The Taste of Bethesda provides a great meet-and-greet for politicians, particularly during an election year. And there were plenty of them at Saturday’s event—and plenty of potential voters, too—a record attendance of between 46,000 and 48,000! But do any of the pols ever eat?

“They don’t,” says Stephanie Coppula, director of marketing and communications for the Bethesda Urban Partnership, which produces the food and music festival. Too bad for them, since they miss out on some fun grub; 56 stalls in all this year.

As for me, I never have an eating strategy for the event, so I always end up indiscriminately pigging out. This time around, however, I decided to eat only at the new tents in town (of course, I still ended up pigging out).

Here are my notes:

  • Fresh Grill—What’s a ‘Bethesda Shrimp and Crab Roll?’ Looked and tasted like fried spring roll; struck me like a Trader Joe’s frozen appetizer.
  • Daily Grill—Lots of too-big chopped onions in the gazpacho, but good tomato flavor.
  • Zen Tara Tea—Just in time, a nice iced tea to wash down the onion breath.
  • The OZ Restaurant & Wine Bar—The generous duck confit salad with red onions, spinach, blue cheese crumbles and balsamic vinaigrette was unexpectedly lovely; a lot of elegance for eating on a store stoop.
  • Georgetown Cupcake—The line stretched from one side of St. Elmo Avenue to the other, plus down the street. I hate to wait in lines, let alone for baked goods. “The craze will be over in three years,” predicted a man in an Army T-shirt and fatigues, as we both walked past.
  • Bistro LaZeez—Like the chicken better at the restaurant; the street version didn’t have the same layers of flavor.
  • Yamas Mediterranean Grill—The gyro was the best of the new bunch.