This year’s Taste of Valparaiso, sponsored by Tri Kappa Sorority, was a huge hit for local restaurants and patrons alike. More 40 local restaurants attended the event and brought sample sized food and beverages to tempt the crowds. Only 90 minutes after the doors opened, most restaurants estimated that they had served between 400-500 hungry people.
Some booths were staffed by well-known establishments like Pesto’s and Valpo Velvet. Others, like Greenwhich Terrace Café, were a surprise to many visitors. The café, which served turkey tips, stuffed baked potatoes and barbeque, will be opening its doors to the public on June 12. The owner promised that the full menu would feature delicious concoctions ranging from meat-loving to vegan-friendly.
Industrial Revolution was another newcomer to the Taste. The restaurant, which opened within the past few weeks, served sandwiches and cheesecake, both made fresh. “Everything is fresh made, that’s what makes the difference to us,” said Dave Gallardo.
Chef Kevin made an appearance at the ever-popular Kelsey’s Steakhouse booth, serving ribs and filet mignon. “I heard that we’re the have-to-try booth!” laughed Kevin, as he served what he estimated to be his 500th serving of ribs for the night.
Pikk’s Tavern made their fourth appearance at the Taste, serving their famous guacamole and bleu cheese-stuffed mini burgers. “It’s been a good crowd this year,” said Paul Loduca. “We always get good exposure here. People who haven’t come in before come here and give us a shot.”
Semento’s was also happy with their exposure at the Taste this year. “We’ve had a steady flow,” said owner Tony Semento. “We get a lot of good feedback, and we’re changing people’s opinions…People are realizing that we offer more than a bar. I heard someone say ‘I knew we could go here for a good time, but I never know about the elegant food!’” The “elegant” food offered at the Taste included a three-cheese manicotti and white perch.
Old favorites like Susie’s Café, El Salto, and South Bend Chocolate Company had patrons lined up to sample their fare. Susie’s Café had great success with their traditional chicken noodle dish, while El Salto intrigued visitors with chicken poblano skewers and bacon-wrapped shrimp. South Bend Chocolate Company drew a large crowd with their assortment of chocolate-covered candy and fruit.
Pesto’s was another Valpo favorite that commanded an impressive crowd at the Taste. Several customers stopped in an impromptu and anecdotal poll named Pesto’s vodka chicken and pesto tortellini as some of the best dishes at the event. Don Quijote appeared to be another crowd favorite. Customers were drawn both by the enigmatic owners, Carlos and Elana, as well as by the ensalada of marinated vegetables and the champignones de ajillo, also known as garlic mushrooms.
Trio, an Italian restaurant located in the Aberdeen neighborhood, also had great success at the 2010 Taste. The restaurant was serving an aromatic ensalada de mar, containing an assortment of delicate seafood. A second entrée option had run out by 7:00pm, but luckily there was a delicious bruschetta to substitute.
With so many dishes and delicacies to try, most customers had a hard time picking their favorites. Michael Linert, a longtime Valpo resident, described a garlic chicken dish as his favorite…until he became distracted by the candy delights at South Bend Chocolate Company.
“Mmm mmm mmm,” mused Linert, as he savored a mint chocolate malted milk ball and gave his final thoughts on the 2010 Taste of Valparaiso. “Mmm mmm.”