Chow-Town in Chi-Town: Lollapalooza 2019
Author & Photographer: Isabella Sturgis
After an hour and a half under a shadeless canopy of colored ribbons, I was admitted to Lollapalooza Day 4. While the bag checking system was admittedly prehistoric, once inside I found that other parts of the festival that would normally be unbearable were surprisingly painless. I had signed up for Lolla cashless, which meant I could pay for everything with a tap of my wristband. It made the lines much more manageable (even nonexistent) at the food stands--which were obviously one of my main concerns, second only to country-pop queen Kacey Musgraves.
Upon entering, I made a beeline to grab something to fuel my dancing and singing for the next couple hours. About 40 food stands were unceremoniously lined up along the main street, dubbed as “Chow Town” on the Lolla website. Each offered only about 3-4 items and all beverages, including water, were served at separate bar tents (plus “Hydration Stations” that offered free water refills for any container that holds liquid). You’d recognize a majority of the vendors--Chicago staples like Lou Malnatis, Cheesie’s, Harold’s Chicken, and our newest Hyde Park addition, The Budlong Hot Chicken.
Looking to try something new, I was stopped in my tracks when I saw “Hot Cheetos Fries” on the menu at Edzo’s. Served in a festival-friendly sleeve, the fries came dusted with just enough Hot Cheetos dust to give them a kick, without leaving me rushing towards the Hydration Station.
As a companion to my new favorite fries, I settled on the cheeseburger from The Goddess Rocks!, the catering counterpart to Goddess and Grocer and Goddess and the Baker. Next to the fries though, the burger was a disappointment--the bun was dry and almost stale, with only a sorry slice of half melted cheese, a squirt of chipotle mayo, and a few pickles to accompany it. Maybe lettuce and tomato is too much to ask for at an outdoor music festival, but I saw much room for improvement. I will say, though, that it got a lot better once I started layering the fries into the burger.
Now, it will come as no surprise that while the food may range from mediocre to entertaining, the prices are not totally worth it unless you’re trapped in a field with no other options--which we were. The fries, though delicious and pretty big, were $9, and the mediocre burger clocked in at the same price. Honestly, I expected the prices to be much worse and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised there. So, next year if you get hungry at Lollapalooza 2020, you certainly won’t be starved for options--but I’d definitely recommend grabbing a bite to eat on your way there.