Written by Ella Lucente, Photo Attribution: Alex Larson

Ahh yes, the summer is finally here!

School is out (well…for most at least), the sun is actually shining, and people are eager to get outside. The 32nd Taste of Tacoma, hosted by the Emerald Queen Casino, knows how to welcome the summer sun: with music, food and fun!

Taste of Tacoma Music

Taste of Tacoma Music

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As families gathered to celebrate summer solstice during this three-day festival, diverse food trucks, booths, vendors, carnival rides and games started filling Point Defiance Park.

My boyfriend, Alex, has been attending “The Taste” for eight years straight now, and I (someone who’s gone to The Taste once in my life, years ago) decided this was the perfect opportunity to get a little sample of what summer in Tacoma is all about.

Transportation To Taste of Tacoma

Getting There

To start, Alex and I took advantage of the “Free Taste Express” operated by Pierce Transit. Due to the construction around Point Defiance Park, there was very little parking.

Being the struggling college students that we are, we totally took advantage of the free transit system. We left our car in the Park and Ride at Tacoma Community College an hour before The Taste started, and beat the crowd.

Getting Back

Coming back from The Taste was a different story though. The bus ride back was fairly congested, and people were actually encouraged to get off the bus in order to more comfortably fit those who got there first.

When we returned to the TCC transit center around 3 p.m., the line stretched from the bus letting people on, all the way past the entrance of TCC! I felt bad for those waiting at the end of the line who decided to stick out that monstrosity, but I felt relief that we decided to head there early and ended up missing all of that traffic. In short, plan to arrive early!

The Food

Day 1

Now, let’s dive into the grub! The first day we were a little more adventurous with our food choices. We started at the beginning, with a food booth called Deano’s Grill, also known as MAC & CHEESE WHAAAAAAT?

Mac And Cheese Whaaaat

Mac And Cheese Whaaaaaat?

There, I got their Mac & Cheese (mediocre at best), but my Alex got the meal of champions. There, he ate their infamous Krispy Kream Burger – filled with two patties, bacon, cheese and stuck together between two Kripsy Kream glazed donuts as buns.

To get a better review of this, since I didn’t try it, he explained it as, “the definition of what you think sweet and savory is – you get the saltiness of the burger itself along with bacon and cheese, and right as you’re about to swallow your juicy mouthful, you get a sweet sensation”. All in all, it’s something you should try once, if even just a bite.

Krispy Kream Burger

Krispy Kream Burger

As this is his annual summer tradition, we decided to one-up those previous seven years, as he dove into a Cotton Candy Birthday Cake Ice Cream Burrito – consisting of birthday cake ice cream, Oreo crumbles with a chocolate syrup glaze, wrapped in a layer of cotton candy, topped with some rainbow sprinkles.

He sure struggled to finish this, especially after devouring his burger. 10 times out of 10 I would recommend this for the kids, but if you’re not so much of a sweet eater, I’d pass on this.

Cotton Candy Birthday Cake Ice Cream Burrito

Cotton Candy Birthday Cake Ice Cream Burrito

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Day 2

Now on day two, we were still adventurous on our food choices, but we were definitely not going to splurge like we did the previous day.

First, we decided to head to Piggly’s BBQ. Known for their massive turkey legs and giant burgers, we were indecisive on what to get off the menu!

Pigglys BBQ

Pigglys BBQ

After a couple of minutes talking to the cashier, we decided on getting their Piggly Fries, and boy did we not regret that decision!

These fries were in a huge block, salted to perfection, and definitely filled us up for a while. For as big as they were, we certainly got a bang for our buck, only spending $12 to share! Pair it with their strawberry lemonade, and you’re set for a good appetizer!

Pigglys BBQ Fries

Pigglys BBQ Fries

Around noon, we watched the Taste Cooks that highlights different chefs around the Tacoma area.

Hosted by The Chef in the Hat, Thierry Rautureau, we first saw Boathouse 19’s Ta’ani Ma’ama, as he prepared a poke bowl, made of Ahi Tuna and various vegetables.

Poke Bowl

Poke Bowl

Taste Cook Off

Taste Cook Off

Waiting for the cook-off, Alex and I decided to venture for more food, as we headed towards New Orleans’s Cookery, to get Alligator on a Stick.

Alligator Stick

Alligator Stick

As the saying goes, “it tastes like chicken”. Seasoned with Cajun spices, this $12 meal was a steal, just because of how rare it is to get alligator. This is also a big part of Alex’s tradition alongside the Krispy Kreme burger.

Next, we decided to grab some dessert, and I chose Mrs. B’s ice cream booth for some delicious pound cake ice cream. Unfortunately, the service was slow and the customer service was awful, so they ended up giving me strawberry shortcake.

Mrs B's Strawberry Shortcake

Mrs B’s Strawberry Shortcake

For $6, it was average, however for something I didn’t order, it was slightly irritating.

Based off of this customer service, Alex decided to get his desert from Ibajella’s Ice Cream Cane booth. For $6, you get a j-shaped cone made of corn, filled with soft serve vanilla ice cream, with a topping of your choice.

Ibajellas Ice Cream Cane

Ibajellas Ice Cream Cane

Once we got our desserts, we went back to the Taste Cook’s Tent, and watched a cook-off between Chef Ma’ama from Boathouse 19 and Derek Bray from the Tacoma Table.

During this cook-off, two chefs battle, as they have only three ingredients to base their dish off of, in only a 25-minute span. It was really fun to see two local chefs battle for a prize win of $100 donated to their charity or choice.

Final Thoughts

Taste Cooks

Taste Cookoff

Other than the food and the Taste Cooks, the Taste of Tacoma was the same in every aspect – same vendors, same food choices, same everything.

Although it is the kick-off to summer in Tacoma and a tradition for many local families, if you didn’t go this year, you’ll be able to catch it again next year, and this time you can plan on what to try!

However, if you are super bummed about not attending this year, fear not! The Bite of Seattle, located in Seattle Center, is coming up quickly on the weekend of July 20-July 22.

Happy Summer!

Ella Lucente