The Taste of Charlotte Festival is a 3 day, 6 block long celebration of area eateries in uptown Charlotte. In addition to the food tents there are vendors, entertainers on four stages and attractions for the kids. I couldn’t let an opportunity like this slip through my fingers so I ventured forth to the trusty light rail and rode it to a stop just two blocks from the festival.
A couple of procedural notes for anyone planning to attend in the future. The food, beverage and attraction vendors accept only festival coin of the realm. There were several coin purchasing stations along the 6 blocks of Tryon that made up the festival venue. They sold Large cups (15 coins) and Small cups (7 coins) for $20 & $10 respectively. That was if you paid cash, if you paid by card I understand from some grumbling there was a $1.50 add on per cup so cash was the way to go. As the mathletes among you have already calculated that works out to $1.33-$1.43 per coin. The food items ranged from 2-4 coins with the majority being 3 coins or $4.00. Beer & wine were 5 coins each and I didn’t pay any attention to sodas and water but they were likely in the 2-3 range.
I’d scoped out the list and figured I’d grab a couple of beers (10 coins) and at least 3 samples (9 coins) so a large and a small cup were right in the ballpark. With my plan and cash in hand I walked to the coin location nearest one end, got my coins and began the stroll down Tryon in search of interesting food.
I didn’t have to go far before hitting Brazz Carvery & Steakhouse’s tent. They had stuff wrapped in bacon so yeah I ponied up 3 coins for 2 pcs. They had three options; filet wrapped in bacon, chicken wrapped in bacon or scallop wrapped in bacon. They were grilling them on skewers in the tent so you got to see and smell them as you stood in line to order. Most people were getting two of the same thing but I figured why not ask for two different ones and it confused the kid for a second but I got one piece of the filet and one scallop. They came served with a sweet chimichuri sauce.
They were as good as they look. Tender hunk of beef and a scallop cooked just right wrapped in bacon it was a nice way to start the festival. I only made it a few steps before hitting American Burger Co’s tent and the lure of their jalepeno pimento cheese slider had me parting with 3 more coins. I grabbed the miniature burger and stepped into the shadier sidewalk to enjoy the treat.
It wasn’t very spicy but it did taste good and the slider was medium and still a little juicy. My Leinenkugel summer shandy washed it down nicely. Having parted with half my coins 10 minutes into the festival I figured I’d better pace myself and be more discriminating. I passed up some good looking food and spent a few minutes checking out one of the bands at the center stage as they cranked out some good classic tunes.
After the musical interlude I spied the McCormick & Schmick tent and they had a blue crab dip for two coins that sounded like something I needed to pair with my newly purchased Pacifico IPA. It turned out to be a good match.
Served with pita points the dip was good but less crabby than I expected. Good but not great. Four coins and a block to go. Mert’s Heart & Soul pulled me in to try their Southern fried fish bites over rice at the perfect price of four coins.
This was the most substantial of the 4 items I tried with 3 chunks of salmon with a light deep fried coating. There was a little seasoning plus the drizzle of the mustard based sauce with a hint of spice and sweet. This sat on a bed of rice I’m not even sure with what it was seasoned but it was a little tangy and a lot tasty. It turned out to be a nice wrap up to the festival. I was at the last block and the light rail terminus was just a couple of streets over. I felt like my $30 was well spent this afternoon and my only regret was I hadn’t discovered this a few years earlier.