Photos by Ben Brown

Glendale Hosts One of L.A.’s Greatest Food Festivals. Here’s How It Goes Down…

Taste Walk Glendale is the ultimate package in food festivals. Not only are you tasting the best of Downtown Glendale’s food scene, but you’re doing so right at the restaurants themselves. Taste Walk Glendale takes a traditional food festival and turns it on its head in the best of ways…if you’re a foodie looking for an insider experience, best to get in the know before this annual event blows up in L.A. 

At Taste Walk Glendale, there is no one central location where restaurants drive in their food from miles away. Sure, there are plenty of booths where friendly restaurant staff hand out endless samples of signature items, but those booths are steps from the kitchen. Whether it’s Bacari GDL serving beautiful appetizers out front, Lao Sze Chuan inviting you inside for a display of Mongolian beef, or Damon’s Steakhouse dedicating a server to greet guests with a burger platter in hand, each stop adds a personal touch to the experience. And sure, there are a few centralized locations, but think of them as miniature block parties, where neighboring restaurants join forces in their shared alleyways.  

The name says it all. This is a walking food tour of Downtown Glendale’s ½-mile restaurant row, where rules go out the window for one day and restaurants open their doors to anyone with a wristband and a signature blue bag. Guests wander the streets like high school freshmen, albeit savoring Electric Pussycat’s strawberry pop tart milkshakes and Porto’s potato balls while studying the event map. Live music plays every step of the way, livening the mood and alerting passers-by that something truly special is taking place.

40 eateries, drinkeries and sweeteries in all, from Georgina dumplings at The Khinkali House to chicken tikka masala at All Indian Café and Homemade Waffle Jack waffles. If that’s a lot to take in, you can justify it with all the extra steps you’ll get walking from place to place. Expect more amazing things at Taste Walk Glendale 2019. 

For more information, visit TasteWalkGlendale.com.

Masters of Taste Gathers Culinary Masterminds in Iconic Rose Bowl

Masters of Taste saw its third successful year on May 6, when it brought together some of the city’s top restaurants, wineries, breweries, distilleries and all-things-sweet-eries on the field of Pasadena’s famous Rose Bowl Stadium. More than 75 booths circled the turf, allowing guests the
rare opportunity to not only walk along the infield, but to do so in
gourmet style.

Eateries of all types took the opportunity to shine, churning out limitless tastings of house favorites. Prime rib and wasabi mashed potatoes from Alexander’s Steakhouse, melt-in-your mouth brisket and cornbread from Gus’s Barbecue, and handmade pasta with imported Italian sausage from Nerano were just a few of the eclectic flavors to be found. Pez Cantina’s seafood tostadas and Maestro’s carnitas tacos duked it out for South of the Border deliciousness while Poppy + Rose and Maple battled over who served the best fried chicken. 

Live cooking demonstrations held a stronger presence this year, with The Bellwether’s Ted Hopson and Ardour Hospitality’s Michael Hung putting on excellent shows for intimate crowds.

On the drinks side, wineries gave up their usual lion’s share of the spotlight to breweries, distilleries and alternative beverages…not that there was any shortage of wine, though. Angel City Brewery, Indie Brewing Company and MacLeod Ale Brewing Co. were just a few purveyors of refreshing sips for the warm day, accompanied by wineries such as Navarro Vineyards, Rutherford Wine Company and Lorimar Winery. Dulce Vida Organic Tequila and American Born Moonshine crafted some killer cocktails, and rounding out the lineup were excellent nonalcoholic selections such as Humm Kombucha and Groundwork Coffee.

And what would a spectacular food festival be without dessert? ‘Sweet Masters’ are their own category at Masters of Taste, and rightfully so with characters like Zooie’s Goodies and Sidecar offering up birthday cake and panda cookies and huckleberry donut holes. Pink chocolate fountains and unicorn poop meringue cookies were just a few more of the day’s decadent staples. 

All proceeds from Masters of Taste went to Union Station Homeless Services, a non-profit organization committed to helping homeless individuals and families rebuild their lives. The event continues to grow as one of L.A.’s premiere food festivals, and the foodie community is already anticipating what’s in store for year number four. 

For more information, visit MastersOfTasteLA.com.

Santa Clarita BBQ and Beer Festival Amps Up Entertainment 

The Santa Clarita BBQ and Beer festival saw continued expansion in its third year, building on its namesake food and drink with an elevated entertainment focus. Country music star Billy Currington headlined the two-day festival, bringing with him a sea of cowboy hats, plaid shirts and leather boots that gave the festival a true identity for the first time, and one that will inevitably take it further down the country route for
years to come. 

Another part of the festival’s remodel was the addition of an ‘a la carte’ program to Friday’s bottomless beer offering. Two tents hosted dozens of breweries featuring endless pours, as well as additional stands throughout the venue that worked on a drink ticket system. In both cases, the crowd had no shortage of options. Several local favorites highlighted the lineup—Brewery Draconum, Wolf Creek Brewery, Pocock Brewing Co. and The Dudes’ Brewing Company—showing some exciting development in Santa Clarita’s beer scene. Lagunitas, Shock Top, Firestone Walker and Angel City Brewery were just a few major players on the festival’s growing list of purveyors.

Barbecue was, of course, ever-present. Carter’s Smoked BBQ dished out their heavenly pulled pork and jaw-dropping grande nachos, while Ambience Catering served up some mean hot links and tri tip. Panchos Nachos and Tacos prepared some excellent BBQ beef made especially for the event, accompanied by street tamales and other south-of-the-border favorites. Burt’s garlic fries were certainly a crowd favorite, their aroma bringing in a steady stream of patrons

The festival drew its biggest crowd to date, with a venue nearly four times the size compared to years past. The concert stage, previously tucked away in a corner, took its place front and center this time around, majestically flanked by the hilly landscape. Two enormous fields in Santa Clarita’s Central Park were more than enough to accommodate all the cowboy-clad shenanigans that took place, and you’re always pleasantly reminded that you’re in a family-oriented town when you leave a beer festival and there’s a youth soccer game taking place on the other side of the fence. 

For more information, visit bbqandbeerfestival.com.