Oakland Museum of California recently launched  “Friday Nights at OMCA,” a weekly event of food, drinks and art and  on 10th Street in Oakland.

OMCA and Off the Grid hosted the event for the first time on January 25th, bringing throngs of people of all ages to eat, drink and peruse the collections in the museum, where admission was half-price all night.

The overall scene was festive, with groups of 20 and 30-somethings, plus families with young children and grandparents in tow, all chatting while in line for various treats, hot cocoa, wine or beer, or just sitting on the steps around the koi pond listening to music by local bands.

The food trucks served up treats such as bao sandwhiches, a Taiwanese take on a burger, served on fresh steamed or baked buns, plus falafel, flatbreads and empanadas. Dessert included treats such as cupcakes or lavender Crème brûlée. The empanada I sampled was one of the best I’ve had—piping hot, with a flaky crust surrounding a gooey center of cheese, swiss chard, and egg, with briny bursts of black olives.

Although a visit to Friday Nights would be complete with a couple snacks, a glass of wine, and good company on the steps while listening to live music, the exhibitions on display inside the museum are absolutely worth a visit.

The shows inside are well-curated and diverse, including: an exhibition of California artists in the new gallery dedicated to artists from our state; Gold Rush-era works; a solo exhibition by San Francisco-based  photographer Beth Yarnelle Edwards; California landscape painters; and an excellent collection of conceptual and minimalist artists. The latter is an exciting show, as several conceptual artists fundamental to the movement, including John Baldessari and John McCracken, are from California. This is an important side-note to modern art history that has not been explored much in Northern Californian museums.

Friday Nights at OMCA continues every Friday through 2013 from 5pm to 9pm.