16th annual Taste of Huntington Beach raised glasses, plates, and forks for a cause

The 16th annual Taste of Huntington Beach started on a beautiful Sunday, just in time for lunch. Attendees not only nibbled on great food and sipped libations, their attendance and ticket sales were part of a record high donation of $42,000 to the “Friends of the Children’s Library of Huntington Beach” charity which benefits the Children’s Department of the Huntington Beach Public Library. Way to go everyone!

Simon Majumdar (a regular judge on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen) judged a friendly food and beverage competition during the event. Simon awarded The Best of the Best to Shades at The Waterfront Beach Resort for their PB&J (see description below). People’s Choice Award went to Four Sons Brewing http://foursonsbrewing.com/ . Here is a list of the winners for each category:

Appetizer Category

  1. St. Marc Pub-Café (see description below)
  2. 2nd Floor (see description below)
  3. Watertable Restaurant at Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa for their Burrata

Dessert Category

  1. Simply Layered for their Carrot Cake
  2. Traditional Twist for their Mexican Chocolate Spicy Brownie
  3. TeaArias for their Crepe Cake

Entrée Category

  1. Market Broiler for their Salmon Dish
  2. Huntington Terrace Senior Living for their Braised Pork Butt over Croissant Parmesan Bread Pudding
  3. Slapfish (see description below)

Best Decorated Booth

  1. Chronic Jerky
  2. Old World Euro Market, Bakery, and Deli

Most Enthusiastic

  1. Solita
  2. Red Table

Red Wine Category

  1. Navarro Vineyards’ 2013 Pinot Noir
  2. Nielson Wines’ 2013 Pinot Noir
  3. Pomar Junction’s 2013 Red Blend Train Wreck

White Wine Category

  1. Cholame Vineyard’s Chardonnay
  2. Navarro Vineyards’ Gewürztraminer
  3. Pomar Junction’s Grenache Blanc

Beer Category

  1. Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s Luponic Distortion IPA
  2. Sierra Nevada Brew Co.’s Nooner
  3. Wyder’s Raspberry Cider

Here are just some of the tastes:

Avila’s El Ranchito served up a chicken chimichanga topped with avocado sauce and chips with salsa. The exterior of the chimichanga was crispy and had a nice flavor. The avocado sauce added a creamy element. The salsa was amazing with a fresh zing from the garlic and onions and sweetness from nicely ripened tomatoes. Rating: 4/5

BLK served a layer of cucumber, pan seared ahi, fried ginger, fresh ginger with a balsamic glaze. This bite packed a mighty flavor punch. The cucumber and fresh ginger added a refreshing and zingy flavor while the ahi, seared to perfection, melted like butter on the tongue. The balsamic glaze finished with an addition of sweetness. The fried ginger was a nice surprise. Rating: 4.5/5

Gallaghers Pub served up Bangers and Mash. Juicy sausage matched perfectly with the thick mashed potatoes. The thick gravy made the dish with rich flavor. Irish comfort food to the max! Rating: 5/5

2nd Floor HB served up Horiyoshi Tacos made with slow roasted Asian dry rubbed pork belly topped with pickled carrots, cucumber, chili garlic mayo, and fresh jalapeno. This taco was reminiscent of a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich with the pickled veggies and the Asian spices. Rating: 5/5

Deli-Licious served up Caprese made with sliced roast chicken with avocado, roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil chiffonade, and lemon caper mayo on a ciabatta roll. The sandwich had an Italian flavor profile through its use of tomato, basil, and mozzarella. But the chicken and avocado throw in a California twist. They also served a Fresh & Fruity Salad made with romaine, almonds, strawberry, peaches, and mandarin orange tossed with kiwi vinaigrette. This was a light, refreshing salad with the fresh fruits and kiwi vinaigrette. Great for summer! Rating: 4/5

Melody’s Bakery served up Peanut Butter Balls, Red Velvet Cupcakes, Cinnamon Rolls, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Sugar Cookies, and Lemon Mousse Shooter. Their booth was just an amazing array of baked goods readily available for the tasting. The best were the Peanut Butter Balls, Chocolate Chip Cookies (full of melty chocolate chips), and Lemon Mousse Shooter. Rating: 4.5/5

Mother’s Market served up Pretty in Pink, a drink made with grapes, apples, and beets. This healthy drink was actually very tasty. The sweet grapes and apples pair well with the vibrant beets. Rating: 5/5

Ways and Means Oyster House served up Market Fresh Ceviche with avocado, papaya, and fried plantain. Fish was tender and flavors were nicely balanced. Not overly sour or citrusy. Rating: 4.5/5

St. Marc Pub-Café Bakery & Cheese Affinage served up a skewer of watermelon, feta, jalapeno, topped with cilantro sea salt. The combination of flavors from the punchy feta, sweet watermelon, spicy jalapeno, and refreshing touch of cilantro in the sea salt made the perfect bite-sized snack. Rating: 5/5

Lemonade served up Soba Noodle with kimchi vegetables and peanuts and Snap Pea Edamame. Soba noodles had a picnic-esque quality with their cold noodle presentation mixed with kimchi flavor. The sweet flavor of snap peas works well with the edamame, and is an OC Food Diva favorite! Rating: 4.5/5

Shades at The Waterfront Beach Resort served up a PB&J with roasted macadamia nut butter and spicy habanero pineapple jam. OMG! This sandwich was off the hook and a hot mess (literally)! Hot off the grill with slightly spicy notes from the jam, and melty macadamia nut butter. This was definitely worthy of The Best of the Best award. Rating: 5/5

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar served their Caesar Salad and Pesto Chicken Pasta. The Caesar salad was just okay. The dressing needed a little bit more flavor, maybe more parmesan and anchovy. The fusilli pasta held up well to the pesto sauce. But the addition of broccoli, onions, and chicken turned this bite into a meal. Rating: 3.5/5

Slapfish served up Lobster Rolls. This mini version was just as awesome and strong with flavor as its big brother. It was packed with lobster meat and so delicious! Rating: 5/5

Pizza Lounge served up Buffalo Wings and Goat Cheese Fusilli Pasta. The buffalo wings were meaty and had a nice spicy flavor. It had just the right amount of heat without be overly spicy as to bury the flavor of the chicken. The pasta had a rich, creamy texture and flavor picked up from the goat cheese. It would be perfect for a meal if combined with cubed chicken breast. Rating: 4.5/5

Chobani served up some favorites like Almond Coco Loco and Strawberry Chocolate Truffle. Almond Coco Loco is OC Food Diva’s favorite “flip” flavor with creamy coconut Greek yogurt mixed with almonds and chocolate. Strawberry Chocolate Truffle is another great one with a decadent, dessert flavor. Rating: 5/5

If you like what you saw and read, save the date for next year’s Taste of Huntington Beach, April 30, 2017!

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