A Taste of 2015

Kalispell and Whitefish events promise wide varieties of food and beverage samplings to round out the summer

By Molly Priddy
Tai peanut veggie ball samples are served at the Taste of Kalispell. Beacon File Photo

When looking for a great deal, it’s hard to pass up two-for-one offerings, or even buy two, get one half off. But what if you could score a deal allowing you to sample 25 of the valley’s restaurants, all for the price of one meal?

That’s the idea behind Taste of Kalispell and Taste of Whitefish, two events one week apart that celebrate the variety and talent of the Flathead Valley’s restaurants.

The sixth annual Taste of Kalispell takes place Sept. 3 at the Museum at Central School, and the 28th annual Taste of Whitefish follows on Sept. 10 outside of the O’Shaughnessy Center.

At both events, attendees pay one price for a ticket and can sample creations from local restaurants and beverage vendors, without limits on how many times one may visit each table.

“Restaurants really go all out; I mean, they want to show off what they can do,” Sarah Stewart of the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce said. “Caterers as well. So they bring out the top dishes, they get creative and really want to put their best foot forward, because this is a very popular locals’ event as well as with visitors. So they’ll benefit year-round when people get a good taste at the Taste.”

In Kalispell, Pam Carbonari of the Kalispell Downtown Association, which is hosting the event along with Mike and Gretchen Apgar, said the event is a nice way to round out the summer.

Neighbors and community members can come down to the big lawn in front of the Museum at Central School and sample the food and drinks from at least 25 vendors, while listening to live music from Smart Alex.

“It’s a great event and a good way to help support the educational programs that the Museum at Central puts on,” Carbonari said. “It’s also a showcase for some of the new restaurants in Kalispell.”

Net proceeds from the Taste benefit the museum’s educational programs, as well as various community-oriented programs there.

Along with the food, vendors will provide beer and wine samples, and there will be a kids’ zone for the littlest taste-testers, including face painting and a rock wall for climbing.

The Taste is a relatively new event for Kalispell, only in its sixth year at the museum grounds. But it grows each year, Carbonari said.

“Each year we’ve been able to raise more money for the community and for the Museum at Central School,” she said.

Participants include Bonelli’s Bistro; Blue Canyon Kitchen and Tavern; 406 Bar and Grill; Brannigan’s Irish Pub; Colter Coffee; The Knead Café; Split Rock Café; Sykes; Sriracha Thai Wok; Second Street Pizza; John’s Angels Catering; Brix Bottleshop; the Kila Pub; Acqua Pazza; Ceres Bakery; ScottiBelli’s Ristorante Italiano; Tree Frog Tavern; Luizannes; Montana Olive Oil, Inc.; Desoto Grill; and Rock n Roll Taco.

Tickets to the Kalispell event are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors 62 and over, $20 for youth ages 11 to 14, and kids 10 and younger are free. For more information, visit www.downtownkalispell.com.

In Whitefish, this is the last year the famed and popular festival will be in its traditional format, Stewart, of the chamber of commerce, said. Twenty-eight years ago, when the Taste first started, autumn was a quieter time for the valley.

“We found that the restaurants are still pretty busy at this time of year, whereas 20 years ago we were trying to extend the tourist season. Now it’s extending well beyond September,” Stewart said.

While Stewart remained mum on what form the new Taste could take, she said it might happen in the springtime, in an attempt to start extending that tourist season as well.

The Whitefish event will feature more than 20 restaurants and beverage companies, and will still include the coveted People’s Choice Award, voted on by the event attendees.

Live music from the Eureka-based Michelle Lynn Band will be “music to digest by,” Stewart said, with easygoing folk tunes.

As always, some of the biggest players in the Whitefish food scene will be there, ensuring no one goes home hungry.

Taste of Whitefish participants include Ciao Mambo; Craggy Range Bar & Grill; The Cuisine Machine; Fun Beverage, Inc.; Genesis Kitchen; Glacier Distilling Company; Glacier Sun Winery; John’s Angels Catering; Latitude 48; Lodge at Whitefish Lake; MacKenzie River Pizza Co.; McDonald’s of Whitefish; Montana Coffee Traders; Piggyback Barbeque; Pin & Cue, Inc.; Stillwater Fish House; Subway Sandwich Shop; Sweet Peaks Ice Cream; Truby’s; Wasabi Sushi Bar; Casey’s; and Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Tickets are $40 each ahead of the event, and $45 at the gate. For more information, visit www.whitefishchamber.org or call 406-862-3501.

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