Alton Marketplace and Downtown Alton Inc. will serve up local flavor at the Taste of Downtown, which will be held on Thursday, November 18th from 5:00-8:00 p.m. at the Temple Banquet Facility and Spirits Lounge (300 State Street). Tickets are on sale now at Bossanova Restaurant & Lounge (112 W. 3rd Street), or the Alton Visitors’ Bureau (200 Piasa St.). Only 350 tickets will be sold, get yours in advance because last year’s event sold out! Make a night of it by grabbing a bite at the Taste and doing a little shopping with the merchants who will be staying open late for the Third Thursdays Late Night Gallery & Shopping Experience. Free trolley transportation will be available between all the participating locations from 5:30-8:00 p.m. thanks to a generous donation from the Simmons Firm.

On Wednesday at 12:50, Alton Marketplace Executive Director, Sara McGibany and Chefs Laurie and Geo from Chez Marilyn will be interviewed on KPLR News at Noon on Channel 11 to promote the events.

For only $10.00, guests can sample a variety of local flavor from fourteen of their favorite dining establishments at the Temple. The third floor banquet facility will feature appetizers, entrees and a wine tasting with Iona Italian Imports. On the second floor in Spirits Lounge, Fritz Distributing will be featuring tastings of their winter and holiday craft beers, while in the "Red Room", a wide variety of gourmet desserts paired with coffee samplings will be available.

Highlights of the menu include: strip steak with gorgonzola sauce from Bossanova, Prime Rib from Spirits Lounge, soup and stuffed bread from Oz Artisan Bakery, pulled pork sandwiches from Mac's Time Out, Tony's Restaurant's new sausage ziti pasta dish, Companion Bakery pretzel bread with Stonewall Kitchen blue cheese herb mustard from State Street Market, and Chez Marilyn’s crab cakes and stuffed mushrooms. Plus specialty dishes from the Ragin Cajun, Princivalli's, Holiday Inn's Franco's Restaurant, and the Schoolhouse Grill at Senior Services Plus. The dessert buffet will include petits fours, brownie bites and cookies from Duke Bakery, gourmet cupcakes from KO Cupcake Creations, plus chocolate deluxe marshmallow bars, gooey butter cake bars, chocolate chip cookie bars, and apple crisp bars from the Busy Bee Bakery at Beverly Farms.

Before or after the Taste, get a jump on your holiday shopping by taking advantage of the many specials offered at downtown's galleries and retail shops while you enjoy a variety of in-store refreshments, raffles and other surprises. Alton Marketplace is offering an incentive to cross many people off your list during the event. Every $20 you spend at Third Thursdays shops on November 18th enters your name into a drawing for a chance to win an overnight stay at the Tiffany Inn, located in the heart of Antique Row at 412 E. Broadway.

In Spirits Lounge, a gallery opening with the St. Louis Women's Caucus for Art will feature work for sale by artists Virginia Dragschutz and Dyann Kramer. At Jacoby Arts Center's gallery and retail shop, "The Artist Shop", you will find a wide variety of unique, one-of-a-kind treasures handcrafted by local artists, such as fused glassware and jewelry, fiber art, ceramics, photography, paintings, and art on paper. They also have gift certificates available that can be used for classes, gift shop items, or even for live music concerts. Visitors can also purchase raffle tickets to win 4 glass tumblers with your choice of size and color (a $68 value) by featured artist, Esteban Prieto. The raffle drawing will be held on Wednesday, December 22 - just in time for Christmas!

At By Design, all synthetic furs, vests, coats, jacket, throws, leg warmers are 25% off through December, and all of owner Lillian Bates' designs in store are also 25% off. At Mosaic's, you'll find a huge inventory of the latest designer inspired fashion handbags and purses. Body Restoration will be offering chair massages, skin consultations with Esthetician Stephanie Evans, plus a chocolate fountain and giveaways! Sherry Gardner will be offering free chair massages at Touch of Grace Spa where you can pick up a gift certificates for a great gift idea. Stop by Mineral Springs Mall to find “Crystal Lights" (lighted and decorated wine bottles) and gift baskets designed by Mineral Springs Haunter Tours operator Janet Kolar. Plus, pick up gift certificates for a Haunted Tour and Party-Lite Candles for great gift ideas. Don’t miss the drawing for a free tour or your free Tarot card reading.

The Grapevine of Alton, a Children's Clothing Boutique will be offer great one night only specials and free gift wrapping is always available. Alton Stained Art Works will be offering free glass demonstrations by request and special offers for the evening. At Country Meadows, storewide sales will be offered on antiques, gifts, and decorative accessories. At the Second Reading Book Store, pick up a copy of proprietor & author John Dunphy's newly released book "From Christmas to Twelfth Night in Southern Illinois". Plus, learn about Alton's history, haiku and more of John's specialties. Iris Boutique will be running several in-store specials and a surprise giveaway. JMC Design/Gallery offers a wonderful selection of Nativities from Peru, fall and Christmas Fair Trade items, essential oils and diffusers, plus an art gallery featuring works of regional artists.

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