On Sunday afternoon, the annual Taste of Ann Arbor festival brought live music and over 30 local restaurants serving an array of entrees, drinks and desserts to South Main Street.
Restaurants, like Gratzi, Palio and Aventura, had tents set up with a couple of signature plates available for patrons to sample. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., unique Indian, Italian and Spanish cuisines were readily made for each hungry passerby.
The six-hour event provided an opportunity for residents from all over Michigan to taste a variety of local restaurants for a much lower price. Community member Vince Pope said the wide range of selections is part of what makes the festival so enjoyable.
“It’s my first time here, and I just tried octopus for the first time,” Pope said. “That’s what I like about it. You get to try different things that you would normally never try.”
Unlike Pope, Cassie McAllister from Troy has attended the festival before.
“I love that I can try a lot of different places that I normally would not go for a full dinner, but I can get a little sampling, so I can see if it’s a place I want to go to in the future,” McAllister said. “I also just love getting a ton of different foods at once rather than one thing.”
In addition, there were options for those with dietary restrictions. Karissa Urban, Eastern Michigan University student, was surprised by the variety of food.
“There are a lot more vegan options than I expected, so that’s cool,” Urban said.
Jessie Kinney, the head baker of French bakery Le Bon Macaron, said it was Le Bon’s second year participating in the event. Kinney said she returned to Taste of Ann Arbor because it is a great way to meet more potential customers and work alongside other Ann Arbor businesses.
“It’s just good to get exposure for people that might not be walking around Fourth Street or don’t know as much about macarons,” Kinney said. “Hopefully more people know about us now.”
Kinesiology sophomore Eliya Gelb said the event introduced her to local businesses she had not known about previously.
“It’s really nice you get too see all of these places here,” Gelb said. “I didn’t know half of these restaurants existed.”
With food priced between $1 and $4, Engineering junior Lindsay Llende said the price allowed her to taste dishes from multiple restaurants.
“I could never afford it before,” Llende said. “So, this is a great way to try multiple places.”
Like Llende, McAllister also pointed out she noticed in the last few years the price has gone down on most items. This year, she observed there were more $1 options than before.
Some attendees criticized the lines and packed sidewalks of Main Street. Llende, however, said there were ways to manage dealing with the long waits.
“There is a lot of good food, but there are really long lines, so the move is to get a plate and eat it in line,” Llende said.
McAllister pointed out that, despite her enjoyment of the festival each year, it produces a lot of waste.
“I do wish the event created a little less trash,” McAllister said. “I’m not really sure what they could do to change that, but maybe more paper-based plates rather than plastic.”
Many attendees said Taste of Ann Arbor is a way to bring to cmmunity together. Jill Jividen, director of research development at the Michigan Office of Research, said she had a positive experience and appreciated the large turnout.
“I think the event is fantastic,” Jividen said. “It’s great seeing everybody out for it on such a beautiful day.”