Large crowds are expected at the annual Taste of the Eastside festival this weekend in Los Angeles.
Large crowds are expected at the annual Taste of the Eastside festival this weekend in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jill Aske)

Foodies looking for the latest and greatest in the growing food and drink scene of Los Angeles will find plenty of delicious offerings at the fourth annual Taste of the Eastside.

The culinary event is set for Sunday at the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens, a mission-style villa with lush landscaping, soothing fountains and meandering, tiled patios. Here foodies can congregate to sample diverse dishes and meet some of the chefs/vendors responsible for them. More than 30 emerging to established restaurants and food specialists are expected to participate.

“There will be plenty of fabulous food and drinks, but this really is a community event bringing together people who live here and those who may be curious about all the neighborhood pockets on the Eastside,” said Travis Lea, festival organizer for the second year in a row. “We have reached out to the best and many up-and-coming restaurants and they're all here. We want to showcase all that the Eastside has to offer.”

The annual dining extravaganza has moved this year from Barnsdall Art Park in Los Feliz to Cypress Park in hopes of shining the spotlight on the emerging food scene found in northeast Los Angeles.

Highland Park and Eagle Rock have become the dining destinations thanks in part to restaurants such as Little Beast, Maximiliano, Amara Kitchen and The Greyhound Bar & Grill, organizers said. They will be joined by established restaurants from Atwater Village, Silver Lake, Echo Park and Los Feliz. Among them will be farm-to-table favorite Canelé, Thai street food specialist Night + Market Song, Allumette, Little Dom's and festival veterans Bon Viant Market & Café.

Delicious cupcakes are only some of the great menu fare available at the Taste of the Eastside.
Delicious cupcakes are only some of the great menu fare available at the Taste of the Eastside. (Photo by Jill Aske)

“I'm very excited. We had so much fun last year and met so many people,” said Bon Viant proprietor Tricia LaBelle. “This gives us a good opportunity to meet our neighbors and to meet people from all over the city. The Eastside is really coming on with Eagle Rock, Washington Heights, Silver Lake and Atwater Village. It really is amazing what's happening food-wise.”

LaBelle said she not only enjoyed participating in last year's festival, but had fun seeing what other restaurants and vendors had to offer from ice cream to gourmet cheese.

This year LaBelle and Bon Viant will be serving chocolate balsamic lamb chops with watermelon juice.

But food won't be the only thing on the menu at Taste of The Eastside. Craft beer, wine and creative cocktails will be served from boutique merchants from Silver Lake Wine to Golden Road Brewing and more.

New to the table this year will be Greenbar Craft Distillery, pouring tastings and cocktails. The organic, hand-made distillery based in Los Angeles will join Say Cheese, G&B Coffee and chef Ricardo Morales of Diablo in demonstrations for VIP ticketholders.

Greenbar co-founder Melkon Khosrovian is the company's lead spirits maker. He will be there to talk a little about the company, his hobby of making flavored vodkas and the entire craft distillery concept.

“We're excited to be a part of the festival. We're in downtown Los Angeles and we want to introduce ourselves to those who may not know us,” said Mimi Mitrius, Greenbar marketing manager.

Greenbar, a 14,000-square-foot distillery right on the edge of the downtown's Arts District, makes organic spirits and liquers for six different labels, the first to do that in the city since Prohibition. The distillery has plans to open a tasting room at the end of this summer.

The festival also is a family-friendly event that plans to offer a treasure hunt with a safari-theme and an art project.

All proceeds from Taste of the Eastside will be donated locally to nonprofits including Friends of the Los Angeles River and the Pablove Foundation. Rose Scharlin Cooperative Nursery School, Los Angeles' oldest co-op for children, is the primary beneficiary and organizer of the event, Lea said, who also serves as fundraising chairman for the nursery school.

“We are really lucky to have the restaurants and vendors we have. ... They really represent the Eastside from Silver Lake to Highland Park and Eagle Rock, all the foodie neighborhoods east of downtown Los Angeles,” Lea said. “And we're excited to be at the River Center Gardens because I think it's a hidden gem and it's in about the center of the neighborhoods we represent.”



Taste of the Eastside

Where: The Los Angeles River Center and Gardens, 570 W. Ave. 26, Los Angeles.

When: 4-8 p.m. Sunday. VIP ticketholders get in at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets: Adults, $40-$70. Children, $5.

Information: www.tasteoftheeastside.com.