WEB-EXCLUSIVE: Kick off the summer with sizzling local food festivals.
May 3 – Sabroso Craft Beer and Taco Festival
Although Cinco de Mayo celebrates the anniversary of the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla, for most Southern Californians, this holiday has become a great excuse to drink cervezas and stuff our faces. Now locals have a new place to enjoy Cinco de Mayo weekend. Brew Ha Ha presents a day at Lake View Park called the Sabroso Craft Beer & Taco Festival. Spend the afternoon chomping on tacos prepared by OC chefs like Haven Gastropub’s Greg Daniels and Executive Chef Cody Storts (best known for his gourmet food trucks including Porko Rico). Craft brewers from Stone, Noble Ale Works, Iron Fist, Bottle Logic, and more will have beers on draft for you to wash down those tasty tacos. But, this isn’t just a day of gluttony, there’s a charitable element too. Proceeds from this event benefit the Irvine-based Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. Craft beer plus a good cause equals good eats for all.
Sabroso Craft Beer & Taco Festival takes place on May 3 and is open to beer lovers, ages 21 and over. A festival pass is $55 and includes unlimited tastes of all the beers. :: sabrosotacofest.com
May 10 – West Coast BBQ Classic at The Queen Mary
Summer is barbecue season. What better way to celebrate than feasting at The Queen Mary’s third-annual West Coast BBQ Classic? On May 10, grill masters from Tennessee, Kansas City and Texas compete for the coveted title of West Coast BBQ Pitmaster.
Whether you prefer your ribs slathered with sauce or seasoned with a spicy dry rub, there’s something for every meat lover. Sample tasting-size portions concocted by registered pitmasters for $2 a piece. However, if you prefer the sweeter side of summer, indulge in one of the festival’s two eating contests. Voracious eaters will compete by devouring loads of fresh watermelon or sweet peach cobblers. The winners will receive a free night’s stay aboard The Queen Mary.
The Classic takes place on May 10 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are available online for $10 and $15 at the door. 562.499.1771 :: queenmary.com/bbq
May 30-May 31 – Bacon & Barrels
For three days, pork lovers will flock to San Diego for the best bacon dishes on the West Coast. From bacon-wrapped dates to bacon cupcakes (that’s right, bacon cupcakes!), the chefs on hand plan to show off their most innovative bacon concoctions. But, the Bacon & Barrels festivities aren’t just for the swine-lovers. For spirit aficionados, there will also be free-flowing samples of the best barrel-aged beers and liquors.
Bourbon, scotch, wine, tequila, and ales will be at your disposal courtesy of artisan distillers like Cutler’s, Casta Negra and Firestone. So whether you feel like eating like a VIP at the Field Dinner or watching back-to-back demos on the Culinary Stage, Bacon & Barrels wants to make all of your hog-wild dreams come true.
Bacon & Barrels takes place on May 30 – May 31. Advanced purchase tickets for Designated Drivers are $30 and at-the-door tickets are $40. General admission advanced-purchase tickets are $75 and at-the-door tickets are $85. The general admission includes unlimited tastes and a souvenir glass. :: baconandbarrels.com
May 31 – Celebrity Cruises Great Wine Festival
Have you ever wanted to indulge in the culinary luxuries of a cruise without stepping off the dry land? Celebrity Cruises is bringing its cruises’ culinary experiences to the Orange County Great Park for its fourth annual Great Wine Festival on Saturday, May 31. Guests will have the opportunity to sample a variety of wines and brews from Grgich Hills, Freemark Abbey, Zaca Mesa, Round Pond, Mazzocco, Malibu Rocky Oaks, and many other wineries and breweries. Featured restaurants include Slapfish, Clay Oven – recipient of the 2013 Golden Foodie Awards for Best Indian Restaurant in Orange County – and Bluewater Grill. Proceeds from the festival will go towards Legal Aid of Orange County, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free and low-cost legal services to low-income Southern Californians. Enjoy all that this Saturday afternoon has to offer while supporting a good cause and indulging your tastebuds.
The Celebrity Cruises Great Wine Festival takes place on May 31 from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $75 per person. Discounted tickets are also available for government and nonprofit workers, as well as sitting judges. Tickets can be purchased online. :: greatwinefestival.com
Seafood lovers rejoice! Slapfish will open its newest location on May 6 at 11 a.m. in Laguna Beach. Now south county fish eaters will enjoy the famous chowder fries that Huntington Beach locals have been raving about for years. Plus, on opening day, Chef Andrew Gruel will hand out free lobster rolls to the first 100 guests.
211 Broadway St. (across from Main Beach at PCH), Laguna Beach :: slapfishrestaurant.com