Oakland’s Third Annual Eat Real Festival at Jack London Square is this weekend, September 23-25. This three-day event brings together food trucks, street vendors, farmers and small artisan producers from all over the Bay Area. All vendors will use local sustainable ingredients. And best of all, everything is priced at $5 or less.

ERF founder Anya Fernald says, the event is about showing people an alternative to industrial food. It’s not just about eating well, but also learning about the food we eat. The events schedule is packed with many workshops, food skill demos, and a professional butchering competition – on Saturday @5pm and Sunday @3:30pm (45 minutes each). The fun starts on Friday @1pm, featuring ice cream artisans, some food vendors, and the Lit Fest @6pm.

Arrive early, that way you’ll have time to locate the vendors you want to try and not wait too long. Bring a water bottle or container. There are free filtered water stations, but without cups or bottles. And highly recommend wearing sunscreen lotion and a hat.

Pace yourself, be selective. There will be more than 60 street food carts and trucks, plus food artisans, breweries and a new wine cellars garden. Over one hundred total vendors. It’d be impossible to sample every item.

Many attendees will seek popular vendor names like Chairman Bao, Sam’s Chowdermobile, etc. Instead I look for vendors that I’ve never tried before, not vendors I can easily find at local food truck events like Off the Grid and Truck Stop.

The longest line is usually for the paella vendor. But this year Gerard’s Paella is not participating, replaced by Venga Paella a vendor from a previous year.

New vendors added this year are: Belcampo Meat Co. (Koreatown Wagyu beef dogs), Brass Knuckle (sandwiches), Charlie Frank’s Pies (mini sweet potato peach pies), Cholita Linda (Mexi-Peruvian tacos), Cynful Eats (French/Afro/Latin pastries), Grilled Cheez Guy (grilled cheese sandwiches), Kasa Indian Eatery (kati rolls), Osteria Stellina from Point Reyes Station (grilled cheese sandwiches), Pietisserie (mini pies), Sasonao Nicaraguan Cooking (nacatamales, empanadas), Tamarindo (Mexican bites), The Rib Whip (midwest-style BBQ), The Whole Beast (gyros), and Tikka Bytes (naanwich).

For a list of vegetarian options click here.

Lastly, don’t forget about the Craft Marketplace area with 16 food artisans taking turns on Saturday and Sunday (Sorry, don’t know which specific vendors each day). It’s a place to sample and purchase artisan food products – chocolates, candies, pickles, jams, sauerkraut, beef jerky, pasta, breads, olive oil, vinegars, yogurt, Afghan and Malaysian sauces. The must not miss vendor here are the pastries from Starter Bakery, look for the Kouign Amann (“butter cake”).

The most important thing is to have fun!

Photo Credit: Luis Chong