Eat Real Food Festival: Jack London Square Oakland

We traveled to the East Bay to check out the Eat Real Food Festival this weekend in Oakland.  The bill included many local street food vendors and a beer shed featuring some of Northern California’s best breweries.  It was an extremely hot Saturday afternoon and Jack London Square was packed with people.  We were all starving and the smell coming from the food trucks was making the situation that much more immediate.  We passed up the first couple of vendors to check out the full line up before we decided to dig in.  It was only so long before we gave in, as everything looked so good.  Our hunger drove our decision to just tough it out with the long lines.  There were too many delicious things to give general assessments on so I’ll just let everyone give their own personal comments on the hot, sweaty, crowded deliciousness that was the Eat Real Fest.

Here is a quick list of the vendors we had a chance to check out:

Zella’s Soulful Kitchen, Chaac Mool, Phat Matt’s BBQ, Seoul on Wheels, Fat Bottom Bakery, Quetzal Farm, Straus Family Creamery, Blue Chair Food Company and Happy Girl Kitchen Company.

Zach: The barbecue shredded chicken sandwich with spicy slaw from Zella’s was excellent and it might have been my favorite thing at the festival.  The slaw on the sandwich is key in my world.   I’ve spent a decent amount of time in the South and I know my way around some barbecue.  The pork tacos from Chaac Mool were different and tasty but skimpy on the portions.  Phat Matt’s BBQ sandwich was good and saucy but the bun wasn’t spongy and soft like I like.  Sorry if I’m picky but a good barbecue sandwich should have a soft bun that gives way for the tasty meat.  I’m not even close to vegetarian but Fat Bottom Bakery had some really tasty vegan cupcakes and the fruit on top was key.  Straus family Creamery had some really good raw milk that I would recommend.  I also had a sour pickle from Happy Girl which was very good as well but I had the misfortune of getting a hollow one.  It happens with homemade pickles when there is too much time between harvest and processing.  Finally, we ran into the longest line of the festival at Seoul on Wheels which served Korean barbecue tacos.  Usually, the longest line indicates the best food so we waited for about an hour.  The concept is interesting and I was excited to check it out.  I ordered a pork barbecue taco and a rib eye taco.  Instead of a tortilla they are served on the same kind of thin pancakes that are used for Mu-Shu Pork (in Chinese cuisine).  They were pretty tasty and the portions were good, but the flavor and texture was lacking in dimension.  The food tasted mostly like hoisin sauce.  That being said, I would still give my right leg to have one of these tacos and not ever go to the Gilroy Garlic Festival ever again.

Les: Eat Real had some of the best foods I have had in a while!  The portions were fairly generous and the prices were decent, at $3-$5 per tasting.  Folks were selling creative and unique foods.  These attributes made Eat Real the complete opposite of the unimpressive, overly priced, and unoriginal garlic festival in Gilroy.  Standing in line wasn’t fun in that heat but in cooler weather it would be bearable and very worth it.  My favorites were: the Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Coleslaw from Zella’s Soulful Kitchen that was delicious and the Lemon and Pink Grapefruit Marmalade from Blue Chair with hunks of fruit in it with a sweet and not overly sour taste (a bit expensive, $10 a jar).  The Fat Bottom Bakery had a good tasting vegan mini chocolate cupcake with raspberry glaze and fresh raspberry buttercream that rocked.

John: The Eat Real festival was an excellent excuse to go to the Bay side of Oakland, eat a bunch of tasty food and have a communal sweat with co-attendees from the greater Bay.  Number one best seller of the Eat Real fest was this: NO COVER.  So many festivals gouge you with entry fees that get you nothing (e.g. Gilroy Garlic Festival).  At Eat Real, there was a mix of farmers’ market and taco truck parking lot.  Each roach coach handed out savory morsels that any construction worker would love to have on his/her jobsite.  Phat Matt made a nice pulled pork, but it was no Pigman’s.  Growing up (8 years) in the South has made me one of those “this ain’t barbeque” jackasses who comments on the lack of good bbq in the bay (expect Everett & Jones on a future post).  The pulled chicken sandwich was reminiscent of what a good pulled pork should be and I would thoroughly enjoy more than the two bites I had.  Overall, the festival was a great place to taste the plethora of fantastic food the Bay has to offer.  It makes me look forward to our future posts, I hope you’ll follow us on this journey.

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