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Stuff your face: Taste of Tacoma is this weekend

Post by Sue Kidd / The News Tribune on June 27, 2014 at 12:00 am | No Comments »
June 27, 2014 12:15 pm
Joi Calonge, right, celebrated her 26th birthday eating with her mom Bless Calonge at the Taste of Tacoma in 2013. File photo 2013. Janet Jensen/Staff photographer
Joi Calonge, right, celebrated her 26th birthday eating with her mom Bless Calonge at the Taste of Tacoma in 2013. File photo 2013. Janet Jensen/Staff photographer

Reach way back in the closet.

No, no.

All the way in the back.

You see those stain-resistant pants with the safe-for-Thanksgiving-dinner waistband?

Prepare to move them to the front of the closet.

This weekend is Taste of Tacoma.

The three-day eating festival that starts today at Point Defiance Park isn’t a gourmet food gathering, or even an event featuring much in the form of Tacoma restaurants.

Taste of Tacoma is about stuffing your face with carnival food that’s dipped in stuff, deep fried, and slathered in sauce. In other words, the festival is full of food crimes against humanity.

Diet? You don’t need to stinking diet. In fact, it’s best not to think of the caloric content – at all. It’s also best not to focus too much on the cost, which can skyrocket if you don’t shop smartly. Items will be priced $3.75 (for the smaller Just a Bite options) on the low end and $8 on the high. Careful shoppers will conduct a full scouting expedition before committing.

More than 40 restaurants will pop up across the park serving flavors from all over the world. Japanese, Greek, Filipino, Russian, Hawaiian – it’s all represented. Check the accompanying list for what’s on the menu.

For guidance before you go, also check my critic’s picks list for Tacoma restaurants serving at the event (a handful) and booths that consistently have produced good eats.

Along with as much food as you can stomach, you’ll also find a full day’s worth of entertainment with live music (on multiple stages); a comedy stage; a carnival and vendor/craft fair.

Still aren’t convinced to go?

Maybe this will help: Cronut burger.

It’ll be there. Look for the Sweet Sensations booth.

Emerald Queen Taste of Tacoma 2014
When: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday (June 27, 2014) and Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday
Where: Point Defiance Park, Tacoma
Admission: Free, except cost of food.
Cost of food: Cheap bites return at $3.75 (smaller menu items, often the best deals). Menu items top out at $8.
Parking: $10 in the Funland lot across from the park, or park for free at Tacoma Community College and catch a Taste shuttle to the park (regular Pierce Transit fares apply).
Information: or 253-759-8272
Bring: Sunscreen and an umbrella (because we live in the Northwest!), a bottle of water, hand wipes, sanitizer and make sure you wear easy-wipe or stain resistant clothing with a forgiving waistband (i.e.: standard Thanksgiving attire). Limited seating, but attendees can set up impromptu picnic areas on the grass.
Entertainment: The Bowl Stage with rock and blues; The Pond Stage with funk, soul, oldies and rock; the Alaska Airlines Jazz Stage; the Family Fun Kids Stage; a comedy club with a beer garden; carnival, arts and crafts booths, commercial and vendor booths. More info here.
Tip: No smoking prohibited; leave pets at home.
Menus: Find what restaurants are serving here.

Critic’s Picks
Tacoma-South Sound area food trucks:
Big Boys Filipino: This truck based in Pacific is the project of Nate Daep, who tours his truck’s menu of portable Filipino food from Tacoma to Seattle. Try one of their meaty sandwiches, made on a sweet bread similar to a Hawaiian roll.
Gibson’s Frozen Yogurt: The frozen yogurt cafe in Tacoma’s Stadium neighborhood also has a roving truck that doles out yogurt by the ounce. Find six yogurt flavors and 20 toppings this weekend.
Fisher Scones Food Truck: Scones slathered with butter and jam, will be priced $1.50, just like they are at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup.
A Fire Inside Wood Fired Pizza: This Renton-based truck has a wood-fired oven right on the truck.

Other Tacoma restaurants
Ginger Palace II: This Tacoma eatery is creating a food buzz because it’s the only Tacoma restaurant that serves weekend dim sum (check details at Beyond dim sum, the restaurant has carved a niche for itself with chicken wings. Find the wings (but not the dim sum) this weekend.
Reciprocity Foods: The food company known for its juices also serves at the Proctor Farmers Market.

I don't even want to think about this thing again.
I don’t even want to think about this thing again. This fried corn dog wrapped in cotton candy was served at last year’s Taste.

Other vendors
These are vendors don’t have a permanent restaurant presence in South Sound, but consistently have produced great eats (for what they are) at Taste of Tacoma. Based on my past experiences, I’d eat again at:
Blue Elephant: This booth consistently features seafood with a healthy angle, such as grilled salmon.
Crepe Tyme: Those needing to avoid the deep-fried gluttony should head here for thoughtfully composed crepes, such as artichoke-chicken.
Sweet Sensation: This booth consistently amazes with what the heck it will throw in a deep fryer. Last year, it was a corn dog wrapped in cotton candy (I’m not making that up). This year, they’ll have the Cronut Burger. That’d be a hybrid croissant-doughnut turned into a, gulp, burger.
Fried PB & J: This booth sounds like a bad food dare and produces food that should make you feel guilty.

The Taste Cooks Stage
While Tacoma might not be represented with restaurant booths, Tacoma restaurants certainly are represented at the Taste Cooks stage. Watch as chefs, such as Hudson Slater of Maxwell’s Restaurant + Lounge and Tom Pantley of Toscano Cafe and Wine Bar, demonstrate cooking techniques on stage. TV Tacoma’s Amanda Westbrooke will emcee.  Here’s the full schedule, but here are my picks:
Hudson Slater: The chef of Maxwell’s Restaurant + Lounge in Tacoma’s St. Helens neighborhood will demonstrate gnocchi with pesto at noon Friday and a fresh berry tart at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Tom Pantley: The chef-owner of Toscanos Cafe and Wine Bar in Puyallup will demonstrate a penne and asparagus pasta dish and chicken catania, chicken cooked in blood orange and brandy, at noon Sunday.
Ken Thoburn: The co-owner of Wingman Brewers, a Dome-district brewery, will demonstrate baking beer desserts and beer cocktails at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Aura Mae: Aura Mae is a hair salon owner, not a restaurant owner, but she’s a Tacoma food personality, for sure. The Kitchen Beautician will cook up veg-friendly dishes, including guacamole salad, zucchini carbonara and roasted asparagus with cream sauce, at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Other chefs to catch: Gil Turturici of Tacoma’s Boathouse 19 at 2 p.m. Friday; James Bacher of Tacoma’s Dirty Oscar’s Annex at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday and a cook-off at 4 p.m. Friday with Tobie Robinson of Parsnips Catering and Mathew Schweitzer of Tacoma’s Hilltop Kitchen.


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