The next great place to eat in L.A. may actually include all of the following: banh mi, rice porridge, tacos, ice cream, Thai food, sandwiches, doughnuts, bagels, mozzarella sticks and ramen burgers. It’s a large outdoor market called Smorgasburg, which opens at the Alameda Produce Market on June 19.
The Brooklyn-originated weekly Sunday market has curated an impressive list of L.A. and New York City food vendors — with the return of Minh Phan's Porridge and Puffs, and the debut of Mexicali Taco & Co's new taco concept, Califas Tacos.
Eric Demby, who created the original Smorgasburg in Brooklyn in 2011 (a spin-off of Brooklyn Flea, which he created and runs with Jonathan Butler), and Zach Brooks, a food writer in Los Angeles, are in the process of choosing vendors for the new project.
“There is a certain style of vendor,” said Demby, who notes that many of them have a similar story to that of Porridge and Puffs, a restaurant for which Phan has built a strong following from various pop-ups. “Some are chefs who have been cooking at a restaurant and ready to go out on their own.”
"Most vendors in New York, when they started, were unknown," said Brooks. "That's a majority of the L.A. vendors, but we also have a couple of really well-known ones. We're trying to build a sustainable place to eat."
Demby and Brooks anticipate having 80 to 90 vendors when the market opens.
On the list of confirmed vendors is Califas Tacos (Mexicali owner Esdras Ochoa’s new taco concept), McConnell’s Ice Cream, the Jolly Oyster, Wax Paper, Raindrop Cakes, Banh Oui, Calo Provisions, Good Gravy Bakes, Maury’s Bagels, RiceBox L.A., Stand Coffee, Semolina Artisanal Pasta, the Sprouted Nut Company, T.J’s Tacos L.A., Paloma Paletas, Poke Alaea, White Guy Pad Thai, Wax Paper, Bub and Grandma’s Bread, Burritos La Palma, Guerrilla Tacos, Carnitas el Momo, Donut Friend, Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese, Belly & Snout, Art of Tea, BigMozz, Elvio’s Chimichurri, Goa Taco, Little Branch Foods, Little Spoon Frozen Pudding, Lobsterdamus, Mama Musubi, Monsieur Egg, NanaPops, Pizzanista, PopdUp, Primera Taza, Ramen Burger, Rucker’s Pie (from noted L.A. pastry chef Nicole Rucker), Smoke Loaf & Saucer, Sticky Rice, Three Jerks Jerky, Todo Verde, Ugly Drum, Venice Cold Brew and We Have Noodles.
“The quality here is just as world class as back home,” said Demby. “It’s for people who may think ‘I don’t know if I would go eat at a food truck normally,’ but we put it all in one place for them.”
The vendors will take over half of the six-acre market every Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It's all part of the new 30-acre ROW DTLA development that will include retail space, offices, galleries and restaurants.
Smorgasburg will also have a shaded seating area in the middle and possibly water misters. There’s also an adjacent parking structure, which can accommodate more than 5,000 cars. (Parking will be free for the first two hours.)
“A lot of people were like, ‘Oh, L.A. people don’t like to get in their cars on the weekend,’” said Demby. “But the food scene here is similar to Brooklyn’s in 2008, with a lot of entrepreneurial food businesses. And the idea of pop-ups is already fairly integrated into L.A. culture.”
Some of the market’s upcoming events include a collaboration with the RED campaign June 26, an ice cream event July 17, a record fair July 31 and a pie-related event with Evan Kleiman on Aug. 28.
“The big thing for us is that it’s a way of discovering what’s happening in your own city,” said Demby.
746 Market Ct., Los Angeles (parking lot and entrance off Alameda Street). www.la.smorgasburg.com.
For the Record
May 12, 10:04 a.m.: An earlier version of this post said the market opens June 16. It opens June 19. Also, the new Mexicali Taco & Co concept is called Califas Tacos.