Foodies take a bite out of Taste of Wheaton
There's a right way to chill out at the Taste of Wheaton, and Jim Philbin has mastered it.
To follow his example, you order the hickory smoked beef brisket sandwich from the Steamboat BBQ booth along Wheaton Avenue. You grab a fork and napkins because barbecue is supposed to be messy.
Then you plop down under the shade of a mature tree at Memorial Park even though it's a cloudy afternoon. But this is a cooler spot than the picnic tables on the lawn near the Taste's food vendor row, and it's within earshot of the country band Summer Son covering party staples from the Memorial Park band shell.
"We come for the music," Philbin says alongside his wife, Terry.
But the Glen Ellyn couple also knows how to make the most out of the menu at the Taste, a summer kickoff organized by the Wheaton Park District and chamber of commerce. If you're a meat eater, Philbin highly recommends the beef brisket from Steamboat, an award-winning barbecue joint in a Wheaton strip mall and one of the hometown favorites at the Taste.
"They've got a special recipe for curing the beef," he said.
The Glen Ellyn couple has been coming to the Taste for so long they know the Wheaton festival by its old name, Cream of Wheaton. And that's what you still call it if you're a sentimental purist.
"We're professional festers," Terry Philbin said.
And as such, they enjoyed the low-key vibe of the neighborhood park. So did Cecelia Coglianese, a first-time Taste patron from Schaumburg, who appreciated the fact that she didn't have to contend with long lines for food.
"It's a good day out for families," she said.
There were bigger crowds south of the train tracks in downtown Wheaton for the Taste's amusement rides and the usual carnival fare. But at Memorial Park, you can live your best foodie life at a food vendor row representing the downtown dining scene.
Gia Mia provided local fare with its mobile brick oven, as did Gino's East, Choun's, Moveable Feast + Co. and Graham's Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream. As the newcomer in the bunch, Moveable Feast served ginger guacamole and wontons, its most-popular cookie and ginger kombucha on tap.
Pam Kurtz's 5-year-old son customized his shaved ice with blueberry and mango flavors after the thrill of carnival rides. The Wheaton mom best summed up why families should take a bite out of the Taste:
"Summer fun," she said.
The Taste ends its four-day run Sunday with the beer garden, food vendor row, and an arts and craft fair running from 1 to 7 p.m. Carnival hours are 1 to 8 p.m.
Neverly Brothers, Five Guys Named Moe and the Red Woody Band will take the stage of the Memorial Park band shell from 1 to 7 p.m. For the full Taste lineup, visit Wheatonparkdistrict.com.