Foodies, rejoice: Taste of Cincinnati is this weekend. The nation’s longest running culinary festival is right here in our own Queen City, and it has grown from 5,000 when it first began 40 years ago to a record 550,000 last year—and with good reason.
Since 1979, Cincinnati has been throwing one of the best and biggest culinary festivals in the country, promising cream-of-the-crop food vendors and an impressive musical line up each year. This year, with a slew of new restaurants that have surfaced, expect the fest to be fresh-faced. Don’t fret, though, the Cincy staples will deliver their tried and true crowd-pleasers.
Food from all corners of the city will sprawl through four blocks of fifth street downtown. Take in the smells and eat to your soul’s content.
In April, they held a preliminary food truck preview to vote on this year’s Best of Taste, delivering victories to restaurants and food trucks alike.
Island Frydays, Clifton’s hole-in-the-wall Jamaican gem, brought home a win with their Jerk Chicken Pasta ($4), and a second place award for their Island BBQ Wings and Yellow Rice ($6). Taste their award-winning dishes across the street from the Taft Theater at booth #130. Adena’s Beefstroll crushed the food truck entrée competition with their homemade meatball sub ($5) slathered in enough marinara to require a fistful of napkins. Be sure to stop by their truck (#736) to snag a sub, dog, or stroll. Want some mac & cheese? Tickle Pickle's got you. The hip Northside joint served up the classic dish with crushed BBQ Grippo's ($3). Slide by booth #228 and pair it with one of their burgers (the $5 Buns n' Roses black bean or $6 Jalapeno Jam Burger); both got third-place nods in their respective categories.
For the comprehensive list of winners—there are 10 categories in total—check 'em out here.
As you meander down fifth street, double-fisting a pulled pork sandwich from Eli’s BBQ and a double scoop from Buona Terra Gelato, be sure to save room for the crown jewel in the Queen City’s eclectic cuisine crown. Ohio’s oldest municipal market house will host its own vendors in a space of its own at the 71 on-ramp off fifth street.
Visit Taste of Findlay Market and let Cincy’s best garage bands serenade you while you snack on all your favorite Findlay foods. Think of it as a just-as-drool-worthy Taste of Cincinnati mini-me.
If you’re near food coma, take a break from eating to watch a foodie’s take on the classic soapbox derby race, complete with veggie vehicles. Or hum-along to classic showtunes performed at Cincinnati’s Pops Poptet concert. Throw it all the way back with a music bash on Sunday starting at 6 p.m. and featuring The B-52’s, Rick Springfield and Loverboy at the main stage. Tickets here.
Or, get into the local music scene by catching one of the 50 local bands at the number of stages sprinkled around fifth street.
If, somehow, you still have an appetite, Streetpops (food truck #738) can cool you down and quench your sweet tooth with their first place popsicle: Pineapple Passionfruit ($3).
And, if you're planning to use public transit, Taste of Cincinnati has compiled ways to get around wherever you may be in Greater Cincinnati.
It's one of the biggest events of the year, and the time to chow-down is here. Treat yourself, all day long. Here at Citybeat, we think you deserve to indulge.
11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday. Free. $29.99 music bash. Fifth Street between Main and Sentinel Streets, downtown, tasteofcincinnati.com