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Food, Glorious Food! Eating the LA Street Food Fest

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It was a feast of global proportions at the Rose Bowl on Saturday for the LA Street Food Fest's Summer Tasting Event. Some intrepid eaters got there early with VIP admission and took a focused approach to hitting up each and every booth, truck, and stand on the lawn and in the courtyards. Others zeroed in on getting tastes from vendors they'd never tried before. A few took the "divide-and-conquer" tactic and sent people into different lines to bring back bounty to share, whether picnic-style on the field, at a table, or in the stands.

Criteria for the favorite items varied from eater to eater, but the final say for the best of the bites came from the panel of judges (Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Chef Walter Manzke, actor Jesse Williams, Chef Susan Feniger, Rene Lynch of the LA Times, and Street Gourmet LA blogger Bill Esparza), who worked their way from vendor to vendor tasting to determine their picks.

Vendors served up mini or halved versions of their usual fare--a wise strategy to keep their costs low, their prep time manageable, and to let diners have room for more bites with less waste.

From the golden-crisp Filipino lumpia of the Manila Machine, to the Japanese-inspired hot dogs of Dogzilla, to the Oaxacan flavors of Pal Cabron, to the all-American Grilled Cheese sammies from the Grilled Cheese Truck, attendees ate their way around the world via the street food of Los Angeles set up around the Rose Bowl.

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There were vegetarian options, like the bright green tofu balls from Starry Kitchen, fruit salad from the Gastrobus, and Mandoline Grill's tofu banh mi. In the Ice Cream Social area frosty treats like miniature almond-studded chocolate dips from King Kone, vegan treats, and Coolhaus' cherished sandwiches kept guests cool on the hot summer afternoon. For the drinkers there was Sailor Jerry's Rum and Camarena Tequila, and for the non-drinkers Dry Soda, HonesTea, and Izze, though towards the end liquid refreshment was a precious commodity unless you were near one of the many water fountains.

Awardees

Best Nouveau - Sedthee Thai's Pork Sparerib
Runner Up - Manila Machine's Pork Adobo

Best Old School - Chef Robert Dahni's Explosive Thai Bites
Runner Up - Tamales Elena

The Sweet Tooth - Munchie Machine's PB&J S'Mores
Runners Up - Scoops Westside & Vintage Longboards

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Best in Show - Mariscos Jalisco's Shrimp Tacos

Best Original Showmanship - Starry Kitchen's Crispy Tofu Balls

The People's Choice Award goes to...Starry Kitchen & Mariscos Jalisco

Here's a look at the best of the fest's grub.