In honor of Valentine’s Day, I, along with my food soul mate Ashley, and one of her foodie friends from work went to the first annual LA Street Food Fest in downtown LA. The festivities started at 11 am, so we figured we would get there around noon, spend an hour or two trying out the various food trucks, do some light shopping at the market, and then leave. A relaxing Saturday, right? Wrong. As we drove up, we saw hordes of hipsters, clad in their assy v-neck t-shirts, skinny jeans, and plaid scarves. And the girls were wearing dresses. The line to get in stretched over 6 city blocks, but moved quickly enough that we were in by 1:00. You can get an idea of how long the lines were in the back of this picture.
For a $5 cover, I got a hand stamp and a free (nonalcoholic) drink coupon, which I parlayed into an Honest Tea and two Izze Sodas. (Yesss.) The kid at the gate was supposed to stamp my wrist, but missed and got my palm. I then offered to high-five his face, which he understandably declined.
We went in without a real plan, and at first, we (stupidly) decided to all wait in the same line, until we realized that the lines were easily over two hours long for most trucks, and even longer for the really popular ones (hello, Grilled Cheese Truck). Obviously, “divide and conquer” was the best strategy. Side note: “make friends with the people in line next to you and get their recommendations/exchange stories about your cats to pass the time” is also an effective Plan B. We left Ashley at Komodo, Ann(e?) went off to Buttermilk, and I got in line at Frysmith. I tried to get pictures of all of the food we ate, but (1) I forgot, and (2) you would all be grossed out anyway.
So what did we eat?
From Komodo, we had a sampling of their tacos, including the Komodo Signature (Signature top sirloin with homemade guacamole and Cotija cheese); the Asian Marinated Chicken (Orange marinated chicken with Asian stir-fried rice); the Burgerrito (Komodo’s wicked twist on the classic California cheeseburger); the Blazin’ Shrimp (Spicy Indonesian-style shrimp topped with sour cream salad); the Fish n’ Grapes (Deep fried buttery cod tossed with fresh grape salad & pickled onions); and the Seoul Food Special (BBQ short ribs dipped in savory Korean sauce with pickled cucumber salad). I know some of those combinations sound kind of out-there, but they were all really good, with the exception of the Burgerrito, which impressed none of us.
Two hours later, my line buddy (who, strangely enough, was originally from San Diego and loved cats/her iphone/Crayola-colored highlights – I swear, we might actually have been the same person-) and I made it to the front of the line at Frysmith. I then hunted down Anne and Ashley, who were in line at other trucks, and brought them food. Behold:
Those are chili cheese fries, topped with chili seasoned with beer and chocolate; Rajas fries (fire-roasted poblano chiles, caramelized onions and shawarma-marinated steak with Jack cheese); and Sweet Potato fries, topped with free-range chicken in tomatillo-tamarind sauce and cashews. They were soooo good, but totally cold by the time I got them to Anne. Food delivery FAIL They were also quite messy to eat, but totally worth it.
You might want to sit down for this photo of the food from Buttermilk:
From the bottom-left: red velvet pancakes with cream cheese icing, Buttermilk’s house-made donuts, and the Buttermilk Brick, which was a stack of hash browns, an egg over easy, a buttermilk biscuit, and their housemade chorizo gravy. You can stop drooling now; it was amazing.
We kept seeing people walk by with the most amazing-looking hot dogs, and upon inquiring, found out they were from Dogzilla. This was the second (and last) line I waited in for the day, which should give you an idea of how insanely long these lines were, and by the time I got to the front of the line, it was 5:00 and the vendors were starting to shut down and were running out of food, so we only got try two of the three varieties. Apologies for the crappy picture quality.
We had the namesake, which was a hot dog topped with grilled onions, fresh avocado, bacon, teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, and topped with furikake. We also had the “yakisoba,” which, as you can imagine was topped with noodles and scented with a gingery sauce. I can’t give a very complete opinion on these, because by the time they came around, I was so full that I seriously contemplated curling up on the sidewalk and taking a nap. This is because while I was in line at Dogzilla, we tasked Anne with the job of finding anything that looked interesting and had a short line, and she kept materializing, handing me food, and then disappearing off to another line. She brought me and Ashley (who was in line at the Grilled Cheese Truck) a pita, a kabob, baklava, an empanada filled with stir-fried chicken, and a giant ice cream cone. Soooo much food.
Last, but certainly not least, Ashley finally made it to the front of the line at the Grilled Cheese Truck, which was easily the longest line of any. We instructed her to get one of everything they had to offer, and we’d sort it out later (and buy bigger pants). Here’s the roasted butternut squash with sauteed leeks, balsamic, and agave syrups:
Simply amazing. We also got the tator tots, because, like Napoleon Dynamite, we all love the tots. These came with a garlic aioli:
And here’s the Grilled Cheese Truck, in all its orange glory:
At this time in the afternoon, after sampling food from seven other trucks, we made the executive decision to take the rest of the grilled cheese truck acquisitions to go, so again I have no pictures, but we also had a Grilled Brie and Pear on Cranberry Walnut bread, the Dessert Melt (roasted banana puree and nutella) and, the favorite of my inner fat kid, the Cheesy Mac and Rib, which was macaroni and cheese with sharp cheddar, bbq pork, and carmelized onions. O.M.G. Food insanity.
Sadly, we didn’t have time to peruse the market or the DIY valentines, but I did get to witness the complete and utter failure of a dude try to hit on a group of 21 year-old kids in front of me. By the end of the day, our feet hurt, some of us were sunburned, and my sweater and hair smelled faintly of hot dogs from standing in close proximity to the Dogzilla grill, but we were full of amazing food and only out about $15 each. This was an amazing little festival, and I foresee bigger and better things for the years to come! Here’s to you, food trucks!
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