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have you met taste of the beach lately?

If you love food, and dig the OBX, boy, are you in luck! The Outer Banks Taste of the Beach is ON and we’re looking at four days of fun foodie events to treat your taste buds THIS weekend, from March 19 through 22!

The Outer Banks offers up a wide variety of restaurants to choose from these days, with menus to please most palates and budgets. You could spend a couple of weeks here, eating out three meals a day, and still have made it to less than half all of the great choices on offer. What’s a foodie to do?

Photo courtesy of | GingerSnaps Photography

Photo courtesy of | GingerSnaps Photography

Enter Taste of the Beach annual food and wine festival, an Outer Banks tradition that’s nearly 30 years old. What began as a group of local restaurant owners wanting to spend a day strutting their culinary stuff to the local crowd in the off-season has blossomed into over 70 food and drink events that range from cooking classes to BBQ cook-offs.

Back in the day, TOB was a Sunday afternoon event, with several restaurants setting up booths in one location. Now the festival rages for four days, and can take you from one end of the OBX to the other with events at dozens of local restaurants and venues. (Locals, who remembers when TOB was held at the empty Rose’s space at the Outer Banks Mall? Or the year it was INSIDE the Outer Banks Mall, back when it still had an inside? How about those times it was at crazy old George’s Junction? Good times!)

This year, for four magical days you can dip into foodie fun from 8am until at least 10pm. The official Outer Banks Taste of the Beach website details each and every event, outlining the type, times and locations of each. Ticket prices for events range from $15.50 (The Good Life “Souper” Lunch at the Good Life Eatery in Kitty Hawk) to $155 (VIP tickets to Mr. Knight’s Wild Night at the Whalehead Club!)

folks enjoying food samples

Photo courtesy of | GingerSnaps Photography

There are whiskey tastings, wine & chocolate pairings, six-course dinners, oyster trifectas, a chowder cook-off, beer fests, Mexican street eats, an all-you-can-eat bacon brunch and a shrimp extravaganza. Try pie tastings, progressive dinners, lobster mania and scallop showcases, or perhaps a pub-crawl and learning the secrets of a barbecue pitmaster are more up your alley? The list of delightful events is long and varied, live music is featured at several, and many events happen on more than one day, so it’s easier to craft a schedule of good stuff without having to miss a thing on your don’t miss list.

And all of this groovy foodie goodness cumulates with The Sysco Foods Grand Tasting Showcase Event on Sunday, March 22.

“The finale event of Taste of the Beach, the ‘Grand Tasting’ is always the hottest ticket in town. We have two times that guests can choose from to sample dishes in a less crowded atmosphere. From 4:30pm to 6:30pm or from 7pm to 9pm, about 20 of the best restaurants and beverages providers come together under one roof to give you the experience of a lifetime,” explains Ben Sproul, President of the Outer Banks Restaurant Association. “Restaurants will be competing for the 6th Annual TOB’y Awards, Best Booth, Best in Show, Best Outer Banks Catch, and the two top awards, the Chef’s Award and People’s Choice Awards.”

The Grand Tasting event, held at Pamlico Jack’s restaurant set beautifully on the sound in Nags Head, became so popular that it was getting a wee bit crowded at both sittings, so the organizers have responded by reducing the number of tickets sold, creating a more luscious and comfortable experience for all.

Tickets for the Grand Tasting are $65, and worth every penny. Let me set the scene: three giant rooms full of awesome food, gorgeously presented in lovely bite-sized portions. The restaurants compete for awards, including best-looking booth, and it shows in their displays. There is live music by local musicians. Beer and wine vendors are in attendance, and your ticket includes a bottomless glass, so taste away! This is a grown-up event (21 and up, please), and strolling from booth to booth with your honey nibbling on course after course of deliciousness really makes for a perfect date night. So much good food, drink and fun in one place guarantees that you will leave with a full belly and a big smile. See you there!

The Outer Banks Restaurant Association represents over 100 area business and restaurants and works diligently to further their mission of advocating the Outer Banks as a premier destination for fresh, inventive, regionally purveyed cuisine featuring highly talented Chefs and entrepreneurial business owners. The organization is highly respected and holds a voting seat on the Dare County Board of Tourism as well as the newly formed Outer Banks Seafood Festival Board of Directors.

You can purchase tickets, find a full listing and schedule of events including pricing, and download program book to the 2015 Outer Banks Taste of the Beach HERE.

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