It should come as no surprise that my favorite Denver event involves practicing the traditional Osakan sport of "kuidaore", or "eat until you drop". This year signified possibly my 10th year of attending the Taste of Colorado.
To fully enjoy the Taste, and not drive yourself crazy, it is imperative to go with a plan of action. I first decide which day would be best to go. It used to be Sundays, but the last couple of years seem to be less busy on Saturdays. I also recommend going early. It opens at 10:30am, and I try not to arrive later than 11:30. Plan on spending about 2 hours if you have gone at these slower times. If you do choose to sleep in, or put off your pigging out until Monday, plan on more like 4 hours as you will spend at least half of this fighting crowds and waiting in lines.
The festival is laid out in a large circular shape around Civic Center Park. The food is on the Capital and City and County Building sides of the circle. The middle is full of vendors selling their crap. If you don't care about said crap, and want to skip some crowd-surfing, cut through the very middle of the park by the main stage to avoid these very crowded areas.
I also like to take a look at the Taste's website before I go and decide what I really must have. That way I can keep an eye out for these places and not fill up or spend all my money before I've made it to them.
So, with this plan, I attended not one, but two days of Taste of Colorado madness. The first trip was on Saturday morning around 11am. It was cloudy and about 50 degrees outside. We parked approximately 2 blocks away for $5. Thanks to being early and having cooler weather, it was busy, but the lines were very short or nonexistent. The second trip was Monday at around 2pm. The temperature was now around 70+ degrees and sunny. As a matter of fact, around all those people with the sun beating down on us, it was friggin' hot. We parked a bit further away this time and had to pay $1 more. It was unbelievably crowded. The most people I have ever seen at the Taste, and several restaurants were out of certain foods. See? This is why I follow my plan. ;)
Now on to the food! Some of my favorites this year:
Louisiana Hot Links at Alpine Sausage Company
Fried Pickles and Alligator Tail at Bayou Bob's (a perennial fave of mine)
Plantains at Caldonia's BBQ
Buffalo Nachos at Colorado Buffalo Grill
BBQ Pork Ribs at Famous Dave's
Cinnamon Roasted Pecans at Rocky Mountiain Nut Roasters
Kennebunkport Pizza at Pizzeria Mundo
RoRo's Funnel Cake with Bavarian Cream Topping
Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato and Elderflower Gelato at Panzano (where I got to meet Elise Wiggins! Yay!)
The only place I was really disappointed with was Wholly Tomato. I'd been looking forward to trying it because I'd heard so many good things about their wraps. I got a Caesar wrap and I thought it was really dry and sour. I'll probably give them another try at their actual establishment some time.
Overall, a good time was had, lots of food was eaten, but unfortunately- I did not pass out from overeating.
Next up: I hope to give Steuben's a try- it's the newest place from the owners of Vesta Dipping Grill. Upscale comfort food. Mmm...