Street food is connected to place. An al pastor vendor releasing porky perfume on a Mexico City street corner. Salt-crusted sweet potatoes from a cart next to a temple in rural Japan. You can't think about the places you've been without contemplating the rushed culinary pleasures you've enjoyed there. On Saturday, June 29, the fourth annual L.A. Street Food Fest infiltrates the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and creates an alternate-reality culinary bizarro world in which street-food dishes from a dizzying array of places appear in shockingly close proximity to one another. It's as if dozens of street corners, plazas and markets could be lifted from their original digs and transplanted in alluring, pastrylike layers on a single swath of terrain.
More than 100 popular local purveyors will participate, including Starry Kitchen, Currywurst, Short Order, Rivera and Lazy Ox Canteen. There'll be an “ice cream social” featuring a baker's dozen of frozen-treat specialists. There'll be a Singha beer garden, tequila and rum bars, and all manner of goodies designed to turn your stomach and liver into limp custard.
Only 5,000 presale ticket buyers will attend this gluttonous spectacle, and for a fairly reasonable price of $50 ($75 will get you in two hours early). We find it funny when events like this bill themselves as “tastings.” The reality — and it's really the nature of the beast, not the fault of any organizer — is a booze-drenched rite of gut expansion complicated by the impatience and aggression of fellow attendees clamoring for enough “tastes” to render them comatose. It should be a good time — for eating, drinking and a vivid perspective on the consumption habits of the privileged.
Our picks: duck curried meatball sub (D'elish Sandwich Shop), chicharones and rice pudding (Lazy Ox), sweetbread taco (MexiKosher), chili crab gumbo with buttermilk beer beignets (Starry Kitchen) and a michelada (Guelaguetza).
Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.