By Riley Segal
Photo by Riley Segal
Brightly colored umbrellas providing shade to small picnic benches litter the lot, while rows of tents are set up along the perimeter and through the middle of the property. The gastronomical and artisanal phenomenon known as Smorgasburg has set up shop at the Alameda Produce Market after arriving from New York. The five-acre, outdoor venue pushed into Downtown LA boasts an eclectic range of foods and crafts including tacos, ramen burgers, banh mi, and vintage clothing. The market made its debut on June 19 and is steadily gaining attention from tourists and Angelenos alike.
Guerrilla Tacos, where Wes Avila churns out Mexican food from his beloved food truck, is one of the popular businesses at Smorgasburg. Inspired by street food but prepared with fine-dining techniques learned from his experience with high-end chefs, Avila’s eatery provides a casual, yet quality meal. His signature sweet potato taco perfectly captures this; the Japanese sweet potato fried in butter adds a sweetness to the dish, while feta cheese, fried corn, and almond chile create layers of saltiness and heat that meld together in perfect balance.
Another Hollywood pop-up, Porridge and Puffs, supplies a steady stream of customers with different versions of congee, a rice porridge, topped with pickled vegetables and savory jams. For an extra two dollars, a shisho-hibiscus pickled egg or puffs can be added on.
Smorgasburg’s shops, however, do generally come at the cost of high prices for consumers. This is slightly appeased by the ten-story parking structure which offers free parking for the first two hours and the wide genre of vendors such as Banh Oui, Califas Taco, Donut Friend, and Raindrop Cake,.
For those looking to do more than eat, lifestyle vendors dominate the center aisle with tents selling everything from antiques to artisan skincare to bow tie collars for pets. Businesses like Coast to Coast Mobile Vintage have racks of vintage clothing spilling onto the pavement. No Tox Life and The Potion Shoppe boast artisan skincare, while Circa 1700 shows off a collection of gems and jewelery.
The market is open every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Yes, the prices are slightly above average, and yes, the lines can be lengthy. However, if a person goes to Smorgasburg, they are paying for much more than good food, they are paying for the amazing atmosphere of the Downtown LA hub.