Eat Real Festival! This annual event is like Disneyland or the Superbowl for Bay Area foodies. Eat Real is only a few years old, but it’s been taking place at Jack London Square in Oakland once a year. The festival focuses on local vendors using local and sustainable ingredients, and there’s a mix of food trucks, beer, wine, and liquor vendors, tastings, cooking demos, and products to take home. Oh, and did I mention the price point for all these items max out at $8? Most items can be purchased for about $4 or $5, which is perfect when you’re trying to taste everything possible. The festival takes place Friday to Sunday, and of course, I went two days in a row.
First up: Chairman Bao. When people ask me what a bao is, I feel it’s best described as a Chinese taco. The steamed bun with pork belly reigns supreme. The bun is super soft and airy, pork belly is tender, and it’s topped with pickled daikon.
Next, a place I hadn’t heard of yet: Southern Comfort Kitchen. These guys are super friendly, and serve up a mean fried shrimp po’boy…
One of my absolute favorite trucks is El Sur. Aside from having the most adorable truck, they serve some delicious empanadas! I’m not usually a fan, but I bought an extra one to take home. The traditional empanada has beef, olives, and onion, and while it’s very good… it just does not compare to the Parisien, which is filled with ham, prosciutto, green onion, chives, and cheese.
We came a little later in the afternoon Sunday, and most of the lines were insane at that point, so I made notes on what I had not tried yet, and vowed to come back the next day when it opened.
And I did! I had to try Bombzies BBQ, because it looked and smelled fantastic, and folks were lining up to try. I opted to just get a chicken kabob instead of a rice bowl, and got a generous portion of lemongrass chicken for just $5.
Unfortunately, this was my least favorite. The chicken had little to no hint of lemongrass flavor and fell incredibly short. Next time I may have to get a rice bowl.
I was super excited to try The Jeepney Guy’s lechon, but upon arrival there was a sign stating lechon would not be ready until 1 PM. Not sure if it was just a one day fluke, but when the festival starts at 10:30 AM, I feel like all your items should be available; especially when your menu is only two items long. But, I did get to snag some bacon lumpia.
You heard me. Bacon. Lumpia.
And this is what I was looking forward to all weekend: La Marcha‘s paella. The folks that were behind Ñora’s famous paella are partnering up and opening a brick and mortar restaurant in Berkeley, and I cannot wait! You can watch them make paella in these huge pans, and drool while you wait for your food.
It wouldn’t be a Bay Area food festival without some weird artisan hippie milk. And this stuff from Three Trees is delicious! It’s so creamy, and not overly sweet. I can’t wait to chug this after my next workout (because after all the eating I did this weekend, I’m going to need to clock some serious hours at the gym).
I’ve heard great things about Cholita Linda’s fish tacos, but never made the trip over. I don’t know why, I guess fish tacos are not really my first choice (I’m more of an alpastor gal), but I tried one over the weekend and immediately kicked myself for not going sooner. The hype is real: they have the BEST fish tacos around. Period. Like, so good it makes your eyes roll to the back of your head good.
After eating all that food, this girl couldn’t possibly have room for dessert, right?
Also: I brought some tupperware with me so I could eat a little of everything and take the rest home. My friends made fun of me, but strangers were giving me all kinds of accolades about how smart I was.
I take food festivals incredibly seriously.
And since it was 100000000000 degrees out, I needed this Horchata frozen custard (!!!!!!!!!!) topped with burnt caramel (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) from the Frozen Kuhsterd truck.
If you’re feeling particularly beastly, they have a Koulgn Amann sandwich. What is that? Basically like a cronut (but BETTER), cut in half, with a generous amount of frozen custard in the middle. I thought this may be pushing it at this point, so I just got a single scoop, but my friend had the sandwich yesterday and raved about it.
Eat Real, you da real MVP. Did any of you guys get a chance to check out the festival? If so, let me know what your favorites were in the comments!