The Coast News Group
Lick the Plate

Taste of MainStreet celebrates vibrant restaurant scene downtown

This year marks the 24th year of Taste of MainStreet, held in downtown Encinitas from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 20.

The team behind Taste of MainStreet from left Olivia Paccione, Rick Moore, and Dody Crawford.      Photo David Boylan
The team behind Taste of MainStreet from left Olivia Paccione, Rick Moore, and Dody Crawford. Photo David Boylan

During that time, Encinitas has established itself as a true culinary destination, with a restaurant scene that has foodies flocking here from all over San Diego. Taste of MainStreet is a great opportunity to sample this burgeoning culinary scene.

The team at the Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association responsible for organizing this fabulous event is Executive Director Dody Crawford, Assistant Director Rick Moore and Program Assistant Olivia Paccione. Their hard work has turned Taste of MainStreet into a major culinary event in North County.

I spoke to Assistant Director Rick Moore recently to find out more about the event and what’s new this year.

How long has the “Taste” been around and how many restaurants did you start with?

The first Taste of MainStreet was held in 1989, so this is the 24th annual event.
There were around 15 restaurants for the first one.

Are there new participants this year?

This year, for the first time, we will be offering tastes of wine and beer at 15 retail shops and salons, in addition to the 34 restaurants taking part. Of the restaurants, there are two which have opened in the past year, the Bier Garden and Lobster West.

Besides the natural charm of downtown Encinitas, what sets the Encinitas Taste apart from others?

Our taste is unique in that it includes wine tastings, craft beer tastings and live music. Plus, we are the only taste in the area that offers wines from about a dozen Temecula Valley wineries. There’s plenty for beer drinkers, too. We will have various styles of beer from local craft breweries such as Acoustic, Arcana, Ballast Point and On the Tracks.

Are there restaurants that are known for healthy sample sizes?

Yes, but I don’t want to name names here! One of the most common complaints is that the portions are too big, and we have relayed that to the restaurants. With 34 choices, most people don’t want to get filled up at the first half dozen stops.

What is the entertainment lineup like this year?

We will have a wide range of musicians performing at 10-plus venues, from Leucadia Pizzeria (Encinitas Boulevard) to Java Hut (K Street), more than ever before. The biggest venue is The Lumberyard Courtyard (H Street), where The Red Fox Tails will be playing.

What else is new this year?

For the first time, we will have three ticket and wristband pick-up locations at the event: one at The Black Sheep (J Street) and one at Berry Happy Frozen Yogurt (D Street), in addition to the DEMA office (G Street). Those consuming wine or beer will need to show ID and pick up a wristband at one of those three locations. The diverse locations should spread the crowd out and reduce lines for tastes.

If there are tickets available the day of, they can be purchased at the DEMA office. Also, anyone looking to upgrade a $25 food-only ticket to the full $35 ticket (including wine and beer), can do so by paying $10 at the DEMA office. Participants will also receive special offers from our sponsors, Uber and Yelp.

All ticket holders can get a free trip up to $20 on Uber, a private car service, so you can leave your car at home. Yelp is offering freebies to those who check in at the DEMA office and, for uploading photos to the event page, a chance to win two tickets to the San Diego Botanic Gardens Gala in the Garden (a $400 value).

This year, participating restaurants include: 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro, Angelo’s Burgers, Beachside Bar and Grill, Berry Happy Frozen Yogurt, Bier Garden, Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizza, Chuao Chocolatier,
D Street Bar and Grill, E Street Café, East Village Asian Diner, El Callejon, Encinitas Café, Encinitas Pizza Company, Encinitas Station Farmers Market, Filiberto’s, Kealani’s, Leucadia Pizzeria & Restaurant, Lobster West, Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar, Lumberyard Tavern & Grill, Moonlight Beach 7-Eleven, Q’ero, Roxy Restaurant, Sakura Bana, Savory Spice Shop, Solace & the Moonlight Lounge, St. Germains Café, 
St. Tropez Bakery & Bistro, Starbucks, Surfdog’s Java Hut, Trattoria I Trulli, UNION Kitchen & Tap, Vigilucci’s Restaurant Group and Whole Foods Market.

New this year are SIP STOPS including Art N Soul, BiGR Audio, Birkenstock, Bliss 101, Detour Salon, Europtics, Gardenology, Mog & Rue, Off Track Gallery, Pink Soul Boutique, Plum, Rad Vapor, Savory Spice Shop, SoulScape, and Utopia Style Lounge

Check out for more information and to buy tickets or call (760) 943-1950.