Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Los Angeles Vegan Street Fair 2016 Report


The second Vegan Street Fair was held this past Sunday in North Hollywood, California! This year promised to be bigger than last year (read about last year's event HERE!), with more space, more ticket options, and (most importantly) MORE FOOD!

It was held just a few streets over from last year's event, but on a wider street with much more space, and it grew from about 40 vendors to over 90! The vendors were mostly restaurants and food vendors, but there were also clothing companies, vegan lifestyle magazines, animal rescue and sanctuary booths, and many more! Some of the food vendors this year included Blue Window, SunCafe, Casa Coqui, Vegan Pizza, The Ridiculous Baking Co., and soooooo many more!

The calm before the storm!

Another bonus they introduced this year was VIP ticketing, which gave you a "fast pass" perk of separate, shorter VIP lines with super-fast service! I loved this option and it worked so well! Well worth the money and highly recommended! The lines for VIP were very short and extremely fast! I wouldn't do the fair again without VIP, so keep that in mind for next year.

An example of how the regular vs. VIP lines worked at VSF. LOVED this option!
Also, you can't really see it but each booth had a clearly marked menu (top right
in this photo) and clearly marked pricing. Very helpful since you could see
what each vendor had and how much it cost before getting in line! 

A lot of love, passion, and hard work went into this event, and while they are still working out the kinks (it is only in its second year, give it some time), overall I had a great time - it was full of good people, awesome food, and festive atmosphere! We are so lucky to have such an event in SoCal, and I think sometimes we forget how fortunate we are to have access to an all-vegan street fair! As long as people do a little research beforehand, come prepared with a plan, and keep their expectations in check, they will have a great time.

Now, let's get to the food I got to try!

Blue Window's Chili Cheese Frito Tamale

My first stop was Blue Window to try their Chili Cheese Frito Tamale! I haven't been to Blue Window yet, which is Mud Hen Tavern's fast food counterpart, so I was stoked they were at VSF! This was reasonably priced at $3 (or 6 tickets). Their tamale was beautifully flavored and the Fritos on top added a fantastic crunch! This item was among my favorites of the day.

The Spicy Tuna and Deep Sea Rolls from Happy Elephant Vegan

Next up was Happy Elephant Vegan, a vegan sushi restaurant in Long Beach that I've heard so many good things about but never been to! I tried both of the rolls they were serving up, their Deep Sea Roll and Spicy Tuna Roll. Each was $3 or 6 tickets. I really enjoyed the rolls and it makes me even more eager to go dine at their restaurant in Long Beach.

The Nom Eats food truck - no burrito pics since they were devoured so fast!

While I hit up Blue Window and Happy Elephant, Mister Spooky hit up Nom Eats, a food truck from Reno, Nevada that was serving up rad burritos - we tried the Buffalo Burrito and the Philly Cheese Steak Burrito and were blown away by the flavors! Another bonus is that they prepped all their burritos in advance, so they were super-quick and had no wait! Not only that, but they were reasonably priced and each burrito was $3 or 6 tickets.

The infamous, miraculous Donut Cone from Ridiculous Baking Co.!

Next up was one of the most anticipated food items of the event - the Donut Cone from Ridiculous Baking Co.! By this time the sun had come out and it was starting to heat up, so I needed something cold and sweet to cool down. Though this was a splurge at $10 (or 20 tickets), I decided to go for it and I'm glad I did, because this really hit the spot! The Donut Cone is a donut formed into an ice cream cone and topped with Nada Moo ice cream (I got Maple Pecan, one of my fave flavors). It was everything I hoped for and MORE! Total foodgasm!

Kelly's Gourmet Cheezy Garlic Croutons

I also stopped by Kelly's Croutons and picked up a big bag of her cheesy garlic croutons. I have heard people rave about these tasty morsels, so I'm looking forward to trying them! They were $8 or 16 tickets for a big bag. Can't wait to try these!

 Deep Fried Cheeze Steak on a Stick by Southern Fried Vegan

The innards of the Deep Fried Cheeze Steak on a Stick

I splurged on a Deep Fried Cheeze Steak on a Stick from Southern Fried Vegan since it sounded decadent and naughty! It was pricey at $10 (20 tickets), but how can I pass up something that sounded like rad carnival food?! It really didn't need to be served on a stick, but it was still pretty good and filled with a mix of vegan shredded "steak" and gooey vegan cheese and topped with some spicy chipotle mayo.

Yoga-urt's Peanut Butter Prana Soft Serve with vegan gummy bears!

One of the places I was looking forward to trying was Yoga-urt, a vegan soft-serve place that recently opened up in Glendale. They were serving up several flavors, but I ended up going with the Peanut Butter Prana with gummy bear toppings! The soft serve ($2.50 a cup/5 tickets) was sooooo creamy and delicious, and I loved the vegan gummies they used (an extra $.50/1 ticket)! I hope to make it to their actual shop someday.

Proper's Pickles

I LOVE pickled things, so I had to stop by Proper's Pickle for a briny pick-me-up! I got their pickle sampler, which was a nice selection of pickles, carrots, and cauliflower for $3 (or 6 tickets). They were crisp and tasty! I loved having a nice break from the sweet/salty/fatty things.

Vegan chèvre cheese from The Sanctuary at Soledad

The Sanctuary at Soledad was there and was another organization I looked forward to seeing at the event. The story behind this goat sanctuary and vegan cheese company is that they actually used to own a goat farm and make goat cheese. However, they went vegan, turned their farm into an animal sanctuary and instead of making goat cheese they now make vegan cheese! They were some of the sweetest people I encountered at VSF and their cheese was THE BEST thing I ate! They also had the best prices of anyone at the fair and were selling a vegan cheese sample plate for $1.50 (3 tickets) or full size take-home cheeses for $3 (6 tickets). The flavors were Lemon Lavender, Truffle Herb, and Jalapeno Cheddar - the Lemon Lavender was so unique and was my fave, though I did love ALL of them. I can't wait to plan a trip out to their sanctuary in Mojave, California!

Strawberry waffle cone from Sub Zero

My last stop of the day was at Sub Zero for a waffle cone! Yup, more frozen dessert! We got to watch while they made a batch with liquid nitrogen and they even gave us a mini science lesson. It was so cool! I got a waffle cone with strawberry ice cream (made with almond milk) - it was creamy, delicious, and was the perfect sweet note to end Vegan Street Fair on!

Cooling things down at Sub Zero!

I had a few other things, which unfortunately I didn't take photos of, and bought a few things for other people since I had tickets left over. I wish I would have made it to a few other places, but out of the $80 I spent on tickets, I probably bought and/or tried 20 things, which makes the average cost of an item roughly $4 (well, it's a little more, considering there is a surcharge of $2 per 12 tickets). Overall, not too bad.

How exciting is it that this many people came out for vegan food?!

Vegan Street Fair was so much fun, and they listened to people last year and made so many improvements. There was so much more space, the lines were better organized, and there were so many more vendors. Of course, for an event this size there are still hiccups. Personally, I think they can do a lot to improve their current payment system (to buy food, you first buy a roll of tickets and the lines to buy tickets were slow and long, plus pricing and denominations of tickets are confusing), BUT I am hopeful that they will get this situation sorted in the years to come. The fair is only in its second year, and I'm sure it will improve each year!

Suggestions for improving ticket system: make them all $1, have them prepped in 
sheets of 10 or 12 so VSF employees/vendors don't have to count out each ticket, 
have vendors put up signs for prices in both dollars and tickets. Or get rid of the 
whole flawed system, charge an entrance fee and do cash only at each vendor.

The turnout this year was really amazing, and it is rad that there are so many people interested in vegan food! I can't wait to see what they have in store for the next Vegan Street Fair; I'm sure it will get bigger and better every year, especially after they work out the issues and get into a groove!

If you plan on attending next year, I would suggest keeping an eye on their site and Facebook - they provide a lot of information on there that is helpful for attendees! My own suggestions for attendees are:

  • Plan your visit in advance - VSF provides a vendor list, so decide which booths you want to hit before you arrive (this year they even provided a handy, printable map!). Make your battle plan! 
  • Purchase the VIP wristband in advance if you are able - it is worth it (and buy early, these will sell out!).
  • There's plenty of parking in the area, but scope it out ahead of time so you have an idea of where you should park before you arrive. OR arrange for public transportation so you don't have to worry about it!
  • Bring plenty of cash (I spent about $80 for the food mentioned above, so plan accordingly) and try to buy all your tickets at the beginning so you have enough to last the day.
  • Arrive early, which means you'll have a better chance at close parking and you'll get your tickets first, which means you'll get food first!
  • Bring sunblock - it always gets hot, even if temps are mild. 
  • Expect lots of people/lines - vegan food is awesome, and everyone is gonna wanna try the good stuff, so there will be lines and lots of people. Be friendly and kind, because you never know if your new best friend or beau is standing next to you in line!
  • Bring baggies or reusable containers to take stuff home! And don't forget a cooler in case you find some yummy treats that need to be refrigerated.
  • Be nice - especially to all the hardworking people at the booths and the organizers, but really to all attendees. A smiling face can go a long way, and we are all there to have fun, so let's be friendly! 

Did you attend Vegan Street Fair this year? If so, what were your faves and what are your tips and tricks for a fun event?

For more info on the event and to be notified when the next one is scheduled, check out Vegan Street Fair's website and Facebook page!

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