Hundreds of people strolled up and down Brand Boulevard Wednesday evening to get a taste of what some of Glendale's restaurants have to offer.
About 45 eateries participated in the 17th annual Taste Walk Glendale, formerly known as the Taste of Downtown Glendale, during which the restaurants offered guests bite-sized portions of some of their best dishes.
Restaurants such as California Pizza Kitchen and Tender Greens served simple dishes, such as a pasta-salad combo sampler or beet humus served on top of a slice of cucumber. Other establishments went a bit more upscale. Workers from BJ's Restaurant, for example, passed out slices of top sirloin steak.
Many people decided to bypass dinner and headed straight for desserts as a long queue formed at the 85˚C Bakery, where they were offering an assortment of sweetbreads and pastries.
After hearing about past local culinary events, Glendale residents and married couple Denise Polo and Steve Murray said they decided to partake in this year's Taste Walk Glendale as a way to become more familiar with the city.
"There were some restaurants on the route that I've been wanting to try, so I figured that if I liked their appetizer, we'll actually go in and eat there," said Polo, as she and her husband took bites from the steak served by BJ's.
"I've kept telling my husband that we need to explore Glendale more, and this is a good way to do that," she added.
Taste Walk Glendale was launched 17 years ago by Glendale Healthy Kids, which provides health services to local low-income children, and was eventually turned over to Glendale Arts, a local nonprofit whose mission is to promote arts programs in the city and manage the Alex Theatre.
Proceeds from the event benefit Glendale Arts, which will also allocate some of the funds to support YWCA Glendale's Camp Y summer program.
Nina Crowe, director of fund development and community partnerships for Glendale Arts, said food is a great way to make connections with people in the community because food, like art, can create memorable experiences.
"A lot of us remember a smell, whether it was your grandma baking a pie or your family making tamales," Crowe said. "We all bond around food and those create memories. Those are the same things that art does. Arts create those memories and those moments in time that you want to remember. It just kind of makes sense."
Performing on the plaza in front of California Pizza Kitchen on Brand was the Hoover High School Jazz Band, which played several classics, such as "The Boy from Ipanema," for those who were walking down the street.
Martin Rhees, director of instrumental music at Hoover, said it is important for residents to support local arts education programs, regardless if students will go on to pursue a musical career.
"I don't know how many of these kids are going to go on into music, but the values, the teamwork, organization and dedication they put into developing things to a professional level — they can take these tools and use it for whatever they choose to do after this point," he said.
"In the same way with athletics, certainly it doesn't exist so that we provide the NFL with new players every year. This is more about rounding out the students' experience in high school by having a deeper appreciation for music, but also learning universal tools," he added.