Downtown Los Angeles’ Smorgasburg appeared in Santa Monica this past Saturday, only steps away from its sandy beach. As its second pop up on the Westside, it did not disappoint whatsoever. Even with the mild rain, foodies from all over showed up to get a taste of some of Smorgasburg’s new vendors, as well as some of the OG vendors normally seen at The Row in the Arts District.
More than 70 vendors visited the pier, including regulars like Wanderlust Creamery, Shrimp Daddy and Lobsterdamus. The lines at Smorgasburg are usually unfathomable, however that usually is an indicator which vendors are worth trying. Shrimp Daddy’s line typically has one of the longest waits, so I did not take any chances by waiting and tackled this meal first.
Known for their flavorful shrimp dish served in half a pineapple, I had to get the most popular item on Shrimp Daddy’s menu. Their skin-on garlic butter shrimp is served with a helping of their delicious macaroni salad, white rice and you cannot forget about the pineapple they dig out to create their famous bowls. The slice of lemon they add on the plate should not be taken for granted, go on and squeeze that baby over the shrimp! You’ll thank me later.
I was full, however the foodie in me could not stop there. Trying to stay dry, I walked around and picked out another food vendor to try. My next stop was one of Smorgasburg’s new vendors Spoon and Pork. They only have one food item on their menu and it is called Patita.
It is an entire pork shoulder deep fried and coated with a sweet chili garlic vinegar glaze. It’s served on a bed of jasmine rice, with a side of cucumber flower, and the pork is garnished with scallion grass. I could not and did not finish the whole pig’s shoulder, but it was so crispy and garlicky on the outside with nothing but tender meat on the inside.
I washed it down with their Melonchia, Spoon and Pork’s version of an agua fresca — made up of cantaloupe and chia seeds. So refreshing!
I finished my trip with the best way I know how, dessert! Good old Wanderlust Creamery always does the trick. Wanderlust is known for their trendy purple cones made from a species of purple yams, also known as ube in the Philippines.
They have unique off the wall flavors across their menu, such as Honey Lavender, Earl Grey and Sticky Rice + Mango. I asked the Wanderlust cashier which one he fancied the most, and of course he recommended the one that was seasonal. It was their Taiwanese Pineapple Cake ice cream, something that changed my life for the better, and something they should offer year round. This flavor was made up of brown butter shortbread ice cream, swirled with their house made sticky pineapple jam. It even had little bits of shortbread in the ice cream! It was definitely a game changer and I’ll definitely crave it at least once a day. It was a great way to end my meal.
Don’t feel bummed because you missed out on Smorgasburg in Santa Monica, because it visits the Arts District weekly, every Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Another fairly new vendor to try is Daddy’s Chicken Shack. Golden fried chicken breast, their citrusy slaw piled on top and sriracha mayo all in between a brioche bun. You won’t regret it. Now you really have no excuse to not attend Smorgasburg.