shiitake mushroom dumplingsLast Sunday, vegan and non-vegan Los Angelans alike attended the city’s 4th Annual Vegan Street Fair.  Over 200 vendors showed up to the free, all-day event. In addition to the vegan food and shopping stands, the fair also included family-friendly activities like bounce houses and chalk zones, and more adult-friendly attractions like a beer garden and after-party.

My vegan-leaning friend and I arrived at the street fair determined to sample as many of the $4 snack bites as we could. To start, we split some shiitake mushroom dumplings from Bling Bling. Those one-bite wonders packed a delicious punch. Wrapped in marinated greens, the flavor combination was utter perfection. Although Bling Bling is not a restaurant (yet), you can find its products in local Los Angeles stores such as Urban Radish, Grow DTLA, or the Atwater Farmers Market. If you’re really craving these delectable dumplings, they can be delivered by Milk and Eggs or GrubMarket.

Our next conquest was Donna Jean’s turmeric roasted cauliflower. A huge fan of both turmeric and cauliflower, I found these tasty, roasted snacks easy to devour. The cauliflower were served atop smoked lentils and topped with preserved lemon yogurt and cilantro. The lentils were an excellent addition to the dish, and I definitely see myself returning to Donna Jean’s San Diego location next time I find myself down there.

Our impressions of all the vegan foods we tried became more positive with each bite, and our next vendor we visited continued to exceed our expectations. but our next vendor most definitely did not disappoint. Shrub Grub LA offered us a most excellent “Jalajo” Brussel Sprouts. The sprout-jalapeño combo was flash-fried with roasted garlic vinaigrette and vegan cheese. The whole thing was pure greatness and a well-crafted balance of spicy and salty—they could probably convince any meat lover to change their carnivorous ways!

Continuing our eating expedition, we tried True Earth Vegan’s zucchini “pasta” with pesto. Though I still enjoyed the dish, its lack of originality left something to be desired. Nevertheless, the street fair survey ended on a high note as we enjoyed sweet plantains from The Ricans Food. Despite the wide variety of desserts they offered, we were content with our naturally sweet and good plantains. Prior to this tasting, I’d tried their Sofrito Beef Plantain canoe, which I can attest to as a wholly satisfying experience for any vegan or vegetarian who every now and then craves the taste and texture of meat.

Though I myself am not a practicing vegan, the Vegan Street Fair was a great way to explore unique, meatless and dairy-free fishes from vendors around Southern California. The crowd expressed a sense of camaraderie, a known sympathy of the struggle to find something to eat at a non-vegan restaurant. At the Los Angeles Vegan Street Fair though, no such problem existed—anyone could have a piece of chocolate-covered “bacon” without worrying about the ingredients or consequences.

The Los Angeles Vegan Street Fair will return to North Hollywood on September 1 and 2 later this year. However, for those who just cannot wait until September, the Vegan Street Fair will also be making appearances in New York, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Seattle. Last year, over 43,000 people attended the fairs in Los Angeles and New York City, according to the Vegan Street Fair webpage.

This food event may not come often, you can be sure that when it does, the people of Los Angeles will come ready to eat, drink, and be vegan.

Elizabeth Tzagournis

Elizabeth is a longtime writer and current documentary filmmaker from Los Angeles California. Knowing the greater story of all who cross her path is her inspiration. She’s deeply passionate about food and health and enjoys cooking, exercise and being active in nature whenever possible. You’ll likely find her on a hike, in a documentary screening or at the local Farmer’s Market.