I say it every year: Taste Of The Upper West Side is the best way to sample all the great cuisine ‘n cocktails that this classic Manhattan neighborhood has to offer! There is unlimited food from about three dozen eateries of all price points and ethnicities not to mention free flowing alcohol–and you’ll definitely be able to get your hands on exclusive signature cocktails that are only offered in one UWS each. No doubt that there will be a signature cocktail or two made just for the event as well! Best of all, Taste Of The Upper West Side benefits the West Side Campaign Against Hunger.Taste Of The Upper West Side happens two nights (Friday, May 17th and Saturday, May 18th) and the two events have different vibes and themes. Both take place under the Grand Tent at Columbus Avenue between 76th and 77th Streets. An incredible 80 chefs are working these events which totally blows my mind!Friday night’s event is called Summer In The City and takes place under the tent from 7 to 10 with food service stopping at 9:30. Plenty of local longtime favorite eateries are being featured but a few will be making their debut–Tiki Chick, Fish On The Fly, Friedmans, Melba’s and Solomon & Kuff. Sexy and sounds savvy DJ Svetlana will also be making her Taste Of The UWS debut as well! This event definitely has a “start of the summer” type of feel and it’s wonderful that numerous white leather-like couches are set up just outside of the tent so you can dine al fresco and enjoy the warm night! Tickets are $115 for one or $185 for two which is about the cost of one upscale dinner for two. You will be able to graze among some of the Upper West Side’s most elegant eateries–in the past I met up with people at The Leopard’s booth and was so impressed that I decided to do a family dinner for my mom’s 80th birthday there. Some of the great eateries you will be sampling plates from include 5 Napkin Burger, Bettola NYC, Big Gay Ice Cream, Bodega 88, Bodrum Turkish Mediterranean Restaurant, El Mitote, Fish On The Fly, Friedmans, Han Dynasty, Insomnia Cookies, Jacob’s Pickles, Jing Fong, Lucky Pickle Dumpling Company, Maison Pickle, Make My Cake, Melba’s, Miznon, Mojo Desserts, Mokum, Olma, Rosa Mexicano, Sarabeth’s Kitchen, Shake Shack, Shaking Crab, Solomon & Kuff, Swagat, Tacombi Upper West Side, Tartina and The Gin Mill. Drinks will be provided by Da Capo, Jake’s Dilemma and Prohibition.Saturday, May 18th’s event under the Grand Tent is called the Best Of The West VIP Reception–it runs from 6:30 PM to 10 PM with food service ending at 9:30. The $235 ticket for Best Of The West includes an exclusive hour-long preview of the event. The preview lets you get up close with the chefs from the event and it has an extremely relaxed setting. Regular tickets are $145 each or $250 for two. The popular group Project Orange will be providing music. Newcomer restos for this event are Boulevard Seafood Company, Flying Fisherman, Lido and Oxbow Tavern. The full list of participating restaurants for Best Of The West is as follows: 8th Hill Mediterranean, Awadh, Boulevard Seafood Company, Burke & Wills, Cafe Frida, Cafe Luxembourg, Calle Ocho, Carmine’s, Cesca, Crave Fishbar, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, Elea, Ella Kitchen & Bar, Leyla, Lido, Lincoln Center Kitchen, Magnolia Bakery, Mille-Feuille Bakery Cafe, Nice Matin, Oxbow Tavern, Orwasher’s Bakery, Pizzeria Sirenetta, Redfarm, Salumeria Rosi, Shake Shack, Storico, Tavern On The Green, Tessa, The Flying Fisherman, The Leopard At Des Artistes, The Loeb Central Park Boathouse, The Mermaid Inn, The Milling Room, The Ribbon, The Smith and Treat House.Cocktails will be provided by 67 Orange Street, Da Capo, Manhattan Cricket Club, Maison Pickle, Nobody Told Me and Tiki Chick.￼ For more info on both these nights of must-not-miss foodie fantasies, go to www.tasteuws.com. Be sure to show up with an empty stomach and a lot of energy to visit all the restaurants’ booths both nights!