Smorgasburg is an outdoor food market that takes place each Sunday. Each week, over 50 different vendors sell their goods from stalls in an empty parking lot in a run-down area of Downtown LA. Seriously – this market is right next to an abandoned American Apparel factory. Smorgasburg was started in 2016, but is actually an extension of an already popular market of the same name that takes place in New York. It may sound like your typical food truck takeover, like First Fridays on Abbot Kinney. Smorgasburg, however, takes this concept to the next level. While you do have some repeat vendors that you will see at your favorite weekly food truck gathering, there are other unique vendors you will rarely see anywhere else.
My Smorgasburg Adventure
I heard about Smorgasburg when it first opened, and quickly added it to my bucket list. Yet, I didn’t have the opportunity to go until this year. I heard that there are more vendors this year than last year. So in a way, I am glad that I waited. In addition, this year they added a section called Ice Cream Alley, which is full of stalls such as Jeni’s Ice Cream. Even though I’ve been planning to go to this event for some time now, I decided not to do too much research prior so that I could experience everything fresh. Sometimes, I find doing too much research beforehand can dampen the actual experience.
My boyfriend and I drove Downtown and were a little unsure of where our GPS was taking us. We ended up taking a freeway exit to an area of Downtown we did not know existed. We passed an interesting Coca-Cola plant, and later found out the plant is actually a cultural monument.
After blindly driving around following the GPS’s directions, we saw signs for Smorgasburg and parking. Smorgasburg has its own dedicated parking garage for the event, and it is big. The garage has over 4 levels. We easily found parking and – best yet – parking was free for the first two hours!
The venue for Smorgasburg is a large outdoor parking lot with the vendors all set up in rows. Tracing the perimeter of the lot are the food vendors, while the inner rows were dedicated towards clothing stalls, art sellers, etc. We got some pretty awesome nut butter from one of these inner stalls.
My boyfriend and I decided to walk around all the stalls first to see if there was anything in particularly that we stood out to us, and there were some really awesome vendors that we saw. Some standouts include the Uni from Jolly Oyster, and this from Chichi Dango. We walked passed Ice Cream Alley, which I resolved to return to after lunch.
I opted for Shrimp Daddy and their Hawaiian-style garlic shrimp served right out of a pineapple bowl! The line for Shrimp Daddy was the longest in the entire venue, but I had a craving for shrimp and food was the whole reason why I was there, so I figured, why not? Waiting to order and waiting for my order took about 50 minutes total. However, I enjoyed the atmosphere and people-watching while I was there. It was also interesting to look around and see what other people had decided to get.
As I waited, however, I was quickly reminded of why I did not go to events like the Taste of Chicago while I lived in the Windy City. Waiting for hot food in the heat never sounded appealing to me, but here I was in LA, standing in the hot sun waiting for shrimp. The difference between events like this in Chicago versus LA is the humidity. In Chicago, the humidity can make you sweat after just 5 minutes outside. Here, in LA, even though the sun was beating down on me, I did not have to worry about the extra pressure of humidity. In fact, being in the sun felt nice – I just wish I had remembered to put on sunscreen.
I didn’t choose this line with the intention of getting a meal that was Instagram-worthy, but, I quickly realized that is part of the appeal of this stall. I had to get my Insta-pic too:
This dish did not disappoint – it was worth the 50 minute wait! With shrimp, rice, mac and cheese, cabbage, and pineapple, this dished filled me up. I was a little bummed because I wanted to get some ice cream as well. I guess I’ll just have to come back again soon!
The next day at work, I was surprised to find out that not a lot of people been to Smorgasburg before. I supposed it is still up-and-coming. I would recommend exploring Smorgasburg if you are looking for something fresh to do on a Sunday.
Things to keep in mind before you go:
- The vendors do sometimes change week-to-week. In fact, my boyfriend really wanted to go to a cheap coffee stall he had read about online. However, that stall wasn’t there when we visited. If there are specific vendors that you are looking to go to, I would recommend checking their social media pages to see if they will be there on the Sunday you plan to go.
- Bring sunscreen!
- Make sure to keep an eye on your two-hour parking limit, if you don’t want to pay.
- If you do not want to wait in long lines, go to Smorgasburg with a plan and arrive early!
Feel free to plan your visit by going to Smorgaburg’s website.
Have you visited Smorgasburg? Let me know what you tried by leaving a comment. 🙂