Smorgasburg LA – a food festival hosting dozens of vendors – happens every Sunday at ROW DTLA. If you’re thinking this is an event made for trendy food Instagrammers, YouTubers, and bloggers, you would be right. However, I have personally been to Smorgasburg, and as a foodie, I absolutely loved it: there are so many options for any type of food you would ever want, and everything I tried was amazing (I ate a LOT of different things). It can be hard to navigate a food festival if you eat a restricted diet, but there are tons of delicious vegan options.
ANNOUNCEMENT: For all you west-siders, Smorgasburg is having a “Popup on the Pier” at the Santa Monica Pier this Saturday, March 10th. The theme for this popup is California avocados, meaning the vendors will have special avocado dishes on their menus. Vegan or not, this guide will highlight some of Smorgasburg’s best plant-based dishes.
I’m sure you’ve seen those acai bowls in coconut shells all over Instagram (mine included, check out girl_with_a_fork). Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they taste good, too. Although they are a bit expensive for the quantity you get, this is a good vegan option if you’re looking for something sweet and fruity. Plus do it for the ‘gram.
LA is known for its Mexican food, and thanks to Cena, even vegans can enjoy street-style tacos. Their nachos look pretty dang good, too. Cena was recently awarded “best vegan truck” in LA. They use authentically seasoned plant-based meat substitutes that you can even buy to take home.
100% vegan, 100% indulgent: Donut Friend offers some crazy donut flavors, including Bacon 182, a maple bacon donut made with house-made coconut bacon, X-Ray Speculoos, a donut stuffed with cookie butter, and Youth Brûlée, which is filled with Bavarian cream and covered in torched sugar. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
Another Instagram favorite – colorful drinks in jars adorned with the phrase “happiness starts here,” this vendor sells naturally sweetened beverages. The fan-favorite flavor seems to be the vibrant purple and yellow-colored lychee butterfly pea tea. The drink + jar comes out to a whopping $8.50, but if you bring the jar back on your next trip, you get to skip the line and feel superior while you do it.
This Korean fusion vendor makes rainbow mandu, or Korean dumplings. The vegan options are wild mushroom, spinach and tofu, or spicy fried tofu. All three of these dumplings are filled with sweet potato noodles and various vegetables. Although they are expensive at $8-9 a pop, the dumplings are huge – definitely a shareable item.
I tried Wanderlust for the first time recently and I am converted. My absolute favorite ice cream is Salt and Straw, and dare I say Wanderlust rivals that. Their flavors are inspired by different places, such as their seasonal passionfruit + cocao nib inspired by Brazilian flavors. Out of their signature flavors, the vegan sticky rice + mango is usually offered at Smorgasburg. It is made with rice milk, coconut cream, and swirls of mango.
Popup on the Pier bonus: Mama Lee Vegan
Mama Lee makes Asian-inspired salads, soups, Buddha bowls, and tacos. Notable dishes include pumpkin rice congee, thai peanut tofu Buddha bowl, and peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough pudding for dessert. Even non-vegans are giving this place rave reviews.
Remember to Snapchat, Instagram, and even Facebook story these aesthetic and delicious vegan foods from Smorgasburg LA (#belyvly). And make sure to brag to all your meat-eating friends that being vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite foods.
Pictures by Anna Simon