Food: The food festival in Santa Monica will be smaller than the original. Courtesy photos

From pork belly bao to Korean corndogs to tempura fried ice cream, the 626 Night Market is a veritable street food feast, and thanks to a new mini market Santa Monicans need no longer journey to Arcadia to enjoy its delights.

Starting Feb. 26 and 27, a smaller scale version of the iconic 250+ vendor festival will take place at Lot 27 by 5th St and Arizona Ave and run for five weekends through April.

The 626 Night Market is inspired by the vibrant night markets of Asia and anchored by the culinary creativity of immigrant communities in the greater Los Angeles area. The festival was named after the area code of the San Gabriel Valley, where many of these communities are located and where the market was first established in Arcadia’s Santa Anita Park. Due to its explosive popularity, the market has since expanded to Orange County and the Bay Area.

When the event is in full force it regularly attracts around 100,000 attendees per three day weekend and includes food, merchandise, artwork, crafts, games and live music.

The Santa Monica market will be a bite size version of the greater festival, but nevertheless packed full of flavor. The emphasis will be on food vendors, but there will also be several merchants selling homemade wares. The 626 team is carefully curating the food lineup to ensure a diverse range of Asian cuisines are represented and small business vendors are supported.

Some of the vendors already confirmed include Shake Ramen, Tao’s Bao, Chick N’ Skin, Ghostix and Rockin’ Gyoza. The venue will also have an alcohol garden for 21+ attendees and while entrance to the market is free, registration via eventbrite is required to manage event capacity.

The event is hosted in partnership with Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. as part of their efforts to bring more community programming to the Downtown area.

“Downtown Santa Monica is always searching for ways to bring unique experiences to our public spaces and provide our residents and visitors with engaging, exciting, and family-friendly events that celebrate Southern California’s rich history and diverse communities,” said Mackenzie Carter, DTSM Interim Executive Director. “The 626 Night Market brings all of that to the table and more, celebrating our region’s unique ability to blend cultures to create a unique and revolutionary experience.”

Jenn Sanchez, Marketing Manager of 626 Night Market, said that Santa Monica was selected as the first mini market location because the team wanted to engage with an audience that doesn’t usually come to their events and take advantage of the area’s heavy tourism.

The mini market will run on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Event dates are February 26 – 27, March 12 – 13, March 26 – 27, April 9 – 10, and April 23 – 24. More information and the registration link can be found at www.626nightmarket.com.

Clara@smdp.com