‘Hot and delicious’ - Chicago food truck fest serves up gourmet meals in the heart of downtown

The weekly festival wrapped up its final day of the season with mouth-watering tacos, hand-breaded fried chicken, and “shrimply delicious” seafood.

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Mr. Quiles food truck serves up fresh tacos, quesadillas and burritos at the Daley Plaza’s Chicago Food Truck Fest. Gabi Hernandez serves a customer at the Mr. Quiles food truck at Daley Plaza, Friday afternoon, Oct. 15, 2021. Mark Capapas/Sun-Times

Mr. Quiles, a food truck serving Mexican cuisine, doles out fresh tacos, quesadillas and burritos at the Daley Plaza’s Chicago Food Truck Fest.

Mark Capapas/Sun-Times

Friday was the final day of the Chicago food truck fest, and Chicagoans are already clamoring for its return.

The festival, held on Fridays from late July until mid-October in Daley Plaza, featured everything from tacos and seafood to donuts.

Office workers, local residents and tourists said the event was a bright spot in their downtown experience and hope to see it come back next year.

Vendors serving up food on the final day included Harold’s Chicken, Lawrence’s Fish and Shrimp, and Mr. Quiles, which serves up authentic tacos and quesadillas.

Chicagoans were prepared to brave the rain for some Harold’s Chicken. In addition to a food truck, the chicken restaurant has multiple locations on the South Side. Customers wait in like for the food trucks at Daley Plaza, Friday afternoon, Oct. 15, 2021

Chicagoans were prepared to brave the rain for some Harold’s Chicken. In addition to a food truck, the chicken restaurant has multiple locations across Chicago.

Mark Capapas/Sun-Times

Aubrey Spight, who works across the street from the festival, said the weekly event gives professionals and tourists alike a fresh, affordable option for lunch.

“It gives everyone a diverse chance to taste different food,” he said. “I grew up on the South Side, so I know about Harold’s Chicken and Lawrence’s Fish, but I never knew about Mr. Quiles. It’s good, it’s good.”

Paulette Squire, 64, said the food offered at the food truck fest was “hot and delicious,” and she’s enjoyed having so many culinary offerings only feet away from her office.

“I love the idea of food trucks,” said Squire, a South Side native. “I think it’s cool. It’s small, convenient, close by, mobile. You can get it anywhere, they can go anywhere,” she said.

Percy Billings, a worker at the Harold’s Chicken food truck, prepares a customer’s order at Daley Plaza, Friday afternoon, Oct. 15, 2021.His father owns Harold’s Chicken Shack #55, prepares a customer’s order at Daley Plaza, Friday afternoon, Oct. 15, 2021. Mark Capapas/Sun-Times

Percy Billings, whose father owns Harold’s Chicken Shack #55, has been cooking fried chicken all his life.

Mark Capapas/Sun-Times

Squire, who stood in line for some Harold’s Chicken, said she also planned on chowing down on food from Lawrence’s Fish and Shrimp, a truck that promises seafood that’s “shrimply delicious.”

For vendors, the location in the heart of downtown has given them a much-needed economic boost during a year when the restaurant industry has suffered.

“I love this location, they like spending money, baby,” said Jessica Jarmon, the cashier for the Harold’s Chicken truck. She’s been working for the storied fried chicken restaurant since she was 19 and proudly introduced herself as the “Harold’s Chicken queen, baby!”

She added that, to her delight, the Daley Plaza patrons tip handsomely.

“It’s a lot of good people, professional people … My favorite part? The long lines don’t stop, never stop, baby!”

And it’s not just Chicagoans who enjoyed the festival’s offerings. Nancy Sanchez, wh was visiting Chicago from the Atlanta area, said she’s a big fan of high-quality Mexican food, but she was skeptical if tacos would live up to her expectations.

She was pleasantly surprised.

“They were delicious,” she said. “With taco trucks, you never know what you’re going to get.”

Cashier Jessica Jarmon (center) and cook Hubert Key (right) smile inside the Harold’s Chicken food truck, at the Daley Plaza, Friday afternoon, Oct. 15, 2021. They said they enjoy the fast-paced atmosphere of working in a food truck.

Cashier Jessica Jarmon (left) and cook Hubert Key (right) said they enjoy the fast-paced atmosphere of working in a food truck.

Mark Capapas/Sun-Times

The mix of tourists and professionals is something Jarmon, 30, said she appreciates about the food fest.

“We love serving the people good chicken,” she said, noting how once people try the chicken “they’re hooked.”

“We don’t like selling nothing not good on this here truck, because one bite and we got you!”

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