What does it take to plan an event with 50,000 attendees and dozens of restaurants, vendors and entertainers?
For the four-person team behind Taste of Arlington, planning this year’s event started the day after last year’s event.
“It’s a year-long project,” said Tina Leone, CEO of the Ballston Business Improvement District, which organizes the annual event. “It starts off like a tsunami, very calm, then it explodes. We’re a four person team and we have many other projects going on. The stress level definitely rises, but we always pull it off, every year.”
“You immediately start to renew the sponsors,” Catherine Roper, the BID’s Chief Marketing Officer, said of the early planning. “When planning something of this magnitude you have to work smart. So we form a lot of strategic alliances, partnerships with folks.”
Those partnerships — with organizations from TV and radio stations to local professional sports teams to this very website — have helped the event to grow from around 10,000 attendees when the BID took over its planning to the nearly 50,000 attendees expected this year.
“It’s one thing to plan something and execute it well but you need the people to come,” said Roper.
This year the BID is also partnering with the Arlington Food Assistance Center. AFAC is helping the BID recruit some 450 volunteers for the event. In return the BID has committed to donating at least $25,000 in proceeds from Taste of Arlington to AFAC.
In years past, the setup on Wilson Blvd took place from midnight to 6 a.m. on the morning of the event. With the growth of the event — it now takes place up over several blocks — the BID decided to start the setup on Wilson Blvd the day before.
“This year we get to set up on Saturday and get the tents up in the daylight,” said Roper. “When you’re dealing with something outside, you have to bring everything to the streets [and] you have to make sure you have energy to make everyone happy.”
The expanded layout means that long food lines and jam-packed streets are mostly a thing of the past.
“We expanded the footprint and fortunately [attendees] don’t all come at one time, it’s over seven hours,” said Leone. “It never feels overcrowded, we’ve made improvements to the layout of restaurants. You can now buy tickets online so we don’t have to worry about” long ticket lines anymore.
The day of the event, hundred of volunteers help to make the event happen while the core team makes sure everything runs smoothly.
“We train our volunteers very well, they know what they’re going to be doing that day, they know the map,” said Roper. “We couldn’t do this without our volunteers. It’s crazy, there’s a lot of energy, but it’s all for a good cause.”
Taste of Arlington is taking place this Sunday, May 15 from noon to 7 p.m. This year it will feature a 400-foot “street pub” plus an expanded, family-friendly KidZone and a lineup of eight bands on two stages. Tickets are still available online.
Don’t miss ARLnow.com’s “tasting table” with our friends Sarah Fraser and Samy K, amid the main restaurant row at Taste. See the four dishes we selected for the tasting table here, here, here and here.
ARLnow is partnering with Taste of Arlington to highlight some of the festival’s most mouth-watering dishes this year.
If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, get them online and save $5 over the price at the event itself, which is taking place starting at noon on Sunday. (Sunday’s forecast: mild and dry.)
Yesterday we stopped by our fourth and final “tasting table” selection, Ballston’s Pepita Cantina (4000 Wilson Blvd), to get a preview of the suckling pig taco they’re bringing to Taste of Arlington.
Here’s what Pepita’s manager, Chris Boitel, had to say about the dish.
This taco is served on a corn tortilla, with an apple purée, roasted pork, topped with a habanero mustard, finished with a diced apple and pickled mustard seeds salad. This dish is sweet, spicy, and savory. All though pork can feel like a heavy or hearty choice, our pig taco is light and refreshing.
This dish debuted as a special for our Cinco De Mayo party on May 5th. We decided that it was so good we would introduce it at the Taste of Arlington. Executive Chef Juan Rivera will be serving this on our upcoming summer menu.
We love the taste of Arlington for its competitive nature as well and the positive effect it has on the community. Restaurants take food seriously in Arlington and so do we!
ARLnow is partnering with Taste of Arlington to preview some of the festival’s tastiest dishes this year.
Epic Smokehouse in Pentagon City will be bringing some mouth-watering barbecue ribs to the event, which is taking place starting at noon Sunday, on Wilson Blvd near Ballston Common Mall. (Tickets are still available online.)
We asked Epic’s Assistant General Manager, Chris Naylor, about it.
ARLnow: First, tell us about the dish you’re bringing. How is it prepared?
Naylor: Smoked BBQ Ribs with Applewine BBQ sauce and a pinch of slaw. We dry rub our ribs and smoke them for six hours, then char them on the grill and brush them with the BBQ sauce.
How does it taste?
They are meaty, smokey, tangy, and just a tad sweet.
Why did you select it? How does it reflect your restaurant overall?
Who doesn’t love ribs? They’re delicious. Our ribs are our take on BBQ, not typical — which is pretty much us in a nutshell.
What’s your favorite thing about participating in Taste of Arlington?
We love to see the crowd and their excitement about trying our food, and the bragging rights when our tent’s crowd is larger than most.
ARLnow.com is partnering with Taste of Arlington this year to highlight some of the dishes we’re most excited about.
Together with Sarah Fraser and Samy K., we’ve curated four Taste of Arlington restaurants and dishes to include in our “tasting table.” Today, we’re highlighting the Spicy Salmon Belly Tartare from Ballston’s own Mussel Bar & Grille (800 N. Glebe Road).
Charles Vogt, Mussel Bar’s Chef De Cuisine, said he selected the dish because it’s representative of Mussel Bar’s commitment to fresh, high-quality seafood. What’s in it?
“Finely diced raw salmon belly tossed with Togarashi [blend of Japanese chili peppers], olive oil, elderflower and lime zest,” he said. “It’s then topped with compressed cucumber, dollops of yuzu yogurt on top of a house made lavash.”
How does it taste?
“The ‘fatty’ salmon belly seasoned with the spicy togarashi balances out beautifully with the crisp clean cucumber flavor and yuzu yogurt cutting through the richness of the salmon,” he said. “Each bite leaving you wanting for another.”
“It’s a beautiful raw dish,” Vogt added. “We want people to know we serve the best and freshest seafood in town.”
It will be Vogt’s first time at Taste of Arlington, but he’s hoping it’s a memorable experience for those stopping by his booth and for himself.
“I’m looking forward to being out there and meeting some potential new and current guests, as well as talking with other restaurant staff and just seeing the talent we have over here in Arlington,” he said.
Taste of Arlington is less than a week away.
The annual festival is bringing dozens of local restaurants — and a 400-foot “street pub” — to Wilson Blvd, near Ballston Common Mall, from noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are still available online.
This year, ARLnow.com is partnering with Taste of Arlington to highlight four especially tasty dishes being offered at the event. Together with Sarah Fraser and Samy K., we’ll have our own “tasting table” in the middle of the action, around the four Arlington-based restaurants that are serving the dishes our mouths are watering over: Texas Jack’s Barbecue, Epic Smokehouse, Pepita Cantina and Mussel Bar.
ARLnow: First, tell us about the dish you’re bringing. What is it?
Texas Jack’s: We are bring Allen Bros. Beef Brisket and Coleslaw. Our beef is antibiotic-free, hormone-free, steroid-free and cage-free and of course, our produce is always fresh.
Why did you select it?
We chose to go with Brisket and Coleslaw because this is an ideal barbecue meal. It is a traditional meat and that has been perfected overtime. Our brisket is what barbecue is meant to be.
How is it prepared?
Our brisket is prepared with salt and pepper at 210 degrees and smoked for 12-14 hours with red and white oak.
How does it taste?
Our brisket is so tender it will melt in your mouth before you know it. The smokey flavor is especially pronounced in the brisket.
What’s your favorite thing about participating in Taste of Arlington?
This is our first time, we are very excited to be a part of the Taste of Arlington and to be welcomed into the Arlington community.
Taste of Arlington will feature a mammoth “street pub” this year.
The 400-foot long portable bar travels the country, offering draft beer from Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery at various large events. Proceeds from the beer sales will be donated to charity, said a rep for the Ballston BID, which organizes the annual event.
“This partnership will not only take the beer garden to a whole new level, but will greatly increase Taste’s fundraising clout,” said Mollie Wagoner.” As a signature event of the Ballston BID’s new charitable arm, BallstonGives, they hope to outdo all past fundraising. The BID has already guaranteed a minimum $25,000 donation to Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) with a goal of raising much more.”
The event, held along Wilson Blvd in Ballston, features food from more than 50 restaurants and attracts some 40,000 people each year. The beer and wine sales area is consistently one of the most crowded sections of the festival.
This year’s Taste of Arlington is scheduled for May 15 from noon to 6 p.m.
Taste of Arlington Winners — The judges at Sunday’s Taste of Arlington event in Ballston selected four winners among the dozens of restaurants that participated. Il Forno won for Best Appetizers, Liberty Tavern won for Best Fast Casual, Water and Wall won for Best Fine Dining and Northside Social won for Best Dessert.
Real Estate Prices Rise — Real estate prices in Arlington continue to rise. The median home sale in Arlington between January and April was $545,000. That’s up 9 percent year-over-year. [InsideNova]
Clarendon Real Estate Was a Bargain in 1900 — Clarendon is full of nice restaurants, luxury condos and million dollar homes now, but in 1900 it was an emerging suburban community with vacant land for sale. How much were plots of land going for? Between $90 and $140. [Ghosts of DC]
Presidential Candidate in Arlington Today — Mark Everson, a former IRS commissioner and a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, will speak and greet supporters at a $100-a-head reception in Courthouse today. The event is being held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Courthaus Social, 2300 Clarendon Blvd. [Mark Everson for President]
APS Educator Named Top Hispanic Teacher — Arlington Traditional School art teacher Veronica Perez has received the Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award. [InsideNova]
This year, Taste of Arlington will feature 49 restaurants and a beer and wine garden that’s bigger than ever. Booklets of tickets for tasting and drinking are on sale now.
Stop by the Ballston farmer’s market tomorrow evening, from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. at 901 N. Taylor Street, for a $25 packet of 10 tickets. If you purchase on the Ballston Connect mobile, app, a packet costs $30. Packets purchase online are $35 and packets purchased at the festival will be $40. Tickets to the VIP pavilion, with unlimited beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres provided by SER, cost $100 online, and $110 at the festival.
The festival will close down the streets of Ballston all day: Wilson Blvd from N. Glebe Road to Quincy Street and Stuart and Randolph streets from Wilson to 9th Street N.
In addition to the restaurant booths, beer and wine garden and VIP pavilion, there will be three stages for live music, a Kids Zone with games and face painting and the return of the World Pup Tournament, which costs $10 to enter one’s dog to participate.
The restaurants in attendance will compete for a “Best of the Best” food title in the following categories: Best Appetizer, Best Fast Casual Entrée, Best Fine Dining Entrée and Best Dessert. The judging will be held at 3:00 p.m. in the VIP pavilion and the winners will be announced at 4:00 p.m. on the main stage.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Arlington Food Assistance Center. The restaurants participating and competing are as follows:
- Westover Beer Garden
- Sehkraft Beer Garden
- Thunder Beast
- Tasty 6
- Naan Stop DC
- Pepita Cantina
- Water & Wall
- Rito Loco
- Postmodern Foods
- Curley’s BBQ
- Sweet Fix DC
- Bracket Room
- Orient Bowl
- Don Tito
- Sushi Rock
- Urban Bumpkin BBQ
- Ben’s Chili Bowl
- American Tap Room
- Dolce Sweets
- Pizza Vinoteca
- Koolzone Ice and Treats
- Mac’s Donuts
- Northside Social
- Lyon Hall
- Mussel Bar & Grille
- Liberty Tavern
- Commonwealth Joe
- Epic Smokehouse
- RedRocks Pizzeria
- The Melting Pot
- Which Wich
- The Front Page
- P.F. Chang’s
- Nando’s Peri-Peri
- La Tasca
- Il Forno
- World of Beer
- Fuego Cocina y Tequileria
- Kapnos Taverna
- Big Buns
- A-Town Bar and Grill
- Lebanese Taverna
File photo. Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
(Updated at 6:20 p.m.) The annual Taste of Arlington food festival in Ballston will be back for 2015 on Sunday, May 17.
Last year, the festival drew a record 40,000 attendees, according to its organizer, the Ballston Business Improvement District. This year, the BID hopes to surpass that mark, with new restaurants Pizza Vinoteca and Kapnos Taverna joining Taste of Arlington regulars P.F. Chang’s, Pete’s Apizza and Fuego Cocina y Tequileria.
All food and drinks can be tasted with the purchase of a ticket booklet, which costs $30 until May 1, when the price goes up to $35. Each booklet contains 10 tickets. Tickets to the VIP Pavilion, which includes unlimited beer, wine, champagne and appetizers, cost $75, and go up to $100 on May 1.
There will again be a KidZone and a Bark Park and World Pup Tournament, so families with pets and children can all have something to participate in. There will also be a Girls on the Run 5K race in the morning, before the main event, which runs from noon to 6:00 p.m.
The actual event is free for all to roam around Wilson Blvd and surrounding streets that will be closed to traffic for the afternoon.
File photo. Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) More than 40,000 attendees — a record — flooded the streets of Ballston Sunday afternoon for sunshine and lots of food and drink during Taste of Arlington, according to the event’s organizer.
Circa restaurant in Clarendon took home the day’s award for best appetizer with its Cobb lettuce wraps. The Green Spoon won the award for best entrée with its Kofte meatballs with tzatziki, spiced kale. and chickpeas. Kool Zone Ice & Treats took home the prize for best dessert.
The Ballston Business Improvement District, which organized the event, estimated that more than 25,000 ticket booklets were sold in advance. The tickets let attendees sample food from 46 restaurants, beer from a dozen breweries, and wine from Barefoot.
Festival-goers also got a chance to vote for the next restaurant that will be coming to Ballston as part of the Ballston Business Improvement District’s Restaurant Challenge. Eight chefs, competing for a year of free restaurant space in Ballston and a $275,000 interest-free loan, entered the competition as semifinalists.
Visitors voted for their favorite on their smartphones and Chef Victor Albisu and restaurateur Christina Campos were chosen as the winners. Albisu, who owns Del Campo in the District and Taco Bamba in Falls Church, served a variety of Mexican street-style food; Campos served Basque seafood stew. Albisu and Campos will compete head-to-head in June in a Top Chef-style cookoff to determine the winner of the Restaurant Challenge.
Disclosure: Ballston BID, Taste of Arlington’s organizer, is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
The annual event will be held from noon to 5:00 p.m. Packets of 10 food and beverage tickets for are still on sale for $35.
Responding to high demand in previous years, Taste of Arlington will have a larger beer and wine pavilion this year. Located on Wilson between N. Randolph and Quincy Streets, the pavilion is billed as having “seating and plenty of space to dance.”
Aside from eating and drinking, Taste of Arlington will feature a number of different activities and entertainment option.
Three bands well-known to many Arlington residents will be performing on the main stage: Jumpin’ Jupiter from noon to 1:00 p.m., Gonzo’s Nose from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m., and Burnt Sienna from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
A “KidZone” will feature a rock climbing wall, face-painting, carnival games, Washington Wizards and Capitals inflatable games, a teen band, a puppet show, a magic show and a dance performance. KidZone food, drink and game tickets are $20.
A “Bark Park” will provide a space for festival goers and their dogs, complete with pet supply vendors and a Corona beer station. For $10, dog owners can enter their pooch in a “World Pup tournament,” which features a 70-foot race track and a doggy-sized soccer goal.
Before the festival kicks off, organizers will be holding a Girls on the Run 5K race, described as “Northern Virginia’s most family friendly 5K.” A number of roads in the area will be closed from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. to accommodate the race.
There will be other traffic impacts in Ballston as a result of the festival. Wilson Blvd between N. Glebe Road and Quincy Street will be closed from midnight to 8:00 p.m. to accommodate the booths, as will N. Stuart Street between Wilson and 9th Street N. Parking will also be restricted in the area.
The full list of breweries and restaurants that will be serving at Taste of Arlington, after the jump. (more…)
The event, hosted by the Ballston Business Improvement District, will close down Wilson Blvd and part of N. Stuart Street to accommodate about 50 restaurant booths, two live music stages, a beer and wine garden, three golf putting holes and a rock climbing wall.
Among the restaurants being featured are Willow, the yet-to-open Kapnos, World of Beer, Big Buns, Pete’s Apizza, Circa and Red Rocks, among others. The restaurants will compete in competitions for best appetizer, best entrée and best dessert. The beer and wine garden will also feature national and local breweries like Port City in Alexandria, Devil’s Backbone, Flying Dog and Starr Hill, plus wine and sparkling wine from Barefoot.
The event will go from noon to 5:00 p.m., rain or shine. Tasting tickets can be bought online 10 for $30 before May 1, and 10 for $35 after that. Tickets for unlimited beer, wine and champagne, plus seats to watch the tasting up close can be had for $100, and $110 after May 1, in the VIP champagne tent. Starting April 23, Harris Teeter locations in Arlington will also be selling ticket packets at a discount.
Before the event, at 10:00 a.m., there will also be a 5k organized by Girls on the Run, open to runners of all ages.
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser. File photo
Police say the suspect, 19-year-old Chauncey Myers of D.C., grabbed a victim’s iPhone on N. Glebe Road in the Buckingham neighborhood, then took off in the direction of Ballston. The alleged crime happened around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, and the 22 officers who were providing security at the Taste of Arlington festival in Ballston were notified that the suspect was heading their way.
Numerous officers fanned out from the festival, and the suspect was arrested at the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Vermont Street, three blocks from the Ballston Metro station.
Myers was shirtless, out of breath and cursing at officers at the time of his apprehension, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. He was charged with robbery and “failure to ID.”
The officers working at Taste of Arlington were paid by festival organizers, Sternbeck said.
(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) Thousands flocked to Ballston Sunday afternoon for the 26th annual Taste of Arlington festival.
Lines to sample food at the more than 40 restaurant booths seemed generally shorter than in years past, perhaps helped by an effort to expand the footprint of the event in order to reduce congestion. Though cloudy weather and the closure of the Ballston Metro station might have played a role in keeping people away, Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone tells ARLnow.com that about 20,000 people attended — which would be a record.
The most tightly-packed crowds could be found in the beer and wine garden, where the over-21 set sampled various brews, ciders and wines. Leone says the beer and wine area will likely be expanded next year as a result.
Three awards were handed out to participating restaurants. Rustico (4075 Wilson Blvd) won for best appetizer, Willow (4301 Fairfax Drive) won for best entree, and Mac’s Donuts, a food cart, won for best dessert.
Disclosure: Taste of Arlington organizer Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Highest Percentage of Commuters in U.S. — At 76.6 percent of its total workforce, Arlington County has the highest percentage of commuters in the nation. Arlington is even ahead of D.C. (71 percent) and New York City (69.5 percent). Nearly 150,000 people commute into Arlington on a typical weekday, and most don’t pay any county taxes. [Governing]
Taste of Arlington Road Closures — A number of roads in Ballston, including a stretch of Wilson Blvd, will be closed for most of the day on Sunday for the annual Taste of Arlington festival. As a reminder, the Ballston and Virginia Square Metro stations will be closed throughout the weekend and additional shuttle buses will be provided for festival-goers at the East Falls Church and Clarendon Metro stations. [Arlington County]
Rosslyn Outdoor Movies Start Tonight — The annual Rosslyn outdoor summer film festival starts tonight. The theme of this year’s festival is “Summer School” — films that use high school as a backdrop. Tonight’s flick is the 1985 classic The Breakfast Club. This and every other Friday showing through Aug. 30 starts at dusk at Gateway Park. [Rosslyn BID]
Tight Inventory in Home Market — Arlington’s residential housing market is still afflicted by a dearth of inventory. There are more buyers in the market than there are homes to buy. [Sun Gazette]
Photo via @BallstonBID. Disclosure: Ballston BID and Rosslyn BID are ARLnow.com advertisers.