Please your palate at the Three Rivers Arts Festival

Palettes and palates converge at the 57th annual Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival at Point State Park, where a variety of street foods await meat lovers, vegetarians and fried-food fiends.

Food tents and vendors are scattered across the park, but the main food alley is by the main entertainment stage. If you are meeting someone by the lemonade stand, specify which one it is by mentioning another nearby vendor, as the festival is dotted with lemonade stands. Despite the high price of $6, the freshly squeezed drink is the best thirst-quencher on a hot and humid Pittsburgh afternoon.

For the vegetarian crowd, be sure to stop by the Mediterranean Specialties tent for tabouli, hummus, spinach pie and crispy falafel balls served on a pita bread with lettuce and tomatoes and topped with a piquant tahini sauce. The tent is part of the New Castle-based Specialty Concessions, which is known for its delicious gyros and has been part of the festival for more than 35 years.

For those like me who prefer to dive into meats, Seivers Concessions of Grove City serves burgers and cheesesteaks and draws a line of the faithfuls.

“We’ve been in business for 36 years, and we have been coming to the arts festival for over 10,” manager Barb Mattocks said. “We are usually known for our fried mushroom and zucchini appetizers, but a lot of people have been getting the cheesesteaks and burgers.”

At $10, the cheesesteak was the most expensive item on the menu, and it fell apart when I took the first bite. Piled with grilled onions and peppers on top of a large portion of chopped steak, it is drenched in a yellow cheese sauce and served on a hoagie roll.

Another meat lovers’ option is the teriyaki chicken on a stick from Chan’s Concessions, another longtimer who has been coming for 30-plus years to the festival, A giant piece of chicken is grilled perfectly, which results in a crispy outside and a tender inside that melts in your mouth. The teriyaki glaze gives the meat a sweet finish.

There is no dearth of fried foods at the festival, and breaded mushrooms, zucchini, chicken and Oreos all take a plunge into hot oil. At The Potato Factory tent, the curly fries is a new addition. I passed on the $7 fries and instead opted for the $4 corn dogs. The breading was extra golden brown and crunchy and complemented the saltiness of the almost fluffy hot dog.

It would be almost sinful to leave the festival without trying one of the delectable desserts. At Simon’s Food Concessions, order the huge, crisp and warm apple dumpling for $7. It is smothered with vanilla ice cream and is enough to serve two. If you want something a little lighter or somewhat healthy, get fresh strawberries, dunked in warm chocolate fudge, served on a stick.

The tent also has a wide selection of homemade fudge that includes Belgian chocolate, chocolate cheesecake, French vanilla, mint chocolate chip, peanut butter and rocky road. The new flavor this year is smoked whiskey, which is really smooth with just the right amount of sweetness.

The foods are expensive, so be prepared to visit an ATM halfway through your grazing and leave with an empty wallet. But also be prepared to leave with a pleased palate and full stomach.

Shea Beaumont: or 412-263-1632.


Hot Topic