Summer Tasting: LA Street Food Fest

Shawna Dawson and Sonia Rasula brought the first LA Street Food Fest together in February. I had a great time but in all honesty, I would have not attended the second event if it was exactly the same. Then I heard about the Summer Tasting and it was immediately clear they had made improvements.  The Summer Tasting featured: Booze. Food. Music. DIY. All some of my favorite things.

I’m glad it was at the Rose Bowl, a much larger venue with so many more vendors and attendance capped at 5000. And free parking and live music? Crazy talk! And how amazing they were able to donate almost $10,000 to charity.

While I was bummed I wasn’t in New Orleans enjoying many, many cocktails at Tales of the Cocktail, I did get my booze on at the Rose Bowl along with a throng of others.

The Ladies of Pal Cabron

I had made this event my July food crawl. Although I saw many people that day and crawled with quite a few, I didn’t have quite the Minty army as I anticipated. That’s because although there were lines, there weren’t so formidable and it worked out that we could find the lines we wanted to be in and regroup every now and then.


Right off the bat, I started with a cocktail (okay, two cocktails) and had an oxygen mask from BLISS which is one of my favorite companies. That lemon scent always reminds me of New York…which leads me to some of my favorite meals of all time. I like to think of that summer as a major milestone in this foodie’s life.

Dogtown Dogs

Although I was born in L.A. and lived near the Rose Bowl, I had never actually entered the stadium. Oh sure, I’ve learned how to swim at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center and walked around the Bowl weekly for several months (which much to my dismay, didn’t lose an ounce doing either activity) but it’s always been a peripheral thing. Now I was walking down the stairs, standing on the grass, searching for another morsel, watching the live tweets on the Jumbotron from my friends. It was a triumphant day to be a foodie.

We started at one side of the Rose Bowl and worked our way through the crowd. At some point I noticed Susan Feniger, one half the the Two Hot Tamales, a show I used to watch as a kid. I’ve eaten at all her restaurants except Street but eventually I’ll get to it. I have even taken a cooking class with her and Mary Sue at Border Grill. Naturally when I saw her, I wanted to take her picture. Um, I may have “dissed the Mayor” when I asked him to move aside. Susan felt so bad for him, she invited him into her picture.

Mayor Villaraigosa and Susan Feniger

People asked me later if I was going to crop him out. Now I couldn’t do that, could I?

Whenever I think of street food, I tend to think of tacos. I’m glad I was able to stuff my maw (even these vegetarian mushroom ones) with lots of tasty tacos.

But the street food scene has grown. Largely in part because of all the fancy food trucks we have. A few months ago, a friend mentioned he was obsessed with this french fries truck. He didn’t know the name of it but could I have figured it out? No, because there are at least 4 or 5 fries trucks that I know of. Fresh Fries was serving nutella and peanut butter sweet potato fries that day and something they called “Fiesta” fries with salsa and sour cream.

Almost everyone was out of their truck. You can take the vendors out of the truck, but they can’t leave their little guys behind.

More tacos! This one is from a new outfit called Tacos Escuela.

There was an Ice Cream Social area. I loved all the shakes from King Kone. Next time I’ll have to have a “kone” though as it was delicious looking with a magic shell and nuts.

Tiara Cafe, a local Downtown Los Angeles favorite, really brought it. Their rice noodle wrapped appetizer was steaming like crazy and almost too hot to eat but I couldn’t resist burning my tongue on it. I didn’t try the smores cupcakes but I heard they won for best dessert.

Cheeseburger Dumpling from Deluxe Dumplings

It seems like just yesterday that Alex Chu brought the Dim Sum Truck, the world’s largest dim sum cart, to life.  Now he’s rolling out his second truck, Deluxe Dumplings. One of the last things I tried on Saturday was the cheeseburger dumpling served with a garlic aioli. It was…really good. I was kind of surprised. Being a dim sum snob, I didn’t mind this fusion dumpling. Be careful of that garlic aioli though. Just a dab will do you.

I am looking forward to trying more new-fangled dumplings like the baked potato one next time.

Devon and Michel

My day was even more fun sippin’ on cocktails made by master mixologist Devon Espinosa from the Tasting Kitchen. Michel Dozois was on hand with his marvelous Neve Ice.

For more pics from the day, click here.

I can’t wait to see what the Shawna and Sonja team come up with next!