From Goettafest to the Inland Seafood Fest, every weekend of the summer seems to be marked with a culinary festival. Newest to the repertoire is Taste of OTR, highlighting bars, restaurants, and food trucks in Over The Rhine. The first annual Taste, which took place all day on Saturday, got off to a rocky start. Although the festival began at 11:00AM, half of the vendors were absent or didn't set up until well after noon. Fortunately, things were in full swing by evening, with eateries slinging food left and right to a massive crowd at Washington Park. An estimated 4,000 people were in attendance. At the peak of the night, most found themselves queuing with a 25-minute wait at each tent. Patrons eventually wiped out all of the food from the majority of vendors.

Overlooking Washington Park the morning of Taste of OTR

Cooking up pork bun sliders at Kaze

I missed out on sampling from the no-show vendors, but my tried-and-true favorites were there to satiate hunger: Streetpops, Eli's BBQ, Kaze, Lavomatic, Urban Grill Food Truck, plus a few more. Kaze was serving up their famous pork bun sliders, while neighboring Lavomatic dished out Korean beef tacos and vegetarian sloppy joes. Competing BBQ vendors Eli's and Urban Grill had two of the city's best pulled pork sandwiches up for grabs. My favorite OTR Taste was the Ohio Sweet Corn popsicle from Streetpops: a cream-based pop with a hint of creamed corn flavoring. Sounds strange, but it was oh-so-tasty. They also had several tamer fruit-based flavors.

Beef tacos with kimchi from Lavomatic

Despite the hiccups, Taste of OTR was an astounding success. Over $50,000 was raised to benefit the event coordinator, Tender Mercies, a non-profit which aides the disabled homeless population. The vibrant and lively atmosphere of the new Over The Rhine was in full swing, a testament to the vision of making Cincinnati a safe community that works together to make it an attractive place for visitors.