Taste of DC
9th and 14th streets on Pennsylvania Ave Nw
Hours: Saturday, Oct 6 to Monday, Oct 8 – 12 p.m. to 7 pm.
Price: $10 festival admission/food prices vary, but every restaurant will have at least one item that is $3 or less
Every year, Washingtonian foodies flock to Taste of DC to explore the best of what’s new and the classics they love. In 2011, half of a million attendees flocked to the more than 70 food vendors, tasting more than 260 menu items, 34 craft beers and 98 wines in the must-love-food event of the year. This year’s attractions include more of DC’s best restaurants, a World Chili Eating Championship, a culinary stage, two live-performance stages featuring DC’s local bands, a family zone, wine pavilion, craft beer pavilion and VIP kickoff party.
The festival is changing a bit in 2012 to incorporate the feedback from last year’s festival. The biggest change is that it’s getting rid of the ticket system allowing patrons to pay the restaurants directly. It will also be a fenced-in festival with an admission fee, but this will allow for alcohol to be consumed around the festival grounds, as opposed to the previous year when patrons who wanted to enjoy an adult beverage were confined to a small fenced in area to stand around until they were finished with their drinks. The fenced-in festival will give patrons the opportunity to pair wine and beer with their food. Entertainment will feature live local music and Ben’s Chili Bowl’s World Eating Chili Championship with the amateur competition on Saturday and the world’s best eaters competition on Sunday. The admission fee is $10 and includes one drink ticket good for beer, wine, soda or water.
Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U St. Northwest
Washington, DC 20009
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., Fri – 6 a.m. to 4 a.m., Sat – 7 a.m. to 4 a.m., Sun – 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Arguably the most popular restaurant at the 2011 Taste of DC festival, Ben’s Chili Bowl will return to serve up its finest original chili half-smokes, all-meat chili dogs, and regular and vegetarian chili. The original chili half-smoke is a DC classic different from just any old chili dogs because of two things: the dog and the chili. Instead of a hot dog, Ben’s uses a half smoke, which is a quarter of a pound of pork and beef smoked sausage that is served on a steamed bun and topped with Ben’s famous chili. The chili is a unique flavor unto itself with a closely guarded recipe featuring a little bit of Caribbean spice.
Related: Best Places for Chili in D.C.
929 F St. Northwest
Washington, DC 20004
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 5 to 10 p.m.; Fri to Sat – 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
At any tasting festival there is inevitably one dish Washingtonians will stop one another to ask, “What is that?” or “Where did you get it?” That dish in 2011 was CoCo Sala’s bacon mac and cheese. Putting bacon in mac and cheese is never a bad thing, but what really stood out about CoCo Sala’s dish was that the bacon was covered in chocolate. While this may cause the less adventurous eaters to choose differently, it worked together very well. Another prized dish from CoCo Sala was its chocolate mousse, a decadent chocolate concoction that was a perfect ending to all of the samplings.
Related: Best Chocolate Shops in D.C.
1602 U St. Northwest
Washington, DC 20037
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Fri – 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.; Sat – 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.; Sun – 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Local 16 is particularly known in the D.C. area for its amazing wood-fired oven pizzas. Just because it’s at a festival doesn’t mean the quality of the food has to suffer. With its portable wood-fired pizza oven, Local 16’s pizzas were so popular they couldn’t make them fast enough last year. With varieties from meats to veggies, Local 16 offered one of the best crispy pizza slices around. And you can feel good about what you’re eating because Local 16 sources organic ingredients from its very own farm.
1712 Eye St. Northwest
Washington, DC 20006
Hours: Mon to Fri – 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you want to find Wicked Waffle, simply look for the line. In 2011, there was consistently a 15- to 20-person deep line outside Wicked Waffle’s booth all day. It makes all of its waffles to order, so while it does take a bit of time, there’s nothing like a fresh-pressed waffle. Wicked Waffle believes in European-style waffles, which means no butter or syrup. This lends itself to allowing both savory and sweet waffles in the mix. Instead of syrup, its sweet waffles are dusted with powdered sugar, drizzled with melted chocolate or even topped with caramel cream. On the savory side, it uses the waffle as the bread for a sandwich. The fillings are then added to make a crispy, savory waffle sandwich.
Patty Boom Boom
1359 U St. Northwest
Washington, DC 20009
Hours: Thurs – 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Fri to Sat – 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Patty Boom Boom will be a new edition to the 2012 Taste of DC lineup. This Jamaican bar and club serves up rum and bounces to the reggae beats all night long. Enjoy patties, a soft pastry with savory filling inside for a true taste of what this restaurant does best. The fillings include Jamaican flavors including delicious guava goat, jerk shrimp, or chicken and Caribbean vegetable.