ENCINITAS — The Taste of MainStreet went off without a hitch after the event was rescheduled one week later due to the countywide blackout on Sept. 8. The Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association and participating restaurants staged an omnivore’s paradise that rivaled previous years.
After 21 years of serving up the finest samplings of delectable delights, Taste of MainStreet stepped it up a notch. This year, ticket holders were treated to happy hour prices and signature cocktails at special rates at participating establishments in the downtown area.
Hundreds of participants were treated to the culinary creations of 33 different eateries. From Ogata’s sushi to the laid back offerings at Swami’s Café, the night’s samplings were a welcome surprise to many. “I’m impressed with all of this amazingly creative food in little sample sizes,” said Rose Gensler, who joined friends during the event. “The only reason I can eat all of this is because we’re walking the length of downtown and it gives me time to digest,” she said.
The expanded offering was a bonus for several people who have attended the event in previous years. “I’m always looking for new restaurants and it seems like downtown has one popping up every other month,” Pamela St. John said. “Even our new grocery store is in on the action,” she said, referring to Whole Foods Market. “I haven’t been disappointed tonight.”
For the third year in a row, participants were encouraged to cast their ballot for the People’s Choice Award. Leucadia Pizzeria took home top honors as the crowd favorite.
More than just award-winning food, Taste of MainStreet is a celebration of the downtown community. “We’ve gone for several years because it’s a way to familiarize ourselves with the different restaurants and also to just enjoy the environment and our friends,” said St. John. In fact, the rescheduled event also coincided with the final installation of the Classic Car Cruise Nights. “This is a kick having all of these people swarming around having a good time downtown,” said resident Jerry Hinkman.
Even residents from neighboring communities got in on the festivities. As the largest event of its kind in the county, Taste of Mainstreet attracts participants from as far as Eastlake. “I came out because the price is right for a night of food and live music with friends,” Brandy Miller of Escondido. “It’s fun to be on the coast and have the opportunity to watch the sunset over the ocean then come back to eating my way down the street,” she said.
The event wouldn’t be complete without live music. The musical acts are suited to each location with everything from reggae to folk in the line-up. The night featured music in various different locations along Hwy 101. Randy Fontaine and the Swingers brought out the dancing couples in the Center Courtyard of the Lumberyard, Allison Adams Tucker & Allegato World Jazz brought an international flair to Leucadia Pizzeria, Tropical Breeze set the tone at Kealani’s, The Jack Stiteler Jazztet at the DEMA office and Russell Castiglione at Swami’s Café rounded out the regional talent.
“I like the music as much as I like the food,” Peter Barnes said as he stood in line at Chuao Chocolatier. “It just creates an atmosphere that flows and gets you into a rhythm literally.
“DEMA clearly does a lot of work putting this together, but it takes all of the people involved from the chefs to the musicians to the people buying the tickets to come together and make it work,” Barnes said.