By Andy J. Gordon and Jenny Peters
Mexican culture and cuisine are a big part of what make Los Angeles a great melting pot of people and The Taste of Mexico Association loves to revel every year in the unbreakable link between Mexico and California. Which is why that organization once again hosted its annual celebration of food and culture on Saturday October 15, 2016 in the courtyard of La Plaza de Cultura y Artes in the heart of Downtown L.A. – and the crowds formed.
The Sixth Annual Taste of Mexico Culinary Festival showcased some of the best Mexican food and drink served up in Los Angeles. Thousands of guests roamed the massive plaza, enjoying samples from some of the best Mexican restaurants in the city. And the beer, premium tequilas and mezcals that flowed from booths throughout the plaza revved up the celebration, while live music had everyone dancing through the night.
There were over 35 food vendors, offering a wide variety of authentic tidbits, making it hard to stop at just tasting a few of the delicious selections. So diet be damned, we just had to keep nibbling on the outstanding dishes on offer. Chichen Itza served an amazingly creamy and vibrant yellowtail ceviche with sea urchin. Candela offered flavorful al pastor tacos with pineapple chunks as well as citrusy cochinitas pibil tacos. Tacos Punta Cabras had Korean marinated and then grilled short ribs, served with guacamole on a corn puff.
The Frida booth had a large taco bar with succulent carnitas as well as a full complement of spicy salsas and condiments. Chef Jose Acevedo and co-owner Jesse Gomez from Mercado/Maradentro/Yxta also served delicious carnitas tacos, but the long line of guests at their booth were there for something else, as they waited patiently for the duo’s amazing lobster tacos in crispy flour tortillas with Oaxaca cheese and salsa. Jimmy Shaw from Loteria Grill prepared succulent beer-braised veal shank with manzano chile salsa.
Premium mezcals were prominently featured at the event. Gilberto Marquez created an Ilegal mezcal cocktail that would be a big hit if served in 7Eleven slurpee machines. It contained carrots and caramel in addition to the premium mezcal, resulting in a smoky orange, icy treat. The Mestizo mezcals were all incredibly smooth and had a fine depth of flavor. Other delicious premium mezcals were served by Banhez and Mexcal Tierra de Cuervos.
The Don Julio tequila booth offered tastings of their premium spirits and also made delicious tamarind-flavored margaritas. San Matias tequila served delectable cocktails along with their full line of spirits. Dulce Vida, a rarely seen organic tequila producer, provided samples of their full line including the new lime- and grapefruit-infused flavors.
The Estrella Jalisco beer booth was so popular that they ran out less than halfway through the event. Fortunately, the festive Michemobil michelada booth kept pouring their traditional beer cocktail through the night. Water, soda and other soft drinks were available for those taking a break from the booze.
The Sixth Annual Taste of Mexico festival was a delicious, wild party that gave thousands of Angelenos the chance to sample some of the incredible, completely authentic Mexican food and beverages available in Los Angeles. Nobody left the party hungry or thirsty. And we can’t wait for next year’s celebration. Until then, we’ll just settle for visiting some of those top-notch local Mexican restaurants who served up such great fare – happily, some are right in our neighborhood.