On Wednesday, October 14th, 800 people stepped out onto the streets of Coronado participate in Coronado’s foodie event of the season: The Taste of Coronado. Initiated by the Coronado Junior Woman’s Club (CJWC) six years ago, the “restaurant crawl” event has become more popular each year. This year, a record number of tickets were purchased, and 34 local shops and restaurants participated with food samplings and generous hospitality.
The participating restaurants and shops were clustered in two main areas in Coronado: about half in Ferry Landing at the north end of Orange Avenue, and the other half near the Hotel Del Coronado at the southern end of Orange. CJWC hired trolleys to run up and down Orange Ave so that participants could avoid driving or walking. With over 30 restaurants and shops to visit and only four hours to taste, participants were eager to move from place to place for their favorites, or to enjoy as many new places as they could.
Participants paid $35 per ticket ahead of time and $45 on the day of the event, and then picked up their tasting card at CJWC booths at 5pm. At each restaurant or shop, an employee marked the card before offering their signature dish of the night: Cajun corn chowder at Cafe 1134, panko shrimp corn rice cakes at Islander, mini chimichangas with signature white sauce at Miguel’s, and so on throughout Coronado. Some boutiques — Men’s Mojo, Miss Match, and Bungalow 56, among others — served tastings like sparkling wine and cake while participants browsed. Meanwhile, Village Pizzeria at Ferry Landing offered its signature beer pong game again with restaurant coupons under each cup.
Luca Allieri, General Manager of Il Fornaio Coronado, was proud of the generous plates they served of filet mignon drizzled with balsamic, fresh spinach, bruschetta, and tiramisu. “As always, we had tons of people raving about our way to do this event,” he said. “Many were surprised by the fact that we were offering prime seats while most of the other [restaurants] had just a banquet table and paper plates! We counted 540 guests that traveled through our main dining room, and no one seemed unhappy. I think that the purpose to ‘make them happy and to show them the Il Fornaio way to host this event mixed with the island flair’ was achieved.” He added that he “will count the days down to next year’s event!”
Tim Kolanko, Blue Bridge Hospitality’s Executive Chef, was equally pleased with how the event went at their five restaurants: Stake Chophouse, Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge, MooTime Creamery, Lil’ Piggy’s Bar-B-Q, and Village Pizzeria. “The Taste of Coronado was very successful for Blue Bridge Hospitality this year. It’s a great opportunity for us to showcase the diversity of our concepts. It’s also fun for our chefs from Leroy’s and Stake Chophouse to interact with the guests directly.” Guests were delighted to taste Stake’s famous skewers with chimichurri sauce, and they followed that tasting with sweet coffee, strawberry, or vanilla bon bons at MooTime.
Leroy’s collaboration with Greenflash Brewery delighted many, as the beer they served was infused with cardamom and ginger, perfect for the fall season.
For restaurant owner Tim Latona, though, The Taste of Coronado meant even more. His business, High Tide Pizza, is new in town, and he shares ownership of the pizza and liquor store with five other Coronado locals and friends. “I can’t say enough about the people of Coronado being very supportive of a new business. I had several people come to me and thank me for opening, saying that we had brought something to Coronado that it needed. [The Taste of Coronado] was very special to me; it sounds weird but I felt accepted and that my unusual business concept is being embraced by our community. I gave away a lot of pizzas that night and feel I received a lot more in return. So thank you!”
Community members raved about the event too. “I kept saying, ‘I think I am done. This was amazing, but I am so full!'” said Annelie Randall, a local Coronado resident. “Then our group walked on and everything looked and tasted so delicious that I just couldn’t stop. This is my favorite event of the year! I love food, staying local, and constantly bumping into friends. This way I also get a list of locations for our coming date nights!”
Annelie has participated in The Taste of Coronado before, but for Heather Cullen, it was all totally new. She went on a date with her husband, enjoying a four-hour break from her three little boys. “It was such an enjoyable evening to try a variety of restaurants, establish our favorites, and connect with local friends in the process. We will be sure to do this again next year!”
Deann Brown, the CJWC member who developed Taste of Coronado six years ago, is thrilled, too. “We sold out this year at 800!” said Deann Brown, commenting on the 200-count increase in available tickets from last year. “The restaurants all did an amazing job. After six years, I’m so happy the event is still going strong and the restaurants and retailers love the event just as much as the participants!”
Click here for more information about CJWC.
All photos by Brandon Foy for CJWC.