Top Taco returns to Lafreniere Park this fall, adds barbecue competition

Top Taco festival announces return in September, moves to Jefferson Parish

METAIRIE, La. (NOLA WEEKEND) - Top Taco, the annual taco and tequila-centric festival, is set to return this fall ahead of Halloween weekend at Lafreniere Park on Oct. 27.

Now in its fifth year, the taco and tequila throw-down will make a couple of changes, including the addition of a barbecue competition.

Organizers say champion barbecue pitmaster James Cruse will curate this year’s barbecue demonstration featuring eight top New Orleans-area barbecue joints battling for bragging rights and NOLA Boards awards. Popular Mississippi restaurateur Brad Orrison of The Shed will emcee the barbecue demonstration in the festival’s VIP area.

“The VIP BBQ competition is huge at Top Taco Denver,” said festival producer Shane Finkelstein, “So why not bring it to New Orleans and show off the amazing BBQ joints we have in the city?”

BBQ Competitors include Desi Vegas Smokehouse, City Pork, Smoked, Gonzo’s Smokehouse & BBQ, NOLA Cochon King, and Frey Meat Company.

Last year, Top Taco organizers were forced to move the event to October due to impacts from Hurricane Ida, and previously, the festival was billed as a spring event before the pandemic. Finkelstein says he will continue the shift to a fall event since the addition of his newest festival, Food Fight, to the spring festival schedule.

“Our fans, sponsors, and restaurant partners loved Lafreniere Park and the move to October. The park’s proximity to the city, ample parking and beautiful grounds makes it the ideal location for our event,” Finkelstein said.

Another change to this year’s event: Producers will move the festival to the waterfront area and islands surrounding the pond in Lafreniere Park.

“Every year, we aim to exceed expectations and this move will allow us to take advantage of the infrastructure in place so that we can bring back our popular entertainment elements,” Finkelstein said.

This year’s event will include three stages of live music, lucha libre, the popular mezcal tent, and the Casamigos Costume Contest, plus new and exciting art and entertainment.

On the main lawn, Top Taco fans and celebrity judges choose the winners for Top Creative Taco, Top Traditional Taco, Top Creative Tequila Cocktail, Top Traditional Margarita-- and new this year- Top Vegetarian Taco.

Already confirmed restaurants include previous winners Johnny Sanchez, Velvet Cactus, The Joint, Los Jefes, Palm&Pine, Southern’s, Habaneros, and Felipe’s. Returning spirits include Don Julio, Milagro, Hornitos, Herradura, Patron, Ghost Tequila, Avion, Corralejo, Who Dat Spirits, Wetlands Sake, and Casamigos.

Fest-goers will also enjoy creative pop-up bar areas and DJ lounges, tequila tastings, live Latin music by Otra and Muevelo, and eye-popping visual elements.

Tickets for Top Taco 2022 are on sale. General admission ticket prices start at $85, with early entry and VIP options available. Once inside the festival, all food, drinks, and entertainment are included.

The one-night-only event benefits the PLEASE Foundation, a non-profit that provides mentorship, leadership training and scholarships to at-risk teens in the area.

Lafreniere Park is located at 3000 Downs Boulevard in Metairie.

For more information, visit the Top Taco website.

Shan Bailey

Shan Bailey

Shan Bailey is the digital content producer and on-air personality for FOX 8 Nola Weekend. Shan is a creative storyteller who is passionate about creating compelling content that connects with audiences.