On every first Friday of the month, over thirty food trucks congregate along in Venice along Abbott Kinney Blvd, starting at the parking lot for the Brig at 1515 Abbott Kinney and running along Abbott Kinney from there. The event is called Abbott Kinney First Fridays.
This can be a unique and fun date idea if you and your date are adventurous and are in the mood for something different than the typical sit-down meal. And, Abbott Kinney is one of the most happenin’ areas of West LA. But, there are some big caveats so read on. This definitely isn’t for everyone!
Let me start by saying that when I went, the parking situation is a mess. I ended up parking about three blocks away, and I was relieved to get even that spot. Some people suggest parking on Venice. In any case, the traffic around Abbott Kinney itself is terrible, so avoid it. Simply plan on parking far away, and make sure you and your date are wearing good walking shoes!
If you hate crowds, this event is not for you. To me, the environment reminded me a little of a Lolapalooza or Coachella concert, with throngs of mostly 20-somethings roaming around. If this makes you feel out-of-place, you may not want to do this. If you are in the mood for adventure, it can be fun though.
The selection of food is amazing. There were no fewer than three Korean BBQ trucks, at least two German Bratwurst trucks, at least a couple grilled cheese trucks, plus a ton of Mexican trucks, hamburger trucks, middle eastern trucks, seafood trucks, hot dog trucks, dessert trucks.. you name it.
Be warned, the lines for the most popular trucks (i.e., the Korean Kogi truck) can run around the block. Do NOT come to this event starving. Plan to wait an additional half an hour or more before you get any food, unless you are willing to take a chance at a truck with no line.
We tried the Phantom food truck, which specializes in duck dishes, because it had no line. We were pretty happy with what we got. I got the Peking duck tacos and my friends got the cheese sandwiches (with duck).
The key attraction to this event is the variety of food offered, so walk around and have fun choosing! The names of the trucks can be amusing, i.e, “Me So Hungry”. :-)
Once you get your food, you’ll have to eat it standing up, or sitting on the sidewalk. There are very few seating options. This type of date should not be compared to going to a fine restaurant. Think of it more like going on a picnic or camping.
As I said before, be prepared to do a lot of walking. Even without the far parking, the food trucks run for a good number of blocks on Abbott Kinney.
Food truck food can be messy. Really messy. You will be really thankful if you bring your own napkins and a few wet-naps. We actually used some water from a bottled water to wash our hands.
I do suggest bringing your own bottled water (or other drinks). It’s ideal to have drinks that you can put in your pocket or purse, because you might not have a place to set your drink down while you’re eating.
Bring jackets, because as the evening turns into night, it can get pretty chilly.
Most of the food trucks are there until midnight. After you eat, you can check out some of the bars in the area. We ended up walking all the way to the Townhouse and the Del Monte Speakeasy on 52 Winward Avenue, about a 15-minute walk west of Abbott Kinney, to see some great live music. They have DJ-d dancing afterwards and a long line, so get there before 10PM.
So, as I mentioned, this type of date is definitely not for everyone. If you love food trucks and are willing to put up with the far parking, young crowds, and long lines, then this could be a fun adventure. I found the street-party atmosphere interesting and cool, but not everyone will think so.
Since the trucks are there until midnight, you can show up after your main date activity for a late-night snack. By 11PM, the crowds die down significantly, but there are still plenty of people around.
So, if you don’t mind the hardships and are up for some adventure, check out the Abbott Kinney first Friday food trucks!