I had a fantastic time as well.
And I second the plantain empanada as Best of Fest.
Yes, there were some long, slow-moving lines, but there was plenty of time to sample everything. I only skipped a handful of carts (didn't want a shot of smoothie and have no interest in deep-fried sweets) and I never went back to one I'd already visited. By 7:00 I was totally full and it was time to go. (OK, I was totally full by 6:00, but wasn't about to give up that early.)
The smoked sausage at Blowin' Smoke was amazing.
The turkey dumpling at Soho was fantastic.
Everything is always wonderful at Banzo.
I've already forgotten which Thai place was which, but all but one of them was giving huge portions, which was nice, and everything I had was pretty great. One of them was too hot for me to finish, but my Fest-buddy was more than happy to clean my bowl.
Really, really loved Home Grown. Their pickled veggies were a nice change of pace from most of the other options, and the beer jelly was out of this world.
Was definitely disappointed that Surco seemed to be MIA the whole Fest. What was the deal, I wonder?
All in all the whole event was a smashing success. I had a few tried-and-true faves, sampled a bunch of stuff I'd never had before, found all the vendors to be extremely friendly and accomodating (I didn't go back to any carts twice, but there were a few places I asked to try two things and everyone was always happy to oblige), and stuffed myself into a near-coma.
Extra props: The on-tap water was very nice, and definitely preferable to all the bottled water I purchased last year.
Only downside: Terrible music played way too loud. I'm assuming the radio station is a sponsor? Really unpleasant and completely inescapable. I would strongly urge Isthmus to reconsider next year. Honestly, there's no reason to have any music there -- it's an outdoor event in a beautiful location -- but if there must be, how about taking the volume down a few notches and playing something other than total drek?