If you’ve ever ventured to the Eat Real Festival in Oakland you’ve found yourself surrounded by hundreds of tasty little bites in the center of Jack London Square. Indian street food, Vietnamese spring rolls, steaming cups of ramen and slow cooked meat all beg to be consumed as you patiently (depending on your hunger level) wait in line for your turn. This year $5 could buy you almost anything. The best way to beat the line frustration is get there early and have a cold beer in hand. 20+ local beers on tap, including brews from Magnolia, Pacific Brewing Lab, Speakeasy and 21st Amendment, served in cute little mason jars. Somehow mason jars make beer taste better but that is probably just my inner hipster coming out. Apologies.
We were still thinking about the fried smelt that we’d eaten at the fest the year before so that was number one on our must eat list. Interesting how something so simple can be so memorable. This year’s smelt, from Forage did not disappoint. Keeping up with the salt theme, we then ventured to find some pickled deliciousness. Happy Girl Kitchen Co, a quickly expanding bay area seasonal producer, had an adorable set up showcasing all of their pickling spices and homemade vinegar. $3 bought us a wide assortment of brightly colored pickled veggies. Nothing store bought can compare to the taste of carrots, cucumbers, beets and onions swimming in that glorious, homemade pickled brine.
Other noteworthy bites were the Vietnamese beef pho rolls from Rice Paper Scissors, Indian bhelpuri carefully spooned into newspaper cones from Soul Cocina, whole roasted pig sandwiches from Chop Bar and colorful organic popsicles from LickPops. LickPop’s cheeky name matches perfectly with their flirty colors and flavors.
I was contently full as we walked towards the car at the end of the afternoon. So content that I’m proud to admit that I went back for round two the following morning.