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Go Go Bird fried chicken sandwich
Photograph: Courtesy Go Go Bird

Smorgasburg L.A. returns July 4 with a slew of new vendors

Here’s who’ll be popping up at the Arts District’s massive weekly food festival this year.

Written by
Stephanie Breijo
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The last year gave rise to some of L.A.’s most innovative pop-up restaurants yet, and now, thanks to Smorgasburg, you’ll be able to find a few of them in the Arts District every Sunday.

On July 4 the massive weekly food event is returning for the first time since March 2020, and with it, it’s bringing more than 80 food and retail stalls to the ROW DTLA’s 7th Street Produce Market space. Some of Smorgasburg’s most iconic and long-standing attractions will be returning, but the vendor list—which was released this afternoon—also includes some of the region’s best new food concepts.

Rebecca King’s pork-centric pop-up the Bad Jew is on the 2021 roster, offering massive pork pastrami sandwiches, while chef Rashida Holmes—who wants you to eat more goat, remember?—is bringing her Caribbean pop-up Bridgetown Roti to the mix with Jamaican patties, roti and more. Little Fish, which brought fried fish sandwiches to Echo Park, is coming to Smorg with seafood, sides and frozen lemonade, and the Highland Park-founded Los Dorados will freshly fry up its massive flautas from Steven Orozco Torres.

Hinoki & the Bird chef Brandon Kida’s Sichuan-inspired fried chicken concept, Go Go Bird, was one of our favorite delivery operations to emerge from 2020 and it will be popping up here every Sunday, but if you’re partial to roast chicken, Saucy Chick Rotisserie is bringing Mexican- and Indian-influenced rotisserie chicken and sides, too. Another recent favorite—new restaurant Holy Basil, which offers Bangkok-style street food Downtown—will be appearing each week with dynamic Thai food. For a taste of Queens, Shanna Milazzo’s Italian-sub and red-sauce–sandwich concept, Picnic, will be stacking parms and cold cuts, and Cheesesteaks by The Trufflelist—which has popped up at New York’s Smorgasburg—is bringing even more East Coast charm with truffle-tinged cheesesteaks.

Compton’s Jalisco-style, generational goat birria operation Goat Mafia is also new to the Smorgasburg fold, as is popular vegan Asian-food concept Man Eating Plant, which serves garlic noodles, fried-mushroom bao and more. Another new vegan option, Mort & Betty’s is an entirely plant-based take on the classic Jewish deli serving carrot lox, carrot whitefish salad, baby babkas and beyond, with a portion of proceeds benefiting animal sanctuaries. There’s also Veggie Fam, which crafts plant-based Nashville-style hot chicken sandwiches, plus cheeseburgers, fries and tenders.

Never an event to overlook dessert, Smorgasburg is also bringing A Little Salty Pie Company along for pretzel-crust pies and other baked goods that popped up at Lindsay Miller’s pandemic-spurred operation. The Puffs will be freshly spinning cotton candy into a rainbow of shapes all while raising funds for LGBTQ+ causes, while Lei’d Cookies vends farmers’-market–inspired chocolate chip cookies made from organic ingredients.

To wash it all down, expect Be Bright Coffee for cold brew, espresso pulls and other caffeinated options made from locally roasted beans, and Sweet Grass for pressed sugarcane juice in a range of colorful and tropical fresh-fruit flavors.

According to Smorgasburg L.A. general manager Zach Brooks, nearly three-quarters of the event’s 2020 vendors are returning, including oyster bar the Jolly Oyster; lobster-focused grill concept Lobsterdamus; Tijuana-style taco operation Tacos 1986; smashburger slinger Love Hour; lauded burrito maker Burritos La Palma; vegan Mexican food outpost Cena Vegan; smoothie-bowl shop Amazebowls; Hawaiian-style garlic shrimp stop Shrimp Daddy; and wildly creative taco spot Macheen.

The weekly food fest’s return will also see the eventual reprisal of the pandemic-spurred Smorg Delivered program, which allowed pickup and delivery from select vendors.

Smorgasburg L.A. reopens on Sunday, July 4, and takes place every Sunday from 10am to 4pm at 777 Alameda St. within the ROW DTLA complex. Entry to the event is free and all-ages.

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