The L.A. Food Fest took over Exposition Park last week, and with more than 100 diverse vendors, there was no shortage of culinary choices for any budget. The festival was launched back in 2010, when the nouveau food truck scene was just starting to pick up. Having changed its name and location this year, L.A. Food Fest now works in partnership with event producer Nederlander Concerts and has more of a garden-party vibe. Here’s a sampling of all the great food we came across.
Atta Boy’s Fried Chicken
Served on an Italian ciabatta roll, this dish was topped with pickles, pickled jalapeño, a little honey, secret sauce and lettuce. Attendees could pick one up and dig in at one of the many picnic tables. Atta Boy, which started in Seattle but has since transplanted to Los Angeles, stages sandwich pop-ups around Highland Park. For the fest, owner Zach Chambers served a distinguished porchetta, seasoning the pork shoulder with fennel seed, coriander and black pepper, then slowly roasting it. eatattaboy.com
Halibut ceviche at El Coraloense
The Mariquita halibut ceviche from this Bell Gardens restaurant came drizzled with lemon aioli and topped off with a walnut peanut chili sauce. The changoneada, a shrimp ceviche with habanero aioli and homemade chili peanuts and dried mango, was marinated in a sweet plum sauce. Serious, authentic yum. elcoraloense.com
Dumplings at Bling Bling
It’s no wonder there were long lines at Bling Bling Dumplings. The Taiwanese street-food catering company sampled a trio of handmade dumplings: ginger pork, chicken and Thai basil and shiitake mushroom. Equally delicious: popcorn chicken and fried tofu in tapioca crust. Chef Pei Chen added what she called “crack” sauce on it, which brings out the lovely flavor. blingblingdumpling.com
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Fried avocado at Sage
If you have never tried fried avocado, run — do not walk — to Sage Vegan Bistro. Vegans fell in love with its plant cuisine, which included Baja avocado tacos, Brussels sprouts with habanero cream and spicy Buffalo cauliflower, with its tangy homemade ranch sauce. sageveganbistro.com
Pistachio ice cream from Mikey Likes It
New York’s Mikey Likes It ice cream partnered with Snoop Dogg's cannabis website, Merry Jane, to debut a new flavor called Merry Jane’s Addiction: pistachio ice cream with toasted pistachio pieces and chunks of baklava, with 7 to 10 mg. of cannabidiol in each serving. Also amazing: the Mac Daddy (waffle and ice cream sandwich) and the Super Mac Daddy (double-decker waffle ice cream sandwich). The East Coast ice cream shop is hoping to open its first L.A. store in the next three months. mikeylikesiticecream.com
Prova's mushroom pizza
Mamma mia! Prova made good Neapolitan mushroom pizza! You know chef Vito Iacopelli really must be dedicated to authentic pizza if he brought his several-hundred-pound, mosaic-tiled pizza oven to the festival for people to enjoy. (So good, you could even take a pie home!) pizzaprova.com
Salad at the Walrus and the Hedgehog
The Walrus and the Hedgehog served its peppery farm-to-table salad with arugula, blackberry and nectarine, with all produce purchased at the South Pasadena Farmers Market. The caterers also featured a meat-free breakfast burrito with black bean & chickpea salad, eggs, cheese, pico de gallo and guacamole. And barbecue fans loved the 12-hour, slow-smoked pork bánh mì with pâté, pickled daikon and carrot, fresh jalapeño and cilantro. thewalrusandthehedgehog.com