A three-month foodie challenge across the city of Plano launched Feb. 24.

The challenge, named the Taste of Plano Foodie Pass and created by VisitPlano, encourages eating local at a time when local restaurants are need of support, VisitPlano Marketing Manager Millerann Moya said. Although the department is normally focused on attracting business for Plano hotels, it chose to refocus its efforts on restaurants as travel slowed in recent months, Moya said.

"The restaurant industry is a huge partner to Plano," she said. "And we know that COVID has been detrimental to them, ... so we wanted to come up with a program to help our restaurants to [reach] the locals."

If local diners check in at 25 of the 70 participating restaurants by late May, they will receive a "I'm a Plano Foodie" t-shirt as part of the Taste of Plano Foodie Pass.

Check-ins are tracked via a mobile passport, which is delivered to phones through text or email as a link users can add to their home screen for easy access, VisitPlano shared in a release. When diners are at participating restaurants and eateries for dine-in or pickup, they can open the passport and check in using the phone's GPS.

These sorts of programs are encouraging for small businesses, said Ana Castillo, owner of participating restaurant The Latin Pig. It also helps restaurants in different areas of the city reach across town, owner John Castillo added.

"[These programs are] a wonderful way to convince people to give those all those little restaurants a chance and opportunity to go visit them," Castillo said.

Options for dining with the challenge range from pizza and brisket tacos, with restaurants ZaLat Pizza Downtown Plano and Mesero at Legacy West, to ice cream and marshmallows at locations MilkyTreats and Mallow Box, with cocktails and burgers in between at Peppersmash and Nest Burger. A number of participating restaurants have also included discounts for pass users.

“The ‘Taste of Plano’ foodie pass is a win-win for restaurants, patrons and the Plano community,” Visit Plano Director Mark Thompson said in the release. “The program encourages consumers to broaden their horizons and discover all the flavors of our city. In doing so, they’ll be supporting the establishments that make Plano’s vibrant food scene what it is.”

More information on the challenge and how to join—as a foodie or as a participating restaurant—can be found here.