Sunday, April 17, 2011

Have Fork, Will Travel: Taste of Hillcrest

"Oh, is this your first year?" he asked around a mouthful of pad Thai. "Mmmhmm," I replied, chewing a big bite of sticky rice with mango. "Newbies! Great! You guys are going to love this," said his friend.

"Remember the place that gave out whole burritos?"

That comment, which came from yet another member of the cheerfully enthusiastic group we met at the beginning of Taste of Hillcrest, caused us to stop chewing briefly. The one who had asked us about our first year told us that their group had dieted in preparation for feasting. At the end of our tour, we understood what he meant. D. and I figured Taste of Hillcrest would involve "tastes" (read: mouthfuls), but we ended the day crying uncle and returning home to curl up in the fetal position.

We started at the lovely Wine Steals, one of my favorite stops in Hillcrest. They served mini-glasses of wine with slices of thin-crusted pizza. Sauceless, cheesy flat crusts topped with prosciutto and arugula, it was a fabulous start to a fun event.

There was bustling Baja Betty's, with carnitas tacos and margaritas. There was loud music, tons of people, and friendly staff dishing up heaps of carnitas and cups of margaritas.

If they gave prizes for presentation, the crew at Amarin Thai would easily win. Dressed in traditional Thai garb, they had arranged chicken satay skewers and cups of sticky rice with mango in gorgeous gold-trimmed platters. Even the napkins were pretty. There was also pad Thai and it was all delicious.

Mamá Testa served chicken mole tacos, while Sushi Ono served California rolls, spiced edamame, and yakisoba. Along the way, we stopped at Sugar Rush for a sample of their various candies and Golden Spoon for a mini-sized serving of frozen yogurt. By the time we reached Sushi Ono, we had covered a lot of the restaurants on the eastern end of Hillcrest and we were starting to feel full.

We met this little guy at Mamá Testa's. So cute. He's staring intently at a piece of taco that his person was waving at him.

With Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" as our soundtrack, we gobbled up the lovely pork medallion crostini with mango salsa on a bed of herbed greens from Eden. The outdoor lounge area would be perfect for a leisurely brunch with friends.

We walked westbound on University Ave. and stopped by Buonissimo 2. The interior of the restaurant was rather cute with tons of wine. Taste of Italy a few doors down was dishing out delicious lasagna.

The western end of University Ave. was busier and we were becoming pretty full, so we visited a handful of places. There were brownies and lemon custard cake from City Deli. Curried shrimp and dumplings from Saigon on Fifth. Chocolate chip cookies from Bread and Cie.

We reached Burger Lounge with their sliders and Chocolat with tastings of gelato. At that point, eating any more was not an option, so we headed home to curl up in the aforementioned fetal position.

The day was beautiful, the streets were full of enthusiastic people, the staff at each restaurant were friendly and welcoming, and the food was fabulous. The one downside is that we didn't pace ourselves well enough to try more places.

Thoughts on tackling Taste of Hillcrest

Use one fork- With tons of people moving in and out of the restaurants, disposable dishes and flatware is the most efficient way to keep people moving. Yet, I felt bad throwing away so many utensils from a single use. Keep the first fork and reuse it at each stop.

Bring water- It was a warm day and D. and I made the stupid mistake of not bringing water bottles with us. With all of the food, some alcohol, and the sunny afternoon, dehydration set in fast.

Pace yourself- Our friend from the beginning was right about dieting in preparation for the event. It's a LOT of food and being prepared to eat a lot over many restaurants allows one to make the most of their experience.

Start on the east- Starting on the eastern end of Hillcrest worked really well for us. Others had mentioned at the beginning that it was rather hectic on the western end. By the time we made our way west, many people were heading east. All in all, we didn't have to wait long for any one restaurant.

Many thanks to Marisa and McFarlane Promotions for the invitation and the tickets to Taste of Hillcrest. It was a great way to tour Hillcrest's eateries.

10 bites:

Foodcoma911 said...

Thanks for posting a review of the event. Nicely done and makes me regret once again that I wasn't able to go. Wish I could of been there. Next time for sure!

elizabeth_TMFP said...

I love these photos. They take me there so, so well but it's the layout of the photos that makes me happy. :) Absolutely lovely.

Marie said...

Yup, I'll be there next time, too! Thanks for dropping by!

Marie said...

Yes! Let me know if you decided to do it!

Marie said...

Isn't it great to be able to walk or take a short drive to it?

Marie said...

Life always does. ;)

Marie said...

Thanks, Elizabeth!! :)

Jennywenny said...

That sounds fun! I realized it was on as I set out for my delivery on Saturday afternoon, but life got in the way! Oh well, glad you were there to take it all in!

Averie Cooks said...

I live so incredibly close to those places that I could smell the food in my house :) I was there, too! It was hot, busy, and tons of fun!!!

Leanne A said...

Yum! Sounds like something I need to put on our calendar for next year.

10 bites