For the second time, Spoon has been welcomed to the annual LA Street Food Fest in Pasadena, CA. Per tradition, the 6th #LAFoodFest took place in the Rose Bowl Stadium and welcomed thousands of hungry attendees ranging from local media to the average beer connoisseur. Last year’s recap can be found here, but let’s be real: We know you’re here for the quick ‘n dirty lowdown on the feasting that took place. While you can get a glimpse of it by searching #feastmode and #stretchypants, you’ll still have to prepare for the food porn ahead.
With over 140 participating restaurants and vendors, the tastings were daunting to even our well-trained stomachs. However after shedding sweat, blood, and tears of dedication over eight different ice creams, we present to you some of what we think were standouts—good and weird—of this year’s amazing LA Street Food Festival.
The Weirdest Thing We Tried:
Diablo Taco’s Diablo Pops
Imagine the shock of eating something that looks invitingly sweet and cold, but has the taste of salty chilied mangos. This flavor was passionfruit with cayenne pepper, and the server suggested dropping them into beer for a unique kick. While our first lick of this popsicle was our last, we’d be willing to try the beer method…someday.
Slayer of Baked Goods:
Donut Friend, Colorado Donuts
Donut Friend pulled out all the stops with its S’morissey doughnut: chocolate glaze, graham cracker crumbles and toasted marshmallow on top. It tasted as good as it looks. Not shown is Colorado Donuts‘ Reese’s Crossaint Donut, a flaky tower of buttery crossaint oozing sun-melted Reese’s PB & chocolate. One bite of each and we were smitten.
Most Memorable Eating Experience:
A new Indian street eats restaurant is coming to town in September, and thank God for that; the pani puri IMLI served was quite the magical experience. These thin, puffy shells are made from semolina, cracked on top and filled with boiled black chickpeas, mung beans and potatoes, all spiced. They’re sweetened with date and tamarind chutney before being dipped into chilled herbed water and eaten in one go. The first thing you experience is the rush of refreshing iciness once you bite down. Then, the many flavors of the pani puri come through, warm and complex.
Our “Ice Cream Dream Team”:
Sweet Crush, Fluff Ice, Van Leeuwen Artisian Ice Cream, Local Ice, Pop’d Up Store, Salt & Straw
All the ice creams were phenomenal. But Sweet Crush‘s strawberry lemonade ice, Fluff Ice‘s mango fluff with salted plum, Van Leeuwen‘s Early Grey tea ice cream, Local Ice‘s raspberry Italian ice, Pop’d Up Store‘s lychee popsicle, and Salt & Straw‘s crazy Korean Fluffernutter pushed us to the point of no return. You have to try them all to understand, because simply imaging us crying as we sampled is insufficient.
We Had to Go Back for Seconds:
Casa Oaxaca, Bling Bling Dumpling, Sugar & Spun
Casa Oaxaca got our vote again this year with its hibiscus flower taquito. Although the taquito is vegetarian, its meaty, dense texture was a pleasant surprise. Our favorite parts were the light, crispy yet doughy shell with some crimson hibiscus flower salsa on top. Bling Bling Dumpling slung out some of the most delicious BBQ chicken dumplings we’ve tried yet, and Sugar & Spun‘s Cookies and Cream tubs of wispy cotton candy were so good that we nabbed more before leaving.
Best Reminders of Why We Love Tacos:
Diablo Taco is definitely not afraid of experimentation. Along with its wild beer pops, Diablo made a splash with a tostada topped with house cured salmon, cherry belle radish, chive, cotija and Bloody Bull micro herbs.
The Best Vegan Offering:
One Veg World
One Veg World displayed vegan creativity with its BBQ jack fruit, veganese dressing, red onion, cabbage and pickle sandwiches. We devoured every bite of the best meat-free rendition of a pulled pork sandwich, and we devoured every bite.
And there you have it. We didn’t experiment with the tequilas, beers or other alcohol options available for 21+, but we do want to give a special shoutout to Boxed Water for handing out much-needed hydration in the coolest cartons. We’ll be back, with our #stretchypants.