CINCINNATI -- Taste of Cincinnati is one of my favorite festivals of the year, so I approach it with the tactical strategy of a Navy SEAL's mission.
I pore over the menu, study the event map and plot my eating path: appetizers first, sweets last, and plenty of water (and a few alcoholic beverages) in between. I look to minimize trips back and forth along Fifth Street, visiting vendor booths close to each other, moving from Broadway up to Race, then back down again. I’m not above keeping Ziploc bags in my purse. (My purse is the size of Texas. And I’m not ashamed to admit any of this.)
So, with that in mind, as I look over the Taste of Cincinnati menu, here are several items I’ve marked as must-eats, in no particular order. (Note: This list does not include deep-fried Oreos and funnel cake, which are my traditional festival favorites and go without saying. They are the food equivalent of double rainbows.)
Bella Luna’s chocolate chip blueberry bread pudding: I fell in love with Bella Luna’s chocolate chip bread pudding and seafood cannelloni in past Taste years, so they have high Taste cred with me. That said, I’d probably eat anything BL put in front of me, and this lasagna sounds divine.
Bistro de Mohr’s hog balls: I kept going back again and again last year for these addictive, slightly spicy little snacks -- fried balls of shredded potato, cheddar, and bits of bacon and jalapeno.
Eddie’s Southern Style BBQ’s brisket and corn: Eddie’s is one of my festival staples, where I always pick up some of the smoky, tasty beef brisket. And don’t worry about making a mess of yourself while gnawing on the honey roasted corn on the cob — we’ve all done it.
Eli's BBQ: Do I even need to explain? Eli's pulled pork sandwich is the stuff dreams are made of. Imagine moist, tender meat with slightly charred edges, topped with cool slaw and piled on a grilled bun. YUM.
Keystone Bar & Grill's Buffalo Springfield: Yes, I know I can just go and get this rich mac 'n’ cheese, featuring buffalo chicken and crumbled bleu cheese, any day of the week. But the Taste-sized portion of the deliciousness is just right.
Via Vite’s veal ricotta meatballs: I carried home a significant number of these little darlings last year in my aforementioned large purse. They are fantastic, and even better, reheat well!
What are you looking forward to eating at this year's Taste?
Taste of Cincinnati
Fifth Street, Downtown Cincinnati