Hundreds of community members gathered for food, art and camaraderie at the second annual Taste of Downey event at City Hall Friday evening.
It was all about connecting residents with local restaurants, artists and with each other.
“I think it’s a way to let everybody know that ‘Hey we have some great places to eat here,’” said Downey City Councilman Mario Guerra. “This is also a great community-builder.”
The event featured 31 restaurants that included larger chains such as Acopulco and Buffalo Wild Wings as well as hometown eateries like Frantone’s Pizza & Spaghetti and 3rd Street Café.
As The Wise Guys Big Band Machine played on a large stage, restaurant representatives served up small plates of food from their uniform white tents neatly lined in two rows. Attendees stood at tall cocktail
tables draped in long black table cloths, visiting with each other and tasting Downey’s wide array of cuisine.
Teresa Nicassio said she discovered a few new restaurants at the Taste events. Among her favorites was R&J Southern Homecooking Restaurant.
“I love having new places to go,” she said. “We live here so we like to eat at restaurants here in the city.”
This year, organizers also incorporated a new local artist exhibit put on in conjunction with the Downey Art Vibe, which promotes artistic and cultural activities in the city.
“Basically what we’re trying to do is bring more galleries, art events and festivals and gallery space in Downey,” said Valentin Flores, the organization’s founder.
Sixteen artists contributed to the outdoor exhibit, which included mainly photography and paintings.
Artist and Jamie Rowland presented 18 pieces. Some of them featured original photographs from the Downey Parks and Recreation Department in the 1950s.
“Everything in the show is from Downey or about Downey,” he said.
Downey resident Jose Cervantes, 24, was excited that he had a place to showcase his work. He
presented three landscape photography pieces.
“I finally get to get my work out here and get some exposure. It feels really good,” he said. “Hopefully
through this, people will see that there is art and there are artists in this town.”
Guerra said the Taste of Downey has grown significantly since last year. The push to support local
restaurants started with Dine In Downey, a program that rewarded patrons with discounts if they ate
out in the city.
“You can’t be pro business and pro restaurants and not help promote them,” he said. “Our staff has worked so hard on this, so it’s pretty exciting. I think this is exactly what we should be doing in the