Sara Butler | Editor
An expected 1,500 people will stroll the streets to try a slice of North Park on Oct. 13.
Taste of North Park offers a self-guided tour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. of the Uptown culinary scene. So far, 43 local restaurants, 16 breweries and two nonalcoholic drink vendors have signed up to participate.
Hosted by North Park Main Street (NPMS), the annual event has long been a mainstay in the Uptown community for both locals and out-of-towners. NPMS Executive Director Angela Landsberg said that Taste of North Park attracts people of all ages from various parts of San Diego.
“[The event] brings people to North Park who might not otherwise come here, because it’s a little sample of a lot of different things, and it lets them become familiar with the community in a programmed environment,” Landsberg said. “So if you’re from out of the area and you don’t understand where to go when you’re walking around an urban neighborhood, this gives you a ticket, a map, and things to do.”
All culinary participants are volunteers. Each year, NPMS “hunts people down … or as we like to call it, herding cats,” Landsberg joked. They use various avenues, such as social media, direct emails and phone calls, and visit people door to door to get the word out to local businesses.
Landsberg said that they also rely on the participating restaurants to help promote the event. Taste of North Park veterans include Urban Solace, Waypoint Public, Cafe Calabria, and Cardamom Cafe & Bakery.
Newbies joining the roster this year — some of which have opened their doors in 2018 — include Mr. Moto; 619 Spirits Distillery and Tasting Room; Shank & Bone; Carnitas Snack Shack; Working Class; Bivovac Ciderworks; Burrology; Aburi Sushi; Craft House; and The Taco Stand.
One noteworthy participant is Barons Market, as grocery stores typically do not take part in these type of neighborhood events.
“Usually markets aren’t in ‘Taste of’ events. But their food is so delicious — really wholesome, so this is a really good opportunity to highlight that business in our community,” Landsberg said, adding that the store will serve samples of its soup and homemade mac n’ cheese.
All food samples will be served inside of the restaurants. Some unique dishes offered include truffle Parmesan tater tots from Coin-Op; Encontro’s poke tostaditos; maple glazed pork belly beignets at Urban Solace; and Shank & Bone’s Vietnamese beet noodle soup. Vegan and vegetarian food options will also be available.
As for the drinks, tables will be set up in boutiques — such as Pigment and AKA — to promote local shops and “get people in the stores.”
For 2018’s festivities, NPMS shifted its focus to environmental concerns. The single-use tasting cups for the drink samples have been eliminated. When attendees pick up their tickets, they will receive a beaded necklace with a reusable, hard plastic cup attached to it that they keep with them throughout the event.
“We’re really embracing this [sustainability approach],” Landsberg said. “We’re trying to make our footprint smaller when we put on these events. Events are giant ecological footprints on communities. Looking at little ways that we can cut back and make efforts generated from these events.”
With 18 tasting spots and 27,000 people, this initiative will save approximately 25,500 disposable plastic cups. Landsberg added that many of the local restaurants and breweries have already started limiting these single-use plastic items voluntarily in their storefronts.
And the event isn’t just for foodies or beer lovers. Paying tribute to North Park’s creative side, live art and music performances will be set up along the streets.
Many of the artists are recruited from a collective community group that participate in other neighborhood projects, such as utility painting events. Local artists — Gretchen Belcher, Jonathan Santoyo, Dádiva Garth, Astha Saini and Gretchen Belcher — will paint utility boxes, and will feature Steffen Vala as a live street painter.
For the entertainment, NPMS partners with Rock Talk, a group that scouts local up-and-coming musicians. The musician lineup includes Bill Fleming, Drew Smith, Jordan Vargas, Matthew Armstrong and Nate Hess.
“[Taste of North Park] is just a great time to come out and experience an urban neighborhood because it’s eating, it’s drinking, it’s shopping, it’s music, it’s art … it’s everything that makes North Park what it is,” Landsberg said.
Tickets are now on sale online with three options to choose from: $40 for food, $20 for beer, or $50 for both. Redeem your ticket and wrist band from Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church at 3725 30th St. or Carnitas Snack Shack at 2632 University Ave. The box office opens at 9:30 a.m. on the day of the event.
A list of all participating restaurants and breweries can be found online. For more information or to buy tickets, visit bit.ly/tasteNP-2018.
—Reach Sara Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org.