Oakland’s Awesome, Sun-Baked, Line-Filled Vegan Food Fest »
Let’s get this out of the way: the lines were long. And I mean like, crazy long. Long enough to wind through the outdoor patio lined with pop-up vegan restaurants and snake back around on themselves.
The first annual Oakland Vegan Beer & Food Festival this past Saturday was well attended, almost shockingly crowded. We knew Oakland loved a good vegan dish (and beer), but wow. Some reported waiting in line for up to two hours.
Although certainly frustrating, I’m going to look at the silver lining here and posit this simply means they’ll need more space and more food booths next time, which the organizers know—not such a bad thing.
After the fest, Hella Vegan Eats posted a love note to the community on their Facebook page that included this insight: “We are overjoyed that there was such a positive response to this event even with the crazy long lines. We can’t wait to begin planning next year’s #OAKVEGBFF with way more vendors, more space, better organization, etc. Now that we know to expect so many people, we can plan accordingly!”
Personally, I waited half an hour in line then another half hour for one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever had, courtesy of S+M Vegan. The flavorful Okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancake) stuffed with tots and veggies and topped with pickled relish and sweet soy was succulent and satisfying. Standing while eating, I finished it far too quickly.
While waiting, we sipped tart ciders and sampled decadent pastries including a gooey chocolate grasshopper bar and caramel cupcake from Timeless Coffee. As the Oakland sun beat down, I tried tastes of a dark Ale Industries Rye’d Piper and the Linden Street New Oakland Glow.
I also got a chance to chat with the duo behind Rhizocali Tempeh. They mentioned that they were surprised, coming from Gainesville, Florida, a town with two independent tempeh-producing companies, to find no other locals currently producing tempeh in Oakland. Nuts, right? The organic tempeh-makers based in the same commercial kitchen as Hella Vegan Eats and S+M Kitchen.
Wildly popular fest organizers Hella Vegan Eats had some especially long lines as well, but I saw many a vegan walk away ecstatic with a glistening plate of fried “chicken” and waffle or mac-n-cheese Lusty Lovers tacos from their booth.
While the food vendors were all lined up in the outdoor patio, inside we got to check out some rather shiny classic cars and art installations.
Outside, dogs roamed the lines, some very cute pups up for adoption via Rocket Dog Rescue—which received 20 percent of the event’s proceeds—and others brought by attendees, just stretching on leashes and seeking fallen drops of precious veggie meats.
To see more yummy photos of the event, creep on the #OAKVEGBFF hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.