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Smorgasburg L.A. returns

Two men prepare cotton candy at an outdoor food market
Brayden LaBlanc, left, and Sean Smith, right, prepare cotton candy at the Puffs at the downtown outdoor food market Smorgasburg Los Angeles, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

Five years ago, the open-air food market Smorgasburg L.A. opened in downtown Los Angeles, attracting customers who dined on fare from restaurants such as Bub and Grandma’s Bread, Burritos La Palma, Guerrilla Tacos, Porridge + Puffs and Ugly Drum Pastrami.

Lobsters on the grill
Lobsters on the grill at Lobsterdamus at Smorgasburg.
(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

Eric Demby, who created the original Smorgasburg in Brooklyn in 2011, and Zach Brooks, a food writer in Los Angeles, selected the vendors for the new project. “There is a certain style of vendor,” Demby said at the time. “Some are chefs who have been cooking at a restaurant and ready to go out on their own.”

A plate of tacos
A plate of tacos from Berbere at Smorgasburg.
(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

On any given Sunday, the market, part of the ROW DTLA development, was mobbed by Angelenos hoping to sample food from big-name chefs or discover new favorites. But the food market went on hiatus in March of last year — like many restaurants confronted by the pandemic — until July 4 when Smorgasburg L.A. returned.

A bowl of fruit
A bowl of fruit from Amazebowls.
(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)
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“It was as crowded as a sold-out Dodger game,” photographer Michael Owen Baker reported. “The lines were 30 to 45 minutes long to get some of the food, but people were having a good time.”

People bought cheesesteaks from the Truffleist, oysters from the Jolly Oyster and cotton candy from the Puffs. They explored craft booths, hung out at the beer garden and indulged in Super Frites. If a line seemed to shrink, it probably was because the vendor was sold out. And it seems likely the crowds will return on future Sundays, relishing the outdoor gathering place, looking for their favorite restaurants and exploring new vendors such as the Bad Jew, Go Go Bird and the Goat Mafia.

A crowd of people attend an outdoor food market
People attend the Fourth of July downtown reopening of Smorgasburg.
(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)


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