When I moved to Charlotte last year, as a foodie this event was high up on my list on things I must attend. I didn't really know what to expect, so I went in with no expectations at all and I was pleasantly surprised and the size and quality of the event. Once I got there, I did like the coin for food exchange system, as it allows the lines to move much faster than events using cash. Some of the similar events that I've been to in other cities have lines so long that by the time you order you didn't even want it anymore. I was actually surprised that despite the event being very full of thousands of people, I never had to wait too long for what I wanted. This made the overall experience better. My only complaint would be to mother nature, as boyyyy was it H-O-T! Despite the heat, below are a few of my favorite items from the event.
Lamb Meatball Sub - Cafe Siena
The Lamb Meatballs at Cafe Siena were great. I've always been a fan of lamb, so this was definitely only my list of items to try. The bread on the sandwich was fresh and the sauce had the perfect amount of acidity to balance the dish. The meatballs themselves had great flavor and I really liked that they didn't do to much on the sandwich so the meatballs were able to truly be the star of the dish. I had never tried Cafe Siena before so they gained a fan. I'll be visiting the restaurant for this dish.
Crab Cake Slider - McCormick & Schmicks
I'll get right to the point here. This was totally my favorite "taste" of Charlotte. Even though McCormick & Schmicks isn't necessarily only limited to Charlotte, it was definitely a treat. I am a bit biased as an avid crab cake lover, but this one definitely hit the spot. I almost went back for another until I realized I probably shouldn't just fill myself up on crab cakes with the day just starting! The flavors were amazing and it was cooked just right, despite this being a large event with tons of people.
Bacon Wrapped Filet - Brazz Carvery
Bacon + Steak? Yes it is as GREAT as it sounds. For the carnivores at the event, this was like a little bite of heaven. Paired with a dab of the Brazz sauce, this quickly jumped to one of my favorite dishes of the event. The steak was tender and juicy, and the saltiness of the bacon add a nice touch.
Shrimp - Mr3s Crabpot
I just had to post the picture of this one, and even the picture does not do the seasoning and flavor on the shrimp here justice. Whatever Mr. 3 is putting on these shrimp, I need a jar of. This restaurant was on my list to visit before the event, but I had not made it there yet so I jumped at the opportunity to try them here. After each wonderful bite, I wanted to just go up and shake Mr. 3's hand. The shrimp were definitely towards the top of the dishes I tried, and the restaurant will be getting a visit from me very....very soon.
All in all i really enjoyed this event, despite the heat. It was great seeing people have a great time watching the shows, sampling items, and playing games all throughout. There was even MAGIC! Before we end here though, I definitely have a few pro-tips for you for next year:
Stick to going either early morning or later in the evening to avoid the heat. Stay hydrated
Sundays they appear to give away the most stuff
Bring a tote bag to carry all of the free stuff you may grab
Get the seafood/messy items last(no one wants their hands smelling like shrimp the whole day)
Just go ahead and get the $20 coin purchase. Thank me later
See you next year Taste Of Charlotte!