Culture Connoisseur: Smorgasburg LA

The 48 hours of Saturday and Sunday are the most precious of the entire week. You only have 48 hours to cram in everything you need to do: laundry, running errands and catching up on much-needed sleep. It’s only fair that you devote at least a few of those hours to fun. If you live in or near Los Angeles, you should devote them to Smorgasburg LA.

Smorgasburg started out as an offshoot of the Brooklyn Flea Market a few years ago. It was originally just a way for local food vendors to get in on the weekend flea market crowd, and it became its own very big thing. It still runs from April to November, and hosts some of the most important names in New York food.

This summer, the same team decided to bring the event to Los Angeles. It’s held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Alameda Produce Market, which is just outside of the Fashion District. In addition to a beer garden and food stalls, some of which only come out for food festival events, there are vendors selling clothing, housewares and other lifestyle products.

One of the first things I noticed were these colorful umbrellas. A+ aesthetic choice.

One of the first things I noticed were these colorful umbrellas. A+ aesthetic choice.

Back in July, my friends (Adrian, Czarina, Klarize and Alan) and I braved a hot day to check out what Smorgasburg LA had going on. It’s relatively easy to get there from the 10 Freeway, if you know where to turn in to park — the garage across the way has free parking for the first two hours.

We got there around lunchtime, so we were immediately interested in getting a sandwich or taco. We chose crab sandwiches from Summer Crab. It’s best to take a quick tour of the entire festival first: you can scope out your drink and dessert choices, and you get a better feel of all of your options. Never pick the first vendor you see.

This is the Trap Queen: soft shell crab with chili sauce. Served with a side of cassava chips.

This is the Trap Queen: soft shell crab with chili sauce. Served with a side of cassava chips.

After hanging out under a much-needed umbrella and wandering past a tent that sold art prints (I have to stay away from those or I’ll buy the whole store), we scoped out the ice cream. Smorgasburg LA in general is really big on celebrating the food holidays the Sundays happen to coincide with. We went on National Ice Cream Day, so a bunch of LA ice cream shops came out with their trucks. It was a good choice on a hot day, but I definitely want to go again when it’s not so crowded for the hype of a food holiday. The upside was that I tried Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream for the first time and loved it.

 

Sweet cream and Intelligentsia black cat espresso.

Sweet cream and Intelligentsia black cat espresso.

My last item of the day was a cup of strawberry lemonade. Earlier in the day, I had seen an event-goer carrying what looked like the most refreshing cup of fruity goodness. Czarina and I finally tracked down the vendor that was selling it and immediately bought two cups. 12/10, still thinking about that lemonade.

Yooooooooooo.

Yooooooooooo.

My favorite thing about Smorgasburg LA is that you have a bunch of food options in one place — you get a real slice of LA food culture without having to trek all over. Events like these are a good barometer for what people want out of cultural experiences. To me, Smorgasburg’s rise is saying that the people of LA want somewhere to hang, enjoy the outdoors and eat good food. And it’s easy to get a taco from a truck in downtown, a donut from the West Side and an acai bowl from a popup and not feel all that guilty about driving and wait times. There are only so many hours in a weekend, after all.

Have you been to Smorgasburg LA/NYC, or know of something similar? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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