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Hundreds sample local fare at Taste of 630

It’s a good sign at a food tasting event when almost every diner has a different favorite dish.

That was the case Thursday at the Yorktown Shopping Center during the Downers Grove Area Chamber of Commerce’s second annual Taste of 630.

Soundtracked by a DJ and raffle announcements over a PA, upwards of 400 attendees jammed the lower corridor of the mall to sample items from more than 20 restaurants from Downers Grove and the surrounding areas. A $10 entry fee earned diners unlimited samples. Also on hand were Argus Brewery, offering beer samples, and Cooper’s Hawk winery.

“It’s like a mini Taste of Chicago, but without all the bumping around – just a little bit,” said Lombard resident Rashad Singletary in between samples.

The mini burgers from Gibson’s Steakhouse were especially popular, as were the barbecue sandwiches and gumbo from Chuck’s Southern Comforts Cafe.

The mahi-mahi tacos and shrimp fried rice from Jimmy’s Island Grill were a hit for Nansun Matayoshi and her daughter Jessica of Lombard. Doors opened at 5 p.m., and after waiting in line to pay the entry fee, they had hit all the tables by 6:30 p.m. and were full and happy.

Downers Grove Village Commissioner Greg Hose ­sampled the lobster mac-n-cheese from Devon, and named that, along with Gibson’s offering, as his favorites, so-far, after making it through a few of the tables.

“There’s so many restaurants from all over the 630 area code,” he said. “And it’s great with so many restaurants from Downers Grove.”

Some restaurants began to run out of items early due to the big crowd, but some like Carlucci and Jimmy’s Island Grill were able to refill their trays after a quick trip back to home base.

Carlucci’s orecchini florentino – pasta with crumbled Tuscan sausage, baby spinach and a tomato cream sauce – was Carmie Castagna’s favorite.

“Everything was absolutely wonderful,” the Joliet resident said. “But I’m a little partial to Italian food, and that was delicious.”

For Fouche Garrett-Shabazz of Broadview, the favorite was a salad of sweet and yellow cherry tomatoes, sunflower sprouts, olive oil and romero sauce from Esplanade Restaurant & Lounge in the Double Tree hotel.

Esplanade’s executive chef Nathan Enders said the salad was an example of the new, revamped seasonal menu.

The three-week old menu includes a bison burgers, and a namesake salad featuring seasonal berries, pecans and a raspberry vinaigrette, among other items.

“It’s going to constantly change,” he said.

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