Last Sunday, the Taste of the Eastside returned to the verdant grounds of the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens. Guests wandered beneath the shade trees sampling all of the delicious offerings from local restaurants. Alcohol was not included in the ticket this year; people had to buy drink tickets. I think that allowed them to lower the price for entry, which may be one reason the crowd was nearly double the size of last year. There were also a lot more children to take advantage of all of the fun activities set up for them.
Over two dozen restaurants represented, putting their best bite forward. Mexican and Mediterranean cuisines predominated. Malo served a pork tostada, but the star of their table was the street fare elote, corn-on-the-cob covered with Parmesan. We were also impressed by the freshness and flavor of OkiPoki’s dice-sized chunk of tuna.
Diablo Taco’s shrimp, tender as a pink baby’s finger, were also very popular. RBTA in Highland Park produced an elegant and exotic grilled black tiger shrimp with yuzu butter. Greyhound Bar and Grill served shrimp and grits with a slight kick. And they were very mellow when I knocked over their baseball bobblehead. I will have to make a reservation now so I can bring them a new one.
One of the top tastes for us was unquestionably the delicious chocolate lollipop lamb chop from Bon Vivant Market and Cafe. They teetered expertly on the line between chocolate sauce and mole. Wax Paper, the it restaurant in Frogtown passed out amazing little sandwiches of “Garth Trinidad” pollo pibil on sweet rolls. I am definitely making those for my next party.
Momed served their famous and delicious duck schwarma, but the pita base was a little too tough this year. Lemon Poppy Kitchen had a hearty yet light Mediterranean chicken meatball. Yes, I was disappointed there was no lemon poppyseed cake, but it was a very good meatball. Spread Mediterranean Kitchen served a lavash rolled into a snowcone paper and filled it with schwarma, calling it a “mini harissa braised beef taco.” It was whimsical, practical, and easy to eat while walking. Feast Catering went all out with a chicken skewer with saffron rice and minted peas, a tomato and cucumber salad, lemon curd tart and an assortment of cookies, including a gluten-free brownie.
Little Dom’s served an absolutely perfect arancini with strings of melted cheese exuding from the center. They showed they also have pastry skills with the pistachio shortbread with marmalade and whipped creme fraiche and flourless chocolate torte with toasted coconut that someone may or may not have eaten three of. Kitchen Mouse served a vegan chia pudding glorious with bright berries. Palazzo Gelato scooped up a delicious Thai iced coffee gelato (extra points for having a redhead) and new kids on the block, Donut Farm passed out a little bite of every donut.
Once again organizers and local restaurants teamed up to present a gorgeous event in a gorgeous setting. My goal will be to visit all of these restaurants before there is a new crop of talent to add next year.