LA Street Food Fest: Was it Too Good of an Idea?

I have just returned from the LA Street Food Fest. Josie needed a nap and I need to reflect.  First, let me say who could have planned for that weather? It was beautiful and perfect. Hard to believe that 70% of the USA right now is covered in snow and I may have gotten a sunburn. Josie and I arrived there only 10 minutes after the event started. We were volunteers so we got easy underground parking, checked in, and got our working aprons in preparation for our 2-5 shift. Of course, we put them on immediately so we could look official and have a bib for all of the eating we were planning on doing. Minty was to be leading a crawl once inside but we arrived before her and began our eating process. At this point, all of the lines were beginning to grow and it was only 11:30. We are both sandwich lovers but if you have begun to know our taste buds than you know Josie loves fried eggs and I loved pickled things. That means Josie started with a croque at Monsieur Egg and I had a mini bahn mi from the Phamish truck.

Both sandwiches were  exactly our flavor profiles and it was a good opener that required no real waiting. It was around this time we realized some very important things. First, we were listed as the top prize on the Raffle List. Never has a date with the UGs been such a commodity.

Secondly, we realized that neither one of us was prepared. We both had cell phones that were on the verge of dying. Not smart when we were on the lookout for friends and our crawl leader. We found our group in line for the India Jones truck and they all still had some Don Chow in hand. We sampled both and would have tried more but we were on the lookout for something refreshing. You should know us well enough to know that refreshing for Josie means an ice cold beer and for me (Carina) means something fruity and/or bubbly and cold. Jose grabbed a beer and I got the most delicious popsicle from Popshop.

Now it was 12:30, that the sun was beating and the lines were growing. We were planning on hitting up Flying Pigs with the crawl group but the line was too intimidating. Instead we waited for 20 minutes for Fish Lips Sushi. I have heard great things about this truck but this was my first time trying it. While in line, Minty used her feminine ways to get some red velvet pancakes from the Buttermilk Truck that had a 40 minute wait. They were light fluffy and tasted just like you would imagine with sweet cream cheese on top.

Josie did a beer run for the crawlers but requested I order her one of her favorite foods, karagee, Japanese fried chicken. I got something I never eat a crunchy roll. My new line is, “I am SO over eating cooked fish”. However, this was a bargain philosphy. They had the temari sashimi plater for $5, which looked amazing. It was rolled into a ball and perfectly bite sized. I was going to order that until I realized that the crunchy roll was the same price, $3, as the California roll. Hold the phone, you’re telling me I can add in shrimp tempura in the roll for free. Of course, I had to order this. It was pretty good and the tempura was still crunchy. We got princess seating on the (fish)tail end of the truck.

Josie was not that into her fried chicken. I get it, this is a sushi truck and apparently that isn’t even normally on their menu. Josie is allergic to most seafood, so this is what she was stuck with. However, even before arriving we knew that there was one person’s fried chicken that everyone was dying to try and that was Chef Ludo‘s. The time now was about 1:20pm and we were already getting word that people were waiting 45 minutes to order from the truck and then another 30 to grab their fried chicken. We didn’t have time for this because we were set to volunteer, or else maybe we would have waited. Thankfully, while we were working our awesome friend Kane was sweet enough to bring us over some to try. I don’ know how Ludo makes it so moist (not trying to be vulgar) but it was such delicious chicken. Would we have waited an hour? Probably not, but it was finger lickin good.

At this point we knew the place was packed. Far upwards of the expected 10,000 people. We ran into a bunch of friends: yelpers, bloggers, interns, and more. We knew we would be working the front door and as we were walking over there we heard that no one else was going to be allowed in. We could see the line and there were thousands of people. The lines inside were getting bad and they had to put a stop to the people coming in, it wasn’t a simple problem. Being that close to the door and organizers, I can tell you that they really tried to ease the situation. Announcements were made, drinks were given out to those people waiting, and they truly tried to be accommodating. Around 3:00pm people were slowly allowed in and at 4:00 the gates were open to anyone that wanted to come in. Josie and I have been to a ton of food events and whenever it is a 1st annual there are always glitches. However, they are reports that 15,000 people showed up; no one could have predicted that. We left our shift early a little beat up from the sun and by this time both of our phones had died. We lost one another in the crowd and it wasn’t easy to get reunited. It took about 40 minutes to find each other and then we left exactly at 5:00pm, the end of the event. There were still trucks serving, people in line, and it was still nice outside. Here is a shot only seconds before we left:

I am sure that a lot of people will have a lot to say about the event in the upcoming tweets, hours, and days but I must say that all in all it was a very fun event, I really liked what DJJEWLZ tweeted:

Lines aside, @lafoodfest was a fun place to eat some food, hang out with other Angelenos, enjoy DTLA and soak in the AWESOME weather.

Also, EatingLA‘s tweet was what made me think of the title for this post:

Oh oh! Backlash against @LAFoodfest building quickly — lotsa pissed-off comments on my blog already. Guess it was TOO good an idea.

Having too good of an idea doesn’t seem like a crime to me. I truly commend SauceLA and UniqueLA for dreaming up this event and making it happen. Josie and I love downtown LA, trying new food, seeing old friends and meeting new ones. This event offered all of that. Whatever people say about LA, there are a ton of real people that love street food and are looking for a gathering place. City of Santa Monica, please take note and consider reopening the Santa Monica Food Truck Lot.

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16 Comments

  1. Mrs. Mista disguised as Bigmista. Great entry chicks. A positive side to the whole thing. Thanks.

  2. I’ll repeat what I said to another food blogger:

    Well, what changed my mind about going is in fact what happened, unfortunately.

    I only had an hour free Sat to jump over into LA. “I’ll just get 4-5 truck samples to go. Then outta there!”
    Then, my intuition begun to feel a mass of people wood attend with each vendor looking like a Kogi truck line, at the least!
    Changed my mind. Skipped it.
    Next year – hopefully, if they have better planning.

    But, I’m glad you gals went. The event was better for having you there. Thanks, CO, for your prompt efforts to put up this report. Appreci Ate it!

    • You are, well, cum.

    • Not to single you out, but this self serving mentality that you can commit so little time or effort really does say something about the masses. To think you can go in for an hour and get 4-5 samples from an event that had 4,000 fb followers, was heavily promoted in the LA Times and various news sources is really ambitious.

      I look at all the complaints by people who showed up at 1-3 and expected there to be no problems and I wonder if those have any grasp on reality. The very basic, if not for the crowds, would be the worry that they run out of food.

      This had nothing to do with Dawson’s great planning and everything to do with the self serving nature of Los Angeles residents to not plan ahead by buying tickets or arriving early enough to actually enjoy the event.

      • JJ, it’s becuz I doubted my initial thought of getting in and getting out with a few food items in an hour that I Skipped this festival! Didn’t go.

        I see where some say, “the people should have come early.” I don’t think that alone was the answer. Have everyone who came yesterday, come at the SAME time??

        I admire & support the efforts of the organizers! I want them to be better prepared at their next festival if this is gonna be a regular event.

        However, I wouldn’t go so far as you to say their planning was GREAT! Or, to blame the problems of their event solely on the planning of all the people who came. I think we have to respect the problems the masses experienced rather than get defensive. But, this was a first time so no one really knew what to expect.

        So, I think you can expect the organizers and the attendees learned a bunch yesterday about how to plan or do things differently next time.

  3. Good getting your take on it! I’m sorry I couldn’t make it especially knowing they were letting in people who rode their bikes over first. Yes, there’ll be the requisite bitching from people and yes it’s frustrating but that’s life in the city. If you want easy, hit McDonald’s in Bakersfield. Lessons learned and next year will rock. Or maybe a summer one. Thanks to you early adopters. Oh, and I don’t care how many boyfriends you have, I’m still your date to the Grilled Cheese Invitational!

  4. Cool you had a good time. I waited for 2 hours & still was unable to get inside so we all left! I’ll have to chase down the trucks now. Ah well!

  5. Wow great write-up and summary! The crowd pictures above really show the popularity of this event. I wasn’t able to make it out there, but I’m sure it would have been quite the experience. I tried FishLips at the TLofts truck event and thought it was very good and a great deal; the little “balls” of sushi made for easier eating. And yes those red-velvet pancake bites from Buttermilk Truck are delish. LFC looks as good as the pieces I had at LudoBites. Good work covering the event =)

  6. Love the writeup guys….Wish we connected, but that’s funny you saw me..LOL

    My post and truck profiles are coming soon. Happy Valentines Day

  7. Wait, there was beer? Son of a.. sorry I missed it.

  8. Just needed a bigger venue, great concept though. mannnnn. looks fun though.

    (got there around 1, left at 1:30)

  9. […] so bummed that I missed the Dim Sum Truck sampling in the VIP section at the LA Street Food Fest last week. I was busy volunteering, waiting in line, and searching for a missed Josie that I never got to try […]

  10. […] and UniqueLA that share the same birthday. These are the two ladies that brought Los Angeles the LA Street Food Fest and are dual-handedly changing the event scene in LA. We arrived early to their free birthday bash […]

  11. […] We walked into the Los Angeles Studios and it was immediately reminiscent of the actual 1st annual LA Street Food Fest at the same […]


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