CINCINNATI -- With more than 250 menu items at this year's Taste of Cincinnati, where do you even begin?
It all depends on your, well, tastes.
We asked 9 On Your Side reporters Evan Millward, Kristen Swilley and Hillary Lake, traffic reporter Jaclyn DeAugustino and anchors Tanya O'Rourke, Kristyn Hartman, Kathrine Nero and Ryan Houston to tell us what they want to eat at Cincinnati's favorite food festival. (Fair warning: There might be some drooling ahead.)
Tom+Chee and Eddie’s BBQ: “First of all, a trip to Taste isn’t a trip at all unless we get two things: the grilled cheese doughnut from Tom+Chee (for my kids) and Eddie’s BBQ honey roasted corn (for me).” Tom+Chee: Booth #636; Eddie's BBQ: Booth #308
Marty’s Waffles: “This year, I would love to try Marty’s Waffles' sea salt and caramel waffle with bourbon whipped cream." Booth #707
streetpops: "Streetpops' Thai basil lime pop sounds like a perfect finish. Now I’m hungry.” Booth #718
“I love all types of food, so it was a great joy to be asked to judge (Best of Taste of Cincinnati). There is some fantastic food at this event.
"Since I judged entrees, let me tell you a few of my faves – the ones I’ve been dreaming of – and plan to visit at Taste!”
Alfio’s Buon Cibo: “You will NOT lose weight eating this dish. Let me repeat … you will NOT lose weight eating this. What you will do is enjoy the indulgent, creamy, delicious chicken and spinach ravioli. HEAVENLY. I kept going back for more.” Booth #614
Sammy’s Craft Burgers: “These burgers were big, juicy and flavorful. The bacon jelly slider was delicious!” Booth #638
Pompilio’s: “Again, not a light dish, but if you want to fill up on something with big flavor, go for the meat sauce lasagna. It was a perfect lasagna!” Booth #210
Mazunte: “Mazunte is perhaps my favorite Mexican restaurant in town. And it’s close to me, so I’m in big trouble! The tostadas are just yummy, yummy, yummy, as are all of their salsas. Try them all!” Booth #546
Eli’s BBQ: “We tasted quite a few barbecue joints' dishes for the taste test. All were good, but Eli’s was just miles ahead. It was so good! The smoke on it, the sauces, the texture. It was just superior barbecue! And if you don’t mind a little heat, get the jalapeno cornbread. You can thank me later." Booth #516
"Whatever you do, get a wide variety of stuff, and try something new. That’s the beauty of the Taste of Cincinnati – a little bite or two of something new and exciting!”
“This will be my first [Taste], and I’m excited!”
Best Thing Smokin: “Pulled pork fries. Two of my favorite things together? Yes, please!” Booth #702
Habanero Latin American: “Grilled Adobo Chicken Taco. Latin American food is my absolute favorite with lots of guac!” Booth #126
Joella's Hot Chicken: “Chicken tenders -- because who doesn’t love hot chicken?” Booth #406
Tom + Chee's Grilled Cheese Donut: “I’m intrigued by this. On one hand, it sounds like a gut bomb. On the other hand, it sounds so delicious I might end up with an addiction.” Booth #636
“This will be my third Taste. I'd recommend people pack patience. This is a hugely popular event, and there are a TON of people. But also, you'll want to browse and sample.
"Try something outside your comfort zone. I always find it funny -- because we all have that one friend who does this -- when someone goes to Taste and ends up getting an old standby (LaRosa's, Keystone, etc.).”
Marty's Waffles: “Marty's Waffles' bourbon cream waffle was a hit last year, so it's first on my list.” Booth #707
C'est Cheese: “C'est Cheese's Bee Sting is *mwah* just lovely.” Booth #716
Island Frydays: “I keep meaning to go to Island Frydays in Short Vine, so I'm going to hit up that jerk chicken finally.” Booth #608
“How do I narrow down the deliciousness?! (Insert distressed emoji face)"
Alabama Fish Bar and Eddie’s BBQ: "I’m from the South, so I’m going to have to start with Alabama Fish Bar, which I’ve heard amazing things about, and Eddie’s Southern Style BBQ." Booth #715/Booth #308
Keystone and Mazunte: "I can already vouch for Keystone and Mazunte but will visit those anyway." Booth #404/Booth #546
J. Gumbo’s: "Because J. Gumbo’s is steps away from my favorite restaurant, I always MEAN to go there but never make it. This WILL be the day!" Booth #546
"So, in my perfect world, I’d try a little bit of everything. But since the camera already puts on 10 pounds, I have to be choosy."
Sawasdee Thai Cuisine: “For appetizers, the shrimp lollipop from Sawasdee Thai Cuisine caught my attention. I love Thai food, so starting there makes sense.” Booth #108
Eli’s BBQ: “For entrees, I’ll walk on over to Eli’s BBQ for a pulled pork sandwich. I’ve always believed barbecue should be its own food group." Booth #516
Tickle Pickle: "I’m also going to sample something from the Tickle Pickle because it’s from my neighborhood (Northside)." Booth #228
Marty’s Waffles: "And since you always have to pay homage to the sweet tooth, my final selection is the sea salt, caramel and bourbon waffle at Marty’s Waffles. It sounds too good to be true!" Booth #707
Best Thing Smokin: "I would love to try the smoked pulled pork fries from Best Thing Smokin.
It just sounds like that would melt in your mouth." Booth #702
Buona Terra Gelato: "Second on my list is the dessert at Buona Terra Gelato. I have a huge sweet tooth and it looks like they have tiramisu (gelato) on the menu." Booth #552
Habanero Latin American: "Third, I feel like the grilled Adobo Chicken Taco at Habanero Latin American sounds exotic. It sounds like one bite could take me somewhere tropical!" Booth #126
"I have actually never attended Taste of Cincinnati before! This will be my first one and I’m super pumped. It’s hard to narrow down just a few favorites on the list, but here it goes."
Andy’s Mediterranean Grille: "I definitely want to check out the vegetarian grape leaves at Andy’s Mediterranean Grille. My mother is 100 percent Lebanese (her mother is from Beirut) and my family would always eat Mediterranean dishes growing up. Only recently have I grown to appreciate this type of cuisine!" Booth #412
streetpops: "I love a good popsicle…who doesn’t? The Pineapple Strawberry Swirl at streetpops sounds like a dream." Booth #718
Sweets & Meats BBQ: "Barbeque is also one of my favorite types of food. The Sweets & Meats menu looks great —especially that homemade mac and cheese. Yum!" Booth #710
"I’ll also have to hit up my current favorites: Eli’s, Keystone, and Mazunte."