Spring in Los Angeles signals many things. The vibrant green hills will soon give way to the scorched brown earth we know so well. The air begins to smell like honeysuckle. And food festival season is upon us.
That's right, after a few sparse months, we're back to a schedule of food events that covers practically every weekend and some weekdays, too. You could spend the next few weeks doing little else but wandering around large rooms eating small bites of food.
From huge, multiday, celebrity chef–driven productions to beer bacchanals, here are five food and drink festivals coming up that you might consider attending.
All Star Chef's Classic, March 8-11
This festival at L.A. Live downtown is already in full swing, with a dinner series that started last night and continues through the weekend. Dinners and strolling events are ticketed separately, though, so you still have time to hit the Italian Masters Dinner tonight, the American Masters Dinner on Friday, or one of the more casual events on Saturday and Sunday. There are kids cooking classes over the weekend as well. Tickets range in price from $125 to $425. allstarchefclassic.com.
Cochon 555, March 12
On Sunday, March 12, Cochon 555 returns to the Viceroy in Santa Monica. The traveling festival is a celebration of all things pork, in which five chefs compete to see who can make the best use of a heritage-breed pig. The winner in L.A. will go on to compete at Grand Cochon in Chicago on Oct. 1. Competing chefs include Bourbon Steak's Kyle Johnson and Union's Bruce Kalman. Tickets range in price from $125 for general admission to $400 for super early entrance to the event plus a special dinner afterward. cochon555.com.
Latin Food Fest, March 24-25
Held adjacent to the Santa Monica pier, this festival is a celebration of the cultural diversity of South and Central America and the Caribbean. The festival begins with a supper club and kickoff party on Friday evening. On Saturday there is a grand tasting in the afternoon, and a "mercado" event in the evening. A few of the events are sold out, but tickets for remaining events range from $19 for designated drivers to $149 for VIP experiences. latinfoodfest.com.
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The Essentials, March 26
L.A. Weekly's own biggest food event of the year takes place on Sunday, March 26, from 2 to 5 p.m. It celebrates our 99 Essentials issue, and features more than 50 of the city's best restaurants all gathered at the California Market Center downtown. Tickets are $65 per person, but this week (until Sunday night) you can buy discounted two-packs for $99 and four-packs for $179. essentials.laweekly.com.
Los Angeles Beer Festival, April 8
Two hundred beers, 80 breweries, live music and a handful of food trucks will be on hand for the ninth annual L.A. Beer Festival, which will be held at L.A. Center Studios just west of downtown. The event takes place over two time slots, with tickets available for noon to 3 p.m. or 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 to $80 and include unlimited beer tastings. Food is sold separately. drinkeatplay.com/labeerfest.