Eat Real Fest, Day Two: Cupcakes, Adios to Eeyore, and Butchery

M. Brody
The Good to Go market at Jack London Square.

SF Weekly restaurant critic Meredith Brody risked sunburn and serious bloating at the three-day Eat Real Festival in Oakland this weekend. Behold the second of Brody's three reports on the street-food orgy.

Saturday was hot again, but not as muggy as Friday, and we headed down to Jack London Square and the Eat Real celebration of street food (“putting the food back in fast”) hungry, and with our pockets stuffed with fresh cabbage (in ones and fives).

Hungry, we scored pork hot links served with pimento cheese and crackers ($5) and barbecued turkey sliders served with roasted corn ($5) from Jim 'N Nicks Bar-B-Q, who'd driven their truck up from Birmingham, Alabama; and brisket sliders with potato salad ($5) and a pomegranate julep ($2) from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul wagon. Cynics might say that these were the first two booths whose path we crossed, but they were both on our list from studying the Eat Real Web site. And we liked everything; my companion said that barbecuing was the best way to prepare turkey. The brisket was moist, homey, and satisfying, the well-seasoned Yukon Gold potato salad was excellent, and the smoky roasted corn as good as it gets.

M. Brody
West Oakland urban farm nonprofit City Slicker Farm was on hand Saturday.

On further forays, we scored a spicy little cochinita pibil taco ($2) and a watermelon agua fresca ($2) from Chaac Mool, plump lobster rolls in buttery buns ($5) and creamy clam chowder ($5) from Sam's Chowder Mobile, and a lemon coconut cupcake, nicely decorated with a yellow candy cutout ($2) from Sweetface Bakery — the only place where there wasn't a lineup, yet as we walked around with our laden plates, the most frequently heard comment from passersby was, “Where'd you get the cupcake?”

The lines were formidable, but not daunting. We eyed the pupusas at Estrellita's Snacks, one of our favorite spots at the weekend Alemany markets, and the Korean fare at Seoul on Wheels, and thought about the sweets available at the Crème Brulee Cart and Gobba Gobba Hey. We took a short tour through the Good to Go Market, in a space where Jack London Squares's new indoor market is due to open next year, and saw Iso Rabins selling foraged sea beans for $3 a boxful, and sampled organic blueberries, locally raised endive, and Tcho Chocolate. But we heeded the siren call of a field trip to Novella Carpenter's Ghost Town Farm, subject of her recent book Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. A farm? In downtown Oakland?

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