On October 10th and 11th, Taste of DC consumed four blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue with their 5th annual food festival. The street was flooded with the sweet and savory aromas of foods from over 50 Washington-area restaurants and right after exiting the Archives Metro Station, I knew I was in the right place. The festival took place from 12pm to 7pm on both days and tickets for general admission cost $20 (tip: you could also buy the tickets through Groupon for $5 cheaper).
The festival entertained their many guests with four different attractions including Restaurant Row, Beer Garden & Music Stage, Wine Walk and the Culinary Stage. The Beer Garden and the Wine Walk had over 50 options each and was strategically placed next to the Main stage allowing 21 and over guests to drink, eat and dance the day away.
Taste of DC presented entertainment on the Main Stage and Culinary Stage. The Main Stage featured many different bands and artists including Turtle Recall, N2N Band, and the Dan McGuire Group that added to the overall ambiance of the entire festival. The Culinary Stage presented different cooking demonstrations and workshops from chefs like Chef Matt Finarelli, a local culinary instructor and personal chef, for those more interested in the behind the scenes activities of food making.
On Saturday, Taste of DC goers were entertained by the 5th annual Ben’s Chili Bowl’s World Chili Eating Championship. The contest took place at 3pm on the Main Stage and presented the winner with a $1750 cash prize. Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, appropriately nicknamed, defended his title from last year’s championship. Chestnut won the first place prize after eating an impressive 7 ¼ gallons of Ben’s Chili Bowl’s world-famous chili in only six minutes.
Restaurant Row featured food stations of restaurants ranging from Swizzlers and Claudia’s to dessert stations including Olivia Macaron and The Confexion Connexion. According to Matthew Hahne, a University of Maryland, College Park student, “the foods were really top quality. It wasn’t just normal, run of the mill foods.” He also shared that he thought the food prices were “on the higher end of things, but it was all definitely worth it.”
Each restaurant station served four items from their menu and presented a sample item priced at $3 or less. The festival also presented different food trucks with similar prices. At most places, there were also options to purchase an entire entree at a higher price, but what’s the fun in that? The festival is called Taste of DC for a reason.
Rachel Derocher, another Taste of DC attendee, had only positive things to say about the festival. According to Derocher, the festival was accommodating to many different tastes and food constrictions. “There are options for any taste preference here. I have a lot of allergies and have a gluten free diet.” Derocher said that one tent, Rito Loco, made her food sample to order since she was allergic to one of the ingredients. The festival allowed guests to taste a wide variety of foods ranging from sushi, to organic meals, to seafood.
The smells of Restaurant Row and the sounds from the Main Stage drifted through the streets of Washington DC throughout the weekend leaving guests, including myself, excited for next year’s festival.