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Taste of Del Ray Brings Out the Masses

Del Ray Pizzeria and Evening Star Cafe take top awards at 2012 Taste of Del Ray.

Residents of the Del Ray community and beyond came out with a hunger like no other Sunday for the fourth annual Taste of Del Ray.

“Tickets for entrance to the Taste of Del Ray went extremely fast today,” said Gayle Reuter, a board member with Del Ray Business Association.

With ideal weather conditions, the number of attendees exceeded the 1,000 mark with ease, Reuter said. She estimated that this year’s turnout in the parking lot behind the surpassed previous totals, noting that the DRBA had to stop selling tickets in order to ensure that paid entrants would get their money's (and tummy's) worth.

With celebrity judge Rock Harper on hand, a dozen local eateries went toe-to-toe vying for top positions in two categories—People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice.

In the People’s Choice category, took top honors with its shrimp and grits. Separated by just nine votes, came in a close second pleasing the people with its "Mac n’ Cheesetique." rounded out the top finishers with a third-place finish for its spread of gluten-free sweet treats.

“This is such an excellent event for the city I love,” said Harper, who graduated from in 1994. “Alexandria is a culinary powerhouse.”

Del Ray Pizzeria chef Eric Reid, an Alexandria native and another T.C. Williams alum, couldn’t have been happier with placing first in the People’s Choice category.

“This is always a fun event that I truly enjoy doing for the Del Ray community,” said Reid, who has a few other People’s Choice awards under his belt from his time at Del Merei Grille, which closed its doors in September 2010. “I love cooking shrimp and grits and this is a wonderful event that allows me to showcase something other than pizza, something that I love.”

won Harper over with its green tomato gazpacho topped with a pickled shrimp, while The Happy Tart took home another top honor, finishing in second place in the Judge’s Choice category. Cheesetique and Del Ray Pizzeria shared the bronze.

“Please come see us soon for the gazpacho,” said Evening Star chef Jim Jeffords, who noted that although not presently on the menu, the gazpacho is sure to make an appearance soon.

In addition to shining a light on the local staples, the Taste of Del Ray also introduced and enticed attendees’ palates with some new tastes.

“There are quite a few new restaurants that have opened up in the neighborhood of late that I had yet to experience, so it was great to get a taste of everything, both familiar and new,” said Matt Humphrey, who lives and works in Del Ray.

Humphrey also noted that as great as it was to try the fare at local neighborhood newbies like the and The Happy Tart, it was difficult to navigate between 12 different food stations due to the long lines and the somewhat cramped venue.

Reuter echoed this lack-of-real-estate, long-line concern, assuring that “for next year’s event, we have already talked about opening up the other part of the parking lot to accommodate the growth of this annual event and help streamline the wait time for attendees.”

Reuter mentioned that the DRBA’s goal for 2013 is to showcase the many restaurants and food havens that make Del Ray what it is—so diverse and delicious. 

“We really want to focus on including as many of the eateries in the community as possible,” said Reuter. “This event is not only great for the restaurants, but also for the Del Ray community as a whole.”

John Arbuckle June 05, 2012 at 05:42 PM
The location is great, and suitable for all residents of Del Ray to walk too. It's a nice Saturday morning, you don't need a car to go there. If you want to drive somewhere, go to the farmers market in Old Town, it's bigger and they have underground parking.
McBrinn June 05, 2012 at 05:54 PM
I live three blocks away John. I don't need to drive. Others, however, do. Gayle- you've never heard even one person complain about the congestion? That's incredible, literally. It's THE FIRST thing out of the mouths of any of my fellow Del Ray neighbors when asked about their thoughts on the market. Del Ray is chock full of families. Families have strollers. How cumbersome do you imagine it is pushing a stroller through that tiny parking lot when it's rammed full of people? Have you never noticed the masses of dads/moms gathered on the sidewalk along Mt. Vernon Ave, standing guard over their kids and strollers, while their partner is in the lot shopping? Look this Saturday morning- you'll notice many people who'd like to be in the market but can't be simply because of comfort level and congestion. This isn't a flame. I truly wish the market were more easily navigated and had a larger selection of vendors. The space exists in Del Ray to do just that. It just can't be done at it's current location. Have you ever been to the market at Union Square in NYC? It's fantastic and there's no reason Del Ray can't have one just as nice.
Gayle R. June 05, 2012 at 06:36 PM
In all honesty - I have not heard complaints about the actual location & I have worked at the market for 7-8 years and lived in Del Ray for almost 30 years. I have heard some that are unhappy about paid parking but that is understandable when they were used to being able to use the private lot. Customers/neighbors couldn't be nicer, even when we have had long lines go well beyond our tent. And we work with lots of customers with their strollers and several regulars who are in wheelchairs. I help the farmer closest to Mt. Vernon & State Farm building so I do see all the strollers & dogs parked to the side. But from where I stand, it appears more like a social time where neighbors are visiting and getting caught up. But I'm a Pollyanna kind of person so maybe people don't feel comfortable complaining to me. But I know the Market Master will appreciate the feedback. Thanks.
Erik June 05, 2012 at 09:12 PM
The event was great and so is the Farmers Market. Great job.
karen June 07, 2012 at 03:15 PM
I love the location of the market and the fact that on Saturday's it is the gathering place in the heart of the neighborhood. The market master has done a great job of organizing the market and working with both the farmers and the community groups that come out year round. Having worked many tables at the market over the years, the crowds tend to come between 9-10 a.m -- come before or after to miss the crowds.

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