Celebrate La Tomatina by Painting the Town Red

US restaurants celebrate Spain’s tomato-throwing festival

A.O.C. Restaurant and Wine Bar in Los Angeles is celebrating La Tomatina with a tomato-centric dinner Aug. 29.

One of the world’s messiest food festivals, La Tomatina in Buñol, Spain, is celebrated on the last Wednesday of August.

Thousands of tourists and revelers descend on the Spanish town to partake in La Tomatina, one of the world's biggest food fights that begins when one person races to the top of a two-story greased pole to drop down a ham, which signals that it’s time to hurl tons of tomatoes for an hour.

Luckily, you don’t have to travel all the way to Spain to enjoy the festivities, as restaurants from coast to coast are serving, rather than throwing, tomatoes.

A.O.C. Restaurant and Wine Bar
in Los Angeles is celebrating La Tomatina with a tomato-centric dinner Aug. 29. Chef Suzanne Goin and sommelier Caroline Styne are creating a menu featuring tomatoes that is paired with wine for $50.

The seven-course meal includes an appetizer of pan tomate with heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and soft ricotta. A yellow tomato gazpacho follows, and just before the man course, tomatoes stuffed with crab are served.

The main courses are wild striped bass from the wood oven with tomato rice, roasted cherry tomatoes, and green olives, and veal meatballs with tomato confit, spiced tomato sauce, and sun-dried tomatoes. Dessert is candied tomatoes with vanilla ice cream.

New York City’s two Boqueria locations, in Flatiron and SoHo, and its new outpost in Washington, D.C., have been celebrating La Tomatina all month with rotating tomato dishes and cocktails that are determined by what is available at the Greenmarket farmers market.

Chef Marc Vidal, who was born in Barcelona, is creating dishes throughout August like ensalada de tomate (an heirloom tomato and corn salad with watermelon, mita de crema, croutons, and basil oil), montado de mejillones en escabeche (montado of pickled mussels and tomato marmalade), and pulpo con mojo y setas (grilled octopus, tomato, thyme, mojo rojo, mushrooms, and citrus aioli).

In addition to the seasonal tomato dishes, two new tomato-based cocktails are on offer at Boqueria. The Banderilla Maria is made with spicy Guindilla bloody mary mix, Tito’s Vodka, and it is served with an olive and pickled vegetable skewer with choice of chorizo or white anchovy. The Sparkling Tomatina Sangria is a refreshing cocktail made with cava, house-made tomato water, gin, sea salt, crushed white pepper, and red cranberry juice.

Lauren Mack is the Travel Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.