Taste of Downtown

Downtown Lansing Inc. (DLI) asked me to take photos at the annual Taste of Downtown event this past weekend. As I scan through these images I am realizing that this was a well organized and really fun event. This summer was the second time around for the Taste of Downtown, with last summer being the inaugural event.  There was something for adults and children alike. There were more than 1,000 people in attendance, and it was great to see so many people packed downtown!

Tickets for Taste of Downtown were $15; attendees got a wine glass and food tickets upon entry. The event took place on Washington Sq, with a few bocks of the street blocked to accomodate all the festivities. Restaurants from the principal shopping district came together to present the best of what they had to offer, and they exceeded expectations.  In addition to great food from Lansing’s best restaurants there were around 100 wines to choose from. To top it off, the air resonated with tunes from from Kuugana African Drum & Dance, Hot Club of Lansing, Third Coast Steel, and Orquestra Ritmo. There was also a kids corner with Nifty the Clown and face painting.

I bike through downtown pretty often, and patron many of the local establishments, but I was shocked to see all the different kinds of food Lansing has to offer in one place. There was everything from Troppo’s  delectable cannoli and Eden’s Juice’s smoothies, to soup from the Nuthouse. Anqi sushi had one of the busiest stalls at Taste of Downtown. In fact, I even met a few people who used all their food tickets on sushi alone!

Since I don’t drink, and it would be unfair to write a post about Taste of Downtown while omitting the great wine that was available, I called upon one of my favorite Lansing foodies; Tim Schmitt, to discuss some of the highlights of the wine tasting at the event. He eagerly responded and said he is always “happy to talk about booze for [his] non-boozy friends”!

Hello Sir, I saw you volunteering at the Taste of Downtown this weekend. How did you like the event?

Loved the event. This is the second time they have done it and I have volunteered at both. The crowd was great this year and really excited to try new wines. And the food this year was really good. Chilled watermelon soup on a hot day…divine.

What kind of wines did you have to offer?

I worked two different tables: one with mostly red wines and one with mostly white. I served a Malbec, a Shiraz, two Cabernet Sauvignons, four Carmeneres, 5 Chardonnays, a bottle of bubbly, Pinot Grigio, a white blend, and a red blend. Throughout the event there was about every kind of grape you could imagine being served. There was even a table of just Michigan made wines, which was great.

What was your favorite wine at this event?

2009 Casillero del Diablo Carmenere. I actually tweeted @DowntownLansing to make sure they got some Carmenere wines and they added four! This grape has a really cool history (check it out) and is a very accessible red wine. Since they had four of this varietal, I had to make people drink all four to try them out. The fourth of the group, a Marques by Casa Concha, was phenomenally good and I will definitely be enjoying a bottle of that in the future.


Summers in Lansing are filled with so many great festivals! I saw many other Lansingites at the event and I’d love to hear your thoughts on Lansing’s Taste of Downtown! Feel free to share your take on the event in the comments.