Don’t mind us while we wax poetic about all things bacon. Maybe it's overused, maybe it has turned into the ketchup of the kitchen, with chefs putting it on just about anything, but do you know why this happens? Because the salty and crispy substance known as bacon is delicious. With its ribbons of fat and flavor, it does have a way of kicking any dish up a notch - and we have 15 ways to prove it (see the slideshow below).
Baconfest, on the other hand, has about 150 ways to prove it at the two-day extravaganza. Although the Friday night event, where chefs show off their most bacon-tastic dishes to compete for the Golden Rasher title, is sold out, we managed to score two tickets, which we'll be giving away on Twitter. Be sure to follow us before we give up the goods next week.
Whether or not you are going to the festival, be sure to enjoy bacon during the entire month of April with the Charity Dine Around. Dozens of participating restaurants are serving up special bacon dishes to raise money for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Or enjoy bacon anytime with our picks for the 15 best bacon dishes from Baconfest participants.
In the land of bacon donuts there are a lot of options, but the one at 2 Sparrows is a gem, with thick-cut bacon bits and a maple glaze.
553 W. Diversey Pkwy.; 773-234-2320
Well, it has bacon in the name (almost) and a lot of bacon on the menu, from bacon pancakes to this bacon waffle that is not only topped with bacon but also made with bacon and rum batter.
3120 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-525-7005
Bacon in ice cream? Yep, that’s a thing, thanks to Jessica Oloroso. She makes two bacon creations: the first is her maple, cayenne and bacon gelato and the second is a whiskey gelato bar that is dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with bacon.
859 N. Damen Ave.; 773-235-3116
One of this year’s new Baconfest participants already has a handle on the bacon game with their bacon burger. The wood-grilled bacon burger is topped with Vermillion blue cheese, shoestring potatoes and special sauce.
441 N. Clark St.; 312-955-1900
While everything on this menu is touched with a bit of bacon goodness, we can’t get enough of the five-spice duck bao with Chinese bacon, hoisin sauce, cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro and scallions on a steamed bun.
610 N. Rush St.; 312-660-7200
Swing by for brunch and indulge in sweet-potato pancakes topped with two strips of house bacon, pecan butter and bourbon maple syrup. Or stop by during not-brunch for an order of house-bacon hushpuppies.
1160 N. Dearborn St.; 312-642-1160
This take on the Reuben sandwich is made with corned pork belly. It gets an extra dose of pork with bacon-braised cabbage and bacon-fat Thousand Island dressing. Each mini-sandwich is finished with Swiss and served on pumpernickel.
435 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-262-5310
Bacon and excessive gluttony seem to go hand-in-hand. It is only fitting that this Wicker Park beer bar serves its Buried Alive Fries on a metal tray overflowing with sausage, bacon, cheddar, green onion and giardiniera. It's served with two dipping sauces and designed to share.
1559 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-360-7692
Bacon plus guacamole might equal our new favorite food. It's happening on the menu of this River North hot spot, where the tocino guacamole is made with bacon, corn, habanero, crispy hominy and pico de gallo.
108 W. Kinzie St.; 312-329-9555
The doubled-smoked bacon is one of the most popular starters at this Downtown steakhouse. Each slice starts with Benton’s bacon that is smoked twice and then slathered in maple-black pepper glaze. Want more straight bacon? We’ve got you covered.
505 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-321-8823
Simple deviled eggs get a big bonus with the addition of peppered bacon and housemade barbecue spice. These little gems are one of the restaurant's signature dishes.
835 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-335-4745
The BLT gets a brunch twist in the BLT Benedict. Buttermilk biscuits are covered with smoked pork belly, arugula, poached farm eggs and tomato hollandaise. It was one of 10 creative takes on eggs Benedict that we found around Chicago.
455 W. North Ave.; 312-266-2277
Another Baconfest newbie this year is the new West Loop charcuterie-focused restaurant. One of its signature meaty offerings is the pork-belly rillons, or smoked bacon, with XO sauce.
1114 W. Randolph St.; 312-733-1178
This two-time Golden Rasher winner returns to Baconfest to protect its crown. In the meantime, Matt Troost’s restaurant serves a selection of bacon dishes such as the carbonara pizzetta with Parmesan cream, house bacon and egg yolk.
1321 W. Taylor St.; 312-243-1577
Start your day with bacon-stuffed bacon. Yes, you read that right. One of the Sunday bunch specials is a breakfast sandwich made with bacon-stuffed bacon, a sunny-side up egg, cheddar and potatoes.
2039 W. North Ave.; 773-661-1540