I love iFest so much, I typically go on both weekends of the festival each year. This time around, I'll be missing the second weekend of the International Festival in favor of appearing in a bright blue bridesmaid's dress at a mansion in Las Vegas (HOLLA), but you lucky people will still be able to experience the flavors of Argentina this coming weekend. And that's not all.
This year, iFest has brought in more than 40 different food vendors -- not all of them in keeping with the spotlighted country, Argentina. Sure, you can get delicious empanadas from Lucia's Especialidades Argentina or The Original Marini's Empanada House this year at iFest. But you can also get everything from roasted corn to jerk chicken. After all, it wouldn't be the International Festival without a little world cuisine.
Here's a partial list of who to look for this coming weekend, with our suggestions in bold:
- Agape Kitchen
- B's Roasted Corn
- Café du Qvondeyz Express
- Caribbean Cuisine
- Churrascos: One word: chimichurri. Churrascos just makes the best around, and you'll stink all day long but it will be worth it.
- Cool Runnings Jamaican Grill: Always one of the most popular booths each year, Cool Runnings has a prime spot by City Hall and long lines that actually move pretty fast. Look for traditional rice and peas, jerk chicken and roti.
- Cravin It
- Cupcakes & More
- Daniel's European Cuisine
- Enrique's Place Latin Grill
- EZ BBQ
- Fork in the Road
- Govinda's Higher Taste: The only vegan food stand at iFest each year, Higher Taste provides excellent Indian vegan food from Houston's Hare Krishna Dham temple.
- Grandma's Old Tyme Frozen Custard
- Great American Cookie Company
- Jamaica House
- Kim Son Restaurant
- Lucia's Especialidades Argentina: Lucia's makes a variety of Argentinean favorites right downtown, at the nearby Kitchen Incubator. At iFest this year, Lucia's is offering a huge spread to sample, including empanadas, Argentinean pizza, choripan (sausage sandwiches), hamburguesas gauchas, asado and alfajores.
- Mi Pueblito: Branch out and try some other South American food while you're here. Namely, the terrific Colombian food at Mi Pueblito.
- Mint & Basil
- The Original Marini's Empanada House: Empanadas. Empanadas. Empanadas. There isn't a filling under the Texan sun that Marini's hasn't stuffed inside its flaky empanadas, but the humitas is still my favorite.
- Papa John's Pizza
- Sang Sang Foods
- Silver Platter
- Tango & Malbec: This might be one of the few times you'll find high-class steakhouse T&M at a street festival. Enjoy it while you can, because although the food here is a little more expensive than typical fair food, it's less than you'd pay at the restaurant.
- Taste & Tell
- Trentino Gelato: If it keeps getting warmer, you're going to want to head straight to Marcelo Kreindel's booth next weekend for a gelato fix. Eat it on a busy downtown street as crowds stream past and it's almost like being in Buenos Aires.
- Vivian's Kitchen
- Volcano Splash
Remember: Although tickets are $15, you'll have to purchase separate food and beverage coupons once you're in the door at iFest. It may seem like a pain at first, but you'll appreciate not having to fumble around for change or wait for debit cards once you get to order your food.
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Coupons are sold in sheets of nine for $10, and you can also purchase single coupons for $1.50 each. You can purchase the coupons with cash or credit/debit cards, which is good as the ATMs on site are deadly-expensive.
And remember: iFest lets you bring your own bottled water, so do it. The water for sale on site is also deadly-expensive, and you don't want to waste your coupons on something you could've brought from home for free.