Bite By Bite

Taste Of Downtown Returns For Spring Installment

Posted: March 5, 2014

Jeff Smith (left) and his father, Steve Smith, both of Harrisonburg, eat lunch Aug. 12, 2011, at Billy Jack’s Wing & Draft Shack. (Photo by Nikki Fox / DN-R, File)
Keye doro wat, a chicken and hard-boiled egg stew, sits on the Blue Nile buffet bar July 13, 2012. (Photo by Justin Falls / DN-R, File)
New to the Taste of Downtown line up, Bella Luna Wood Fired Pizza offers artisan pies on Water Street, including this vegetarian option, not usually on the menu. (Photo by Nikki Fox / DN-R, File)

After earning a Culinary District designation, the Friendly City is looking more like the Foodie City. And, beginning March 10, local restaurants will once again offer delicious deals during the annual Taste of Downtown.

Held for the first time in Harrisonburg in 2008, Taste of Downtown highlights the local dining scene by providing attendees with an opportunity to taste a variety of foods — from Ethiopian to new americana — at a bargain price.

Local eateries offer special combos or deals, in addition to the normal menu, during the event, which is hosted by Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance and the Downtown Dining Alliance in March and August of each year.

“Taste of Downtown is a biannual restaurant week that promotes the downtown dining scene,” explained Kim Kirk, director of promotions for Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. “It also serves as a collaborative effort between the restaurants and eateries.”

During the inaugural year, only nine restaurants offered dinner specials for Taste of Downtown, which lasted just three days. But over the years, the celebration has expanded not only in length, but in participants and options, as well.

This year, more than 25 restaurants will open their doors for what has grown into a week-long event, and now, Taste of Downtown includes more than just dinner specials with a “sweets, treats and other eats” category, showcasing local bakeries, coffee shops, wine and beer options, and farmers market vendors, Kirk explained.

“With the growth of specialty food businesses, Taste of Downtown has expanded to include those locations that may not offer a full meal, but still provide tasty treats,” she said.

The deals are now broken up into five categories: breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch spots, as well as sweets, treats and other eats.

Two new restaurants will be participating this year — Bella Luna and El Sol — and previous favorites will return with new deals.

Rocktown Bites! will also offer a specialty food tour during Taste of Downtown, titled “Around the World in Rocktown.”

The tour will grant participants a behind-the-scenes look at seven international restaurants, along with the opportunity to sample ethnic food and drink options.

Kirk says she’s excited for Taste of Downtown and the opportunity to once again highlight the diverse dining scene downtown Harrisonburg offers.

“‘I’ve participated in the event for several years, but this is my first time getting a behind-the-scenes look at the planning and organization of the restaurant week,” she said.

“It’s wonderful to see so many restaurants and downtown businesses coming together to promote the culinary scene and diversity of foods that downtown Harrisonburg is known for.”

Taste of Downtown will be held March 10-16. For more information and the list of offerings, visit

Participants are encouraged to call the individuals restaurants for specific times, as restaurant hours and menus vary.

Rocktown Bites! Special Tour “Around the World in Rocktown” will be from 2-4:30 p.m. March 15. Must be 21 years or older; to purchase  tickets, visit

Contact Sarah Stacy at 574-6292 or

NDN Video News