New guest experiences and 60 restaurants on site
The Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops is officially rocking and rolling, marking its 31st year showcasing local food and restaurants. The country's largest annual two-day food festival returns to Delaware Avenue and Niagara Square in downtown Buffalo Saturday, July 12, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, July 13, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This year's Taste showcases 60 restaurants, including 17 new eateries, food trucks, seven New York State wineries, Coca-Cola, Labatt and Flying Bison beverages.
"After three decades of offering 'fun by the forkful,' this year's Taste includes the addition of several new offerings to greatly enhance our visitors' experience," said Ann Hackett, 2014 chair. "From new shaded tents to a giant lawn-fete-style beer tent with live music, to the addition of 17 new restaurants and a new family freebie advance ticket sale promotion, there is plenty of fun and not enough weekend planned for this year. So whether you're an annual Taste-goer or have never been, this is the year to eat your way through downtown Buffalo!"
New restaurants participating this year include: Bambino Bar & Kitchen, BOSS, Ebenezer Ale House, J.D. Smokin Grill N Bar - Authentic BBQ, Joe's Deli, The Lodge, Martino's Meeting Place, Osteria 166, Panaro's Restaurant, Paula's Donuts, Sidelines Sports Bar and Grill, Snooty Fox, Spices of India, Sun Restaurant, TC Wheelers, and The Village Inn.
Buffalo's food trucks will also be a part of the event for the third straight summer with Frank's Gourmet Hot Dogs joining the list.
You won't leave hungry with more than 220 culinary specialties, ranging from Asian to barbecue to Italian to vegetarian to delectable desserts. All items are priced between $1 and $4, and are purchased with tickets, so pick your annual favorites or keep an eye out for the new and different.
Enjoy your food at a bistro table under one of 10 new "William Mattar Shade Zone" tents scattered throughout the festival. The new beer tent on Niagara East in Niagara Square will be open until 11 p.m. Saturday, featuring live music from Buffalo's best party bands on the Tops stage. Grab a cold Labatt or Flying Bison beer and dance to West of the Mark, Ultraviolet, Hit n Run and Cock Robin Saturday night. Sunday features Heard of Buffalo, Dave Constantino Band and The Strangers.
Tickets and cool, limited-edition "Ready to Rock the Taste" T-shirts will be on sale in the Niagara East beer tent.
Take advantage of the new "Family Freebie": Buy $50 in presale food ticket vouchers at Tops and get four free nonalcoholic beverages when you redeem them for tickets at any ticket tent at the Taste. Presale food ticket vouchers are sold in $10 certificates and are on sale now through July 13 right at the register at participating Tops Markets. Food tickets will also be available for purchase in $5 increments at any of the four ticket tents at the festival on July 12 and 13. And, while they last, get a free sturdy, recyclable tray to help you carry your food easily and enjoy it while sitting on the beautiful lawns all around the Taste.
"Tops has supported The Taste of Buffalo for more than 10 years, and we're thrilled to continue that longstanding tradition for the 2014 event as presenting sponsor," said Frank Curci, Tops' president and CEO. "The Taste of Buffalo has become one of the most prominent food festivals in the nation, and we are incredibly proud to be a part of that growth and success."
Pick up a festival guide before the Taste at all Erie and Niagara County Tops locations. The guide contains valuable coupons, a complete listing of sponsors, restaurants and menu items, the site map and contact information for all of the Taste restaurants. It's also available to download at tasteofbuffalo.com.
It's a weekend dance party with Buffalo DJ, Spooky Business, and special guests at the AT&T DJ Music Stage on Huron & Delaware. When you're done dancing, pick up a free sample of Nutella, while they last. Let loose and sing karaoke inside the Mohawk Street beer tent all weekend.
The Taste Culinary Stage is located under a cool tent in the New Era Cap parking lot and highlights the best in local culinary talent. Get up close and personal with the finest chefs, artisans and mixologists in Buffalo as you watch their cooking demos and competitions. Seating is free and first-come, first-served. Meet the popular Celery, Blue Cheese and Chicken Wing mascots from the Buffalo Bisons at the entrance of the Culinary Stage from noon until 2 p.m. Saturday.
National and local sponsors will offer samples, demonstrations and interactive activities throughout the two-day event, including:
•Visit the Tops Friendly Markets tent at Delaware Avenue and Niagara Square to enjoy signature pub burgers on fresh baked Costanzo's rolls. Tops also will serve up its own recipe fresh Italian sausage sandwich topped with peppers and onions, steamed clams and Hinerwadel's salt potatoes. Tops signature strawberry shortcake is back by popular demand. Spin the wheel for a chance to win great prizes each day. All donation proceeds will benefit St. Luke's Mission of Mercy.
•Stop by the Tops Pharmacy tent inside Niagara Square behind the big Tops tent, and donate a dollar and play the pharmacy "Plinko" game. Right next door, you can try free samples of natural, organic and specialty food available at Tops Friendly Markets.
•For the eighth year, the Taste is proud to be the one and only food festival in the country that requires all participating restaurants to offer a healthy menu item as part of the Independent Health Foundation's "Healthy Options" program. These items are lower in fat, cholesterol and sodium and are marked on the menu. If one of Independent Health Foundation's "RedShirt Spotters" sees you sampling a healthy option food item, you'll win a prize.
Catch Independent Health's "Juice it Up" demonstration on the culinary stage at noon Sunday.
•Taste of Fun KidZone presented by Rolly Pollies and sponsored by Smucker's Uncrustables and Go Go Squeez located on the grassy area in Niagara Square is a fun obstacle course for kids ages 12 and under and their parents. Test your child's balance, agility, hand-eye coordination and more. And be sure to color a brand-new, giant mural and pick up a sample of Go Go Squeez and Smucker's Uncrustables, while they last.
•AT&T's Fan Favorite Food Award gives guests a chance to text a vote for their favorite food item to 234567. And, AT&T's technology lets you share your experience for everyone to see on two giant digital screens by texting, tweeting and Instagraming to short code 32345. Be sure to visit the AT&T tent on Delaware near the Chippewa entrance to try the "It Can Wait" simulator and make the promise to never text and drive (#itcanwait). And new this year, AT&T's mobile marketing vehicle will be inside Niagara Square with the hottest new devices, charging stations, three TVs and Xbox.
•Got your Northtown Automotive Companies Platinum Plus key tag? You've got a seat. Northtown Platinum Plus members receive exclusive, members-only perks, and at the Taste, all Northtown Automotive customers have exclusive access to seating, refreshments and giveaways. Come sit with us under the Northtown Automotive tent inside Niagara Square, check out a new Fiat and win prizes.
•Sample America's favorite cereal brands when you visit "Post Foods' Sampling Tour" inside Niagara Square. Brand ambassadors will have a Post cereal sample for every taste and nutritional need to keep families happy and healthy.
•Visit the Kwik Fill booth next to City Hall to enter the "Kwik Fill Free Ride Sweepstakes." You could win one of 10 grand prizes including a 2014 Mustang GT. Spin the Kwik Fill prize wheel, too. Win a free ride from Kwik Fill.
•The "Big Bite Tour" inside Niagara Square is an interactive event featuring samples, games and more from Rolaids, Monk Fruit in the Raw, Club Crackers, Haribo, Evite and Cowboy Charcoal. Take the "Charcoal Challenge" with Cowboy Charcoal and get barbecue tips, free samples and coupons.
•Stop by the "Ford Experience Tour" display in its new location in Niagara Square near West Eagle to check out the latest lineup of vehicles Ford is offering up. Register for a chance to win a new vehicle, play games to win cash and prizes, customize your own T-shirt and be entered to win a dream vacation.
•Rex Goliath Wine will offer complimentary wine samples and swag to all attendees (ages 21 and up) inside the beer tent located in front of the Federal courthouse.
•Get free Milk-Bone Dental Chews and other Milk-Bone giveaways, while they last, and meet adorable adoptable dogs from Buffalo Pug and Small Breed Rescue on Saturday and Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue on Sunday at the Milk-Bone tent by City Hall.
•Stop by the CIR Electric tent in Niagara Square to learn how you can go solar. CIR offers home and business owners turnkey solar electric solutions. CIR is proudly supplying the electrical distribution system for this year's Taste.
•See for yourself what American ingenuity can do. Test-drive the new Jeep Cherokee, experience the technology of the Dodge Dart, find out why the Ram 1500 is the Motor Trend 2014 Truck of the Year and first back-to-back champion, see how roomy the 4-door Fiat 500L really is, or test drive the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200 in the parking lot on Delaware Avenue across the street from the culinary stage.
•Visit New Era Cap's Buffalo flagship store at 160 Delaware Ave., for exclusive Taste products. A portion of the proceeds benefits Roswell Park.
Other sponsors include: Berocca, Chrysler, Coca-Cola Buffalo, Dove Chocolates, Hamburg Gaming, NYS Troopers, Smucker's Toppings, Newman's Own, Nutella and Weber's Sauces.
The City of Buffalo has been a strong supporter of the Taste since it began in 1984. Again this year, the Taste is partnering with the city to feature green and yellow recycling totes throughout the event. Join the green side and recycle water and pop bottles and the new recyclable food trays during the event. Stop by to meet Buffalo Police safety officers and sit inside a real police car in Niagara Square.
Don't forget: If you're feeling beat from the heat, stop by and keep cool with Buffalo Fire's misting fans and get safety tips at Perkins Street by City Hall.
"We're fortunate when it comes to food in Buffalo, and the annual Taste of Buffalo is one of our city's signature events that showcases the many awesome restaurants and entertainers in our community," said Mayor Byron W. Brown. "I thank Tops for its continued support of this event, the nation's largest two-day food festival, that draws over 450,000 food lovers to downtown Buffalo, while offering all sorts of family fun. This is an exciting time in Buffalo, with over $4.4 billion in new economic development activity underway, and The Taste of Buffalo adds to the growing momentum."
For a complete listing of participating Taste restaurants and menu items and for a complete entertainment schedule and additional details, visit tasteofbuffalo.com.
The Taste is a not-for-profit organization with more than 1,000 volunteers helping to put on the annual event. More than $250,000 has been raised at the festival for local charities in addition to awarding five $1,000 scholarships annually to local high school seniors pursuing a culinary or hospitality-related degree. For more information, visit the Taste online, on Facebook or Twitter.