2014 Taste of Tremont

June 24, 2014
Article - Taste of Tremont

10 Tips to Experiencing The 2014 Taste of Tremont Cleveland Neighborhood Food Festival

If you consider yourself a foodie, a decent home cook or someone who just likes to eat, hold your calendar for the Taste of Tremont on Sunday, July 20 from 12-8pm.

Professor Avenue, which runs through the center of this Cleveland neighborhood, is shut down and opened to pedestrian traffic. Then, the eateries, pubs and businesses throughout the neighborhood take over the landscape with dozens of booths.

At its core, this event is a neighborhood food festival (admission is free). But, what many don't know is that Tremont acts as ground zero to Cleveland's burgeoning culinary scene.

The grit, charm and authenticity of the neighborhood - occupied by everyone from Polish immigrant grandmas to twenty-something hipster artists - sets itself apart from...well...anywhere else in the world. So, learn a little more about the festival and use these tips to plan your visit.

1. Come HUNGRY!

Enter Professor Avenue in Tremont with an empty stomach - no joke.

The food booths are manned by a Tremont-based (or affiliated) restaurants and pubs selling sample-size portions of menu items, specialties and old-school favorites. Most menu items typically range from about $3 - $10.

To be clear, though, this isn't your run-of-the-mill cuisine. The amazing food coming out of these eateries is driven not only by the creativity of local chefs and proprietors, but by the many ethnic groups who've bestowed their culture (and food) onto Cleveland.

You'll come face-to-mouth with offerings ranging from the perfectly buttered Polish pierogi at Sokolowski's University Inn to the chili-hot rice noodle dishes at TY FUN Thai Bistro.

Try the savory dishes, sweet treats and homemade bakery items by Chef Heather Haviland at Lucky's Café. Or, take in the ethnically infused and out-of-this-world Asian fare from BAC Asian Bistro. Other favorites include the rosemary mac & cheese typically offered at celeb chef Michael Symon's Lolita and beautifully prepared sushi from Ginko.

2. Map out your live music experience

A festival in one of the artsiest neighborhoods in Cleveland wouldn't be complete without local music.

At the Beer & Wine Garden Stage on the north end of Professor Avenue, festivalgoers can sit back and relax with some drinks in the beer garden while listening to featured artist SLAP jazz trio, Old Boy rock-folk band and Big Ship.

The Tremont Farmers Market Stage, located at the south end of Professor Avenue, will play host to a variety of folk bands and singer/songwriters.

And, then there's the "pocket parties" at the restaurants and establishments along Professor Avenue. Places like Edison's Pub and the Treehouse host a day of live music on their patios and parking lots (note: some of them charge a small entrance fee).

One such party that seems to be fixture at Taste of Tremont year after year is the bash put on by Restaurant DANTE. It's an all-out party with tons of live music, dancing, eating, drinking and even a dunk booth. Pretty wild for an upscale restaurant.

3. Plan to have a few drinks

No doubt, the best complement to great food is a tasty adult beverage. The Taste of Tremont offers the Beer & Wine Garden located at the north end of Professor Avenue between Literary Road and West 10th Street. Listen to live music as you enjoy beer ($5) and wine ($4).

In addition to the festival beer garden, many folks enjoy grabbing a drink at one of the dozens of Tremont restaurants and pubs.

Last year, Press Wine Bar and Barrio put on one heck of a party. Under a huge tent, festivalgoers could enjoy this pocket party's wide selection of wine, beer and cocktails along with their very own lineup of live music and entertainment. Stay tuned for their highly anticipated offerings this year.

But, of course, if you plan on having a few drinks, make sure to drink responsibly, designate a driver and...

4. Evaluate your transportation options

While there's street parking available throughout Tremont, as well as at various schools and churches (typically with a cash fee), consider traveling sans vehicle.

During the Taste of Tremont, RTA will be doubling its bus service through the neighborhood. So, hop aboard the #81 bus and get there for about $2.25. Plan your route here.

For avid cyclists - and Tremont is a great neighborhood for biking - utilize the secure bike parking within the festival's footprint.

Or, use the on-demand minicab service app Uber, which recently started servicing the Cleveland area.

Anyway you do it, map out your directions now.

5. Plot an art and shop hop

Before Tremont became a Mecca for food, it got its start from the multitude of artists and art galleries making the neighborhood home. So, take advantage and create your own art hop with this list of locations.

And, from independent book stores to cool coffee shops, Tremont has a bevy of locally owned boutiques, shops and stores. Head over to some of these participating independent stores to get a good dose of local retail therapy:

6. Make a day of it

While the Taste of Tremont runs from noon to 8pm, many of the neighborhood establishments offer daylong food and drink specials. So, we really think you should make a day of it.

Before the event, get in touch with Professor Avenue restaurants and bars, many of which host exclusive parties before, during and after the big event.

In previous years, many festivalgoers raved about the party happening at Fahrenheit on Professor Avenue. Chef Rocco Whalen, a mainstay of the Tremont neighborhood, dished out his famous "Cleveland Nachos" (homemade potato chips with goat cheese fondue) outside, while guests inside and on the patio enjoyed his homemade sangria and tons of music.

Or, stroll on over to Prosperity Social Club near Lincoln Park. The kitsch and super cool music club, bar and restaurant will offer Old World fare from noon to midnight with polka music on accordion all day. It promises to be one heck of a daylong party.

Seriously, the Taste of Tremont is really an all-day affair. Pace yourself accordingly.

7. Carry cash

While admission to the Taste of Tremont is free, you do have to pay to eat. Most restaurants will serve sample portions for less than $10. But - let's be honest here - you're going to want to eat more than just one sample (see tip #1).

Nearly all the food booths will accept cash only. So while the festival will have a few on-site ATM machines, it just makes sense to carry cash.

8. Bring a bottle of water

Of course, beverages are sold at most food booths throughout the festival. But, consider making your Taste of Tremont experience that much easier by carrying your own bottle of water.

9. Wear sunscreen and lightweight clothes

Previous festivals have proven that this July afternoon can get pretty hot and humid.  You'll also be doing a lot of walking and eating. 

All that being said, slather on the SPF and wear lightweight clothing. For optimal comfort, may we also suggest a pair of stretchy pants, because, much like what happens on Thanksgiving Day, you're going to do some serious eating.

10. Bring a reusable grocery bag

The Tremont Farmers Market vendors (who'll be situated on the south end of Professor Avenue) will be selling their fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies.

Consider this the best vacation souvenir of all time.

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