I attended the Phantom Gourmet Food Festival for the first time this past weekend, and had a great time despite the rain. The festival takes place outdoors (rain or shine) every year in September near Fenway. Lansdowne and Ipswich streets are completely shut down, and close to one hundred booths with food samples line the streets. Discounted tickets are available in advance for $30, the price increases to $40 closer to the festival and $50 at the door. Tickets include admission to the festival and all of the samples; alcoholic beverages are available for purchase. In addition to the booths, local restaurants are open and offering specials as well as hosting events like a dance competition and taco eating contest.
I’d never been so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Tiffany (one of my best foodie friends) goes every year and came prepared with purple masks, a bag to take home samples, and a strategy to hit as many spots as possible without waiting in line.
Our purple masks attracted a lot of attention. Although we were not nearly as decked out as some other folks, we received a personal compliment from Dan Andelman and had our picture taken for the globe!
We arrived at noon just as the festival was starting, and the line was several blocks long. It moved much more quickly than I expected and staff seemed fairly well organized checking IDs and tickets in advance.
Once we got in, we rushed to the end of the festival opposite the main entrance, and scored samples from some of the more popular spots before the lines got out of control (Firefly’s, Cheese Boy, Kings, and Stadium). There were, however, some places we skipped altogether because of the lines. The crowds and the rain made it hard to snap pictures, but these were some of my favorites.
Sweet potato fries, Boston Burger Company
Bacon infused chocolate, Brew City
Grilled cheese sandwiches, Cheese Boy
The Mess, Comella’s
Pumpkin spice coffee, Dunkin Donuts
St. Louis style ribs, Firefly’s
Beer battered mozzarella sticks, Jacob Wirth
Assorted bars and granola, Kind Snacks
Pulled Pork Sliders, Kings
Bacon cheeseburger sliders, Stadium
Toward the end of the festival we headed back toward the front where the crowds had dwindled a bit. I scored a whole loaf of orange, walnut, and cranberry bread from when pigs fly, which I’ve been enjoying all week for breakfast!
Compared to other food festivals, I found this a good value at $30-$50 per ticket. I’ve been to others with tickets upwards of $100 for food and alcohol. About half price for food without alcohol seems reasonable. The food is casual – comfort and bar food done well, and seems to draw larger crowds. I might consider VIP tickets next year to see if it helps with the lines, although hitting the booths in reverse order worked fairly well.