A Return Visit to Arcadia’s 626 Night Market

It’s been well over a year since I’ve attended any large gatherings. Given I have some live shows coming up, it seemed like a good time to go back into the “real world.” Enter the 626 Night Market. The beloved foodie vendor heaven hadn’t been held since Summer 2019 and has returned. Although Mike asked if we should get a sitter, I was pumped to bring Mabel along. Since she’d be safe and covered in her stroller, I thought it’d be a great first experience at a food fair. The verdict? She, as always, was a trooper. Mom and dad? Well, let’s just say we didn’t stay all night!

Arriving at 626 Night Market

The 626 Night Market is back in full swing this year. They’re holding events throughout California in Arcadia, Orange County, and the Bay Area. It began nearly a decade ago at Arcadia’s Santa Anita Race Track and continues to be held there, just outside of Pasadena. When we arrived, I’ll admit I was shocked at how crowded the parking lots were. It was my impression they’d be hosting with “limited capacity” but it looked to be just like any other year. There’s ample free parking, and it’s all just off of the 210 freeway.

At first, I was nervous we would look out of place with a baby stroller. As we waited at the security checkpoint, I was happy to see an abundance of families with kiddos. Since our stroller isn’t too “sporty” and has proven difficult on dirt and gravel, we breathed a sigh of relief that we’d be walking on concrete throughout the carnival.

The crowds came out for 626 Night Market. (c) Mary Farah
Mike loved his Shake Ramen. (c) Mary Farah

Food, Food, and More Food

Filled with food vendors and artists, we each made a beeline for our first round of grub. I started at Hotato Potato and Mike found pork belly buns that were calling his name. I didn’t encounter a lot of gluten-free options, but there are a few potato swirl booths throughout the event. This was my jam when we attended in 2014, and I loved it once again. Other gluten-free findings included sushi, tacos, and kebabs.

Granted, there’s plenty of sweet treat choices. Given it was a warm night, Vegano caught my eye. Vegano offers vegan pop bars with fun flavors like matcha and even Mojito. I left Mike and Mabel in a ramen line and headed over for a strawberry lemonade bar. It was extremely flavorful, not too sweet, and I already can’t wait to have one again.

If you’re looking for Instagrammable food, you’ve come to the right place. Check out Mason’s Den for rainbow-covered corn on the cob, and Ridge’s Churro Bar for almost-too-pretty-to-eat churro sundaes. I also saw the Original Herbivore which boasts vegan fried chicken and other plant-based choices. There’s certainly something for everyone.

My favorite potato swirl. (c) Mary Farah
Strawberry Lemon Vegano pop. (c) Mary Farah

If You Go

Signs were posted to please wear your mask. This can prove difficult if you’re trying to eat and enjoy! Most were not wearing their masks but the food vendors were. Social distancing is near impossible given how crowded it was. Bathrooms at the race track are open and it’s one of the few spots I didn’t deal with a line. If you’re bringing a baby, we packed extra bottles and diapers in the stroller. 626 Night Market opens at four PM and goes until midnight.

There’s a great array of artists and handmade trinkets to purchase. Mike mentioned it would have been nice if the vendors were spaced out between the food stands and trucks. I agree as it could have improved the massive lines and crowds since most were after the food.

The remaining Arcadia dates for 626 Night Market are August 27th-29th and September 3rd-5th. Alameda County dates are August 6th-8th, August 20th-22nd, and September 24th-26th. Orange County dates are coming soon.

Get all of the info and plan your 626 Night Market adventures HERE.

(*Disclosure: I was a guest of 626 Night Market on behalf of this review. All opinions are my own.)

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