It feels like an eternity since Smorgasburg’s last food market, but fact check: It’s been less than one month. Our thirst for its return probably indicates a borderline-unhealthy dependence on lobster-topped noodles, rainbow-colored dumplings and Hawaiian shrimp that sits pretty in a pineapple boat, but the stomach wants what the stomach wants—and ours are looking forward to this Sunday, when the weekly food festival brings colorful eats to ROW DTLA for its first event of 2018.
This means you can soon find your Smorgasburg stalwarts—Amazebowls, Banh Oui, Lobsterdamus, Ugly Drum and Shrimp Daddy, to name a few—but it also means you’ll be able to try a handful of new-to-the-market vendors. Here’s our guide to who’s new and what to expect.
NEW FOR 2018:
Eddie Huang’s bao-based empire spans the country, first launching in NYC, then in L.A. in 2016. You can find Baohaus at its permanent location in Chinatown’s Far East Plaza, but this is still a great Smorgasburg addition. After all, steamed buns make for great food on the go, and even better for sharing at a picnic table with friends. We’re partial to the Chairman—stuffed with braised pork belly, house-made relish, crushed peanuts, Taiwanese red sugar and cilantro—and the fried fish bao, topped with tartar sauce, a lemon-cabbage slaw, fried garlic, crushed peanuts, Taiwanese red sugar and cilantro. See also: hand-cut taro fries.
Daddy’s Chicken Shack
Who is “Daddy”? In the case of Smorgasburg’s new lineup, it’s Pace Webb: the spunky (and female) chef/owner of Daddy’s Chicken Shack and her other outlet, catering operation Taste of Pace. Her new fried-chicken concept stacks Southern-style chicken, sriracha mayo and a salty cabbage slaw on a fluffy bun. If you missed its November debut at Pearl’s BBQ, you can find it every Sunday at Smorgasburg, starting this weekend.
Gentaro Soba Noodles
Fresh from FIGat7th’s shopping-center food hall, Gentaro Soba Noodles is landing a stall at L.A.’s favorite weekly food fest. They’ll be serving their house-made soba noodles, a traditional Japanese noodle made with buckwheat, here cooked al dente and served either in a hot dashi broth or with a cold, soy-based dipping sauce. In their new outpost, expect their noodles and rice bowls to come in “shakers,” their take on a more portable food vessel, and topped with everything from curry to tempura shrimp or fried eggs.
So no, of course these aren’t real clouds, but they’re light and airy. They’re also turmeric-spiced. Sidle up to this stall for these steamed-to-order chickpea balls—inspired by the street food of India—which get infused with spices like fenugreek and dipped in house-made chutneys and savory whipped cream. Note: These treats are vegan, gluten-free and organic.
Hearth and Olive
Tahini milkshakes, falafel, pickled Israeli vegetables, grilled humanely raised meats and naturally fermented, house-made pita bread are all about to hit ROW with the arrival of Hearth and Olive, a California-does-Middle East catering company’s new food stand. Expect a number of hot sauces—we’re talking zhug, amba and harissa—as well as fresh vegetables, handmade spreads and more.
We’re all about MidEast Tacos’ Middle Eastern spin on Mexican food, especially considering who’s behind it. This new concept from the owners of Glendale’s Mini Kabob brings cumin-scented charred steak, chicken and more to corn tacos, and don’t even get us started on their massive kabob burritos, which stuff hummus, basmati rice, roasted veggies, herbs and meat into lavash wraps.
Sweet N’ Hollow
Because it wouldn’t be Smorgasburg without Instagrammable sweets, expect this new vendor to fill the quota in spades. Sweet N’ Hollow serves European-inspired chimney cakes, which spiral upward but remain empty in the center, meaning you can—and will—fill them with a rainbow of ice cream, sprinkles and sauces that drip picture-perfect down the cone-like cakes. You may have caught them during the market’s limited-run Ice Cream Alley event, but now they’re a permanent fixture.
Also note: At the end of 2017, Smorgasburg added a handful of newbies you may have missed earlier in the year. Baldoria combines sweet and savory, serving items such as waffle cones stuffed with fried chicken, while Bolo stuffs ice cream between pineapple buns. Cena Vegan slings mouthwatering vegan Mexican food, and Plant Burger—another vegan vendor—offers burgers made from Beyond Burger’s plant-based “meat” patties. Lastly, Rooster Republic is bringing the heat with Nashville hot chicken, plus Southern fried chicken, and down-home sides.
A Smorgasburg NYC staple, this mozzarella-stick-slingin’ stall hopped on the original Smorgasburg L.A. roster in 2016, then took last year off. In 2018, they’re returning with their handmade mozzarella, which gets deep fried in house-made breadcrumbs, all to be dipped in their also-house-made sauces.
Burritos La Palma
This Tacolandia-winning burrito outfit also cropped up for a semipermanent Smorgasburg spot in 2016, and is now returning for another go ’round, bringing its otherworldly-good birria; chicken tinga; chicharron burritos, featuring what else but handmade tortillas. You can also find them in El Monte and Santa Ana, but for those of us nearer to DTLA, this is big news.