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VOL. 128 | NO. 116 | Friday, June 14, 2013

City’s Latest Dishcrawl Comes Downtown

By Andy Meek

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Memphians have proven to be hungry for the dish crawl concept – a way for foodies to explore multiple restaurants in one night.

Dishcrawl, which launched in Memphis earlier this year, is adding another Memphis event: a Downtown crawl June 26.

(Dishcrawl Memphis)

Founded in 2010 by Tracey Lee of San Jose, Calif., Dishcrawl quickly spread nationwide to cities like New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, Montreal and Toronto. The initiative launched in Memphis earlier this year, with the first Memphis Dishcrawl in February in Cooper-Young selling out right away, necessitating the addition of a second night, which sold out too.

A later Dishcrawl in Overton Square also sold out right away, and the newest event – a Downtown Dishcrawl happening at the end of this month – sold out in 10 days.

Similar to a pub crawl but with food, dish crawls are guided, walkable culinary tours. The Downtown Dishcrawl is scheduled for Wednesday, June 26. That night, participants will treat themselves to gourmet dishes at four restaurants over the course of the evening.

Part of the fun is the locations are kept secret until 48 hours before the event, at which time the first location is revealed to ticket holders.

Memphis Dishcrawl ambassador Kim Fuqua said she’ll have another Dishcrawl to introduce soon with a whole new set of Downtown restaurants.

“Dishcrawl allows 40 participants to go from restaurant to restaurant sampling several dishes,” Fuqua said. “Dishcrawlers visit four restaurants within no more than 10 minutes walking distance. We dine between 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night, when restaurants are not typically as busy.”

At each venue, the chef or owner introduces a special tasting trio and talks about the food and the restaurant’s history. In that way, Dishcrawl is a community-focused event.

“We aim to bring local foodies and local restaurants together in a really unique way,” Fuqua said.

Once the first restaurant location is revealed, that serves as the meeting place for the event. Leading up to the reveal, organizers drop hints about the location to Facebook and Twitter followers.

Fuqua said Dishcrawl is a great way for local foodies to try new dishes, meet new people, and visit restaurants they might not have chosen themselves. It also provides welcome exposure for participating restaurants.

Dishcrawl itself is established in 125 cities in the U.S. and Canada. The Downtown event will be the third to happen in Memphis, and Fuqua said the “dish crawler” community already is well established, as tickets have typically sold out quickly.

“Once I decide on a neighborhood, I hand pick the restaurants I’d like to showcase,” Fuqua said. “I consider my personal experiences, menu selection, online reviews and word of mouth in making my selections. The June 26 Downtown crawl sold out so quickly that I’m planning to run another event Downtown in July as well.”

All Dishcrawl events are held rain or shine, and cancellations are taken only if 48 hours advance notice is given.

Drink specials and pairings may be available at the discretion of the participating restaurant. Vegetarian options also are available, but every other special dietary request might not be, so guests with particular requests are encouraged to get in touch with organizers with questions.

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