Just back from Taste of Atlanta. It’s dinner time, but if I even look at the kitchen, I’m going to be in pain.
(Want to know why? Here are more photos from Taste of Atlanta. Look, and just imagine how this event smells.)
Organizers call it “the food lover’s food event,” but really, I think it’s the food event for people who love to eat. I don’t believe I experienced the best the city’s chefs can offer, but rather the best some 80 restaurants can offer in small, quick portions built outside a kitchen and eaten with a plastic fork. That sometimes meant soggy samosas or pre-packed desserts from a cooler. That’s fine for me, who eats plain instant oatmeal and raisins once or twice a day, but maybe not for my foodie friends.
If you just love to eat, those quick portions really add up. It’s infinitely tastier than the usual festival fare, and there aren’t any of those pesky rides, games or “entertainment” to get in the way. There are a few stages and areas with live music, cooking demos and kiddie activities, but they don’t distract from the main objective: shared gluttony.
We see food, we smell food, we wait for food, we chat about food, we eat food, we ask the guy next to us, “Oh, where’d you get that?” It’s not a cheap date, but perhaps more food and less money than you’d spend for dinner at some of these restaurants. If I’d skipped breakfast, maybe I could’ve gotten through 15 tickets. Maybe.
Share what you thought of the food festival in the comments!
If you’re not sure you want to hit the festival’s final day on Sunday, here’s more to know:
Love the new location.
The festival moved this year from Atlantic Station to Technology Square in Midtown. It’s just a few blocks from the North Avenue and Midtown MARTA stations. Nice, wide sidewalks, free bike parking by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and, it appeared, $10 parking nearby. I’m not sure how the regular businesses and restaurants along the Taste of Atlanta route felt, or the guests I saw staring out from the Georgia Tech Hotel, but as an outsider coming in, it was easy.
Nice variety, would love to see more.
There was food there for every taste – a sandwich from QuikTrip or ceviche from The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, Waffle House waffles or Cafe Intermezzo cheesecake. I found some new places I’d be willing to try after tasting a few things, and some that really aren’t for me. I was surprised that few of the places I frequent, or even pass by frequently, had a spot. Let me be clear: there is a ton of food. But the more diverse this festival is, the more fun it will be.
For vegetarians, “Taste of Atlanta” really means “Desserts of Atlanta.”
I exaggerate. It was short on veggie protein, but there were enough veggie tacos, butternut squash soups and spinach samosas among the all the BBQ sandwiches, chicken skewers and clam chowders. However, almost every booth offers a dessert, and they quickly add up to a meal. Vegans, your knee-jerk reaction is probably right: this is not worth your money.
After all those desserts, I needed to rinse away the sugar coating my mouth. Water (and beer and wine) was for sale at stations throughout the festival, but at that point, I would’ve loved to hand over a ticket or five for a cup of water.
Long lines may be worth the wait, but you can eat well outside the crowd.
Taste of Atlanta was hopping. I was there for the last few hours of today’s festival, but heard it was even busier earlier in the day, when no clouds lingered overhead. So yeah, there were some lines. Crepes and ice cream seemed to draw the biggest crowds — crepes, because they can be made beautifully and easily out in the open, ice cream because it’s awesome, and came in gigantic portions for a few tickets.
I worry about waste.
The area was clean, and people seemed to be using the bottle/can recycling bins and garbage cans. (Yea for cleaning up after ourselves!) But, I received another plastic utensil and foam plate at every booth. Isn’t there’s a better way? Is there some health code that says we can’t use the same fork throughout the day?
A few themes emerge.
I don’t know if this is commentary on Taste of Atlanta or Atlantans’ tastes, but the items I most often saw on menus were red velvet cupcakes and variations on sweet potatoes. Whatever it says about us, I am 100 percent OK with it.
Want to go? Taste of Atlanta continues 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 11. Technology Square, entrance at 5th and West Peachtree. $25 for admission and 15 taste coupons, $65 for VIP admission to festival, Beer & Wine Experience area and 20 taste coupons. Free for people ages 13 and younger, but coupons are still required to taste. Additional tickets $10 for 10, $20 for 20. www.tasteofatlanta.net.
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