Smorgasburg the ROW DTLA ~ A Sampling (Dec'22)
We had been hearing about Smorgasburg for some time and finally found a window to hit them up on an early sunny Sunday afternoon. Located in the 'Row' - 777 S Alamada St, between 7th and Olympic - this commercial district block hosts one of the larger open-air food, drink and goods markets. Walled upon all sides, this revamped commercerial block hosts the weekly event within the 'quartel' styled interior. Entry is free - which is a rarety in our experience lately - so very welcome.
Inside, you will not only find the open-air Smorgasburg event, but, depending on the day and the hour, a selection of bespoke independent brick-and-mortar shops lining different rows of buildings. You can tell things are changing constantly, for example, we went during (what they tout as) the 'holiday' event, which had a selection of holiday gifts and food booths. But, one could tell that any of the selection of different vendors or trucks must change depending on a variety of factors, much less whim.
Smorgasburg is large, if you walked up and down the rows, it would comprise a walk of at least a few blocks. This makes for a nice, uncrowded feel. Vendors are spaced out, and, at least during the afternoon, didn't feel 'bunched' up in any one area. That said, on more popular days it could be a bit of crunch - but there appears to be more than enough space to spread out. If not in the quartel area, there were two adjoining, interior streets open only to pedestrian traffic. This made the holiday event quite ideal - plenty of space, and outdoor - didn't feel cloistered or overly busy as it would at the local shopping center.
The space is generally laid out like this - food stalls or trucks align the outer part of the rectangle, with a Beer Garden on the northern end, goods and gifts on the southern end, and small stalls in the middle. As we did note early on, and you will too, there are not many places in which to sit - be prepared. This is a street food experience. You may find one of the few areas for seats, or you can basically 'buy' a slot at a covered bench at the Beer Garden. Or, you can take your food back out to the pedestrian streets outside their gates and find some steps...
We opted for the Beer Garden, wanting to whet our whistle anyway...for the day, we were bit in a lobster and Filipino mood. My stomach changed when I saw my Pinoy cooking on their grills - so my day was easily decided. Lobster was a craving most of the week, so Lobsterdamus fit the bill. From the Beer Garden we got 'cocktails' - they were from a can and I didn't know that until we got them.
From the Filipino Mano Po, their sole location, they serve up very traditional Filipino favorites. We ordered Longganisa Lumpia and the Llempo (pork belly grilled, served with rice, pickling and sauces). Both were delicious and filling - the portions were not skimpy. Tasted just like a barbecue with your uncles!
From Lobsterdamus, we had the Lobster Garlic Noodz - a dry yellow noodle (yakisoba) with green onions, parmesan cheese, and poached lobster. This satsified our lobster itch without being too heavy and a definite twist on more staple lobster menu items. They served quite a bit and we were satisfied.
For desert, tried out Wanderlust's Sakura Escape Bar - a blend of matcha white chocolate, dried strawberries, white chocolate pearls, - we think the ice cream was the sakura. We liked their message - coming up with their flavors based on their travels - sounds novel! :D
All in all a great way to spend the day in LA!
A few items of note before going to https://la.smorgasburg.com/ :
- Smorgasurg is every Sunday 10a-4p except some holidays - they do have a calendar at https://la.smorgasburg.com/calendar.
- Check the weather! It is an open-air outdoor market and subject to rain and cold.
- Check the traffic - as always in LA - before stepping out.
- Parking is available to an attached multi-level garage, with two adjoining, but very small, outdoor parking lots. Parking was first two hours free. Third hour is 2.50 on the weekends. Four hours is 5.00, etc.
- Expect to come into the district off of the S Alameda as it meets Center St. I can see how easily it would be to not account for that and shoot past the sight even before getting to 7th St. I went around all four points and I'm pretty sure Center St is it.
- There is a single gate into the quartel, with security.
- It is not pet friendly.
Tips we found on our stay:
- Go early! You will beat the building foot traffic through the day, get to the food, etc. You may even find a seat by which to eat.
- Walk the stalls before eating, as with any food event, get a lay of the offerings first.
- Bring cash - the vendor stalls seem to appreciate it.
- There is a vinyl vibe here - if you are an audiophile, then make sure to account for time and money, you may find some nice gems in the stacks.
- Explore the area outside the event - there are plenty of small shops with interesting wares. I discovered https://www.hightidestoredtla.shop/ beyond the stairs of the structure - they have a very particular (A4) notebook I've been hunting high and low on for several weeks. Yay!
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