Over 2000 people milled about in Jaco Pastorius Park under bistro lighting at a sold out Taste of Oakland Park on February 28th. With 32 restaurants showcased, the air was fragrant with the savory smells of hot soups and bite sized samples of a variety of cuisines. The biggest turn out yet, patrons were happy to find that the vendors were well prepared to last through the evening. Last year was such a success, many restaurants were cleaned out by 7pm. This time around, the traffic of the event was well anticipated and led to a fun evening of live music, good food, and community.
This was the 4th annual celebration of Oakland Park’s culinary diversity with big chain businesses such as Golden Krust and Tijuana Flats set up along side Oakland’s smaller restaurants. Two restaurants that drew the most of attention were Funky Buddha and Alberte’s.
Besides being a well known brewery in the area, Funky Buddha was hailed as having the best meatballs by locals. While Alberte’s restaurant, known for its authentic Haitian and Caribbean cuisine, had patrons waiting close to 10 mins for their free samples.
Locals didn’t seem to mind the wait times though, taking the time to enjoy the food gathered from other vendors, and listening to the Dillard Center of the Arts Jazz Ensemble as they played live renditions of classic jazz hits by Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and others.
With cocktail tables and lounge seating throughout the park, locals were free to socialize and gather as a community. There were photo booths and plenty of photo opportunities to encourage people to share and boast about their delicious finds on social media.
There were several smaller business also present including Upful Blends, an alkaline tea brand, which is proud to provide Oakland park with their healing teas, sourced from the Amazon, Mexico, and Peru. Their most popular blend is their mucus cleanse, which helps cleanse the body of mucus and reduces inflammation; such a helpful blend for this season! They’re currently planning to open their store front this coming April.
Another business was Humbld Beverages, a motivational Smoothie company, specializing in catering and events. After tasting their “Successful Strawberry” it was clear that they strive to serve this community with not only fresh and good-for-you smoothies, but also they hope to inspire their patrons “one smoothie at a time.” Follow them on Instagram for more info on their next events or to book your own.
If you’re ever looking for truly local honey, The Urban BeeKeepers got you covered. They sampled their Florida honey which was all made here in East Broward. The bees in this area make honey from Palm trees and it really does create a uniquely sweet taste that you really can only find here in our region. With 8 Apiaries between West Palm and Key west, they’re dedicated to keeping all the honey zoned to their home zip code. So feel proud that any honey purchased from them will truly be as local as it can be.
There was also the Urban Farming Institute, a non profit based here in Oakland. They shared wraps made with fresh ingredients grown in our very own community garden. They host classes on sustainable living, hydroponic gardening, and gardening basics every weekend.
Overall, it was clear that the foods presented here at Taste of Oakland Park also demonstrated the diversity that makes this community so special. The Caribbean and Latin influences, the creativity and innovation, the array of spirits and wines, all celebrated the unique melting pot that is this Oakland Park.
Brittany Hopwood was born and raised in Broward County and completed her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Central Florida. As an avid writer and artist, she spends most of her time designing new pieces for her self-care jewelry line, Violstones, and revising her most recent novel, written this past year. Her passion for writing and overcoming mental illness has lead her to develop a devotional Ebook based on her experience with overcoming severe depression, which she hopes to release later in 2020.