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We enjoyed the Latin Food Fest in San Diego last year and were pleased to be invited back for the Los Angeles grande tasting on March 21. Even though it's farther away, we knew there'd be many, if not all, new restaurants for us to sample! The sipping of spirits was also a plus.
The Los Angeles location was at Hangar 8, a 15000 facitity at the Santa Monica Airport. Paid parking lot ($10) and ticket pickup were to the right with the event to the left.
Entrance to the Latin Food Festival. It doesn't look all that big on the outside but there were additional booths, mainly the spirits, located in the back building.
We first got in the Stella Artois line for the purpose of collecting their cute glassware. I'm a fan of Belgium style beer so this one is nice and familiar. I also like their cider too.
While waiting for beer, Dennis picked up samples from the nearby Rosa Mexicano booth. The tableside guac was yummy but we needed more than two chips! The pink lemonade mixed drink was refreshing and light. The El Floridita booth had pork with a banana chip. The strands of meat were long which made it a bit chewier for us.
To the left of Stella was Coni'Seafood, serving raw shrimp marinated in jalapeno juice. There were definitely some hesitant looks as we took pictures. I finally gave it a shot and found that the bite of the juice hid the 'rawness' I was expecting. There's more of a texture experience - pliable meat that needed light pressure to pull apart. I was pleasantly surprised.
You can never go wrong with acai. Ubatuba had choice of mango and strawberry mixes, both tasty.
Las Palmas had three samples. Our favorite of the trio was the salmon belly with a jalapeno type of sauce to it. The cauliflower on top was baked/boiled with a curry-inspired concoction on top. The last was some kind of corn tortilla quesadilla but it got lost under the beans and cream/cheese sauce.
La Flor de Yucatan had pork with pink pickled veggies. I would have liked a little more layering to this dish. Another vendor had like slow roasted pork and rice. This one was delicious, especially how the rice soaked in some of the juice of the pork. The meat was also very tender and flavorful.
Next was Soho Tacos. One option was the shrimp taco which was simple good meat for me though Dennis wanted a little more sauce (I don't do lots of sauce on tacos generally). The other was vegetarian with lots of yummy slow roasted vegetables.
Mariscos Coraloense served tostadas. The shrimp version was really good with sweet mangos and a great sauce. The other one was mild halibut with runny sauce so I didn't get to taste much. Maybe I needed a bigger sample!
Jarritos was also at this event. By the time we came in, about 30-40 minutes after opening, they were already out of 3-4 flavors that Dennis wanted. We grabbed the standard mexican cola. It'll do for me!
Rasta Taco had three flavors: jamaican jerk chicken, carne asada and veggie. Dennis couldn't taste the 'jamaican' spice, perhaps a little too subtle. I just remember enjoying the beef over the chicken. The veggie one with jicama and other ingredients was too raw for my taste. Others may enjoy the crunch though!
This guy in the back of Rasta Tacos was working hard, cutting up the meat on that nifty wooden object!
Taqueria el Severo had four tacos to try, but a limit of 2 per person. So when I wandered off for a bit, Dennis got a little mad (but hey, I got back in line right away). Brisket and carne asada was what he picked up. My cactus one is still slimy and I don't know if I'll ever get over that. I liked the really juicy chicken best of the four.
Smoked Fusion Catering was back at this event. Dennis handed me their smoked pork belly with "tomatoes". Then I gently corrected him... those are spiced watermelons! hehe. The pork pieces had a lot of fat and were a little stiff. Perhaps a little saltier would have made it better.
Chago had meat inside a french baguette. Too bad the bread was a bit stiff. I guess extra sauce could have softened it a little bit but in general really messy to eat even with a bowl/utensils! A different place served goat meat with lots of sauce as well. It was a tad oily though.
Texaco had the above with a really spicy salsa. I couldn't handle it and handed it back to Dennis.
Nearby a team member was cooking up a storm in the sun! What's he making?
It was part of Fogo de Chao! This sample was much smaller than San Diego's Latin Food Fest but there were still really good cuts of juicy meat. The bacon wrapped chicken was a little drier for me. Mash potatoes here are on point.
There was one last dessert place but the line was long so we headed into the back building. I saw lines which turned out to be for the bathrooms! Since there are lots of people, make sure to go before entering the place.
We actually had one person representing San Diego at the event. Hello Chef Medina from Finch's Bistro & Wine Bar!
Here's his handiwork, yellowtail with a fresh springtime spread. I actually liked it best raw, sans sauce.
Who can turn down samples of Choctal gelato? We didn't! There were 4 different vanillas and 4 different chocolate flavors to try! Since then, Dennis can't get the intoxicating mexican vanilla flavor out of his head.
There were plenty of spirits as well!
Embajador Tequila and Tito's Handmade Vodka
Papa's Pilar Rum and Don Q Rum
Don Ramon Tequila and El Aguijon Tequila
Mexican Moonshine Tequila and AsomBroso Tequila
Sotol El Gorrioncillo and Lapis Tequila
Revel Avila Tequila and Arette Tequila
Senda Real Tequila and Don Fermin Tequila and El Rey Zapoteco Tequila
Pure Vida Tequila and Diabolo French Soda
Disclaimer: We got complimentary tickets to the event but paid for everything else ourselves. The opinions are strictly our own.