Eat Real 2011

We’ve all been there: Amanda’s in the mood for Mexican, Robbie and his new hipster girlfriend want Asian Fusion, you could really go for a good burger, and none of you are exactly rolling in the Benjamins. It’s the classic cuisine catch 22. But what if there were some place you could go where Amanda can get her chimichangas, Robbie and company can snack on seafood kimchi pancakes to their hearts’ content, and you can get up close and personal with a half-pounder with extra cheese, all without breaking the bank? Well at the annual Eat Real Festival, you and your foodie buddies can do just that and keep your pocketbooks in tact at the same time.

Each year, food trucks and Bay area inhabitants alike flock to Oakland’s Jack London Square for Eat Real. For three whole days, food trucks and restaurants set up shop along the historic square and offer a few choice items off of their menus for attendees to sample. The best part? Nothing is over $5. Now that’s what I call the ultimate frugal foodie festival.

I stopped by Eat Real on Saturday to see if it could disprove the old “You get what you pay for” adage and I was pleasantly surprised. The weather wasn’t ideal, which scared away some potential attendees and made the lines much more manageable. Although the Maui Fish Tacos from The Taco Guys were enough to renew my belief in cheap food done well, I also recommend the flavorful Vanilla Cupcakes from local favorite Cupkates and the juicy cheeseburger from 4505 Meats.

Aside from serving up food from over 60 different restaurants, Eat Real also offers an array of contests and food skill demonstrations so festival-goers can go home with more than just full stomachs. Among the must see events this year were the surprisingly competitive Flying Knives Pig and Steer Butchery Contests, where butchers went head to head to see who has the fastest and most accurate blades in the Bay. (Side note: if you’re interested in getting a detailed look at an actual pig used by Chop Bar, jump to the 1:29 mark). And what would a weekend full of food and drink have been without a little music? With an impressive roster of diverse musicians, including Cash Pony, DJ Odiaka, and Big Cat & the Hypnotics, Eat Real made sure there was something for everyone.

If you missed Eat Real this year, you can join CalTV Entertainment’s own Lisa Lee as she gets a taste of the festival for herself in the video below.

-Melanie

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