Written by Dominic Marziali
Photos by Thomas Forman
The Arts District is rapidly changing, and many vacant spaces are being redesigned. Last year ROW-DTLA–– a project for the renovation of six outdated or abandoned buildings into office spaces, restaurants, and stores–– brought Los Angeles Smorgasburg. Originating in Brooklyn, Smorgasburg is an outdoor market that has expanded to Los Angeles, attracting people from all over Southern California to the Arts District to try a variety of food.
The market is named after the word smorgasbord, a buffet that serves hot and cold meats, salads, and hors d’oeuvres. Smorgasburg is similar to a farmers market, but few vendors sell produce. Instead, you will find shops selling anything from cacti to customizable donuts.
Trendy vendors such as Gao Taco serve entrees like tacos filled with tofu, spinach pesto, or lamb shoulder. Gao Taco uses paratha, a flaky Indian flatbread made with many layers, as taco shells.
The vendor also offers slowly roasted pork tacos, with red cabbage, and a slightly spicy chipotle mayo sauce. Their vegetarian option is filled with the sweet and firm tofu bánh mì. The tofu bánh mì taco also has shiitake mushroom pâté, crunchy vegetables, and peanuts, making the tacos sweet and salty. The paratha shell combined with the tofu and mushrooms pâté, alongside the crunchy vegetables and peanuts makes for a smooth texture that is broken by the peanuts and vegetables. Many vendors at the market, including Gao Taco, sell contemporary items, and the tofu bánh mì taco is an enjoyably refreshing option.
Most vendors price their food reasonably, but prices vary greatly due to portion sizes. Featuring over 60 vendors, customers crowd outside the market to eat in the shade. One vendor called Lobsterdamus serves entire lobsters which are grilled in front of you. Long lines verify the quality of the food.
Smorgasburg is a great experience, as long as you can find it. Even though Metro promotes bike sharing at Smorgasburg, it is not friendly to foot traffic, and it is not convenient for ride share services because there is no good place to be picked up. The out of the way location in the Arts District makes Smorgasburg difficult to find for people who have never been to the market previously.
While it is difficult to access the market, the trip is worth the food that you will find there. The parking lot adjacent to the market gives two hours of free parking, enough time to enjoy the assortment of food provided by vendors, shop from the stores at Smorgasburg, and explore the surrounding area.
Smorgasburg is hosted every Sunday from ten am to four pm all year at the Alameda Produce Market in Los Angeles.
785 Bay St, Los Angeles, CA 90021