How to Survive the Gastro Chaos of Seattle's 400,000-Person Food Fest

Don't let this mega food fest intimidate you—you got this.
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You need this in your weekend plans.

Like parenthood or law school or a bite of a ghost pepper, you should not embark upon the Bite of Seattle food fest this weekend without knowing what you’re getting yourself into. Three days. Four hundred thousand people. More than 60 restaurants and specialty food companies. Craft beer and wine. Chef demos, musical performances and likely a mad case of heartburn followed by a next-day hangover. All in the shadow of the Space Needle.

Bite of Seattle laughs at your little neighborhood street fest.

But because this is what we do, we’ve put together a primer for your food fest adventure. Follow along for optimal enjoyment: 

Go on Friday.
Our hypothesis is that fewer guests will visit Friday (July 21), so if you dislike waiting in line for meat on a stick as much as we do, play hookie and head over around lunch. Stay all day: On Friday night, they’re showing everyone’s favorite ‘80s flick Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for free at the Mural Lawn Stage at 8:30 p.m. The weather should be lovely, you don’t have to pack your own picnic because you will have been eating all day. Plus, there’s a beer garden.

Splurge on VIP access.
Before you ask, “But why would I pay to get into a free festival?” look at the benefits that come with access to The Bite Cooks! lounge: an exclusive rooftop bar, meet-and-greet with local chefs like Loulay’s Thierry Rautureau and Megan Coombes of Altstadt (one of our fave bars to catch a Sounders game), special snacks and a view of both the chef demos and the live music on the Fisher Stage. Also, and this is crucial: This area is 21 and over only. Each ticket is $25 to $45 ($5 of which goes to Food Lifeline) and allows you access for a few hours—check out the lineup here.

Have a culinary game plan.
OK, there’s simply no way to eat your way through this entire festival, even if you attend all three days (and your cardiologist doesn’t advise you to do that). We recommend sticking with the just-a-bite options, which are all under $3.75, if you want to enjoy the maximum amount of different tastes. Larger featured dishes are still under $10, and arguably sound more delicious. A few we wouldn’t miss: Afghan Delicious’ kabuli pulow combo, Bai Tong Thai’s pad thai, Simply Soulful’s fried catfish and Biringer Farms’ legendary strawberry shortcake. Save room for the food trucks—we’ve been especially excited to try Tabassum, an Uzbek food truck that’s been making the rounds.

Don’t drink too much.
For obvious reasons. Even so, taking public trans is a great idea for multiple reasons—you can drink more than you should and you won’t have to pay an exorbitant amount for parking.

We won’t even get into the performance schedule—here’s a lineup if that’s your thing. Now go forth and eat!

Bite of Seattle runs July 21-23 at Seattle Center.

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