By Joyell Nevins
It’s that time again — time to enjoy a “Taste of North Park.”
“You can literally dine and drink all day — call it brunch, lunch or an early dinner,” said Lauren Forgione, spokesperson for the sponsor, North Park Main Street.
The number of eateries and participants has jumped to 54 restaurants and 16 brewery and boutique pairs. Local businesses will offer samples and sips of their best creations from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15.
Mediterranean, Mexican, Japanese, American and Italian cuisines will be among the various offerings. Participants can visit pizza places, food trucks, restaurants that are all about the meat, and restaurants that pride themselves in vegan cooking.
“I think [the Taste] highlights how truly diverse the food and beverage offerings are in North Park,” said Matt Gordon, owner and chef of Urban Solace and president of North Park Main Street. “You can find pretty much anything you want in the neighborhood from great breakfast joints, to sushi, Mexican, pizza and, of course, a great bluegrass Sunday brunch on the weekends!”
Urban Solace has been a part of the Taste since the restaurant opened nine years ago. The restaurant was founded with a vision of “the kind of place that restaurant people would eat at on our days off,” Gordon said.
“We wanted a place with an approachable menu, that wasn’t too expensive, yet still offered the quality of ingredients and creativity that you might encounter in a more upscale or expensive restaurant,” he explained.
Gordon notes that it has been great to see how the Taste of North Park has continued to grow. In 2016, 13 new restaurants have come on board. There are bakeries, coffee shops, cafes, delis, sports bars, cheese connoisseurs and more formal dining choices. Try Gordon’s signature Dungeness Crab Roll with pickled fennel, butter lettuce and tarragon aioli on brioche at Urban Solace, or Pumpkin Arroz con Leche at West Coast Tavern.
“Taste of North Park definitely gives you a feel of what North Park eateries are bringing to the plate,” said Abe Botello, executive chef at West Coast Tavern.
Botello is known for his menu of modern American bar fare (including BBQ pork and waffles). Like many of his colleagues, he takes pride in using local and seasonal ingredients, including sourcing from the North Park Thursday Market.
“I think North Park in general puts a lot of heart and soul into what we do,” Botello said. “Eateries here really strive to create a memorable experience for our guests. We are a tight-knit community and really do it for the love of food.”
And the love of craft beer, too! Ciders, meads, IPAs, ales heavy and light on the hops — all will be included in the Taste. The palate of craft beers will be explored in 4-ounce samples in businesses throughout the district. Retail locations include gift shops, salons, a gym and a music store.
For a full list of participating venues, click here.
—Freelance writer Joyell Nevins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her blog “Small World, Big God” at swbgblog.wordpress.com.