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Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 | 57 comments

Highlights of the 2015 Latin Food Festival

As announced in a post I published last week, this past weekend I attended the Latin Food Festival in San Diego.

For those of you who are not familiar with the event, on Saturday, I was part of the main attraction which is known as the Grande Tasting. Think about this tasting as a four hour long, all-you-can-eat journey through Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Spain.

In total, there were more than 50 local restaurants, wineries, breweries, distilleries, markets and food oriented companies offering tapa-sized dishes to hundreds of attendants.

This post is my attempt to describe the flavors, aromas, textures and sounds of the festivals in about a thousand words.

The Venue

The event took place at the Broadway Pier located on San Diego’s North Embarcadero. The pier overlooks the San Diego Bay and Skyline.  As an additional treat, the USS Midway (an aircraft carrier that now serves as a museum) is visible from the festival grounds.

The Port Pavilion (serves as a cruise ship terminal) housed part of the event (VIP lounge).

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

The Food

Let’s get to the most sought after part of the event: the food.  Here are details of what was served during the four hour event.

Fogo de Chao

I have to take my hat off and salute the chefs / servers of Fogo de Chao.  They served food non-stop from the beginning to the end of the festival.

We didn’t want to miss their delicious cuts of meats, so, we visited their booth first.

They served three cuts of meats (picanha, bacon-wrapped chicken and linguica (Portuguese sausage)). All this was served with potato salad and marinated peppers.  Every bite felt way too right. I have to admit that I went for seconds.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

I2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California


This restaurant specializing in Mexican street food served fish tostadas.  I love Puesto.  Therefore, I couldn’t be happier with their samples.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

Tacos Perla

This is another of my favorite restaurants in the San Diego area (they have a super cool and funky vibe).  This time they served tuna tostadas and vegan cauliflower / carrot ceviche.  The tuna tostada was really good but the vegan sample surprised me.  These people can make anything taste good!

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

Aqui es Texcoco

This restaurant is famous for its barbacoa.  The word barbacoa can be translated to English as Mexican Lamb Barbecue.

Traditionally, barbacoa is prepared by slow roasting the meat for more than seven hours in an underground fire pit covered with the succulent leaves of the maguey plant.  The restaurant replicates the process using a special oven.

They cut the meat and put it in a tortilla.  You garnish it as you want.  I do not have to get into details about the tenderness of the resulting dish.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

Northgate Market

The market offered carnitas tacos, guacamole, fish ceviche and agua frescas.  I kept going back to their cinnamon infused horchata all afternoon.  My husband preferred the watermelon flavor.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

Café Sevilla

This is another establishment that surpassed my expectations.  They brought to the event a huge paella covered with seashells and Spanish chorizo.  On top of that, they were also offering pulpo a la gallega (Galician style octopus). I couldn’t help it.  I even licked my fingers.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

Sirena Seafood

This gourmet Latin seafood restaurant presented attendees with melt-in-your-mouth octopus ceviche and a tuna sashimi with a Latin twist.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

Indigo Grill

A plump shrimp was served over a piece of pita bread dressed with guacamole.  All the ingredients were topped with chimichurri resembling pesto sauce.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

The Hopping Pig

To me, this was one of the most creative dishes of the day.  The sample consisted of sous vide octupus served with achiote paste, plantain chips and pineapple.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California


I found this dish inventive too.  They did a take on an octopus ceviche with cucumbers and pickled red onions.  The crunchy element was added by a fried plantain chip (instead of the usual tortilla chip).

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

West Coast Tavern

Who can say no to a sope?  The ones from West Coast Tavern were topped with shredded chicken, guajillo salsa, refried white beans, queso fresco and lettuce.  Judging by the lines, these sopes were a total hit.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

La Diferencia

One of the most iconic dishes of Mexico (and of Puebla), the Chile en Nogada had to make an appearance in the festival.  This is a seasonal dish so I try to order it as often as possible when I see them in menus.



Bush’s Beans Comida Latina

This sponsor was giving out bean and cheese tacos.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

Kokopelli Tacos

I know I have praised a lot of restaurants in here but I have to do it once again. I am just in love with the guys who have invented these beyond delicious tacos and tostadas.  I tried the salmon, watermelon, mango, tamarind and Serrano chile tostada.  And that is not all! You were able to garnish your tostada with one of their excellent sauces (peanut, tamarind, berries and one called Lucifer tears).

I do not have to go into details of why their fame had spread in both Californias.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

VIP Lounge

Do you think that was it?  Well, no.  There was an entire VIP section where famous chefs were serving food and drinks.

The folks from West Coast Prime Meats were serving Spanish–style cured ham. Take a look at the pig’s leg below.  That was gone at the end of the show.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

Fresh oysters (opened on site) and juicy shrimp were served as a courtesy of the Pacific Wild Shrimp Company.  My husband was elated since he adores oysters.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

Chef Mario Medina, who is considered a celebrity in San Diego, and his staff were serving tuna tostadas.

Chef José Bossuet Martínez, with restaurants in San Miguel de Allende and Valle de Guadalupe, was serving duck tostadas.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

The VIP Lounge offered other amenities such as tequila, champagne and wine tasting.

Chef Demonstrations

Chef José Bossuet Martínez demonstrated how to prepare duck tostadas.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

Chef Mario Medina prepared an awesome braised octopus (served over tostadas).
Ana Saldaña, cookbook author and TV presenter, gave step by step instructions on how to prepare shrimp and huitlacoche (corn smut) sopes. She also showed how to prepare shrimp over a bed of salt.

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California


2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California


The happy note was introduced by the San Diego based band Todo Mundo.  They played tons of fun pop, reggae, rock and tropical songs

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California


All these fabulous food was possible because of the sponsors and exhibitors.

Here is a partial list of the sponsors present at the event.

Lincoln Motor Company
Mazanita Sol
Cupcake Vineyards
Bush’s Best Cocina Latina
Chocolate Ibarra
Northgate Market
Cerveza Montajo
Tito’s Vodka
Mexico Tourist Board

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California

¡Viva la comida latina!


  • Find more information about the event:
  •  Subscribe to the event’s mailing list for to keep up to date with upcoming events.

What are your thoughts on Latin food?

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2015 Latin Food Festival, San Diego, California




This post is part of Wordless Wednesdays at image-in-ing, Wordless Wednesday at Oh My Heartsie Girl, Wednesdays Wanderlust at My Brown Paper PackagesTravel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox , Photo Friday at Pierced Wonderings,  Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond, Travel Tuesday at Bumble Bee Mum and Monday Escapes at Packing My Suitcase. Pay a visit to these wonderful blogs!

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    • Everything was mouthwatering! I have to go back to San Diego soon.

    • Ja, ja! I have a master in making you hungry. The paella was awesome. I hadn’t tried Spanish chorizo in a long time. So, you can imagine how happy I was.

    • I am noticing most people check the blog while hungry or before eating time ;0) Have you been to a food festival?

    • Like I mentioned, this is probably my favorite festival of the year. They were featuring octopus, so, I was a happy camper.

    • Hello Cathy, thanks for stopping by. The huge variety of samples is one of the things I enjoy about food festivals like this.

  1. You make me drool everytime I read about those food festivals!! We don’t have things like that in Greece and they sound so much fun!
    Anna recently posted..The essential guide to LefkadaMy Profile

    • Well, not sure if a festival like this is necessary in Greece. I bet the weekend family meals are full of delicious dishes.

    • It is also great to try new flavor combinations. There is a lot of traditional food but also the opportunity to enjoy the chef’s creativity.

  2. Oh wow, this looks amazing! Street food festivals are seriously one of my favourite things, and this one looks like it had such great variety 🙂

    • Thanks Marcella. Glad to know you are a food festival lover. What festivals have you attended?

    • No problem. I love to do food posts since I can always go back and take a look at what I ate on that particular day ;0)

    • Cool! I would love to have tea time here where I live. At least, we have a snack time in the afternoons.

    • I hope you are referring to good envy! I am sure you would have enjoyed the food as much as I did.

  3. Looks like a good time! It’s lunch time here and now I’m even more hungry. Your photos are great. Beautiful venue too.
    Karen recently posted..Macau’s Portuguese Egg TartsMy Profile

    • Yes, we had a great time. I am always grateful for the opportunity to attend these awesome events.

    • Yes, we have tons of tacos around here. I can see why San Diego it at the top of your list. There are a lot of things to see and do and the weather is unbeatable.

  4. This post should have warning in the beginning that it’s not supposed to be read by people who are on a diet. Lol.

    I love attending food festivals. It gives you a taste of different food for a cheaper price. I just wish that there’s such a venue as Broadway Pier here in the Middle East. *wishful thinking* :p
    Pinay Flying High recently posted..Travel Guide and Video | Discovering The Beauty of Pelion, GreeceMy Profile

    • Ja, ja! You are the first one who mention a diet. I didn’t even things about that ;0) Hope food festivals gain track in other parts of the world. They can be a boost for local food businesses.

    • The paella was one of my favorite dishes. Well, I guess I love Spanish food in general.

  5. How much fun was that afternoon?!?! Everything looks amazing, & I am supremely jealous. That shrimp in the one photo is huge!

    Thank you for sharing with us again this week at Photo Friday!
    Jen recently posted..Photo Friday – POW Lake – See MississippiMy Profile

    • Jen,
      Those giant shrimp were so good. They are from Sinaloa and I think they are some of the freshest I have had in all my life.

  6. The Latin Food Festival sounds wonderful! I love getting to try lots of different dishes, which is why I enjoy tapas and dim sum restaurants. Waiting in lines at festivals? Not so much.
    Rachel Heller recently posted..Himeji for a DayMy Profile

    • Rachel, the good thing about this festival is that the lines are relatively short. I do not think I even waited 10 minutes on the longest line. That is why I keep saying this is one of my favorite festivals of the year.

  7. Wow, everything looks delicious! My mouth was really watering from the paella that Café Sevilla was serving. We recently returned from Spain and we have a new appreciation for the dish. We hope to attend this food festival some day!
    Brian & Amanda Eat_Work_Travel recently posted..Our 5 Favorite Spots on PSU’s CampusMy Profile

  8. Hi Ruth! Thanks for stopping by to check out my photos and quotes! I loved this post and want to seriously DIVE into that Paella! Wow it look yummy, your photos are awesome. Thanks for sharing them 🙂

    With a smile from Tampa, FL Carlyn 🙂
    Carlyn Bullock recently posted..45 Best Clean Eating Quick Lunch and Snack FoodsMy Profile

    • Hi Carlyn, thanks for stopping by! The paella was delicious. When I saw it, my eyes widened like you have no idea. This was one of the highlights of the afternoon.

  9. WOW, Ruth!Now that is what I call a food festival. I don’t think I would have ever left. Living in Korea, finding good Mexican/Latin food can be difficult. Although, my choices are definitely better here in Seoul. My stomach is aching with hunger, and I am drooling on the keyboard. I want at least one of each. I do have to ask…What is a sope?

    • Hmm, I will like to try some Mexican / Latin food in Korea. That would be interesting. A sope consists of a thick tortilla with pinched sides (in other words, it has a masa rim). The tortilla can be topped with different ingredients such as refried beans, crumbled cheese, salsa, lettuce and a variety of meats. They are really good.

  10. I am amazed by both the incredible flavors you described and also the amount of notes you must have taken. Good job! I love Fogo de Chao, so that would have been a first stop for me, too. Cinnamon horchata sounds really yummy, and I think watermelon agua fresca would be perfect on a summer day. Everything looks wonderful. I’ll have to keep a lookout for something similar near me. Thanks for linking up with #WkendTravelInspiration.

    • Thanks Michelle! Actually, I didn’t take a lot of notes. What I tend to do is to take photos of the restaurant names and of the menus. In that way, I can reconstruct the festival in a post when I get home. In this occasion, there weren’t a lot of menus around so I had to remember from memory or form looking at the photos.

  11. Ruth, Yum! Are you allowed to camp out and go back for seconds, thirds, etc.? I’d never heard of Chile de Nogado before but it looks gorgeous and tasty! So do so many of the other dishes.

    Thanks, once again, for linking up with Weekend Travel Inspiration!

    • What you mention here sounds like a good idea. Even if they do not let you camp there, you always have the option to go to one f San Diego’s wonderful restaurants. The Chile en Nogada is a dish that dates back from the colonial days. It was invented by nuns in the State of Puebla.

  12. Everything looks soooo good, especially the paella and the octopus, I would have liked my fingers too! Your posts are always making me so hungry, haha!

  13. All of my favourite food groups in the one place. Put my name down for next year.

    • Ja, ja! It would be cool to attend together.

  14. Yummm, everything looks good! Great post!

  15. Once again the food looks delish!! Thanks for all the food festival tips!

    • Not a problem! I want to convert everybody into food festival experts.

  16. This looks like a great event! I had linguica in Brazil and love it! I’m not a seafood eater, but I’m sure there were plenty of other delicious choices. I’ve never done an eating event, but I want to try one soon. Louisianians are always eating something. haha Thanks for sharing!

    • Oh yes! The linguica is so good. So, you are from Lousiana and doesn’t like seafood. Well, I guess Lousiana is full of delicious things to eat.

  17. Oh wow! You certainly had a filling day. 🙂

    I’m accustomed to seeing pork on Latino menus and your photos surprised me. I have to admit the variety at the festival is greater than I’d expected.

    Dan and I have always avoided Latino food festivals because so much of it has pork, shellfish and bread, all of which we need to avoid. I guess we’ll have to reconsider going the next time they have one in Miami.

    • I think festivals like these are important because they showcase what Latin food is really about. There are a lot of misconceptions about our food and people do not realize Latin America is big and diverse. Good to know you saw another face of the cuisine in here.

  18. We attended this event as well! Love seeing events from someone else’s perspective. I didn’t know that Puesto had a vegetarian option but the fish version was fine for us! Check out our recap as well!


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