CHICAGO (CBS) — Taste of Chicago 2011 is up and running, with a smorgasbord of offerings from the city’s favorite restaurants – and a big sandbox too.

CBS 2’s Derrick Young headed out to the Taste in Grant Park for a preview Friday morning.

He stopped for some beignets and a visit with Mary Madison of Lagniappe Creole Cajun Joynt, 1525 W. 79th St., and some crispy shrimp from Lao Sze Chuan Chinese restaurant, 2172 S. Archer Ave. He also tested out some of the deep-dish pizza from Beggar’s Pizza, which has 17 local locations.

All three restaurants are new to the Taste. Also setting up booths for the first time are the Alhambra Palace Moroccan restaurant, 1240 W. Randolph St.; Chicago Sweet Connection Bakery, 5569 N. Northwest Highway; The Fudge Pot, 1532 N. Wells St.; Loving Hut vegan restaurant, 5812 N. Broadway; the Parrot Cage restaurant at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr.; Ryba’s Fudge Shops, with several local locations; The Smoke Daddy barbecue restaurant, 1804 W. Division St.; Starfruit Café frozen kefir shops, with three local locations, and Texas de Brazil, a Brazilian steakhouse with its city location at 51 E. Ohio St.

And of course, the old standbys remain, too. Ken Raskin gave Derrick a taste of some of the fine offerings from Manny Coffee Shop and Deli, 1141 S. Jefferson St., which is known for its corned beef, potato pancakes, macaroni and cheese, and of course, turkey legs.

But you’d better watch out. Some extra plates of food ended up going to the seagulls.

In past years, the Taste has offered carnival rides for the kids. This year, look for a giant sandbox brought to you by Target. The sandbox free from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the kids will even get complimentary sand toys.

Also new for families is the Move to the Taste festival, coming Wednesday, where high-energy fitness classes will be offered for all ages.

Look also for performances by the Midnight Circus.

Also new this year, the formerly separate Latin, Celtic, Gospel and Country Music Festivals are now part of the Taste. Friday is Viva! Chicago Latin Music Day, While Gospel Music Day comes Sunday, Celtic Music day on Wednesday, and County Music Day on Friday of next week.

GUIDE: Music At Taste Of Chicago

Also performing at the Taste are Soul Asylum on Saturday, an assortment of Broadway in Chicago performers on Monday, and Natalie Cole on Thursday, among others. All performances are at the Petrillo Band Shell.

The Taste of Chicago began in 1980 under Mayor Jane Byrne. That year, it was a one-day event held on Michigan Avenue between Ohio Street and the Chicago River, and it was choked with wall-to-wall people.

Reporter Bob Wallace covered the first Taste for CBS 2, and was soon proven right when he said, “From the looks of things, it’s a sure winner that will most likely become an annual event.”

The festival moved to Grant Park in 1981.

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