This weekend marks one of the quintessential Bay Area foodie events of the year as the 6th annual Eat Real Festival sets up in Jack London Square. With a diverse lineup of mobile food trucks, vendor booths, craft beverages and entertainment, Eat Real is a must for anyone that loves to eat, drink and celebrate all the wonders the Bay Area’s local artisans have to offer.

And wonders there will be! In addition to the who’s-who of food trucks (Bacon Bacon, Curry Up Now, Chairman Bao), you can find farmers market mainstays (Oaktown Jerk, The Whole Beast, Sugarfoot Grits) as well as mobile pop-ups by local brick-and-mortar establishments (Lungomare, Cholita Linda, Homeroom). With free entry and the promise of hundreds of street food options priced under $8, Eat Real is a great way to get a taste of Oakland’s bustling food scene. Check out the full vendor lineup here.

For me, the benefit of Eat Real has always been its accessibility. While you should expect to wait in a few lines, unlike many other local street food festivals, the sheer amount of offerings spread out along the harbor of Jack London Square and inside the many pavilions helps to disperse the crowds so there’s always something to snack or sip on without having to wait. If the food trucks are packed, stroll through the wealth of booths at the Meat and Butchery, Preserves and Sauces, Grains and Milling or Farm Craft pavilions, or set up shop at the Watering Hole and learn to mix your own DIY drinks.

Once you’ve eaten your fill, be sure to check out some of the awesome demonstrations, tutorials and chef spotlights hosted throughout the weekend. Where else can you get a chicken leg curry demo straight from Juhu Beach Club’s Preeti Mistry or a pork rib roast preparation from Haven’s Charlie Parker, free of charge? I’d advise checking their full schedule to plan your trip around presentations that pique your particular interests, whether that be pickling, home-brewing, baking or butchery.

Pro Tips:

  • Come hungry, come thirsty and come with cash. Some vendors can process cards with Square, but cash will always get you in and out faster.
  • The weather at Eat Real is usually beautiful, so prepare for sun and warmth (although this is the Bay Area, so you’ll always want to check the forecast, just in case).
  • Don’t forget to hydrate (and not just with booze).
  • Pace yourself: don’t go for that Lamb Poutine or barbecue sandwich right off the bat. You didn’t come all this way for one dish, right?
  • Don’t be afraid to tip. Many of the workers are volunteers, so hook ‘em up!
  • Try some funky stuff. The point is to experiment, so go out on a limb and try something you’ve never heard of.

Eat Real Festival
Friday, September 19 through Sunday, September 21, 2014
Jack London Square (off of Broadway and 1st)
Friday 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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