ENCINITAS — The Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association held its 20th annual restaurant crawl Aug. 27. The sold-out event offered ticket-buyers a chance to sample menu items from approximately 36 downtown Encinitas restaurants, bars and businesses along Highway 101.
“We’re completely sold out,” Tess Radmill told several disappointed latecomers on the night of the event. Restaurants began serving at 6 p.m. and were scheduled to continue until 9 p.m. but many ran out of food offerings early. “It’s been a quick rush all night,” said volunteer Danny Salzhandler, who was stationed at the D Street Bar & Grill.
Those who didn’t score one of the coveted 1,000 tickets at a bargain price of $25 mingled downtown listening to live music in six locations including Semisi & FulaBula, Backwater Blues Band, Tropical Breeze, Peter Hall, Creede Johnson, Russell Castiglione and Earl Flores.
This year’s Taste of MainStreet was expanded with several new features, according to Dody Tucker, executive director of the association.
Bridget Bueche, executive chef for Sub-Zero and Wolf, presented a live cooking demonstration just outside 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro.
A contest for the best Amuse Bouche Award — from the French to literally “amuse the mouth” — pitted top restaurants against each other. A three-judge panel of chefs and food critics selected the top chef. Among the submissions were When in Rome’s tidbit “Arancini,” a hand-formed risotto ball cooked with a Bolognese sauce, lightly breaded and fried, and served with pesto sauce; Whole Foods’ roasted Brussels sprout-portabello mushroom skewers with Gorgonzola dipping sauce; Jamroc101′s jerk chicken jambalaya; 3rd Corner’s short rib sliders; and D Street Bar & Grill’s seared ahi with mango salsa. But it was Q’uero, specializing in South American cuisine that came in the ultimate winner.
The People’s Choice Award went to D Street Bar & Grill. “I liked it the best, although it was a tough decision,” said Matt Simpson, an Encinitas resident.
Also new this year, 3rd Corner hosted a benefit wine tasting in its Lumberyard shopping center parking lot. Tickets were popular at the low price of $5 for two wine samples. Proceeds from this event will go toward funding the installation of a sculpture on Coast Highway 101 at Encinitas Boulevard.
World-renowned local sculptor Manuelita Brown’s bronze statue “Encinitas Child” was commissioned but another $8,000 is needed by the association to create a permanent foundation for the statue and install it.
By all accounts, the night was successful at bringing residents and visitors together. “I was especially pleased,” Tucker said after the event, “especially since we didn’t have our car show at the same time this year.”