Last weekend, we attended the Latin Food Fest which took place at the Broadway Pier in sunny San Diego, California.
This is an event that exposed the community to the culinary explosion taking place nowadays in San Diego and Northern Baja California.
The entire festival is composed of various events throughout a long weekend. We specifically attended the Grand Tasting on Saturday. The Grand Tasting was an all-you-can-eat journey thru Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Spain. More than 50 local restaurants offered delicious, tapa-sized dishes to attendants.
My expectations for the event were high. I feared tons of people bumping into me, long lines, and providers running out of food. On the other side, I admit I was really excited about attending the event (I even had butterflies). Well, I am happy to report my expectations were surpassed.
I don’t know where to start. The food was top-notch, the chefs (and helpers) answered all my questions and we just had a good time chatting with people we met.
I recognize my photos of the day are not that good. Hey, it is difficult to concentrate when you are desperate to take a bite of scrumptious food in front of you. Anyway, I decided to create this post in order to persuade those food lovers out there to explore more of the culinary scene taking place near you.
We started by having churrasco covered with chimichurri, small tomatoes, and dry shrimp. What a way to start the tasting experience (from a catering company called Culinary Concepts).
We continued having bacon-wrapped picanha served with pico de gallo and farofa from Rei do Gado (Brazilian Steakhouse).
This is one of the items I liked the most. This is a very tasty shrimp taco with mango salsa, sour cream, and avocado from The Blind Burro located in the East Village (San Diego). The flavor was astounding but what made the dish stand out was the sliced jicama “tortilla.” I can’t wait to visit this restaurant and have a taste of the rest of the menu.
There were a lot of students of the Tijuana Culinary Art School serving dishes they prepared. It was a delight to observe how they were taking their time to properly garnish every serving.
For example, we had this ceviche salad topped with guacamole and nori (seaweed).
We also had a cochinita pibil taco.
This being San Diego, we had the opportunity to try several versions of the famous fish taco. The following one was made of grilled fish, guacamole, beans, and chilies.
We also try a version closer to the original from Casanova Fish Tacos.
I am not happy to say I tried tongue (I knew it at the moment I tried it) but I’ll eat anything coming from the hands of Chef Ryan Steyn (from Latitud 32 in Ensenada).
My husband went crazy (he went back 5 times to the booth) for Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero‘s food. This chef is considered by many the creator of the Baja Med concept and is the owner of widely recognized restaurants such as La Querencia, El Taller, and El Colegio.
He prepared for the attendants of the event a fish and shrimp ceviche plus a risotto-like tostada (the rice contained octopus and squid ink aioli).
We had an amazing chile en nogada from a restaurant called Cien Años located in Tijuana. We don’t have to go to Puebla anymore to have this dish (but I will go back to Puebla in a zilch just because).
I had waited too long to taste the food of Kokopelli Tacos. The founders of this mini-empire are experts in serving gourmet street food. They offered a trio of delectableness (two tostadas and an octopus taco). They also had interesting sauces like pineapple-habanero and chile de arbol-peanut to add a boost of flavor to the food.
The people from Puesto in La Jolla had a peculiar way to prepare the food. The chef put a mound of cheese over a hot griddle. He then placed the meat and sauces selected by the attendants over the cheese and proceeded to roll everything and serve it over a tortilla. I chose the chicken tinga and pineapple.
I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of my favorite dish of the event. I really liked a Caribbean ceviche (made with fish, sweet potato, coconut milk, and corn) from Wet Stone.
We also had Peruvian ceviche from Café Secret (Del Mar), ceviche tostadas from Kobu (Tijuana), biria tacos from Aqui es Texcoco (Chula Vista), a posole tostada from the Plascencia Group and much more.
In general, I think I did very well tasting as much as possible (my husband was even surprised because I ate more than him). I cannot wait to attend a similar event again.
What would you like to try from here?
More of the Latin Food Fest
Go Andes says
Latin American food is amongst the best on the planet, and I’m proud that it is finally getting the attention it deserves. With ingredients like the potato now a staple of the western world, it is only a matter of time before ingredients such as purple maize, yucca, kiwicha and quinoa become more famous. At the moment it is difficult to get them in the store, but restaurants are starting the trend! The ceviche here looks completely delicious!
I agree with you. It is exciting to learn about the culinary movements in the Southern California and Baja areas. The food in this festival was top notch. Ohh, and the ceviches were out of this world.
Amazing food! Looking at it, I’m getting hungry =)
Was it spicy or not?
Some dishes were spicy but most booths gave you the option to add the sauces so you can decide what level of heat you wanted.
Great recap on the Latin Food Fest from last year. I’m interested in trying it out this year. We also do recaps of the events we attend but mainly focus on the food. Your food pics are lovely here and look uber tasty! Were there other booths you were too full to try?
This is a great event and I cannot stop recommending it. The food blew me away.
What you see here is less than half of what was offered. You know how covering these events are. Not all my photos came out the way I wanted and other times I just really wanted to taste the food and forgot to take a photo.