If you grew up in Mid-Atlantic like I did, your family probably took a vacation or two to Williamsburg, VA growing up. Who could pass it up? From Colonial Williamsburg to Busch Gardens to the incredible outlet shopping, Williamsburg made for the perfect vacation.
What if I told you that Williamsburg’s food scene was on the rise as well? The folks over at Visit Williamsburg invited me to their revamped Williamsburg Taste Festival a few of weeks ago, and I got to sample some of the best fresh, local cuisine and craft beverages from vendors in and around Williamsburg. Spoiler: I was shocked at the high-quality of food that these vendors had to offer!
If you’re thinking about attending the Williamsburg Taste Festival in the future, here’s what you need to know!
THINGS TO KNOW FOR THE WILLIAMSBURG FOOD FESTIVAL
Getting There + Getting Around
Parking is incredibly easy in Williamsburg, so Tom and I personally loved having a car with us during our stay. It’s about a 2.5-hour drive from D.C., depending on traffic. If you don’t plan on bringing a car, Uber, taxis and public transit are an option as well. If you’re flying, it’s easy to either fly into Richmond International Airport or Norfolk International Airport. RIC is 45 minutes away from Downtown Williamsburg, while Norfolk International is a 20-minute drive.
Out and Abouts
My favorite event at the Williamsburg Taste Festival was definitely the Out and About dinners. These dinners were hosted on both Thursday and Saturday evening at a few different restaurants and were a chance to experience carefully curated, special menus from local celebrity chefs.
Once we arrived at the festival on Thursday evening, we were whisked away to the Garnacha Wine Dinner at La Tienda. One of the things I enjoyed best about this dinner was how inventive it was: the chef took a few chances with some of the menu items, but it paid off in the long run. I enjoyed a five-course meal, and each course was paired with a different Garnacha varietal. My favorite item on the menu, hands down, was the Acorn-fed Pork Shoulder. It’s not too often that you have pork shoulder cooked medium rare. However, it was easily the best dish I tried at the entire festival. This dinner was portioned well, and I thought they served the perfect amount of food.
On Saturday evening, I attended the Beer Dinner at Amber Ox Public House. There, I enjoyed a four-course meal with pairings of Amber Ox’s Precarious beer selections. I think they did a fantastic job at pairing the beer, and we loved the lively atmosphere. The dish that stood out to us the most was the smoked short rib with vegetable farro risotto. The short rib was incredibly tender, and the risotto had a creamy texture and complimented the short rib perfectly. Tom and I enjoyed the beers so much at Amber Ox that we made a second visit the very next day to try out the rest of the beers they had on tap.
Friday Night Street Beats
The Friday Night Street Beats was probably the most laid-back event of the festival and one that I enjoyed. For a small entry fee, guests could enjoy live music from local artists, yard games, and a fun atmosphere. You could purchase dishes from 8 different food trucks and tables at the event, and drinks were available for purchase at their cash bar. La Tienda made a giant paella (which went rather quickly!), and I sampled some crab nachos from VA Blue Crab Co and enjoyed some poutine from Prost. Overall, it was a relaxing way to spend a Friday evening and a great way to sample multiple dishes from local restaurants.
The main event at the Williamsburg Taste Festival was the Culinary Village. For less than $60, you could sample food from 12 of the best food local vendors in town, and drinks from 5 breweries, two wineries, and two distilleries. There were also Chef Demonstrations every couple of hours during the event, so you could see local celebrity chefs in action preparing some of their most popular dishes.
In addition to the tastings, there was also a Shop and Play tent where you could purchase one of a kind items, specialty foods, and kitchen accessories from local vendors. We picked up some specialty potato chips and sampled some delicious olives at the La Tienda booth, and I enjoyed browsing what the other vendors had to offer!
Saturday Late Night
The Friday Night Street Beats and Culinary Village events at the Williamsburg Taste Festival were events that were fantastic for all ages. Whether you were out with your girls, on a couples getaway or traveling with your family, there was something for everyone to enjoy at both events.
However, the Saturday Late Night event? This one was strictly for the adults, and I loved it. It was an intimate event where we could enjoy world-class bourbon tastings and cocktails from Woodford Reserve, live music, and smooth cigars. It was an incredibly classy and reserved event, and a great way to end the festival.