East LA Meets Napa is one of the crown jewels in the city's charitable food event circuit.
AltaMed Health Services Corporation enjoyed the best turnout yet for their East LA Meets Napa fundraiser, drawing 1600 Angelenos to Union Station to celebrate Latino chefs and winemakers. The event raised funds for AltaMed, which has been providing health care to minorities and economically disadvantaged Southern Californians since 1969.
The event even attracted Los Angeles Mayoral hopeful Eric Garcetti, who briefly discussed his vision for celebrating L.A. Food when he’s elected.
I roamed the twin courtyards, wine glass and plastic plate in hand, enjoying tastes at table after table, including Playa’s Maize Cornet with chopped salad of vegetables and lettuces from the restaurant’s Cielo Verde Garden, chipotle crema, avocado, and micro amaranth. Juan’s Restaurante from Baldwin Park slathered gorditas with cactus mole. The two taco options from Guisados included duck with diced cucumber and tomato.
Zapien’s Salsa Grill and Taqueria has been open since 1994 in Pico Rivera, but has managed to fly under our culinary radar. Marco Zapien served citrus-marinated carnitas on a bed of ensalada de nopales with caramelized onions and tomato tortilla chips.
Loteria Grill took cochinita pibil for a swim with swordfish, subbing seafood for pork.
Loteria Grill always serves interesting (and colorful) aguas frescas at culinary events, and at East LA Meets Napa, they featured two drinks, one with cucumber, lime and mint.
Ricardo Diaz represented Cook’s Tortas, Guisados and Whittier’s new Bizarra Capital.
Diaz served one of the night’s more adventurous dishes, plating huitlacoche with shrimp, rice and a salad of red onion, corn, cilantro, and tomato.
Rocio Camacho’s taco de chapulines of course incorporated mole, since she calls her two new restaurants, in Sun Valley and Huntington Park, Mole de Los Dioses.
For dessert, Carnitas Uruapan had pan dulce and Porto’s brought dulce de leche kisses, their signature guava and cheese rolls, and more.
Skies were dark and the Union Station sign aglow by the time I left.
My “work” done, I jumped into my shiny gold hatchback and drove into the L.A. night.