Vegan Street Fair

This past Sunday, thousands flocked to North Hollywood to attend the first annual Vegan Street Fair.  By looking at the number of attendees, you could say this event was a huge success.  Of course people are going to want to come out to something like this – free entrance, all-vegan food, cheap small bites.  I am the type of person this event was created for.  I love trying as many items as possible, so paying tons of money at other events for a giant portion and getting so full that I can’t try all the things I want is not so cool.  Still, there were a few kinks that will need to be worked out before the next event (more on that later).

Let’s get to the food.

I love hummus and I love falafel. So, my first stop was at Hummus Republic. I kind of wish I had tried their hummus, but instead, I went with their tacos.  I got the three taco variety and chose one Chicken taco and two Falafel tacos.  All three were topped with their tahini sauce (other sauces included a pesto sauce and some kind of spicy sauce).  The chicken taco was just ok.  It was good, but I’d choose the falafel taco over the chicken taco in a heartbeat.  The falafel taco was delicious (it also helped that I hadn’t eaten yet and this was my first stop).  But really, even if I had hit these guys up at my last stop, I think it still would have been good.

Hummus Republic Tacos

Hummus Republic Tacos

 

Next stop was Joni Marie Newman’s Just the Food tent.  This awesome food blogger and cookbook author (I love her cookbook “500 Vegan Recipes” btw) was serving spicy Korean BBQ jackfruit tacos and flakey fish-y tacos.  I don’t like really spicy, so I played it safe with a Flakey Fish-y Taco.  I liked this taco as well.  I thought there was a little bit too much cabbage and not enough “fish”, but the sauce was really good and overall the flavor was great.  I was glad to try her food, since she normally doesn’t set up shop to prepare food for the masses.

Just the Food Fish Taco

Just the Food Fish-y Taco

While the lines were short, I decided to grab a bunch of desserts, before they sold out of items.  Bramble Bakeshop had a whole variety of macarons, a couple of cheesecakes, and some peanut butter cups.  I’ve never had non-vegan macarons and I’ve only had the Feel Good Desserts vegan flavors (I wasn’t a huge fan), so I skipped their macarons and got a Churro Cheesecake.  This was so good.  Probably my favorite dessert from the day.  Perfectly sweet and creamy with a subtle cinnamon flavor.

Bramble Bakeshop

Bramble Bakeshop

Luscious Organic Desserts has never let me down and they didn’t at Vegan Street Fair.  They had a bunch of stuffed cookies which were hard to choose from.  I got a Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie, a Double Chocolate New-tella Stuffed Cookie, and a Cookie Butter Stuffed Blondie Cookie.  All were really amazing – not too soft and not too chewy.  I wish I had gotten some of their other flavors.

Charlies Brownie and Lucious Organic Cookies

Charlies Brownie and Lucious Organic Cookies

Ridiculous Baking Company came with three temptations.  Being the glutton that I am, I wanted all three.  But the cheap side of me said, “no.”  So I compromised and went with two.  The Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcake was delicious.  It was super moist and peanut buttery.  The Donut was just ok.  It kind of had chewy texture – something I don’t want in a donut.  The flavor was nice, though, so they just need to work on getting that donut to feel – well – more like a donut.  Speaking of donuts – I really wanted to try Donut Friend’s donuts, but I decided to avoid the line and go to their store for a fresh donut some other time.  They looked so good, though!

Ridiculous Baking Company

Ridiculous Baking Company

My last dessert venture was for a S’mores Brownie at Charlie’s Brownies.  These brownies are gluten free, but they do a very good job at making them taste like they aren’t gluten free.  The brownie was really fudgey, but there was the tiniest bit of graininess after you started chewing.  That was the only way I could tell they were gluten free, but it wasn’t even a big issue.  I would definitely get it again.

Charlie's S'mores Brownie

Charlie’s S’mores Brownie

Back to the savory food.  I saw they were serving fried chicken at Clean South, so I found the back of the line and waited.  I have never heard of this company and was hoping their line didn’t go as slowly as Southern Fried Vegan (do not wait in their hours long line – it is not worth it), but Clean South’s line went pretty quickly.  When I got to the front, I learned that most of the food was already made.  I got two servings of Fried Chicken (one for me and one for my vegan guy who was on his way) and a piece of Cornbread.  Both of these items were in big serving trays ready to be handed out.  They hand make the chicken, which I believe was seitan.  Unfortunately I was not a fan.  I’m not a huge fan of seitan to begin with, but I think that, since the chicken had been sitting for a bit, that it had gotten kind of soggy.  Maybe if it was fresh from the fryer it would have been crispier and better, but props to them for having a fast moving line.  The cornbread was a big letdown, though.  It was pretty bland and didn’t really have that cornbread kind of flavor at all.

Clean South Fried Chicken and Cornbread

Clean South Fried Chicken and Cornbread

By this time, my vegan guy and I ran out of tickets and stood in line to get more. While we were waiting, some awesome people were leaving and handing out their unused tickets!  Score for us!  Armed with our free (and purchased) tickets, we headed on over to The Rabbit Hole.  I’ve had their food once before and thought it was delicious, so I was expecting good things.  I got the Shepherd’s Pie which included veggies, beans, and grains topped with some mashed sweet potatoes.  It was really good.  It was fresh from the stove, which warmed my body on that cold day.  By that time I was getting full, so I saved half for later (still delicious the next day!).

Rabbit Hole Shepherds Pie

Rabbit Hole Shepherds Pie

Next. we made a quick stop at Rachel’s Cosmic Cuisine for a mini Pizza Bagel.  This is exactly what you’d expect from a pizza bagel.  I liked it.  Simple, good sauce, melty cheese.  My vegan guy did not like it.  “I like my pizza bagels better,” he says.  To each his own.

Rachels Cosmic Cuisine Pizza Bagel

Rachels Cosmic Cuisine Pizza Bagel

I think the favorite for both of us that day (well, I know it was my favorite), was the Fried Ravioli from the Whole Foods tent.  Bonus – I don’t think people realized they were dishing out food, because there was no one in line.  The pasta part was fried and then topped with a Kite Hill Cheese filling and marinara.  So good.  I need to try and replicate this.

Whole Foods Fried Ravioli

Whole Foods Fried Ravioli

Our last stop before we had to leave was at Broke Hungry Vegan.  This line took the longest, but it was also the line we stood in when it started hailing (yes it hails in California!!).  Those poor people in the tent were wading in water once we got up there. Some of the delay might have been due to the crazy weather that had happened while we were waiting.  We ordered quite a few things, so we could use up a lot of our tickets.  The Soy Curl Taquito was the best of the bunch.  The only downside was that it was super greasy  – like almost soggy because of the grease.  This could have been because they were frying in not ideal circumstances – when the oil gets too cool, it can lead to greasy and not crispy fried foods – so I don’t blame them for that.  The Bahn Mi, though, was slightly bland.  I love the flavor of plain tofu so the sandwich wasn’t all that bad for me.  My vegan guy thought it was a no go – too bland for him.  The Loaded Nachos looked like it used the same filling as the taquito, but didn’t taste as good.  For some reason it was a bit blander than the taquito.  All in all, I’d order the taquito again, but probably nothing else.

Broke Hungry Vegan Soy Curl Taquito

Broke Hungry Vegan Soy Curl Taquito

Broke Hungry Vegan Loaded Nachos

Broke Hungry Vegan Loaded Nachos

Broke Hungry Vegan Bahn Mi

Broke Hungry Vegan Bahn Mi

Phew!  That was a lot of food!  I truly appreciate the effort that went into this event.  I can’t even imagine all the things that had to happen to make this it possible.

That being said, I do hope they change things for the future.  This event definitely needed more space.  The first Vegan Beer Fest needed more space.  The first Vegan Oktoberfest needed a TON more space.  And now, the first Vegan Street Fair needed more space.  I wish they thought about this a little more when planning the event.  It was wall-to-wall people.  Getting from place to place was extremely difficult and seeing which line went to which tent was challenging.  If there had been more space, people could see which lines were super long and make their way to the shorter lines – thereby evening out the lines.  One person on the Vegan Street Fair facebook page suggested having all food vendors on one side, so the lines all go one way.  Another person recommended working with the vendors to get an estimated prep time for each order and spacing out those that would take longer.  A few people suggested that vendors quicken their service, but I’m not really sure how doable that is without sacrificing the taste of the food (that is why we all go to these events, right?!).

It was great that there was no charge to get in, but the lack of pre-sold tickets means that vendors and organizers had no way of knowing an estimated head count.  Plus, each sheet of tickets (12 tickets sold for $8) had a service charge of $2.  I bought 8 sheets, so basically my vegan guy and I paid $16 to get in.  Not a bad deal, but I almost think they might want to reconsider charging to get in.  I think it would be great to maybe charge a small amount for an entrance ticket upfront that may even include a few food tickets.  Then once inside you are free to buy more food tickets.  This would help organizers and vendors know about how many people are coming.  But, I can see how this would create more costs for the organizers (and therefore more costs for the attendees) – more security to prevent people sneaking in, more barricades, more logistical problems creating an entrance ticket.  But something needs to change for next year and I think the organizers realize that.

I am exited to see where this event goes.  On the Vegan Street Fair website it says that there will be events like this in other cities.  I hope that, with each new event, they will get better and better.

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