Ah, Labor Day. The official end of summer and another one of those patriotic holidays where we gorge on food and booze in an attempt to make America proud (or to honor workers or something). We'll be taking it easy by a grill this Monday, which will be easy since some of the city's best restaurants are willing to do the labor for your meal.
On top of that, there are festivals and pool parties and a well-loved Asian night market to attend — and you have a three-day weekend to conquer them. Just don't work too hard.
L.A. Times' The Taste
It's not in every city that the daily newspaper-of-record hosts a Labor Day weekend party, but Los Angeles isn't every city, and L.A. Times' The Taste isn't an ordinary Labor Day blowout. The Taste wrangles some of the city's top chefs and restaurants for three days of tasting events, demos, seminars and discussions on the Paramount Studios backlot. Just want to eat? Stop by opening night, when Alma, BeirBiesl, Little Sister and Sotto will be serving up bites. A home cook? Most events have some cooking component, where you can see chefs like Sqirl's Jessica Koslow and n/naka's Niki Nakayama craft their masterpieces. There are even events for cocktail lovers and zero-waste supporters. Read our full to-do list here.
Terrine All-You-Can-Eat Barbecue
After the success of his Fourth of July all-day barbecue, Kris Morningstar will return to man the grill on the patio of his new-this-year Melrose restaurant Terrine. Scrapping the usual brunch and dinner menus — which include decadent items like veal tongue Benedict and wood-roasted branzino, which are as pricey as they are delicious — Terrine instead will host an all-you-can-eat free-for-all of pickle-brined fried chicken, swordfish brochettes, potato and Hatch chile tacos and Southern favorite Frito pie. The price? A very American $35, which can be washed down with a number of affordable Ancient Age bourbon cocktails made by Terrine head bartender Ryan Wainwright. 8265 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Grove; (323) 746-5130, terrinela.com.
For more fancy hangs that won't annihilate your wallet, head to Beverly Hills, where it will cost you more to valet your car than it will to get full on Bouchon's special Labor Day menu. All weekend long, you can head to the Cañon Gardens (the piazza-like space, between all the nouveau-Mediterranean buildings, that the City of Beverly Hills considers a public park) or to Bar Bouchon and get barbecue hot dogs for $10, lobster rolls for $20 and Ad Hoc's famous fried chicken, with wedge salad, mac and cheese and Bouchon Bakery cornbread, for $38. Oysters ($2 each) are available anywhere in the bistro, bar or gardens all day, too. And if you're not keen on staying around, you can order all of it — six packs of hot dogs plus sides like coleslaw, melon salad and blueberry pie — for takeout. 235 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills. (310) 271-9910, bouchonbistro.com.
L.A. County Fair
The L.A. County Fair is pushing 100 years old, but that doesn't mean the food is for fuddy-duddies. Starting Friday, Sept. 4, and running through Sept. 27, the fair is one of the biggest of its kind in the country, despite being in a heavily populated urban zone. There are the requisite rides and concerts and farmers' showoff sessions, but the L.A. County Fair also has become synonymous with insane food. We're talking world-premiere-of-deep-fried-guacamole insane (because that's happening this year). Also making their world debut are bacon-wrapped chicken and waffles and Sriracha peanut butter and jelly burgers, while deep-fried SlimFast bars, deep-fried peanut butter pickles and Krispy Kreme triple-decker cheeseburgers are coming to L.A. for the first time. In all, there are 1,200 food items to choose from — and if fried isn't your thing, there are tofu rice bowls, veggie hot dogs and mangoes on a stick for you, too. Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona; lacountyfair.com.
626 Night Market
The 626 Night Market is the largest night market of its kind in the country and keeps expanding every year with more dates, more days and more capacity (80,000 people reportedly showed up for August's market). The last and final 626 Night Market of the summer season is happening this weekend at Santa Anita Park, and food vendors — who famously serve some of the best and weirdest Asian food on offer — are pulling out all the stops with live uni, bouquet-shaped cotton candy and charcoal burger buns. Check out our helpful Night Market guide of what to eat.
Eats, Rhymes & Life Pool Party and BBQ
As weird as it was to be microwaving Roy Choi's kimchi fried rice for dinner (which we did thanks to Munchery's new collab with the L.A. chef), it might be even weirder to have the elusive fourth member of A Tribe Called Quest cooking you kimchi sliders and barbecue kalbi poolside at the Line Hotel. All weekend long, that's exactly what's going to happen when Choi hosts Jarobi White and his Eat, Rhymes & Life project — which has seen the rapper-turned-chef travel from his native New York City to L.A., bringing some of his famous musical friends along. Choi also will be around to cook at the all-day barbecue at his Koreatown hotel, and White has recruited some heavy-hitting DJs to keep the good vibes going through Monday night, including Russell Peters, DJ Jck Dvy (from J Davey), Monalisa, Cazal Organism (son of hip-hop legend Mellow Man Ace), DJ Francesca Harding, DJ 88 (Las Vegas), Adrian Younge, DJ Daz, DJ Adam 12 and Mr. Choc (Beat Junkies). Entrance is free and all food is available for purchase à la carte. 3515 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown; (213) 368-3030, thelinehotel.com.