The first Springfest was held in Chinatown this past weekend in conjunction with CicLAvia, the LA event that closes streets across town to promote a car-free environment. To kick off the festival, Chinatown closed off select streets and set up a stage for live music and a rib eating competition hosted by Spring Street Smokehouse. My friend was emceeing the event and knows the owner of the restaurant so we made our way to downtown for the festivities. Since we anticipated a parking mess in the downtown area, we took a train from my friend's place in the valley. First time taking a train in the city and I have to say I was quite impressed with the cleanliness of the stations and trains.
After a 30 min train ride, we arrive at Union Station. The smokehouse is only a short walk from the train station.
If you're going to feast on some BBQ, alcoholic beverages are necessary. Even though we got the giant PBRs, note that the restaurant actually offers a nice selection of craft brews.
We started off with one of our favorites - the pork rinds. Fresh from the fryer, the pork skins were still warm and crunchy. The cracklings were seasoned with sugar and spice - great combination.
Cup of chili was filled with chunks of meat as well as ground meat.
Our sides included baked beans and sweet potato fries. I've also tried their collard greens and corn bread.
Burnt ends are the ends of smoked brisket. Looked dense but was actually rather tender.
The Cajun Stuffed Chicken comprised of chicken thighs which were stuffed with jalapeno, onions & cheese, and wrapped with bacon. It had just the right amount of cheese, not over gooey or dripping out of the chicken. The choice of juicy dark meat over white was a good one.
The star of the meal was the baby back ribs. The slab had 12 large ribs and were tender with nice chunks of crunchy cartilage and slathered in smokey tangy BBQ sauce. Good BBQ sauce is really all about preference. When I first tried this sauce, I wasn't too keen on it - I was more a fan of the sweet tomato based BBQ sauces. But I have really come to enjoy Spring Street's version. It's vinegary and spicy, akin to the Carolina style
After lunch, we headed over to the stage area where the bands were playing. Have to say I was quite impressed with the selection of rock music. To the side of the stage was the "biergarten" which was essentially a parking lot with a couple stands offering kegs of beer from Karl Strauss, Stone & Lagunitas.
When the rib eating competition started, everyone gathered to the front of the stage. It was quite a sight to see contestant of all sizes participating. The winner actually ate over 3 slabs of pork spare ribs (smaller than the baby back ribs but still a lot nonetheless).
The Springfest wasn't crowded at all, it seemed more like a neighborhood street party. Perhaps they could have done more advertising or set up the stage facing Cesar Chavez road instead of away from the main street in order to draw a larger crowd. Still a fun time especially when there are beer and ribs involved.
640 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012