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Tasting 3 neighborhoods for the price of one

(This article originally appeared San Diego Uptown News, a content partner with SDGLN.)

SAN DIEGO -- Neighborhood “taste of” events have become increasingly popular in the last decade, with Uptown areas such as Hillcrest, North Park, Mission Hills and even Downtown joining the trend.

This month, the Adams Avenue Business Association (AABA) – a Business Improvement District formed in 1982 that covers the Adams Avenue corridor running through University Heights, Normal Heights and Kensington – will be hosting their 13th annual “Taste of Adams Avenue” on June 30 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Beginning with the Farm House Café, located at Adams Avenue and Mississippi Street to the west, and ending with Kensington Café at Adams Avenue and Marlborough Drive to the east, 31 different businesses have lined up to shell out food and drink, up from 24 in 2012. Many other vendors along the route will also be joining in the festivities, with special offers and music.

Taste of Adams Avenue offers participants a fun, social, foodie-style event that not only satisfies a hunger but also helps them get to know their many longstanding – or altogether new – businesses along the route. With ticket prices at $30 presale and $35 the day of the event, individual tastes add up to less than a dollar each.

Attendees can make their way down the two-and-a-half mile route either by foot, bicycle, or by way of the free trolley, which will have frequent stops and is being made available by the AABA.

Newcomers on the restaurant side include Fish Public, Heights Tavern, Broke Girls’ Coffee Bar, The Haven Pizzeria and Soda & Swine, and many of this year’s participants have been on board since the very beginning, like Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant, DiMille’s Italian Restaurant and Lestat’s Coffee House.

While no bar-only locations are officially part of the four-hour event, three of the 31 establishments do require ages 21 and up: Rosie O’Grady’s, Proprietors Reserve and Wine Bar, and Clem’s Bottle Service & Tap Room.

The Farm House Café, located at 2121 Adams Ave. and a participant since their opening in 2008, will be serving samples of their ricotta pancake with orange butter.

“It’s a perfect dish to start from west to east on Adams,” said chef and owner Olivier Bioteau. “We are looking forward to talking to the attendees and meeting old and potentially new customers. It’s always a great time.”

April Walsh, co-owner of the new Broke Girls’ Coffee Bar located at 3562 Adams Ave., said they plan to serve their already popular “cold brew” coffee and will also have live entertainment 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

For the past 13 years, mainstay DiMille’s at 3492 Adams Ave. has offered up hefty samples of their traditional, family-style Italian fare, but General Manager Don Hill, who has overseen the restaurant’s participation for the last seven years, said change has come.

“We’ve made a move to include more organic and gluten-free items on our menu,” he said, adding it is a conscious attempt to “reach out to a different clientele” and those who may be more sensitive to cheese, carbs and gluten.

As a result and after 35 years, DiMille’s is expanding their menu to include many non-traditional options, such as kale salad, a gluten-free pasta salad, and other fresh, organic, vegetable dishes. Taste of Adams Avenue participants should expect to find samplings from these newer menu items this year.

With 500 to 600 people moving through their large outdoor patio for samplings during the event, Hill said they’ve come to realize there won’t be much sit-down, dollar-generating business that day, but his staff always looks forward to it every year.

“[The Taste of Adams] is our way to give back to the neighborhood,” he said.

AABA Executive Director Scott Kessler said 800 people took to Adams Avenue for last year’s taste event, but this year he expects over 1,000 participants.

“[Taste of Adams Avenue] shows off the diversity of our dining and entertainment community,” Kessler said. “It’s a great value for four hours of tasting and strolling down Adams. If you walk the entire distance, you just might break even on the calorie intake.”

Presale tickets for the June 30 taste can be purchased online at tasteofadams.com, while day-of tickets can be purchased at Smitty’s Service, located at 3441 Adams Ave. This location is also acting as will call.

Morgan M. Hurley is Contributing Editor of SDGLN, Editor of San Diego Downtown News and Assistant Editor of Gay San Diego and San Diego Uptown News.