cheese for the ultimate pre-show padding.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Photo courtesy of Galdones Photography

Streeterville
This chic seafood emporium sits a mere 20 minutes from Grant Park by foot and rewards those willing to make the trek with a bounty of ocean-fresh fish plus a lavish raw bar and renowned sushi program. Just don’t attempt to stumble in flip-flopped and fanny-pack-clad—this is see-and-be-seen grown-up territory, friends.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

South Loop
Swap the frills for some good old-fashioned seafood boils at this Cajun-spiced mini-chain’s convenient South Loop storefront. Pick from a menu of backyard classics like fried shrimp, crab legs, popcorn chicken, lobster tails, and crawfish, then dress up your tray with cornbread, garlic noodles, potatoes, corn on the cob, and green beans, before washing it all down with a frosty highball expertly poured from one of the spot’s onsite Suntory Highball machines.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Beatnik On The River

Loop
One of the city’s top outdoor eateries, this Boho-chic waterfront gem is a downtown brunching no-brainer. Settle in for a lively journey around the globe courtesy of cheffy dishes, like sweet-and-spicy chili chicken bao buns, avocado toast with creamy burrata, wagyu breakfast sandwiches, and belly-warming shakshuka. Choice cocktails and a selection of sharable sangrias complete the perfect pre-fest meal.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

Cerise Rooftop

Loop
Zip up 26 floors to the Virgin Hotel’s expansive rooftop lounge for upmarket bites and craft cocktails set to sweeping downtown views. Friday and Saturday DJ nights up the post-Lolla ante, as does its menu, which includes toothsome grilled octopus, life-giving fries with clarified butter, and a stacked assortment of sparkling wines.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Miki's Park

River North
This Korean-inspired bar concept beckons passers-by with its cool, purple-lit interior, soju-centric tipples, and a chef-driven menu spanning late-night gold like “K-F-C” sandwiches, Omma’s dumplings, and Seoul sliders. Kick back after a long day in the sun with an undeniably refreshing Cherry Blossom (lychee, Absolut vodka, Jinro soju, cranberry) and thank your lucky stars for sweet home Chicago.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Bub City

River North
Perfectly scalded fried chicken, bark-laden burnt ends, hefty whole chicken wings, and gargantuan nachos smothered in atomic cheese, guacamole, and 18-hour smoked beef brisket make this River North’s premiere hangover cure. Throw in an impressive whiskey collection, pitchers of ice-cold beer, discounted burgers, beers, and hard sweet tea on weekdays from 3 pm to 5 pm, and the occasional musical act, and you’ve got yourself a Lolla launch pad for the ages.
How to book: Reserve via Tock.

Three Dots and a Dash

River North
Round out the evening with a top-notch tropical tipple from this subterranean River North rum palace stashed covertly below Southern-fried big brother, Bub City. Nightcap locales don’t get much better than this, a dimly-lit oasis where sleepy concertgoers can toast the weekend with barman Kevin Beary’s award-winning creations (Mai Tais, anyone?), Polynesian snacks, and a massive selection of handpicked rums.
How to book: Reserve via Tock.

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