Have you ever shown up in a new city and had no idea where to eat? You check out the local food blogs, Yelp and guidebooks, but you still can’t make up your mind. This happened to me when I arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia for the first time. Thankfully, the Williamsburg Taste Festival was kicking off that night. It was the perfect opportunity to sample a few different restaurants in one spot. It was great! I didn’t have to choose; I just dove in and sampled what the Williamsburg food scene had to offer.
Not everyone went on a field trip to Williamsburg
Unlike most school kids, I never went to Williamsburg on a class trip. Growing up in Philadelphia, we had plenty of colonial history. We went up to New York for day trips. Our inner-city public schools never did overnights, except a senior trip to the Poconos, and even that was a stretch for most parents’ pocketbooks.
Visiting Williamsburg for the first time, I didn’t think I’d have food on the brain, but like many of you, I do think with my stomach first. After all, my blood sugar drops and mama has to get fed! No one wants to be near a hungry mother (they call us mama bears for more than one reason folks).
Four Days of Eating at the Williamsburg Taste Festival
Thursday’s Kick Off
The Williamsburg Taste Festival kicked off with an opening reception for All Event pass holders that included cocktails mixed up by Copper Fox Distillery and nibbles by a few local restaurants. A show was also on display at the Gallery at the Stryker Building, showcasing local artists inspired by food and our relationship to the culinary arts.
Out and About Dinners
Thursday and Saturday nights featured “Out and Abouts,” special restaurant dining opportunities where you could sample a number of offerings from one or several Williamsburg restaurants. I devoured imported Spanish jamon paired with wine at La Tienda for three hours (OK, so there was a lot more food than that, but come on, salt-cured meat!).
These were not family-style dinners (everyone seated at one big table together where everyone chit chats throughout the meal), so I was glad I had a friend to chat with throughout the event. Our restaurant host provided details about the wines, why he and the chef decided to pair each dish with each wine and what had inspired our meal.
Friday night was all about local Williamsburg food trucks. Paella, crab cakes, BBQ and one of the best strawberry cupcakes I’ve ever had were on display. Local beer and a Jack Daniel’s spiked lemonade were available for purchase as well. A few games were set out for the kids and two live bands jammed on stage.
I met up with several friends I hadn’t seen in a while to catch up, and we sampled all the delicious food together. It was a pretty chill evening, but overall, I heard over 400 people showed up. Not too shabby!
Saturday was the main event at the Williamsburg Taste Festival with the Culinary Village open for business. Tasting cards were handed out as you entered the Village. Your card was stamped as you grabbed a tasting at each table, but most vendors encouraged you to come back for more.
Three breweries, two distillers, one meadery and a winery were offering samples, as well as at least 10 food vendors had tasty nibbles to try. Chef demonstrations and food lectures were happening throughout the day. There was a second tent set up with shop vendors selling culinary items and food inspired crafts. A children’s camp was also on hand for kids to do crafts and play while parents shopped.
Click HERE for the latest schedule
Why Williamsburg Taste Festival?
It’s not always easy to dive into a local food scene, especially an emerging culinary area like Williamsburg, VA. The historic sites are so spread out that you may not even know where to start. The good news is that a lot of the best Williamsburg restaurants are close, but the Williamsburg Taste Festival can give you a better idea of what you could be missing. It is also an opportunity for newer chefs just starting out or who recently opened a restaurant to get noticed.
Like to shop local? This is your chance to eat local and dig into delicious food and help support local businesses in Williamsburg. Personally, that’s just a win, win all around.
This post is part of a paid partnership with Visit Williamsburg. As always, my opinions are my own. When they aren’t you will be the first to know.