We’ve been looking forward to Al Fresco for a while now – I love a good block party, and all the better when it’s in our neighbourhood! It was great to see the street closed down to allow only pedestrian traffic, too – between the extended restaurant patios, the fashion runway, and the stage, it definitely put the street to good use!
An overhead shot of Blue Plate Diner’s patio
Of course, I was particularly excited for the event’s new food program. Discussed as “what the Taste of Edmonton should be”, the block party would be highlighting “high end street food” from downtown and neighbouring restaurants, including MRKT, Elm Cafe, Pampa, Sabor Divino.and newcomer Tres Carnales Taqueria. Corso 32 dropped out last minute, and had been replaced by the always eager Eva Sweet. Pinocchio was also on hand, adding ice cream to the roster of items available.
Nate pretends to be fazed by the hungry hoards
Mack and I met up with Jane and Yi-Li at around 6:30, and at that time, the lines were already rampant! It was clear that food was the main attraction for many, with certain stalls barely able to keep up.
The organizers had opted for the Taste of Edmonton-esque ticket format instead of cash (which was likely good on the two fronts of fundraising and ease of use). At $1 per ticket, food items ranged from three to ten tickets each.
Ninja meat cleavers!
Our waffle appetizer kept us afloat while we waited in line for Tres Carnales, which had a crowd second only to Pampa. We ordered both the tacos and the corn on the cob, while Jane and Yi-Li opted only for the carnitas.
Jane and Yi-Li are Tres Carnales poster children!
The pork was well seasoned, and packed a worthy punch of heat. We all agreed that the flour tortillas underneath weren’t our favourite though – Yi-Li commented that between the two tortillas, the flavour of the meat was lost.
The corn, though, was the surprise for me. I’m not usually a fan of mayo, and am definitely not on the fries and mayo boat, but for whatever reason, I loved the combination of corn, mayo and spices. Maybe it was the music, or the atmosphere, but I’d definitely order it again.
Much can be forgiven because this was the first execution of Al Fresco’s street food program, but some improvements for next year would include a small handbill of menu options available, and larger menu displays at each of the food stands. A better layout, keeping in mind the possibility of long lines, should also be looked at (though I know a lack of power on certain sections of the street hampered the organizers this year).
Music played well into the night
It should also be noted that Al Fresco was again a successful fundraiser for the E4C School Lunch Program, though final numbers haven’t yet been announced. Congrats to the organizers for another great event – I’m already looking forward to next year!