If last week’s pile-up of white stuff inspired you to start scouring the Internet for a balmy getaway destination, the Outer Banks Taste of the Beach festival might be your best local bet. The event started in 1983 as a way for Outer Banks restaurateurs to showcase their chefs’ talents during the off-season. Today, the Restaurant Association has expanded the event, creating a four-day-long culinary celebration that’s guaranteed to put you into the loveliest of food comas.
The festival, which takes place March 19 to 22 and offers per-event tickets, has been named one of the 10 best seafood and wine festivals in the country by Coastal Living Magazine and features 61 restaurants, plus 70 individual events including wine tastings, brewery tours, cooking classes, pairing classes, tapas crawls, pub crawls, multicourse dinners and more.
While the festival focuses on locally sourced seafood, North Carolina-style BBQ is also on the menu in the form of the Outer Banks BBQ & Wings Showdown on March 20. It’s your job to sample the wares, which include everything from hot wings to pulled pork, and help the judges decide who should be crowned champion.
The festival culminates in The Sysco Foods Taste of the Beach Grand Tasting on Sunday. The Grand Tasting is a contest in which 20 participating restaurants compete for the “TOB’y Awards,” which include categories like Best in Show and Best Outer Banks Catch. Just $65 gets you access to all Sysco Food Taste’s offerings, including various booths as well as beer and wine. There are multiple sessions of this event, and only 220 people allowed in each session, eliminating the possibility of being crowded out of the full experience.
If beer, wine and great food on the coast sound like your idea of the perfect long weekend, you can grab your tickets (and more details) at obxtasteofthebeach.com. Each event is individually ticketed and can run anywhere from $15 to $177, making the weekend pretty budget-friendly (or not, depending on your preferences).