Getting the most from the Taste: 9 tips for surviving and savoring Cincinnati's mega food festival

CINCINNATI - Taste of Cincinnati  is one of the biggest and best events in Cincinnati. How do you manage three days, 60 restaurants, music, drinks and unpredictable weather?

  • Coming Soon: Julie's Taste of Cincinnati Survival Guide!

As a seasoned Taste of Cincinnati goer, I have a few tips on how to make the most of your Taste experience.

1. Map out your day: Some of your favorites may have moved, and there are new favorites that you don't even know about yet! Make a plan of attack by circling what you'd like, and do a full lap around Taste before you eat anything. Otherwise, you'll get a quarter of a block and already be full on a Zoomer and egg rolls (not that I've ever done that). There are maps available all around Taste for those of you who might like to step to the side and actually circle all of your favorites, and plot out a plan of attack. 

2. Try new things! As much as I like classic Cincinnati bites like La Rosa's and Cincinnati chili, I'm always amazed at how long the lines are compared to some other places with great offerings that you can't get every day. Make it a goal to try one new item that you've never tried at Taste--and there are a ton of new items that will fit that bill nicely.

3. Drink water. As tempting as the Bourbon Slushes and Christian Moerlein beer are, be sure to grab a bottle of water and stay hydrated. Though this year's Taste isn't predicted to be as hot as years' past, you'd be surprised at how dehydrated you can get. 

4. Wear comfortable shoes. You're going to be walking around on asphalt, so you need to be prepared. Taste spans several city blocks, and it's easy to walk them several times during your visit. Put away the dress shoes and the sky-high heels and rock your sandals and flats, friends. You'll thank me later.

5. Pace yourself. Taste of Cincinnati lasts for three days, and you can always come back. Otherwise, uncomfortable fullness and heat can make you sick!

6. Come for the food, stay for the bands. There's more to do at Taste than just eat, like the several stages that are around the Taste area. The stages feature local bands--everything from Ricky Nye to the Naked Karate Girls--as well as two nights of local comedians. I always discover new music while I'm at Taste, so be sure to build in some time to enjoy the local stages.

7. Save on parking and try public transportation. Cincinnati Metro and Northern Kentucky's TANK  are both easy ways to avoid parking and enjoy Taste. Trust me, you don't want to get caught in the traffic (the Reds are also in town this weekend), and this also allows you to enjoy alcoholic beverages without the worry of how to get home. If you choose to drive, but have too much to drink, call BeMyDD (which drives your car home for you) or a car service like Uber or Lyft, which will take you home safely and conveniently. 

8. Get hot or tired of crowds? Most of the restaurants around Fountain Square are open during Taste, and some even have Taste-related specials. Pop into restaurants like Rock Bottom, Via Vite, Palomino, McCormick and Schmick's, Local 127 and many others to escape the crowds and have a drink.

9. Remember the restaurants after Taste! Most of the restaurants featured here are locally owned and operated, and you can get their dishes all year. Be sure to note your favorites and visit them--and let them know you discovered them via Taste of Cincinnati so they'll be back next year.

Do you Tweet? Use the hashtag #cincytaste and follow @CincinnatiParty


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