By Meredith Hoffman
TIMES SQUARE — Thousands of people nibbled on tacos, sundaes, chicken and waffles at the 18th annual Taste of Times Square Monday evening.
This year, 35 restaurants set up tents on Broadway between 42nd and 47th Streets, alongside mariachi bands, African drummers, and jazz musicians. Customers bought tickets for $1 each, which they used to purchase small food plates.
Gail Davis, 51, smiled as she gobbled down a steak sandwich from Gallagher's restaurant.
"The steak's delicious and the bread's tender. I'm trying not to eat bread but I'm eating this, and it's delicious!" said Davis, who enjoyed last year's festival so much that she brought her friend to this year's event. "It's nice to have something savory and then sweet, at such a reasonable price."
A few tents down Gioconda Garcia, 40, of Brooklyn, fed her son a sundae from the Blue Fin restaurant tent.
"I saw it on TV this morning and drove to come here. Parking was hard — but it's a great idea," she said.
For Chuchu Abbera, 27, chicken and waffles hit the spot as she walked out of work en route to her trek back to the Bronx. "It's tasty to me — and I guess to the baby too," she said, rubbing her seven-month pregnant belly. But she took issue with the cost of the plates, given their small size.
"Some of these plates are so little, they're too expensive," she said.
This year the festival concentrated all its booths on Broadway, instead of to placing them on West 46th Street between Broadway and Ninth Avenue as they had last year. Participants said the move helped them reach more people.
"With all the tents on Broadway it's gotten better visibility, it's more popular. And the weather always helps," said Gus Montesantos, director of food and beverages for Doubletree Hotel, home of Ginger's restaurant.
But some customers, like Barbara Fahey, were irked at the change, saying the festival was beginning to be a victim of its own success.
"I've been coming many years and I don't think I'll be back. It was more organized and orderly," said Fahey, a resident of Forest Hills. "Now it's not conducive to sitting down and tasting — it's too crowded, with a lot more tourists."