Food truck festival returns to Daley Plaza to serve up fresh favorites

The event — which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays through Oct. 6 — is in its eighth year.

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Lizeth Gallegos, who works at Delicia Tacos, which is serving customers on its first year at the Food Truck Fest, gives a drink to a customer on the first day of Food Truck Fest at Daley Plaza in the Loop, Friday, May 19, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Lizeth Gallegos, who works at Delicia Tacos, gives a drink to a customer on the first day of the Chicago Food Truck Festival at Daley Plaza. This is the food truck’s first year at the festival.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Jorge Camacho and his food truck arrived an hour early to the Chicago Food Truck Festival Friday.

It was his first time bringing his truck, Delicia Tacos, to the event at Daley Plaza. He said he was the first one there because he wanted to make sure he was ready to go.

“I’m really excited,” Camacho said. “It’s like a new adventure.”

Jorge Camacho, who owns Delicia Tacos, which is serving customers on its first year at the Food Truck Fest, smiles on the first day of Food Truck Fest at Daley Plaza in the Loop, Friday, May 19, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Jorge Camacho, who owns Delicia Tacos, said he is really excited about his food truck serving customers at the Chicago Food Truck Festival this year.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Friday was the first food truck festival of the season. The event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays through Oct. 6, is in its eighth year, said Kenneth Meyer, commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Meyer said the festival has been particularly important to downtown since the pandemic ended.

“The Loop — it’s still slowly coming back,” Meyer said. “We still are missing a few of our restaurants, so this is just a nice alternative to dining downtown for the visitor or the worker.”

The festival can host eight to 12 food trucks each Friday, Meyer said. The trucks serve food including grilled cheese, Polish sausage and empanadas. Last year, about 40 food trucks participated.

A perennial favorite is Harold’s Chicken Shack. Mahde Ashkar, who owns a Loop location of Harold’s, said the business has been bringing a truck to this event for about five years.

Customers line up for Harold’s Chicken’s food truck on the first day of Food Truck Fest at Daley Plaza in the Loop, Friday, May 19, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Customers line up Friday for Harold’s Chicken on the first day of the Chicago Food Truck Festival at Daley Plaza.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Despite Friday’s rain, a small crowd formed, waiting for Harold’s. Dana Ford and Kimberly Edwards, both clerks at City Hall, said they often eat Harold’s for lunch at work, either ordering it from the brick-and-mortar location or visiting the food truck in Daley Plaza.

Ford said she likes the convenient location and the “wonderful atmosphere.”

Another festival staple is Argentine empanada vendor 5411. Jacob Woisin, who serves customers and operates the truck, said he enjoys meeting workers at other trucks and swapping food.

Woisin said 5411 has been operating food trucks for about 15 years and now has multiple brick-and-mortar locations. He said he thinks the restaurant has built a loyal customer base.

His favorite empanada is the Malbec beef, a ground beef marinated in Argentine wine, he said.

Seth Feldman, 28, eats an empanada from Empanadas 5411 on the first day of Food Truck Fest at Daley Plaza in the Loop, Friday, May 19, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Seth Feldman, 28, eats an empanada from 5411 at the Chicago Food Truck Festival. The empanada vendor has been in business for about 15 years.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Shrimp from Haire’s Gulf Shrimp, which is owned by Aisha Haire, who said she is continuing her husband’s business after he passed away from COVID-19, is photographed on the first day of Food Truck Fest at Daley Plaza in the Loop, Friday, May 19, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Aisha Haire, who owns Haire’s Gulf Shrimp, said she is continuing her husband’s business after he died from COVID-19.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

People look at a menu on the first day of Food Truck Fest at Daley Plaza in the Loop, Friday, May 19, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

People size up menus from opening day participants of Chicago’s Food Truck Festival at Daley Plaza Friday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Nilsa Gonzalez eats tacos while a pigeon flies near her on the first day of Food Truck Fest at Daley Plaza in the Loop, Friday, May 19, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Nilsa Gonzalez eats tacos on the first day of the Chicago Food Truck Festival at Daley Plaza. The festival is in its eighth year.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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