CINCINNATI -- It's Taste of Cincinnati time! I'm so happy to see so many local restaurants participating, with tons of local Cincinnati flavor represented.
Whether you’re craving Cincinnati classics, like a 3-way or coney, or you want to sample a food truck or the best of new kitchens from Findlay Market, Taste will be the place to be.
We wanted to present our Top 9 things to taste, but we can't pick just nine favorites. So here's every item we want to try over the three-day food festival, scheduled May 27-29 along Fifth Street, Downtown, and where to find them.
Taste of Cincinnati
Joella's Hot Chicken: Joella's may be a small chain out of Louisville, but its Crescent Springs location has become a favorite for Nashville-style hot chicken in the Cincinnati area. Grab some hot chicken tenders ($6), served with a variety of sauces ranging from mild to "fire in the hole," and a basket of the famous Parmesan garlic fries ($5). Booth #406
Che: Empanadas are easy to eat as you walk around a food festival, and Che's are delicious. Che will have both spinach and meat empanadas for sale ($4 each), or try a choripan, which is an Argentinian chorizo sandwich ($6). Booth #414
Mazunte: Tacos are the ultimate street food, and Mazunte's are a tasty choice. Try chicken, pork, chorizo or veggie tacos ($3) and a side of chips and guacamole ($4). Mazunte makes its chips in house (or in this case, in booth), and they are hot, crispy and a great accompaniment to Mazunte’s creamy, slightly spicy guacamole. Booth #546
Rivertown Brewery and Barrel House: You may be familiar with Rivertown beers (Lil' Sipa and Pumpkin are two favorites), but its new barrelhouse in Monroe has a menu of beer-infused barbecue. Try the burnt-end deviled eggs ($4), topped with shaved brisket and scallions, or the Black and Blue salad ($5) with more brisket, blue cheese and a buttermilk IPA dressing. Booth #544
Tickle Pickle: This Northside burger joint is famous for its music-inspired burgers and quirky menu. Try the Bread Zeppelin ($5), a traditional bacon cheeseburger, or the Buns & Roses ($5), a gluten-free black-bean burger with lettuce, tomato, onions and spicy ketchup. You also can get a pickle on a stick -- of course, it's Tickle Pickle! Booth #228
Taste of Findlay Market (on the Fifth Street ramp to I-71)
Findlay Market vendors and the nonprofit incubator Findlay Kitchen's tenants are joining forces to offer small bites of Findlay favorites -- both new and established -- at Taste of Cincinnati this year. All bites will be $3 or less, so you can really get a taste of the market. Note: Not all vendors will be there each day, so every day will be a bit different.
Babushka Pierogies, which has its own production kitchen at Findlay Kitchen, will be selling its popular pierogies on Saturday and Sunday for both vegetarians and meat-eaters.
Kuya Ed's Lechon Atbpa, which you may have tried at Asian Food Fest, is featuring its version of the national dish of the Philippines: lechon, or marinated pork on a skewer. It's delicious -- and perfect walking-around food for an event like Taste.
Dean's Mediterranean Imports will feature garlic cilantro fries, featuring spices that you can purchase at Dean's, and owner Katie Zaidan's famous date bars, which might be the best date you'll ever have, according to the signage at the store.
Davis Cookie Collection is run by MORTAR graduate Christina Davis, who makes killer giant chocolate-chip and oatmeal cookies. Sample her cookies all weekend.
Saigon Market: One of the more popular food tents at Findlay Market on weekends, Saigon Market will feature tastes of its Vietnamese tacos and fried rice.
Rhinegeist Food Truck Alley (on the Fifth Street ramp to Columbia Parkway)
The Food Truck Alley has been popular for the past few years. Local craft brewery Rhinegeist is sponsoring the Food Truck Alley this year, and it’s bigger and better than ever.
Hungry Bros: These "bros" are known for waffle fries covered in all sorts of delicious goodness. The Kevin Bacon Ranch combines bacon, grilled chicken and ranch on top of waffle fries ($5). The Vladimir Poutine is good, too, with root beer-braised lamb and cheese curds, also on top of waffle fries ($6). Booth #712
Bistro de Mohr: C'mon, it's Cincinnati. You have to have the hog balls ($5): They've been a favorite for a couple of years now -- deep-fried balls of potato and bacon goodness. If you're feeling a little more adventurous, try the goat tacos ($5), which are also a “go Vibrant” healthy selection. Booth #706
Wicked Hickory: Wicked Hickory specializes in barbecue from around the South. Grab a barbecue pork bowl ($5) or, for something sweet and smoky, a grilled glazed doughnut ($4). Booth #708
C'est Cheese: A favorite of every food truck rally, C'est Cheese is back with its famous Bee Sting: mozzarella, pepperoni and basil-infused honey on Tuscan pane ($5). Booth #716
Packhouse: If you miss Packhouse in Newport, it has reopened as a food truck. Its famous meatballs are available in both sub and bowl form, so get your fill ($6). Booth #711
What do you want to try at Taste of Cincinnati? Tweet me at @winemedineme!)