Bringing together downtown shops and area eateries for an evening of sampling for over two decades, Taste of Downtown Nashua returns for its 21st event on Wednesday, June 3.
Centered on Main Street, participating locations on Pearl Street, Factory Street, Canal Street and Railroad Square will also host restaurants serving everything from fresh seafood to Mexican cuisine.
The event typically draws about 650 guests but based on this year’s advance ticket sales, Great American Downtown Executive Director Paul Shea anticipates a sellout crowd of over 700 people.
“Great American Downtown’s goal is to continue to promote and build economic and cultural vibrancy downtown and what better way to accomplish both of those things than by showcasing the culture of our local food economy?” Shea said in a phone interview.
To determine the “fine pairings” of which restaurant will be with which retail location, Shea said a taste committee is set up.
“We try to switch up the pairings each year but also bear in mind the demographic for the retail locations as well as the restaurants in the pairings,” he said.
The goal is to give variety while also making the evening logistically sound for the restaurants.
“We have restaurants that are set up in the retail locations and serving samples of their food,” he said.
In line with the organization’s goals of achieving cultural vibrancy, Taste of Downtown Nashua will have live open air music all evening as well as a new feature organized by Positive Street Art. A pop-up art gallery on the corner of Elm and West Pearl streets will feature artists’ work while Cava de Vino offers samples.
“We’ve got 27 locations involved with the event, and [that’s] actually the largest roster that we’ve had,” Shea said.
Some notable returners include MT’s Local Kitchen & Wine Bar, Surf Restaurant, San Francisco Kitchen and Riverside Barbeque. New this year are Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar, Fratello’s Italian Grille and California Burrito.
Currently, eight of the participating vendors will also offer gluten-free options.
“We’ve got a lot of nice bakeries downtown that will be providing some items that are gluten-free. Fratello’s will have [a] gluten-free option, and Riverside Barbeque,” he said.
This is known as the first taste event in the state; similar events have taken root in many New Hampshire towns through chambers of commerce and other downtown organizations.
“One of the things we’ve got is a strong network here in New Hampshire, and we’re always willing to share ideas with one another to support one another and all the great main streets in New Hampshire,” Shea said.
He believes the inaugural event was inspired by the spirit of showcasing the downtown area, which continues to drive the event today.
“We’ve got a great downtown here in Nashua and a long history of folks wanting to highlight that,” he said.
As seen in the May 28, 2015 issue of the Hippo.