Club Tengo Hambre is a private supper club/food tour that has been running in Baja California and Mexico City for the past several years. They’ve just started running tours in Los Angeles (first one is Saturday, July 9th), and I got to go on a sneak peak a few months ago of some of the potential stops they may make on these new tours. Leading this preview tour was one of the founders of Club Tengo Hambre, Bill “Street Gourmet LA” Esparza himself!
(Yes, I know I still owe a write-up on this year’s Tacolandia that Bill curated for LA Weekly, but I’m a little behind. In the meantime, hope my Top Ten Tacos of Tacolandia 2016 piece for L.A. TACO will tide you over.)
One of the most popular taco trucks in L.A. is Mariscos Jalisco in Boyle Heights, and they were our first stop! They’re known for their tacos dorados de camaron, or crispy shrimp tacos. No, the shrimp aren’t crispy, rather it’s the tortilla that’s fried to a hearty crisp, with flavorful minced shrimp stuffed inside. To borrow a potato chip slogan, you can’t just have one!
Taco Dorados de Camaron at Mariscos Jalisco. First stop of Club Tengo Hambre's LA preview tour. @mariscosjalisco @montejo @clubtengohambre @streetgourmetla @mustacherides #tacodoradosdecamaron #shrimptaco #shrimp #taco #clubtengohambre #cth #cthlosangeles #cthinla #mustacherides #mariscosjalisco #boyleheights #losangeles #theoffalo
Next, Bill brought us to Tamales Elena in Watts where we had, not one, but two special treats, both Club Tengo Hambre exclusives! First were tamales with trompa or pork snout, and second was probably the best pozole I’ve ever had, made with meat from the head of a pig.
Next, in Compton, Querétaro-style cactus and steak quesadilla from Quesadillas La Chinita, the kind of place where people not in the know would drive by without even noticing they were passing amazing, simple, delicious food.
The Mercado Olympic, a street market in downtown L.A. that springs up every weekend, was our penultimate destination. You could find just about anything there, agua frescas, big bag of chapulines (grasshoppers) to snack on, and freshly made, piping hot churros!
Last, but certainly not least, we were driven up to a non-descript house in East L.A. that served the most delicious goat birria!
We were told not to share the location more specifically, and you would likely not find this place without someone like Bill, or one of the other guides at Club Tengo Hambre, unless you’re from the neighborhood. This kind of special, curated, exclusive experience is what you can expect from Club Tengo Hambre. Check out their LA tours of various themes (Best of LA, Eastside Essentials, South Central Outlaw Street Food, etc.) at http://clubtengohambre.com/losangeles/.
Can’t believe it’s already July! Starting with one big 3-day food festival at toward the beginning of the month and then four different food events happening the last weekend of the month, you should be able to find something that suits your fancy in July!
July 8-10, 2016 – LA Food Fest: Rebranded from its original name, the LA Street Food Fest, this year makes a major expansion and changes to the event. Instead of one day at the Rose Bowl, LAFF takes place over three days at Exposition Park. Participants include Button Mash (Starry Kitchen), El Coraloense, Howlin’ Ray’s, Knuckle & Claw, Ricebar, and more! There’s a series of special chef-hosted Rose Garden events. The usual unlimited-samples food festival experience has been dubbed the VIP Golden Hour, even though it includes 2 hours of access, while a more affordable a la carte general-admission MRKT option has been added. Tickets range from $18 to $160+ depending on what experience you’re after.
July 15, 2016 – East LA Meets Napa World Tour: This annual fundraiser benefitting AltaMed, a non-profit healthcare provider that supports underserved communities in Southern California is going global this year with celebrity international chefs including Ana Quincoces, Ingrid Hoffmann, Doreen Colondres, Katsuji Tanabe, Hamlet Garcia, and more. Early Bird tickets are available for GA at $175; regular price is $200. VIP access is $300.
July 29, 2016 – Luckyrice: The pan-Asian-themed food event is being hosted this year by the folks behind Seoul Sausage, brothers Ted and Yong Kim and chef Chris Oh, at Vibiana in DTLA. Participants include Ayara Thai, Hinoki and the Bird, Komodo, Lao Tao, Parks BBQ, Starry Kitchen, and Tatsunoya. Tickets are $88 for GA or $150 for VIP w/one hour early entry.
July 30, 2016 – Burgers & Beer: Featuring over 30 restaurants including Barrel & Ashes, Fritzi, Plan Check, Terrine, and more, as well as breweries such as 21st Amendment, El Segundo Brewing Co., Firestone Walker, Lagunitas, Pizza Port, and others, the second annual beer and burger fest should be a blast. Take the Expo Line to the Coliseum so you don’t have to worry about the drive. Tickets are $95 for VIP w/early entry, $75 for GA, or $219 for a “Buddy Pack” of 4 GA tickets ($55/person).
July 31, 2016 – Live & Dine LA: Moving to the summer this year, this event at the posh Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica has an impressive line-up including The Arthur J, Broken Spanish, The Cannibal, Herringbone, Little Sister, Moruno, Redbird, Trois Familia, Union, Viviane, Wolf, and more! Tickets are $95 + fees.
July 31, 2016 – Stu and The Kids: This fundraiser for orphaned children in Thailand draws top-notch talent to support the cause, including The Bellwether, Mare, Night+Market, Playa Provisions, Pok Pok LA, Republique, Spago, and more. Hosted at Vibiana, the chef Neal Fraser and his crew at Redbird should have their hands full considering they’re also at Live & Dine LA happening the same day! Tickets are $125 for GA, $195 for VIP, which includes a special cooking demo by chef Jet Tila 90 minutes before the event starts.
Last month I got to attend a dinner quite unlike any I had attended. The Line RTA, a restaurant talent agency, has been quietly holding semi-regular cooking competitions since late last year. Line cooks from popular restaurants around town put their budding reputations on the line to compete against each other and be judged by respected chefs such as Bruce Kalman (Union), Jason Fullilove (Barbara Jean LA), and Ricardo Zarate (Rosaliné). The competitions are held at The Park Restaurant in Echo Park.
For the May competition, the contestants were line cooks William Pentecost (.ink), Juan Agustin (Olivella), and Shad Newton (Trois Mec). The judges were none other than chefs Evan Funke (Felix), Vartan Abgaryan (71 Above), and Ben Ford (Ford Filling Station). The cooks have to put out two dishes each to the three judges and 40 or so guests. Dessert is provided by The Park. It works out to a seven-course meal for $52, a fabulous deal if it could be found at any of the above-mentioned chefs’ restaurants, but would what these young line cooks make be worth our while?
First up was William Pentecost, who served two bold-looking dishes: raw scallops with foam and nori and hanger steak topped with enoki hay. .ink is known for dishes that incorporate molecular gastronomy, and certainly William’s dishes seem to take the most risks. Not all of it worked, the foam for example, but the enoki hay was a definite highlight for me!
Scallops, grapefruit, heart of Palm, shallot marmalade, by .ink's William Pentecost for The Line RTA's cooking competition. @willietwocheeks @mvinkla @thelinerta @theparkonsunset #scallops #williampentecost #mvinkla #thelinerta #topofthelinecookingcompetition #cookingcompetition #theparkonsunset #echopark #losangeles #theoffalo
Hanger steak, spring onion, maitake, shishito chimichurri, enoki hay, by .ink's William Pentecost for The Line RTA's cooking competition. @willietwocheeks @mvinkla @thelinerta @theparkonsunset #hangersteak #steak #williampentecost #mvinkla #thelinerta #topofthelinecookingcompetition #cookingcompetition #theparkonsunset #echopark #losangeles #theoffalo
Next was Juan Agustin, who put out two rather more refined-looking plates: a gnocchi and morels dish and a duck breast with spring vegetables. Juan’s dishes paired classic ingredients together–pasta and mushrooms, duck with a sweet sauce–but executed at a very high level.
Gnocchi, ramp cream, morels, pancetta, parmesan, by Juan Agustin of Olivella at The Ojai Valley Inn for The Line RTA's cooking competition. @chef.juan_ @thelinerta @theparkonsunset #gnocchi #juanagustin #olivella #thelinerta #topofthelinecookingcompetition #cookingcompetition #theparkonsunset #echopark #losangeles #theoffalo
Duck, spring vegetables, carrot purée, cherry citrus sauce, by Juan Agustin of Olivella at The Ojai Valley Inn for The Line RTA's cooking competition. @chef.juan_ @thelinerta @theparkonsunset #duck #juanagustin #olivella #thelinerta #topofthelinecookingcompetition #cookingcompetition #theparkonsunset #echopark #losangeles #theoffalo
Last was Shad Newton, who served two deceptively-simple looking dishes: an asparagus salad and a Santa Maria-style tri-tip. The salad was actually quite complex with Shad trying to do a deconstructed sauce gribiche, with a very interesting smoked egg yolk, but the components didn’t “reconstruct” too well on the plate. The tri-tip was a bit tough for me, but salt-baked potatoes were a crowd favorite.
Delta asparagus, brioche croutons, smoked egg, sauce gribiche, baby lettuce, by Trois Mec's Shad Newton for The Line RTA's cooking competition. @shadsfc @troismecla @thelinerta @theparkonsunset #asparagus #saucegribiche #shadnewton #troismecla #thelinerta #topofthelinecookingcompetition #cookingcompetition #theparkonsunset #echopark #losangeles #theoffalo
Santa Maria style tri-tip, salt baked fingerling potato salad, Vidalia onions, bagna cauda, by Trois Mec's Shad Newton for The Line RTA's cooking competition. @shadsfc @troismecla @thelinerta @theparkonsunset #santamariatritip #tritip #steak #shadnewton #troismecla #thelinerta #topofthelinecookingcompetition #cookingcompetition #theparkonsunset #echopark #losangeles #theoffalo
The most interesting part of the competition was when the judges gave their feedback openly to each cook after tasting each of their two courses. All three judges were quite honest and tough with their criticism, but Evan was definitely a little more Simon Cowell. But the comments were also fair and, more importantly, very constructive, and when they complimented the aspects the line cooks did well, you could tell it really meant something to them.
The judges actually tied in trying to determine a winner, and it came down to William Pentecost and Juan Agustin. In the end, by audience vote, Juan Agustin took top spot. The prize? A $250 check, a bottle of liquor, and bragging rights! The judges applauded all three cooks for putting themselves out there–Evan said he wouldn’t have had the confidence to do what they did, and wouldn’t have put out dishes as well conceived, when he was at the same stage of his career.
Get your tickets for Monday June 27th. 7 course dinner at www.thelinerta.com/events Prepared by 3 of LA's finest cooks.. #industrynight #redemption #dtla #atwatervillage #cookingcompetition #eeeeeats #lafoodie #laeats #dinela #foodie #infatuationla #feedfeed #lagram #LAtimesfood #hungryinla #buzzfeast #thedailybite #huffposttaste #nomnom #laweekly #eaterla #eater #thebestfood #truecooks #linecooks #lachefs
If this sounds like an interesting way to spend an evening, The Line RTA is hosting its next competition on Monday, June 27th. The judges this time around are Wes Avila (Guerrilla Tacos), Eddie Ruiz (Corazon y Miel), and Matt Wilson (Augustine Wine Bar). The competitors are David Bowles (The Bellwether), Oscar Molina (NeueHouse), and Marcos Guillen (A.O.C.). Find out what each are serving, and how to get in on the fun, here: http://thelinerta.com/events
On Sunday, June 5, 2016, dozens of top Los Angeles chefs and restaurants descended upon Media Park in Culver City for Taste of the Nation LA, a fundraising event for No Kid Hungry, the Share Our Strength campaign to end childhood hunger in the United States. Chef Bruce Kalman of Union and Knead fame, and soon (by the end of this year) to have a restaurant on the Westside in Culver City itself, curated the event, and picked some amazing participants.
Some of my favorite bites included The Bellwether‘s heirloom tomato salad, The Cannibal‘s morcilla, The Culver Hotel‘s grilled apricot and burrata, Kali Restaurant‘s yellowtail crudo, and Sotto’s crispy lamb belly. Alas, I didn’t get a great shot of Kali’s dish, so I can’t show you their offering.
The Bellwether's heirloom tomatoes, Greek sausage vinaigrette, pita crumble. @thebellwether_la @tedhopson @ms_sassafras #heirloomtomatoes #thebellwetherla — From Taste of the Nation Los Angeles. @totnla @nokidhungry #totnla2016 #totnla #nokidhungry #shareourstrength #citidining #citigiving #culvercity #losangeles #theoffalo #offalototnla2016
The Culver Hotel's grilled apricot, burrata, almond, herb salad. @culver_hotel #apricot #burrata #almond #culverhotel — From Taste of the Nation Los Angeles. @totnla @nokidhungry #totnla2016 #totnla #nokidhungry #shareourstrength #citidining #citigiving #culvercity #losangeles #theoffalo #offalototnla2016
Other highlights included Birch’s cod tikka masala, Hatchet Hall’s crawfish boil, Sweetfin Poke’s yellowfin tuna poke, and Upper West’s lamb tacos.
Birch's cod tikka masala. @birchlosangeles @chefbrendancollins #codtikkamasala #cod #tikkamasala #birchlosangeles — From Taste of the Nation Los Angeles. @totnla @nokidhungry #totnla2016 #totnla #nokidhungry #shareourstrength #citidining #citigiving #culvercity #losangeles #theoffalo #offalototnla2016
A strong presence at the event was the Bombet Hospitality Group, with four restaurants participating: Faith & Flower, Hanjip, Terrine, and Viviane. I particularly liked Hanjip’s and Terrine’s dishes, and Stephan Bombet and François Renaud of the restaurant group were kind enough to host the after party at Hanjip.
Hanjip's galbi jjim, kimchi polenta. @hanjipbbq @chefchrisoh @misterfrancois @frenchyfoody #galbijjim #kimchi #polenta #hanjip — From Taste of the Nation Los Angeles. @totnla @nokidhungry #totnla2016 #totnla #nokidhungry #shareourstrength #citidining #citigiving #culvercity #losangeles #theoffalo #offalototnla2016
Terrine's pork rillettes. @terrinerestaurant @krismorningstar @frenchyfoody @misterfrancois #porkrillettes #rillettes #terrinerestaurant — From Taste of the Nation Los Angeles. @totnla @nokidhungry #totnla2016 #totnla #nokidhungry #shareourstrength #citidining #citigiving #culvercity #losangeles #theoffalo #offalototnla2016
Bulgogi on the grill (and a huge serving of Hanjip's galbi jjim & kimchi polenta dish from the event in the back) at the Taste of the Nation after party at Hanjip! @hanjipbbq @misterfrancois @frenchyfoody @chefchrisoh #bulgogi #galbijjim #hanjip — From Taste of the Nation Los Angeles. @totnla @nokidhungry #totnla2016 #totnla #nokidhungry #shareourstrength #citidining #citigiving #culvercity #losangeles #theoffalo #offalototnla2016
Believe it or not, what I’ve shown above isn’t even half of everything I tried at the event–I sampled over 25 dishes–so please check out my hashtag for the event, #offalototnla2016, on Instagram.
I really enjoyed myself at Taste of the Nation LA 2016. Media Park is like a little wooded oasis in the middle of bustling downtown Culver City. The crowds were lively, the lines never got too long, and the attendees seemed happy! A great event for a great cause! If you missed this event but still want to help, and eat great food, check out the fundraising dinner this Thursday in Chinatown from chefs Alvin Cailan and Michael Hung for No Kid Hungry’s Chefs Cycle.
Before I get to the regularly scheduled June food events round-up, here’s one last May event that’s on my radar:
Sunday, May 29, 2016: Spin Public Relations and the Main Street Business Improvement Association is holding its annual MAINopoly on Main Street in Santa Monica from 3pm-8pm this Sunday. Get a taste of Main Street Santa Monica restaurants and shops including Ashland Hill, Aussie Pie, Bareburger, Knuckle & Claw, Pressed Juicery, and more! Tickets are $25/$30 (in-advance/day-of) for GA, and $40/$50 (in-advance/day-of) for VIP, which includes access a VIP lounge with more food and drink and games and more!
And now back to your regularly scheduled June food festival round-up:
Sunday, June 5, 2016 – Taste of the Nation LA: As mentioned in a previous post, Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is throwing its annual fundraiser at Media Park in Culver City. Tickets are $110/$160/$25 for GA/VIP/Kids. If you go to the ToTNLA page, click Buy Tickets, then the “Enter a Promotional Code” link, and use OFFALO10, you’ll save 10% on GA/VIP prices. This event has an all-star line-up of chefs/restaurants including Mary Sue Milliken (Border Grill), Josiah Citrin (Charcoal, Melisse), Steve Samson (Sotto, Rossoblu), Bruce Kalman (Union, Knead), Susan Feniger (Mudhen Tavern, Blue Window), just to name a few!
Taste of the Nation LA 2016 is on June 5th, featuring some of the best chefs and restaurants in town! Tickets are on sale now, and you can get 10% off by using promo code OFFALO10. Go to ce.strength.org/losangeles and click Buy Tickets. Help raise money to end child hunger with Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign! @totnla @nokidhungry #totn #tasteofthenation #tasteofthenationla #totnla #totnla2016 #nokidhungry #shareourstrength #theoffalo
Saturday, June 11, 2016 – Tacolandia: This year’s Tacolandia event, by LA Weekly and Bill “Street Gourmet LA” Esparza, promises to be bigger than ever, with over 130 restaurants/chefs/taco makers descending on El Pueblo de Los Angeles near Union Station in DTLA. Participants include Corazon y Miel, Galaxy Tacos, Guerrilla Tacos, Katsuji Tanabe, La Guerrerense, Mariscos Jalisco, Petty Cash, Primera Taza, Revolutionario, Taco Maria, Tacos Punta Cabras, and so many more! GA tickets are currently $45, but goes up to $50 on May 30th.
I know there are many more events happening in June, including a pair of beer-related festivals: Vegan Beer Fest and LA Beer Week, both on June 18th, but I won’t be able to attend those. The Line RTA will also be hosting another cooking competition on that date as well, but details aren’t set yet (look for a write-up of the May cooking competition here on the blog soon). Any other food events that I missed or that you think I might be interested in, please let me know!