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Real Street Food

I'm looking for real street food. Not taco trucks, not hot dog stands, not pizza joints. You know, food from carts, vendors or even folks selling from the trunks of cars. I want delicious stuff from quasi-legal or illegal and very mobile sources. So far I know of the ubiquitous Mexican snack of hot dog wrapped with bacon, the tamale ladies and Mexican dessert drink sellers.

Does anyone know of a really good tamale lady? The one I knew of where I used to live on DeLongpre near Highland in Hollywood wasn't very good. Too much masa.

Also, I was wondering if there were other ethnic street food other than Mexican? San Gabriel, K-town, Lil' Saigon, Thai Town, etc? I think there are a couple of vendors who hang out in front of the Hawaii Supermarket in SG. Not sure what they hawk.


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  1. Sorry its Mexican but for those interested:
    I was walking up 6th street, two saturday nights ago and the scene was crazy, unbelieveable.

    So many people on the streets - it was really dark - looking like they were buying stuff from people who had spread out a blanket on the sidewalk and set out their wares. You could barely push yourself through the people but every 20 feet or so you came across a little set up - usually a woman with a grill or one of those frying 'discs' and people all huddled around - their faces barely visible in the firelight.

    This stretched from the NE corner of MacArthur park until the Food 4 Less [more or less]. The concentration of sellers was on the north side of the street but I was walking on the south side were there were plenty of food vendors.

    No posted signs for the most part...and you will need to bring spanish skills.

    1. If you're ever in K-town, there is a korean market on western and 5th, called California market, and on most days there is a silver truck/cart in front of the store. They sell Ho Duk, which is a traditional korean street vendor food, a korean pancake made from rice (kind of mochi texture) and the inside is filled with sweet bean, honey, cinnamon, and pine nuts. They cook it right there, and it's yummy.

      1. How about Indonesian Street Food. The name of the gathering is Pondok Kaki Lima, and it happens every Saturday from 10am to 2pm at the Duarte Inn parking lot in the sleepy city of Duarte. In it you'll find dishes cooked up by families, little old ladies, and ex-restauranteurs.

        Check out some pics here:

        3 Replies
        1. re: elmomonster

          I've been this place before. My wife is Indonesian and she wasn't all impressed with the food there. She said that there's a lot of Indo restaurants in Loma Linda

            1. re: Vegasbuff

              Sorry your wife didn't care for it. Which vendor did she try? And what did she have?

              There are about six or seven food stalls there, cooking dozens of different items each (and some experiment with selling different dishes every week). Realistically speaking, they can't be all winners, but in the dozen meals I've had there, I can say that there were only two I didn't completely enjoy.

              There's one vendor that does a Nasi Bungkus that wasn't very good (better and cheaper at Toko Rame), but that same vendor does the most unbelievably decadent Es Durian (Durian shake).

              Another vendor does one of the most scrumptous Nasi Gudeg's I've ever had. And I've had Nasi Gudeg in Yogyakarta. The same booth also produces Soto Mie which is absolutely divine, lots of chewy kikil (tendon).

              What I'm trying to say is:
              Visit more than once, or try more than one item, and you will be gustatorily rewarded.

              By the way, although they are part of the same organization, the vendors are fiercely competitive with each other. It's quite fun to watch how they try to one up each other every week. The ultimate winner? My stomach.


            1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

              And there's always the fruit sellers who won't pitch in to the wat -- they're on the street on the west side of the temple complex selling fruit for $2.50.

              There's also the usual collection of Mexican fruit salad sellers. I thought that was required to be a roving thing until I saw Brianna's in Anaheim, which is an actual store. Some of the roving ones sell tejuino or tepache.

            2. In Santa Ana, there are a lot of street food by the federal court and downtown Santa Ana.

              For Chinese street foods, the closest would be the HK Supermarket Plaza in Rowland Heights. They have stands, not carts, with HK Fishballs, sticky tofu, and other stands. You can just hop stand to stand and pick up different Asian specialities that are usually sold in street vendor cards in Hong Kong or Taiwan.

              3 Replies
              1. re: WHills

                Second HK Supermarket Plaza in RH. Love, love, love the HK Fishball House. Noodle soups with shrimp for under $3! Can't beat it with a stick!

                Some pics and a review of what I'm talking about:

                1. re: elmomonster

                  WOW! I've driven by for YEARS and had no idea there was a shack there! Thanks! :)


                2. re: WHills

                  This is a very good suggestion -- and it has the right taste and "feel" as, say, the fishball stands and "honeycomb" stands in Mong Kok.

                3. It really depends on the neighborhood. We have TWO tamale Ladies on our sleepy street in Culver City (One out of a van, another from a grocery basket), but we have many latino neighbors. Two streets up from us, if they even caught wiff of a Tamale Lady, they'd call the cops! :P

                  Also, try heavily latino churches on Sundays. The Cathlolic Church on Inglewood and Culver always has a great selection of street vendors as well the Church ladies often sell the most amazing tamale and pozole right in the parking lot.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Dommy

                    Man, this is more than I dreamed! Thanks all!! Keep 'em coming!! I'll be doing a lot of driving!!!

                    1. re: DeliciousRhino

                      In the Pico-Union/Koreatown vicinity it's top heavy with street food. One good place is St. Thomas Church, I think it's around Pico and Normandie, great food on Sunday morning with tons of vendors. Going east by Pico and Union especially outside La Adelita there are good vendors with all kinds of good stuff too.

                  2. The best tamales I ever had were sold by a guy with a cart who frequented the bars in the Silverlake/Echo Park area around closing time. So, if you find yourself at the Short Stop around 1:30 a.m., you will be in luck!

                    1. In Echo Park there's a lot of street food on Sat/Sun, but of course it is all Mexican:
                      At the actual park near the playground you will find elotes (grilled corn on the cob with lime, mayo, cheese, chile and butter), bacon wrapped hot dogs, tacos, raspados
                      On Logan b/w Sunset and Park there's a taco lady who sets up on the sidewalk
                      On Echo Park Ave b/w Sunset and Park there is at least one fruit stand (lime and chile!), a churro truck (these are great), and a woman making what I think are called huaraches (a masa dough stuffed goodies, looks like she might use blue corn masa. they look and smell delicious, but i have not tried them yet)
                      At the corner of Lemoyne and Sunset (next to the pawn shop) a woman sells champurrado and atole (I usually see her there in the morning, but she might not sell it as the weather is getting warmer)

                      If you go, make sure it's the weekend as there are many more vendors than weekdays.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: themirthmobile

                        this is a deliciously awesome post.

                        also, check out the alameda swapmeet.


                      2. The food stalls at the HK Supermarket plaza in Rowland Heights is good for lots of Chinese food.

                        The MacArthur Park neighboorhod, especially on the weekends, has loads of people I saw a guy selling ceviche out of the trunk of his car a few days ago on 7th. Echo Park too... but honestly many of the heavily Latino neighborhoods have this sort of thing going on.
                        And on the weekends, at night I sometimes go over to East L.A. and look for the illegal taco carts that have Al Pastor made with actual fire against the spit (most of them use the electric kind) You'll notice them because of the smoke and the many people gathered around. Olympic has a couple that come to mind, but the entire area has them.

                        1. Seems like the legal food stalls nowadays are at the farmer markets. I noticed quite a few at the Torrance market, and there are 2 at my local Diamond Bar market.

                          1. I used to live in Pasadena and just to the north in Alta Dena there used to be people selling bbq on many of t5he street corners there

                            1. At the Beverly/Vermont subway station you can usually find a fruit cart all day, and in the afternoon rush hour there are several more vendors. Most of them sell whole fruit, but there are also a couple of ladies selling cooked food. The other day I had a really delicious deep fried chicken empanada-type thing, served in a plastic bag with some onions and some salsa. The masa had that rich, corny home made taste, and the contrast between the warm, slightly crispy chewiness of the empanada and the cool bite of the onions and salsa was wonderful.

                              I am not an expert in central American food, so I don't know what this thing was called or to what country it belonged, but I will definately go back and look for it again.