Long Lines and Lots of Heat at The First Annual L.A. Sriracha Festival

Sriracha Bottles from Above
Photo by Farley Elliott

Everyone loves the rooster. Emblazoned on the front of those iconic plastic squirt bottles with the bright green cap, the Sriracha rooster is as emblematic of a specific flavor as the Lucky Charms leprechaun.

On Sunday, Josh Lurie of Food GPS and Randy Clemens, author of The Sriracha Cookbook, joined forces with LOT 613 downtown to merge that vinegary Thai-inspired hot sauce with a few of the best chefs in Los Angeles. The event, dubbed simply the L.A. Sriracha Festival, brought together Wes Avila from Guerrilla Tacos; Neal Fraser from BLD, Vibiana, Fritzi Dog and elsewhere; Eric Greenspan (of grilled cheese and Foundry fame); and Ernesto Uchimura of Plan Check, who paired up with L.A.’s most celebrated cocktail hound Matt Biancaniello for drinks as well.

Each chef outpost offered a taste of their signature dish, with a touch of Sriracha to liven things up. Greenspan, of course, opted for a straightforward grilled cheese, and the Guerrilla Tacos crew slung signature tacos with a thick and fiery Sriracha-laced salsa. Fraser, working under the Fritzi Dog moniker, pushed out hundreds of mini hot dogs with the rooster sauce as a condiment. That is, until he ran out of buns.

Sriracha Pork Mini-Burger from Plan Check
In fact, nearly every stall was tapped out within 90 minutes of the doors opening, and persistent lines for Jitlada, Plan Check’s mini pork burger and Fritzi Dog kept people waiting for almost half an hour. Still, the long wait times and eventual emptiness of the food stalls owes more to Sriracha’s enduring pop culture place in our local food lexicon than it does a lack of preparation. If anything, the event was comfortable, relaxed and offered just enough alcohol dotted throughout the space to make sure festival-goers could always get a drink.

One man who stuck around patiently all afternoon? David Tran, the founder of Huy Fong Foods and creator of Sriracha itself, America’s most buzzed-about condiment. The aging Tran stood by the exit all day long, handing out custom mini bottles of Sriracha sauce and pleasantly taking photos with girls in Sriracha-themed high heels, a couple in a full Sriracha bottle Halloween costume and dozens of others who simply wanted the chance to meet the man who basically kept them fed through college.

In all, the first annual L.A. Sriracha Festival was a success, which only further impresses Sriracha’s popularity these days. All of the food — well, what you could get to at least — was fun without being overbearing, and both the space and the organizers made sure things ran relatively smoothly all afternoon long. Maybe, with crowds like this, Los Angeles won’t have to wait a full year to experience Sriracha Fest again.

Farley Elliott is a food and travel writer living in Los Angeles. He is the Senior Editor at Eater LA, and has bylines everywhere from LA Weekly to Los Angeles Magazine to Thrillist to Tasting Table. He’s also the author of Los Angeles Street Food, a guidebook to LA’s amazing street food culture. Oh, and he’s that guy from that Tiny Hamster Eating Tiny Burritos video.