At the last minute, Gourmet Pigs invited me to be her +1 at AltaMed's 4th Annual East LA Meets Napa celebration at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. Luckily, I have no life and was completely free because East LA Meets Napa turned out to be one of the best food and wine events I've been to so far.
The event brings together a variety of mainly Mexican, and other Latino restaurants, in Southern California with Latino-owned wineries. All proceeds benefit AltaMed's programs to provide care for underserved communities in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
Near the entrance of Union Station's courtyard, I immediately zeroed in on La Parrilla Restaurant because the servers wore these lovely outfits.
I got ceviche, a little quesadilla, and fresh nopales salad. I had never eaten fresh cactus before, only pickled, and loved the slightly slimy crunch of the salad. The guacamole was fresh and tasty too. Already, the event was off to a good start.
I made sure to stop in at La Casita Mexicana since I had heard so much about their food. Couldn't resist these beautiful stuffed jalapenos sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.
Or their mini flans. There were several different flavors, but I've forgotten what they were. I think corn, yam, and vanilla?
Oh yeah, I definitely got one of everything that La Casita Mexicana had to offer. All so yum, and definitely made me want to check out the restaurant.
One of my favorite dishes of the night was Seta's braised short ribs and polenta. I've never even set foot in Whittier, but if the other dishes the restaurant had to offer were as good as this, I just might. The short ribs in red wine sauce were so incredibly tender and flavorful. I went back for seconds.
Feeling a little parched, I stopped off for some sangria from The Conga Room.
Then it was off to Teresitas Restaurant for some pickled nopales salad and costillas de puerco en chile negro (Mexican pork ribs in black pepper sauce). Oooh. This was another favorite and I decided I like cactus no matter how it's prepared. Another restaurant to add to my list of places to try, especially since I'm not sure I've ever had, or can distinguish, Zacatecas-style Mexican food.
This refreshing gazpacho-like seafood dish was courtesy of Dorados Seafood Kitchen in Monterey Park.
Chocolate-covered jalapenos! I had to try. Not so spicy, but the habanero chocolates did me in.
And the nice folks at D's Delights Gourmet Chocolates gave me a horchata cream chocolate to smooth things over. Really great chocolate with unusual flavors.
I tried a small tamale from Mama's International Tamales. I can't remember what flavor this was, but the restaurant features tamales from around the world.
I was stuffed to the gills so it was time for dessert. Hmm. I need to update my old post because after trying all these desserts and cheese puffs and potato balls from Porto's Bakery & Cafe, I've definitely changed my tune. Their cakes are still too sweet, but their other offerings are amazing.
Chocolate and mango mousses to choose from.
I was a very happy eater at this point.
The chorizo and other pastry from La Monarca Bakery were delicious. I had to sneak them in, even though I really didn't have any more room in my belly.
Look at the festive atmosphere inside the courtyard at Union Station. But, my wine glass was empty and it was time to go. Actually, that's Christian Z of Orange County Mexican Restaurants' hand posing for my camera, but that didn't sound nearly as fun to say.
But then as I headed out, I saw these gorgeous flower tortillas from Rivera Restaurant. Gah! So much prettiness, I had to try this too.
Unfortunately, despite its prettiness, a tortilla, even freshly made, with just guacamole paled in comparison to everything else I had indulged in that evening.
The scene as I left.
AltaMed's East LA Meets Napa event opened my eyes to the variety of Mexican cuisine we have available. I've definitely added several of those restaurants to my list to try. Next year, I might be a little more diligent about trying out the wineries too. All the food was delicious and the atmosphere was so festive. And all for a good cause, so if you can afford it, I highly recommend East LA Meets Napa as it was one of my favorite food and wine events ever.
For more information about AltaMed's East LA Meets Napa, call 323-622-2405.
The Conga Room
800 W Olympic Blvd., Stes. A160 and A260
Los Angeles, CA 90015
D's Delights Gourmet Chocolates
13502 Whittier Blvd., Ste. H PMB 148
Whittier, CA 90605
Dorados Seafood Kitchen (Closed)
2102 S. Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park, CA 91754
La Casita Mexicana
4030 Gage Ave.
Bell, CA 90201-1127
La Monarca Bakery
5700 E. Whittier Blvd.
Commerce, CA 90022
La Parrilla Restaurants (several locations)
2126 E. Cesar E. Chavez Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Mama's International Tamales
6700 S. Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90001-1644
Porto's Bakery & Cafe
315 North Brand Blvd.
Glendale, California 91203
1050 S. Flower St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015-5100
13033 Philadelphia St.
Whittier, CA 90601
3826 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90063-3602
1 year ago today, Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori Shabu Shabu - Monterey Park.
2 years ago today, green tea tiramisu and fruit-filled cream puffs at Japanese bakery Italian Tomato - Costa Mesa.