Get a taste of Myrtle Beach: Tips on navigating Taste of the Town
The Taste of the Town has become an annual must-attend event in Myrtle Beach, a festival for the community to sample fare from some of the best restaurants on the Grand Strand.
But the fund-raiser for St. Andrews Catholic School at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center is much more than that to savvy locals who enjoy dining out regularly. To them, the festival is a chance to test-drive local eateries.
The Grand Strand is constantly seeing so many new restaurants open that you could go broke by trying them all for dinner. Every time you scratch one off your list, three more have opened.
So think of the Taste of the Town as a It’s sort of like a try before you buy opportunity. Rather than spending $50 to try a new place out, go to the Taste and get a small sample of what they have to offer.
My wife and I have used this strategy quite often and it’s a pretty good barometer for which places you might enjoy visiting. We’ve got the Taste down to an art, and I’ll share a few pointers with you about how to use the Taste as a taste test:
* First, don’t eat lunch Tuesday. In fact, skip breakfast if you can handle it. With more than 50 restaurants serving up their best dishes, you’re going to need all the room you can get.
* Pace yourself; this is a marathon of eating, not a sprint. The event runs from 4 to 10 p.m., so slow and steady wins the race. Chow down too fast and you just might miss dessert, the best course on the menu.
* Arrive early and go ahead and buy plenty of tickets. Nothing’s worse than having to go back and stand in the ticket line while everyone else is lining up for more grub. You can’t have too many tickets.
* Go straight to the traditionally busiest booths with award-winning restaurants. The Sea Captain’s House’s She Crab Soup comes to mind. The later the night goes on, the longer the line seems to get.
* After you hit a few hot spots, use the program handed out at the door, find a table and map out a strategy based on places you want to try and booth location. Restaurants are divided into clusters of about six to eight, so you can often hit the ones you want in one trip.
* If you are going with friends, use the divide and conquer approach. Have two people save a table while two more to hit a row of booths and bring back the goodies. After everyone gets a taste, send the other two to the next section of booths.
* Enjoy the night as you would a meal – in sequence of courses. Try appetizers, sushi, salads and soups first, then main course meals like shrimp and grits or grilled steak, then the desserts, which are to die for.
* Don’t forget beverages to wash it all down. Beer and wine booths are scattered throughout the ballroom so it’s a good idea to go ahead and grab a fresh one when you start getting low.
* Hang out to the end and you will come across nice folks who got full too fast and now having extra tickets but no room to put another bite. They will offer you their tickets, so you can stuff more food in your face for free.
* Keep your eyes peeled for places shutting down with mountains of food remaining. Sometimes they hand out doggie bags to take home, which make for some great leftovers if and when you want to eat again.
* Use your program as a notebook, putting stars beside the establishments you enjoyed and would like to try for dinner and Xs for restaurants that don’t make the cut. Use the book for your next night out on the town when no one can decide where to go for dinner.
These simple rules will not only enhance your Taste of the Town experience, it also will help you preview local restaurants and choose which ones to visit for the next year. It’s the best try before you buy ticket in town.