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Being a Dallas native I love it when our own homegrown events are done right. After a long week of work on our thing here at Uptown Jazz Dallas, I was looking forward to the 25th Annual Taste of Dallas at Fair Park. I haven't been that big of a supporter of Taste of Dallas because of where it used to be and how it's been done down in the West End in previous years. The previous promoters never seemed to take it to the next level. But, when new ownership took over and made the move to plant the festival at Dallas Fair Park last year, I knew that it might become what it should be. A great food tasting festival.
This is the second year of Taste of Dallas being presented in Dallas Fair Park and they now have the organizational legs under them. The Festival runs through this Sunday, July 10th.
I wanted to go opening day because to me, it seems like you always get the best vibe from everybody. The participants are usually excited and full of energy. And, that's exactly what I want when I go out. Energy, man! If there's no excitement, you can oftentimes see folks looking for the exits pretty quickly. That wasn't the case tonight.
Of course, it's easy for folks to make an excuse for not attending an outdoor event like this when we have 100+ degree weather going on. But, Fair Park is a real park that has green space. That's always a blessing when doing the Festival thing. Water, grass. Gotta have 'em. That was part of the problem with the West End editions of the Taste. The heat just radiated from the Dallas pavement downtown. That was no fun. And, you couldn't avoid it. That's not the case at Fair Park. Taste of Dallas makes great use of the Esplanade fountain area to present it's food vendors and when the sun goes down you have some pretty nice breezes going down through the area. You can lay in the grass and pretty much chill wherever you want. They DON'T allow you to be bring in anything. It would've been nice to take a portable lawn chair or picnic blanket. If I'm going to be critical of anything, it's that. Allow us to bring in the creature comforts. It allows us to stay longer. When your feet start hurting and you can't lay down somewhere, what do you do? LEAVE. Just a thought to the organizers.
I went about 7:30 pm and stayed until closing near 11:00 pm. Originally, that wasn't my plan. I was going to make a run over and walk the grounds, sample the food, and be out. Once I got there though, I just settled in for a comfortable evening of food tasting. Great food tasting. The admission to get in was an affordable $8.00 (or $5 if you go to Albertson's). Oh yes, parking $12 on the Fair Park Grounds. It's safe and secure as always. But, the whole thing kicked in when I got my first wiff of my first station stop which was a Texas Barbeque outfit. They had hot links on-a-stick, brisket, and pork ribs for $2 each. I was like...what?! Give me this and give me that!!
So, after sampling the BBQ (which was 'off the bone'). It hit me. They have over 50 food vendors. I was thinking, if the prices are $2-$5 each stop, I was going to get some serious food tasting in tonight. Let me tell you, that was exactly the case! Dallas is second to no city when it comes to food and there's enough at Taste of Dallas to satisfy everyone's palette. I especially enjoyed Afghan Grill (Station #26), Pierre's Mardi Gras Cafe (#17), Longhorn Barbeque (#27) and many, many others. I thoroughly enjoyed this Taste and may go back before it ends.
I definitely wanted to put this out there for everybody. You should handle the weather thing in the best way that suits you. I chose to go near dusk. And, it paid off. heat was NOT an issue. I didn't think about it at all to be honest. There are some great added features like Arts & Crafts, Jewelers and so on in the buildings surrounding the esplanade. There's also air conditioning in those buildings should you really need it. Like I said, the heat didn't bother me. There was entertainment and I'm sure it was okay as well, but the star of the show here is the food tasting. Make no mistake about that.
Taste of Dallas runs through this Sunday at 6pm. Saturday's closing time is 11:00 pm again. You can check the Community Calendar for the other details and link to their site. Ladies, put on some comfortable shoes. There's walking going on. Extended walking. Most of the ladies got it right tonight with soft sandals and tennis shoes. I know you've got to look cute though. Personally, I wore some linen shorts and a short sleeve polo shirt. I also had a 'sweat rag' but I never used it.
I recommend checking out the Taste of Dallas this weekend. It's one of the better ones I've ever attended and you'll discover some restaurants that are in town you didn't know existed that are serving it up BIG in Big D as always.
~ Keith Hill
Founder, Uptown Jazz Dallas