Taste of the Eastside: Los Angeles River Center and Gardens 

This could not have been a more fortuitous event! Laying in bed on a Saturday morning Googling around things to do on my first weekend in LA I found the Taste of the Eastside festival. A good festival showcasing the restaurants of Echo Park, Silver Lake, Eagle Rock, Los Feliz, Highland Park and Atwater. 

We picked up VIP tickets for $75 and they were absolutely worth it. While general admission was only 45 the VIP came with 3 drink tokens, access to the cocktail demonstrations (with free tasters) and a little swag bag. 

The River and Harden center is an absolutely beautiful location, with the food vendors tucked into a mini labyrinth of courtyards. This is great as you don’t feel rammed in. The atmosphere is super chilled and I by the end end I realized it was being enjoyed by a massive range of ages of people. 

Then there was the food! Each vendor did one or two tasting dishes and you could go back as many times as you liked! In London when I have attended food festivals they’ve always been free then you pay for your food, or like Taste London where you pay to get in and STILL pay to taste good. Needless to say these used to cost me a fortune so I love this system that that are using. It’s a testament to actually wanting to showcase the restaurants, not to being a revenue maker. 

So hers some of what I tried – I sadly didn’t get to anything despite being there about 4 hours (cocktails, did intact forbid me putting any more food in my tummy, they can be very bossy like that).

Momed: duck shawarma. The duck was incredibly tasty, there was just way too much pitta. I have put the restaurant on my list though as I think it’s worth tasting more off their menu. 

Momed also did 2 cocktails. They were both good but I loved the one that I think (memory getting hazy by this point) was like a chocolate mai thai 

Gelsons: this was a grilled prawn. I love the sound of their concept. A grocery which seeks some cooked food and has a bar in it. I’m definitely going! Plus their staff have got the moves (you can see some on my instagram) 

El Cochinito: slow roast pork rice & beans. Wow. You can see in the back ground the piggie sitting under a sun lamp. It was so ridiculously soft and full of flavor. I don’t think I’ve ever had such good pork before. 

Bon Vivant: sticky pork chops. These were Al’s favorite. He had 3! I’m not a chop person but even when I tasted I knew they were good. There was also a little dessert we tasted later, a little chocolate tart. The base seemed to be made from coconut as it was like eating the icing on a lamination, yum. 

They also did a cocktail for the demos. It was a definite taste of summer thing and you could really taste the smoke of the mezcal. I’m interested in the ancho chilli liqueur they used as well. 

Diablo: chicken tostado. Very tasty and I liked their hot sauce. Most likely need to go and grab some when I test more of their menu. 

Gigi’s Bakery & Cafe: potato & beef ball. Ok, there were lots of options but that is what I tried. So good. The potato was soft & accompanied the meat so well. They said they open up a couple of taps of Cuban beer as well so sounds pretty perfect. 

Malo: pork tacos. I went back twice. These were amazing. I’ve booked a table for Cinco de Mayo

They also did a cocktail tasting. Here we tried straight mezcal and then had it in a cocktail. The guy was really great telling us all about it.

As you can see, I loved this festival. There were way more great vendors showcasing including ice creams, cheese, and way more food. I accidentally lost my guide though so don’t have all of their names. 
For me, new to the city, this was the best thing ever. It gave me a way to build up my ‘must try’ restaurant list which it really needs right now – feel free to offer me suggestions. Would I go if I’d lived here awhile? Absolutely! It’s a really good value festival and a fantastic Sunday afternoon. Keep your eyes peeled for 2018. 


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