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12 Red-Hot LA Summer Food & Drink Events

By Lesley Balla
May 27, 2014
Photo by: Taste of the Nation/LaykinPhoto

Summer is the time to really indulge, at least when it comes to food, wine and beer events. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, some of the biggest and best festivals take place all over the Southland, from helping to end hunger at Taste of the Nation in Culver City to celebrating street eats at the massive LA Street Food Fest in Pasadena. Read on for more information on those and 10 more events you'll want to put on your calendar right away.

  • May 31-June 1: LA Wine Fest

    Head to Raleigh Studios in Hollywood for this two-day wine tasting. There are wines, beers and spirits from California - Temecula to Napa Valley - plus food trucks galore. Seminars, panel discussions and cooking demos on the main stage add to the fun.

    Essentials: Two sessions are from 2-6 PM on Saturday, and noon-5 PM on Sunday. One-day tickets are $85 per person or $150 per couple. Designated drivers can go for $25, or just take an Uber (first-time users get $50 off) (5300 Melrose Ave.).

  • Photo by: Erica Leigh Photography

    June 1: Taste of the Nation

    Benefitting Share Our Strength, the annual afternoon food fest brings together more than 40 of the city's top chefs, plus sommeliers and mixologists, to Culver City’s Media Park. The line-up is always one of the best, with everyone from Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger to Josiah Citrin, CJ Jacobson, Jason Travi and more. The Cooking Channel’s personalities Alie Ward and Georgia Hardsark will host all stage activities. Even 15-year-old chef prodigy Flynn McGarry will be there cooking in the VIP tent.

    Essentials: 1-4 PM. Tickets are $110 for general admission and $140 for VIP, which gets you early entry and access to VIP tent and gift bags (9070 Venice Blvd.).

  • Photo by: Allumette

    June 12: Star Chefs Rising Stars Gala

    The newest class of Rising Stars will be showcased at this awards ceremony and tasting event at the Vibiana in Downtown LA. Meet this year's food- and drink-scene stars like Miles Thompson from Allumette (pictured), Cole Dickinson from Ink., and Ari Taymor from Alma, plus beverage pairings and cocktails from winning sommeliers and bartenders.

    Essentials: The ceremony starts at 6:30 PM with the tasting gala from 7-9:30 PM. Tickets are $95 per person, or $125 for the VIP private reception with bubbles and Petrossian caviar. Get tickets here (214 S. Main St.).

  • Photo by: Smog City

    June 14: CollaBREWtive Brunch

    This Father’s Day brunch at Tiato in Santa Monica features LA craft brewers, coffee roasters and chefs, and it’s completely family friendly. Presented by Firestone Walker Brewing Company and FoodGPS, there will be special coffee-beer collaborations, savory dishes, pastries and desserts from a dozen notable chefs. Some participants include El Segundo Brewing and LAMILL Coffee, Golden Road and Handsome, Smog City, Dan Mattern from Cooks County, Zoe Nathan from Huckleberry and more.

    Essentials: Doors open at 11:30 AM for VIP guests and 12:30 PM for general admission. Tickets are $90 and $65, respectively; $30 for children ages seven-12; and free for kids six and under (2700 Colorado Ave.).

  • Photo by: Chinatown

    June 14: Chinatown Summer Nights

    This food, beer, art, music and cultural event in Chinatown’s Central Plaza is one of the hottest spots to be every summer. Food and drink options range from specialties at local restaurants to food-truck fare, eating contests and a beer garden for local suds. The evening line-up has something for everyone, from cooking demos to KCRW DJs, open art galleries, live music and more.

    Essentials: All events are free; food and drink cost extra. Festivities usually get started around 5 PM, with music going until midnight. The event takes place again on July 12 and August 9. The Gold Line is a great way to get there. (943 – 951 N. Broadway)

  • Photo by: LA Street Food Fest

    June 28: LA Street Food Fest

    The biggest street-food festival in LA is back at the Rose Bowl with more vendors than ever, including some of the city’s top chefs and street-food superstars, plus live music, all-you-can-drink beer and cocktails, the ice cream social and more. Unless you’re a major college football player or soccer star, this is the only time you’ll get to roam the Pasadena field.

    Essentials: The best way to go is VIP ($80), which gets you early entry and no lines; and with only a limited amount of VIP tickets sold, you get to enjoy the food and drink without super-long lines. General admission is $55. VIP goes from 4-5:30 PM, with GA from 6-10 PM (1001 Rose Bowl Dr.).

  • Photo by: The Bazaar

    July 14-27: DineLA Restaurant Weeks

    Back for its second session this year, this 14-day dining event features discounted lunch and dinner menus at hundreds of restaurants around Los Angeles. It’s one of the best ways to explore the culinary diversity across the Southland.

    Essentials: Prix fixe menus are generally priced at $15, $20 and $25 for lunch and $25, $35 and $45 for dinner. Watch the website for updated menus and participants.

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    July 18: East LA Meets Napa

    The annual event at Union Station celebrates some of our best Mexican food and restaurants plus the success of Latino-owned vineyards in California. Expect plenty of tacos, huitlacoche, carnitas, tamales, great wines and live music. All proceeds benefit Alta-Med Health Services.

    Essentials: 6-9 PM. Tickets are $150 now through June 17; after that, they’re $200. The best part is that you’re already at Union Station - take the train (800 N. Alameda St.)

  • July 12: The Garagiste Festival

    In France, the word “garagiste” started out as a term for renegade winemakers, the small producers who didn’t follow “the rules.” Here in California, it describes some of the winemakers producing 1,500 cases or less a year, and this event will bring together more than 40 of them at Union Station. Since most of these wineries don’t have tasting rooms, this is the perfect chance to make some new discoveries.

    Essentials: Premium tickets are $150 and only 150 of them will be sold for the 1-5 PM tasting. General admission is $65; doors open at 2 PM. You get unlimited samples; bread, charcuterie and cheese; and a commemorative crystal glass (800 N. Alameda St.).

  • Photo by: Alex J. Berliner/abimages

    July 27: Wally’s Central Coast Celebration

    Back after a short hiatus, the popular food and drink event in the Wally's parking lot is back. There's fantastic summer fare from the top chefs and restaurants, amazing wines from the Central Coast, live music and a great line-up of silent-auction items. Proceeds benefit the Michael Bonaccorsi Scholarship Fund, which helps aspiring winemakers fulfill their dreams.

    Essentials: 1-4 PM. Tickets are $99 per person (2107 Westwood Blvd.).

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    August 21-24: Los Angeles Food & Wine

    Back for its fourth year, the massive food and wine festival once gain hits the red carpet Downtown. From the people behind Pebble Beach Food & Wine, Rose.Rabbit.Lie in Las Vegas and LA's new Faith & Flower restaurant, it pulls together top local talent as well as celeb chefs from around the country for lunches, festive dinners and the grand tastings in front of the Disney Concert Hall. Here’s a look at last year’s kick-off event. CLM is already promising “bigger and better," so be prepared.

    Essentials: Tickets will be available for presale to Chase Sapphire card members from June 16-18 and to the general public on June 19. Tickets can be purchased on the event website, including full- and half-day packages, as well as specialty ticketed events throughout the city.

  • Photo by: The Taste

    August 29-31: The Taste

    The Los Angeles Times’ three-day food event over Labor Day weekend returns to Paramount Studios. As in years past, expect the paper’s food personalities and writers to join local chefs for cooking demos and panels, plus a walk-around food and drink tasting on the studio backlot.

    Essentials: The weekend pass is always the best route so you can pick and choose from the various day and evening events and get more bang for your buck. Festival passes are usually around $175 and individual events around $85 per person. Watch the website for more details and announcements.

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