LOS ANGELES — Artesian Street near Avenue 26 in Lincoln Heights has been a busy spot for street food vendors for years, but over the past few months, the area has exploded into what some call the biggest event of its kind in SoCal, maybe even the country.
It all started with one taco stand, called Ave 26 Tacos, but now locals can find everything from French crepes and gourmet burgers to Mexican esquites and aguas frescas.
As soon as his friends started telling him about what has become known as the Avenue 26 Night Market, Pedro "D'Rocket" and his partner Samantha decided to set up a tent with their signature zero alcohol micheladas.
"[People] started telling us that we should come out here because they've been here before and saw it was full of vendors and a lot of opportunities for small businesses to grow right here," he said.
Pedro said when the pandemic hit, small businesses took the biggest hits, and here the community has a chance to come together and support local vendors.
"A lot of times, it's hard for small businesses to get out there," Pedro said. "I think this is a great outlet."
Julia brought her friend Sophie early to sample some of the goods, starting with some esquites, or Mexican street corn.
"I've been coming here for years with my mom and my brother," she said. "We came when it was just a taco stand in the corner, and it's just grown so much that I just love coming here now. It's like insanely awesome."
Many credit social media for spreading the word, and as the event has grown (some say up to 400%), so too has the variety of foods on offer. You can find Thai barbecue, pizza, and even clothing vendors mixed in with traditional favorites such as carne asada street tacos.
During the pandemic, the Latinx community, especially, has found comfort here.
"My mom's Mexican, so she's not really comfortable with a lot of places," Julia said. "So, this is one of the places that she's familiar with, and this is home for her."
Julia's friend Sophie was a first-timer and said she loves various foods and being outside on a warm California evening.
"It's great, too, for me because I don't really have opportunities to see these kinds of things," Sophie said. "So, trying all kinds of different stuff…and people coming together just enjoying good food is always a good time."
Even Pedro said he has been working his way down the strip, trying the different foods.
"We are only halfway down right now," Pedro said. "Every day we get something different, and a lot of the vendors, they come and visit us. Please, try our stuff! A lot of the stuff is really good. You know, it's really out there. It's different than just regular restaurants."
The Avenue 26 Night Market operates throughout the week, but the peak time is Saturday night, where the party goes on long into the night, giving visitors many tastes of what makes LA so unique.