LA Street Food Fest: At The End Of The Longest Line

The concept of this was simple: gather together as many food trucks as possible, add in a section for indie designers, invite some media, and let the food lovers roam. Unfortunately, organizers for LA Street Food Fest could not possibly anticipate the huge population of people who would want to come to this first-time event.

The cost of entry, at a mere $5, was a very welcoming fee for a gathering of food trucks. Each truck or food vendor had a menu of food items ranging from $1 – $5. To our own delight, and the delight of many, we suspect, there were lots of new food adventures to be had.

Fans line up for a taste of chicken from the one-time-only Ludo truck

Undoubtedly, Top Chef contestant Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s truck, which was hosted by Mobi Munch, was the favorite of the day. Ludo’s truck was serving up chunky fried chicken, infused with olive oil and rosemary, and also boasted one of the longest lines at the event. We were lucky enough to be in the line for only 30 minutes, and was offered a $1 coupon towards the $5 meal price by filling out surveys for Mobi Munch’s next food truck theme.

The event was very nicely situated, and the weather, though hot even for an L.A. winter, made for a fine food day. Alcohol at the event was sponsored by New Belgium, with a suggested $5 donation which went to the aid of the L.A. Food Bank.

Because of the large crowds and long lines, it made it rather impossible to hit every food truck we would have liked. Most lines began with a 10 to 20 minute wait and quickly became a wait for 40 minutes or longer to order, and another 30+ minutes to obtain food. We did, however, also get to visit the Phamished truck, a Vietnamese food truck, and Cool Haus, which boasted excellent bacon butter ice cream sandwiches.

Banh Mi and Vietnamese sausage from Phamish!! WE LOVE YOU PHAMISH!

There can be no complaints about the bacon butter ice cream sandwiches, but the hands-down party favorite was Phamish! The line was less than 20minutes, and there was an instant gratification of food. The 1/2 sized banh mi was a mere $2 and excellent when paired with a beer. Ludo was excellent, but the 30minutes in line, and then 45minutes of waiting for 2 chunky pieces of chicken, seemed to dampen the taste a bit.

Chef Ludo's $5 Chicken. It would have probably been more rewarding if not for having to wait for over an hour

The major folly of this event is that it is a first year learning experience. There was an obvious lack of organization and communication from event organizers to the crowds. Cyclists were not informed of having to pay for valet. The Fire Marshall was running a last minute capacity check, which caused a 20 minute delay in opening, and then, after another 40 minutes, the entry gates ran out of change and began asking for exact change. This is quite unfortunate as most people who knew this was a cash only event most likely stopped at ATMs which only gives out $20 bills. The pre-sale ticket line had all of 2 quite confused staff manning the gate, and that line edged along slowly, with no one informing the huge line that maybe they should not block a parking lot entrance to an office building on Bixby.

Finishing up with the butter bacon ice cream sandwiches from Cool Haus. The line was deceptively long. We waited less than 20 minutes for these babies.

Most of this information was not passed to the crowds at the time so most stood around bewildered at what was going on. Tummies rumbled, and we heard one man exclaim, “Someone should have snuck in a food truck at the end of this line! I’m starving!” Listeners agreed, become more irritable by the minute. There were even food blogger tweets saying “ABORT ABORT! This line is ridiculous!” We were also informed that many visitors did not even make it in once the event reached capacity.

This line only continued to grow longer and more agitated after 11AM

Understandably, any first year event will have its huge hurdles and learning experiences. We hope that the LA Street Food Festival organizers have definitely learned from this one. With the increasing popularity of food trucks and street food, it was bound to have hit maximum capacity quite early for so small a lot.

However, given the opportunity for another year’s food festival, we would undoubtedly go. And with the success of this first year, it seems likely it will happen again.  For now however, if you want to enjoy more than one food truck at a time, we suggest finding the LA Food Truck lot, or heading out to  the Court of Sciences at UCLA from 10:30am – 2:30pm. Thanks again for the awesome food LA Street Food Fest! Better luck next year!

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