Four Los Angeles Food Events in June You Won’t Want to Miss

Picture credits: TOTNLA, @LA_Chefs

Now that it’s summer in Los Angeles, there’s a ton going on all over town. And when it comes to food events, it’s enough to make your head spin. But you want to play it smart with your time and funds, because no one’s got patience for fluff.

Fortunately, I’ve narrowed it down to the best four events you’ll want to attend this month. They’re all on the weekend, so you’ll have enough time to make your trek. Whether it’s raising money to combat childhood hunger, celebrating Fatherhood the best way possible, eating the best tacos in the city or carousing the famous Rose Bowl for the best bites in Los Angeles, June is shaping up to be an exciting time to be in L.A. Let’s get started. Continue reading

Night + Market: The Best Happy Hour On Sunset Strip

Fried Pig Tail

I met a good friend of mine after he got off work on his vocational side of town, the famous and infamous Sunset Strip. I had heard about Night + Market, the adjacent room to Talesai whereby Chef Kris Yenbamroong is serving up campy (code for “street”) Thai food, and I was eager to get an introduction to this night spot by trying out their Happy Hour.

Fried Chicken

The decor, however, is far from it (it’s way more Sunset Blvd), and you’ll find yourself with plenty of natural sunlight invading the concrete-floored space if you visit during their opening hours – that is, Happy Hour (6 – 8 PM daily or all night Wednesday) this summer. Each plate is $5 and drinks include beer, wine, a Lychee Martini and a Mekong Old-Fashioned (again with lychee) at reasonably discounted prices.

All fried food came out piping hot and therefore fried-to-order, which was really important in maintaining the quality of the bites. My favorites? The pig tail (kind of a mis-placed pork belly since the meat has the same texture and consistency) and the chicken wings. Your server will ask you how spicy you want the dipping sauce for your wings (and be subsequently surprised if you say, “hot”).

Papaya Salad

Never fear, though, if you order the Papaya Salad. It’s a delicious and refreshing reprieve from all that hot sauce and fried food. The Pork Satay Skewers were also really good, tender and flavorful – and come through with 4 skewers in all.

I went with the Mekong Old Fashioned, which, I had to try but was proved right when I suspected it might be a little sweet. There was lychee in it but not much alcohol; my recommendation would be to get a carafe of wine to share or the large sized beer.

Still, though, I loved the value of Night + Market Happy Hour. Indeed, I’m curious to go back and go for a full-blown dinner with some friends. The environment is contemporary (apparently, this also signifies communal seating) and the music selection was actually impressive. Zola Jesus!

Night + Market Interior

Remember, if you have a hard time finding it, you have to enter through Talesai. The doorway is on the right. And be aware that they may not have everything even on Happy Hour menu – as we would’ve surely had the Fried Salmon Head had we had the chance. But the selections on that menu were all solid, so we were very much happy with our experience. We came out with $27 per person after tax and before tip when all was said and done.

Reading this before Friday, July 15th, 2011 at 11 AM? Be sure to grab this free Blackboard Eats code, which wouldn’t apply to the Happy Hour but would be a great opportunity to get a free bottle of wine for your party as well as a small plate per person. It’s quite a steal (and a good reason for me to go back as mentioned earlier)!

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit

Open nightly

6 – 11 PM

Happy Hour: 6 – 8 PM Daily, All night Wed’s

Night + Market
(Enter through Talesai)
9043 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
310.275.9724

Berlin Currywurst: The Silver Lake Brick and Mortar Fulfilling Your German Street Food Fix

Scharfe Kasewurst in Chipotle Sauce, Level 3 ($6.88)

I saw the alternating striped and plaid shirts over skinny jeans and under stocking caps through the glass walls even as I approached Berlin Currywurst in the rain. The interior of the former mom and pop pupusa spot had undergone minimal renovation and now carries a very different vibe, albeit more appropriate and fitting into the context of Sunset Junction. The yellow walls have been whited out and a mosaic of B&W photography is now the centerpiece. Diners eat at distressed wooden tables on school chairs and benches.

Fries and Onions ($3.49)

I’m loving the concept because, ironically, Berlin Currywurst is exactly where I want it and I know that it’s not going to drive away like another Los Angeles food truck, forcing me to check Twitter the next time I have a craving for Germany’s “National Dish” (while subsequently becoming disappointed it’s not in my neighborhood). It does run you double what it would cost you to eat at a stand in Germany, but it’s understandable considering they have rent to pay.

Perhaps it’s evidence that “hipster” has increasingly evolved into a state of mind and less of one’s unemployment or (lack of) finances. This is easy, accessible German street food that crosses all echelons and classifications – yet eaten with tiny wooden spears. You won’t find any silverware at this spot. After all, it’s not meant to be gourmet rocket science. Rather, it’s almost-finger food, customizable both in flavor and in heat, and served up with a side of fries and onions or jambalaya.

Interior

Pick your wurst, ranging from Bratwurst (pork), Bockwurst (veal and pork) and Rindswurst (beef) to Geflugelbratwurst (chicken) and more – with a couple of tofu options to boot. Each serving starts at $5.89 and comes with two slices of negligable “German farmer’s bread.” It’s OK to sop up the remainder of your ketchup-curry powder  sauce, but I’d highly recommend getting a side of fries with onions to share. The potatoes were fried and salted to a perfect crisp and, together with sauteed onions, were as solid as any I’ve had.

As for your currywurst, you pick the level of heat ranging from 1 – 4 (#3 comes with an Age 16+ disclaimer) and you can flavor your sauce with “Prenzlauer” (fruity), “Kreuzberg” (chipotle), “Mitte” (jambalaya) or “Alexanderplatz” (garlic) for an additional $0.89. I went with Level 3 and the chipotle flavoring, which was a nice way to kick it up a notch. I’d predict that the original sauce might be a bit sweet for my tastes. After all, I’ve always preferred mustard to ketchup. And now, I’m curious about Level 4.

The Berlin Currywurst Team

We ordered the Paprikawurst (pork, paprika, garlic) and the Scharfe Kasewurst (beef, jalapeno, cheese) mistakenly in the same sauce, but it became a good canvas to determine that the latter definitely wins out in terms of flavor.

Alas, they don’t have beer, but malt beer and Izze. But I very much enjoyed their Virgil’s Cola – a bottled root beer they carry in their small counter refrigerator. It remains to be seen whether they’re looking to change that. All the same, I’m thinking that it would hurt their turnover within that small space.

Berlin Currywurst employs a simple business model that fits just perfectly into that corner space at The Junction. It’s a great place to get your fix – easy in, easy out, no nonsense. And at the center of it all is a fail-proof recipe for Germany’s favorite food. Now Silver Lake gets a piece.

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit

Tuesday – Sunday

11:30 AM – 10 PM

Berlin Currywurst
3827 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Street Food Monday Returns: Sri Lankan Priyani Ceylon Café Presents Hoppers

String Hoppers With Pork Curry, Coconut Sambola and Dal Curry | Photo credit to PleasurePalate.com

Bill Esparza and Evan Kleiman’s Street Food Mondays at Angeli Caffe are back with a vengeance. And next Monday, they’ll be presenting Priyani Ceylon Cafe’s string hoppers. This is a limited engagement, unfortunately because Priyani has actually shut down recently due to bad location and unfavorable lease terms.

Never had Sri Lankan food? Wondering what to expect in a hopper? String hoppers are paddies made of rice noodles while hoppers are thin pancakes made from fermented rice flour. Egg hoppers instead are made with the same rice flour, however with the addition of egg in the batter. Other items from the former Priyani Cafe will also be featured.

Menu

Appetizer
$4 One fish cutlet (croquette) and a beef roll

Hoppers
$5.50 Five String Hoppers (rice noodle patties) with sime sambal (spicy condiment)
$3 Plain Hopper (thin fermented pancake) with choice of sime sambal or a *curry
$3.50 Egg Hopper (fermented pancake with egg) with choice of sime sambal or a
*curry

*Curries: choice of mutton or chicken

Priyani Favorites
$6.50 Chicken Biryani( Rice mold with chicken, eggplant, hard-boiled egg, and
cashews)
$8 Lampreis (chicken curry,shrimp sambal, fish cutlet, sime sambal, and a green
banana curry wrapped in a banana leaf)

Dessert
$4 Wattalapam (Sri Lankan flan)

Extras
$1.50 Additional condiment of a curry or sambal

Beer and wine will be available for sale

Fortunately, if you’ve never had Sri Lankan food, this will be your chance. Hop on over to Angeli Caffe for your taste of the action. It’s extremely affordable and much of the street food community will be in tow to support.

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit

Monday, August 23, 2010

5 PM – 10 PM

Angeli Caffé
7274 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
323.936.9086

LA Street Food Fest Summer Tasting Event: Saturday, July 24

Photo credit to avilon_music on Flickr

There’s something huge and exciting going on next Saturday. Folks, “it’s” not back. Because whatever it was, is relocating and then arriving as an improved version of its former self. It’s the LA Street Food Fest’s Summer Tasting Event – to take place at The Rose Bowl on Saturday, July 24th.

And now that the fingers have been properly placed on the pulse of the street food buzz craze phenomenon that continues to see growth and expansion in Los Angeles (and like no other city, mind you) every single day – say good-bye to that ultra low admission price. But what it also means is saying good-bye to those impossibly long lines and 3-hour waits, splitting up with your camarades and changing money in the dead of the hot, summer sun.

You get the entire all-you-can eat food truck and street food vendor experience for $45. Or get VIP parking and access for an extra hour for $65. This time, the staff won’t be constrained by their trucks and food will be served from booths. This event aims to be your one-stop stadium.

There will also be a Cook-Off Competition, judged by a panel of experts led by Top Chef Master Susan Feniger (Border Grill, Ciudad, STREET). Every signature bite at the event will compete for “street cred” in categories like Best Old School, Best Nouveau Street Food, Best in Show and People’s Choice.

Some trucks will be making their debuts at the event, including Whisk LA, The Fox Pizza Bus, The Mighty Boba Truck and The Creole Truck. “Surprise chef” appearances are also promised. Get a mini treatment from the Bliss Spa booth. Wash your street eats down with a cold brew (or two, or three…) at one of two Singha Beer Gardens. Other refreshments include Sailor Jerry rum cocktails, IZZE, Honest Tea and Dry Soda. Snap and grab your event souvenir from the Oh! Snap photo booth, which will be taking free prints. Raffle prizes and giveaways? Check. Free parking for everyone? Check. Attendance capped at 5,000? Check.

Looking for live music? The all-girl LA art rock band Warpaint and all-guy LA indie rock band The Deadly Syndrome will be on hand to sonically stimulate while your tastebuds are beguiled.

There are also two worthy causes that will benefit from the proceeds of ticket sales. St. Vincent Meals on Wheels will be able to feed more homebound seniors & Woolly School Gardens will be able to plant Woolly Pocket gardens at three LAUSD schools.

Alas, none other than the girls who brought you that notoriously packed (as in 20,000 deep) Street Food Fest back in February could’ve learned how to do this right. With attendance capped at 5,000 in one of the most famous American football venues – I have a hard time poking holes in this one. Buy your advance tickets now – VIP, even, for that extra hour - because if last time was any indication, it’ll be sure to sell out.

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit

Saturday, July 24, 2010

4 PM (VIP) or 5:30 – 9 PM

Website
Tickets (pre-sale only): $45 GA; $65 VIP

GA: Unlimited samples of eats & drinks, complimentary parking, photo booth prints and concert

VIP: Early entry at 4 PM, all of the above plus VIP parking

Children age 7 and under admitted free with a paying ticketed adult. No dogs allowed.

Rose Bowl
Pasadena, California 91103

Save Nina’s Food: Sunday, June 20, 2010

Nina's Quesadillas | Photo credit to LASates.com
Nina's Food | Photo credit to LASates.com

I admit it. I made a huge mistake by missing the first ever L.A. Vendy Awards about a month ago, in May. And to this day, I suffer having never tried a variety of O.G. and N.S. (new school) street food vendors  at the site of one, well-organized event. Of course, the argument of who’s who, we’ll leave out here.

But one thing’s for sure – the vendor I really missed out on was Nina’s Pambazos and Quesadillas, originally of Breed Street fame. Nina Garcia is notorious for her Pambazos, which Evan Kleiman, KCRW’s Good Food host and Vendy Awards Judge so vividly describes in this way:

The first bite of her Pambazo was like being hit in the face with a big punch of flavor followed by an incredibly comforting and satisfying textural surprise.  The torta, soaked in enchillada sauce then griddled became a sort of savory, spicy bread pudding filled with potato, cheese and chorizo.  Her Quesidillas are justly famous, a pile of cheese on the griddle turning into Queso Fundido that’s scraped into a corn tortilla made to oder and garnished with your choice of chicharron, zucchini flowers, huitlacoche etc.

The problem is that since her Vendy Awards honor, it has brought on the bad notoriety along with the good. The police have had a bit of a time breathing down her back, lately – with her not-exactly-mobile operation being a griddle and tables. And so Evan, along with Erin Glenn, Chief Executive Officer of Asociación de Loncheros L.A. Familia Unida de California are trying to raise money in order to get Nina into her own truck. Thanks also goes to Bill Esparza who passed along the word to us food bloggers so we could get the word out to you.

The Pambazo-Quesadilla-Gordita Fest fundraiser will be held on Sunday from 11 AM – 3 PM at Angeli Caffe on Melrose just west of La Brea. Buy a Pambazo, Quesadilla and/or Gordita for yourself and everyone’s father. It’ll be the best tasting fundraiser you ever did help support. And you’ll also be helping to sustain an important part of L.A.’s culture.

If you can’t make it and want to make any size donation, please make your check out to Nina Garcia and send it to:

Nina’s Food
c/o Carl Berquist
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
2533 West 3rd Street, Suite 101
Los Angeles, California 90057

Check the menu for Sunday’s event below:

Pambazo $5
(A roll soaked in Guajillo Chile Sauce filled with Potato and Chorizo and Griddled)

Quesadillas – griddled or fried – cheese only $3.50

Quesadillas or gorditas $6.50
Guisados (fillings)
Huitlacoche – Corn Fungus
Flor de Calabaza – Zucchini Flowers
Hongos – Mushrooms
Chicharron prensad
Tinga – Spicy Chipotle Beef

Bowl of pozole w/condiments $5
Nina’s salsa seca (to-go) $5
(Combo of sesame seeds, peanuts, chile de arbol)

There will also be a selection of beverages:
Agua de Limon
Agua de Sandia
Soft Drinks/Ice Tea
Selection of Beers

Further reading:
Help Nina of the Famous Quesadillas – Evan Kleiman of KCRW Good Food

Breed Street Vendor Nina’s Food Takes Home the First Ever L.A. Vendy Awards – Midtown Lunch LA

Vendy Awards Update – Nina’s Foods the Winner – LA Weekly Squid Ink

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit

Nina’s Food Fundraiser

Sunday, June 20, 2010

11 AM – 3 PM

Angeli Caffe
7274 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
323.936.9086

Flock of Food Trucks: L.A. Street Food Fest

Photo credit to RobeRt Vega on Flickr

Tired of chasing the food truck of the moment all over town? Wish you could sample things from multiple trucks for a smorgasbord? Does your favorite food truck never come by your work, no more?

Never fear, because a couple of native Angelenos (yes, they exist) have brought the entire Los Angeles food truck movement together in one place, at one time and on one date. All you have to do is make this Saturday your point day to try all things truck at The L.A. Street Food Fest in Downtown Los Angeles. Putting some holiday touches on the festival will be UniqueLA, who will make the gathering of food trucks also a last-minute V-day gift destination at their pop-up Valentine’s Day Marketplace. The event will cost you $5 to get in (sorry, VIP tickets all sold out), and featured food vendors have specially priced their menus to range from $1 – $5 for each item. Admission includes one free drink ticket as well as eligibility to win cool giveaways.

Thirsty for more? Beer and cocktails will be available at two cash bars – with proceeds from donated beverages being donated to the LA Regional Food Bank. Take a picture in the photo booth and watch a Capoeira demo.

And while you’re there, don’t miss the food truck you won’t see on the street (for now); Chef Ludo Lefebvre will be serving his fried chicken made famous during his LudoBites runs. I hear the “pop-up truck” has quite the design, and we already know that his chicken is quite the food. Also premiering are the Dim Sum Truck (@dimsumtruck) and The Fry Girl Inc (@thefrygirlinc) for VIPs.

Got a bike? LA Street Food Fest will be hosting a free bicycle valet for all attendees. They also encourage riding the Metro – the 7th & Figueroa stop will be where you want to get off. I’ll see you there!

Edit: Further reading (follow-up)

The Longest Day: L.A. Street Food Fest – Jonathan Gold for LA Weekly

Saturday, February 13, 2010

11 AM – 5 PM

$5 Admission
Age 10 and under free with paying adult
No dogs allowed

Free bike valet: enter on Bixel
Metro stop: 7th & Figueroa

LA Center Studios
500 South Beaudry Street
(Beaudry & 6th)
Los Angeles, CA 90017

@lafoodfest

Cowboys & Turbans For Indian Street Food

Shrimp burrito

I first stumbled across Cowboys & Turbans after a show at the El Rey. I was with my girlfriend and of course, we needed up to sop up the overpriced vodka tonics in our bellies with some grub. We ended up discovering the joint immediately next door, with lit-up signage labeling it simply, “Diner” and banners adorning Cowboys & Turbans’ correct name.

Diner food it is not, Indian street food it is. Nothing like a little spice to spruce things up before diving into bed. We ended up sharing a shrimp burrito for $9 and at the time, it was worth every penny. There’s a decent amount of shrimp in the burrito (despite what the picture may depict) and they keep a variety of 3 sauces with which to drizzle your tacos or burritos. I could come back to this taco stand.

And during a lunch break at work, I sure did. I ordered the same thing since it was “safe” – and found out the lunch menu on average is $2 less per item than their late-night “show menu.” But now I’m ready for some more. Thank goodness for Twitter; I got recommendations from Abby of PleasurePalate who got to sample more of their menu. The potato samosa, fish taco and apple samosa for dessert are next on my list!!

Know in order to go:

I love KCRW! KCRW members get 10% off which provides even more incentive. Also, the storefront serves as an El Rey box office during its business hours. So if you are feeling wallet-savvy and don’t want to give Ticketbastard any more of your hard-earned money with convenience and venue charges for a show at the El Rey, stop in while you’re getting tacos and buy tickets for any show that’s upcoming.

Lunch menu (11 AM – 6 PM):

Samosas $3
Naanwich (chicken or tofu) $5.99
Chicken tikka $5.99
Masala $5.99
Tofu or spinach Masala $5.99
Tandoori quesadilla (chicken, chicken jalapeño or tofu $5.99; shrimp $6.99)
Tandoori tacos (chicken or tofu $2, fish $2.50, shrimp $3)
Tandoori burritos (chicken, tofu, spinach tofu, breakfast burrito $5.99, shrimp $6.99)
Chips and masala (large $4, small $3)
Basmati rice $2
Naan $2
Masala fries (large $4, small $3)

I want a report back on all the menu items! Enjoy. 🙂

Cowboys & Turbans
5515 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.936.6400