What better than a conglomerate of Cincinnati’s hottest eats all consolidated within the confines of Cincinnati’s hottest park? Taste of OTR exemplified all of the above as such treats as Eli’s BBQ, Kaze, Streetpops, Lavomatic, and a plethora of food trucks graced the grounds and perimeter of Washington Park last Saturday.
- The Attendees: There were pretty many people when we got there at 11am. Unfortunately, a lot of the booths were ill-prepared for the early crowd, but by 11:15–30 I’d say they were pretty much all up and ready. By noon, the place was really hopping with all walks of life (including a lot of puppy dogs).
- The Foodstuff: The food was outstanding and, aside from the Pork Buns at Kaze, I tried all new fare. I ordered the Washington Park sandwich (citrus and ginger marinated chicken with pepperjack cheese, applewood smoke bacon, and Cajun mayo on challah), while Friend 1 and Friend 2 opted for the OTR Club (goetta, pepperjack cheese, applewood smoked bacon, Cajun mayo, and a fried egg on challah)—both from Urban Grill food truck; Churro- and Junk in the Trunk-flavored gelato from Dojo Gelato; a bite of a pulled pork sandwich from Eli’s BBQ; Pork Bun from Kaze; and a blackberry honey Streetpop.
- The Best: My favorite dishes were the Churro-flavored gelato and Pork Buns from Kaze. While I’d had the latter, it truly was amazing and I have a feeling it’ll never disappoint.
- The Feat of Note: I opted for Urban Grill in lieu of Café de Wheels. The Wheelsburger is one of my all-time favorite burgers but, because I’d never had the former, I decided to try it. Guys, I think I’m growing up. Sorry Café de Wheels: next time I see you, I will do my part to make up for my negligence.
- The Noticeable Absences: Abigail Street, A Tavola, Bakersfield, and Senate. Maybe these delicacies will tag along in future years (assuming this was the start of a wonderful tradition). I can see how choosing a dish to be able to make on the move isn’t easy, but a Taste of OTR with Senate poutine would probably be the greatest event in the history of ever, am I right? Don’t get it twisted, though. Despite those absences, the vendors in attendance were outstanding.
- The Ambience: There was plenty of space for the crowds that were surely going to make the trip to Washington Park for the occasion, while bands serenaded the festival’s patrons from the stage, and the fountains served as additional entertainment for kids. All coupled with Music Hall as the backdrop, I’m not sure there is a better food festival; at least as far as atmosphere goes.
- The Shocker: I tried BBQ! I don’t typically like barbeque sauce but, because Eli’s is an institution in this great city, I felt it necessary to at least try it. I didn’t love it, of course, but I didn’t hate it either.
- The Rest: Taste of OTR was sponsored by Tender Mercies, so the cause was fantastic. Parking proved to not be an issue either, as there were plenty of spaces when I arrived at 11am.
Wonderful food, live music, and friends; all at Cincinnati’s hottest park. If Taste of OTR doesn’t become an annual tradition, something isn’t right.
Overall grade: A+ [out of a possible A+]