Bring your appetite to sample Western New York's food favorites
The Taste of Buffalo, presented by Tops Markets, celebrates 32 years of showcasing culinary delights from all over Western New York this summer. The country's largest annual two-day food festival, which draws approximately 450,0000 hungry food lovers each year, returns to Delaware Avenue and Niagara Square in downtown Buffalo Saturday, July 11 (11 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and Sunday, July 12 (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.).
The event's popular lawn-fete-style beer tent in Niagara Square, returning for a second year, will be open until 11 p.m. Saturday with live music. Festival organizers will feature 57 restaurants and food trucks, six New York wineries, Coca-Cola, Labatt and Flying Bison beverages.
"The Taste of Buffalo is one of Western New York's biggest summer events. After this long, cold winter, we're more excited than ever to bring an outdoor celebration to downtown Buffalo," said Laura Jacobs, 2015 Taste of Buffalo chair. "The event draws a mix of local visitors, Buffalo expats returning home to visit and even tourists looking for a foodie adventure."
The event highlights a diverse food scene that has emerged across Western New York. From food trucks to traditional brick and mortar restaurants, more than 250 different items are available this year, offering a melting pot of flavors.
New restaurants participating this year include 716 Food & Sport, Bar Louie, Oshun, Salvatore's Italian Gardens, Savor Restaurant at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, Schnitzel & Co., Taste of Siam, Templeton Landing, The King & I, Ulrich's 1868 Tavern and White Rabbit Frozen Yogurt. New food trucks this year are Cheesy Chick and J & L BBQ.
The complete list of restaurants, food trucks and wineries, along with 2015 menu items, is now available at www.tasteofbuffalo.com.
Restaurants and organizers keep costs for visitors in mind as well, with no single food item costing more than $4.
"We understand the importance of offering affordable options to our guests," Jacobs said. "Each restaurant offers a smaller, taste-sized portion of one of its signature items for just $2. This allows someone attending the event to sample 10 different restaurants and only spend $20."
Tops is back as the Taste of Buffalo's presenting sponsor. Plan ahead and take advantage of the family freebie: Buy a $50 presale food ticket voucher at any participating Tops Markets and get four free nonalcoholic beverages when you redeem it at the event for tickets at any ticket tent. Presale food ticket vouchers also are sold in $10 certificates and are on sale now through July 12 right at the register at participating Tops Markets. At the Taste, food tickets are sold in $5 increments at any of the four ticket tents during the festival July 11 and 12. Cash, Visa and MasterCard accepted.
Pick up a festival guide before the Taste at all Erie County and Niagara County Tops locations in July. The guide contains valuable coupons, a complete listing of restaurants, menu items and sponsors and the event map. It's also free to download at www.tasteofbuffalo.com and at ticket tents at the Taste.
"The Taste of Buffalo has become a Western New York tradition, and Tops is proud to be a part of the excitement surrounding the event," said Frank Curci, president and CEO of Tops Markets.
New this year, Independent Health's "Healthy Options" is sponsoring a free tray to help festivalgoers easily carry and enjoy their food. Pick one up at one of two Independent Health tents located near the Chippewa and Court streets ticket tents while they last.
For the ninth year, all participating restaurants are required to offer a healthy menu item as part of the Taste and Independent Health Foundation's "Healthy Options" program. These items are lower in fat, cholesterol and sodium. The Taste was the first food festival in the country to introduce a healthy requirement.
Get out of the sun, people-watch and enjoy your food comfortably at a cocktail table under one of 10 shade spaces presented by New Era Cap located around the festival.
Walk through the inflatable chef arch to the Taste's culinary stage located inside the New Era Cap parking lot on Delaware Avenue. Throughout the weekend, it features food and drink demonstrations hosted by Buffalo's finest chefs under a shady tent.
Rocker/chef Johnny Ciao kicks things off at noon Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday preparing one of his signature dishes while he performs on harmonica and shares never-before-heard stories of hanging out with the "who's who" celebs of the showbiz world.
Saturday's schedule features a kid's sundae-building competition sponsored by Breyers Ice Cream and Smucker's Toppings at 3 p.m. Pint-sized sous-chefs will compete to create the best ice cream sundae with the help of real chefs. On Sunday, a kid's pancake competition with samples for the audience will open the stage. Check out www.tasteofbuffalo.com for a demonstration schedule.
Additional activities for children take place in the "Taste of Fun KidZone" in Niagara Square. Enjoy the Rolly Pollies obstacle course and the Imagination Playground from Explore & More Children's Museum. Also check out hands-on activities from the Buffalo Science Museum, a giant coloring mural, a make-and-take project and free samples of new Hazelnut Smucker's Uncrustables, while they last.
For the 21-and-older crowd, a lawn-fete-style beer tent on Niagara East in Niagara Square sponsored by Lay's Stax will stay open until 11 p.m. Saturday. It features live music by Buffalo's best party rock bands, sponsored by Jack FM. Live country music acts take the stage Sunday, sponsored by WYRK. A complete schedule is available at www.tasteofbuffalo.com.
The AT&T DJ Music Stage is located on Huron and Delaware and solar powered by CIR Electric. It's a weekend-long dance party with Buffalo's favorite DJ, Spooky Stephen, along with special guests.
National and local sponsors will offer samples, demonstrations and interactive activities throughout the two-day event, including:
•Visit the Tops Markets tent located at Delaware Avenue and Niagara Square to enjoy marinated Smithfield Pork on a kabob with peppers and onions, Smithfield ham or bacon over a bed of spring mix with Newman's Own dressing, steamed clams, corn on the cob and signature strawberry shortcake. Spin the wheel for a chance to win prizes each day, with all donation proceeds benefiting Haven House. Located on the ring inside of Niagara Square, the Tops Pharmacy & Natural/Organic Tent offers free samples for the medicine cabinet.
•AT&T is the official wireless sponsor for Taste of Buffalo. Experience virtual reality, karaoke for prizes, charge your phone for free and receive a commemorative photo to share with your friends at the AT&T van located on the ring inside Niagara Square. Vote for the AT&T "Fan Favorite Food" by texting the item number of the foods you like best. Text to 86677 or use #tasteofbuffalo on Twitter and Instagram for your message to appear on two giant digital screens.
•Got your Northtown Automotive Companies platinum-plus keytag? You've got a seat! Show off your platinum-plus keytag to receive exclusive, members-only perks. Need a place to relax? Come sit under the Northtown Automotive tent located on the ring inside Niagara Square.
All Northtown Automotive customers are invited to exclusive access to seating, refreshments and giveaways.
•Kwik Fill presents the 2015 Kwik Fill "Driving America" sweepstakes. Enter to win one of 10 prizes, including a 2015 Dodge Challenger RT as well as instant prizes. Spin the Kwik Fill prize wheel where everyone wins. It's all free at the Kwik Fill display on Niagara Square next to City Hall.
•Stop by the Dentyne truck for a free gum sample and to experience 40 minutes of fresher breath. #FollowFood with Dentyne.
•The Ford Experience Tour offers a Ford "Ride & Drive." Stop by the Ford display in Niagara Square and register for your chance to win a Ford vehicle of your choice, valued up to $30,000, as well as other prizes such as a customized T-shirt. Test drive a Ford vehicle to receive $5 in free Taste of Buffalo food tickets
•Visit the Cupcake Vineyards truck on the ring inside Niagara Square and try a sample (or two!). And put your wine knowledge to the test for a chance to win prizes. If you caption all your event posts on Instagram and Twitter using #treattoday and #TasteofBuffalo, they'll have a custom print waiting for you. (Open to those ages 21 and up.)
•#RefreshYourself at the Lipton Tea Bar and Simple Skincare Wipes Try Bar located on the inside of Niagara Square. Try a taste of Lipton Lemon Tea and get a free Tea Stix sample. Create an animated GIF to share socially with your friends and leave with a custom print. Freshen up with Simple Skincare Wipes at the Mirror Bar.
•The AT&T DJ Music Stage is solar-powered by CIR Electric. Stop by the CIR Electric tent at Delaware and Huron to learn how to go solar. CIR is supplying the electrical distribution system for the Taste of Buffalo.
"The Taste of Buffalo is one of our city's premier outdoor food festivals showcasing the diversity of Buffalo's food options and people," City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said. "This festival is about food and it also celebrates the continued momentum underway in Buffalo. This is a great time to live in our city, with over $5 billion in new economic development underway that's resulting in even more investment and job growth.
"I thank the Taste of Buffalo, the largest two-day food festival in the nation, and its many sponsors and partners for their continued commitment to this event, which lifts our city by drawing thousands of residents and visitors annually to Buffalo's revitalized downtown."
Check out www.tasteofbuffalo.com for a complete listing of Taste restaurants, menu items, the site map and entertainment schedule.
The Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops is the nation's largest two-day food festival, attracting more than 450,000 people to Buffalo. The not-for-profit event, celebrating 32 years in 2015, has more than 1,000 volunteers. More than $275,000 has been raised at the festival for local charities. In addition, five $1,000 scholarships are presented annually to local high school seniors pursuing a culinary or hospitality-related degree.
There is no admission fee. For more information, visit www.tasteofbuffalo.com.