Food on Wheels

Thursday, June 23, 2016

After a Seven-Year Run, Liba Falafel Is Taking Its Food Truck Out of Commission

The brick-and-mortar restaurant in Uptown Oakland will remain open.

by Luke Tsai
Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 11:25 AM

The end of an era. - LIBA FALAFEL
  • Liba Falafel
  • The end of an era.

When Liba Falafel first started slinging falafel sandwiches and salads in 2009, it was one of a handful of new-school food trucks to hit the streets in the East Bay. This was back when taco trucks were the only kind of food truck that most Bay Area folks had ever heard of — back when Off the Grid wasn’t even a glimmer in anyone’s eye.

It’s a pretty big deal, then, that Liba Falafel owner Gail Lillian — one of the real OGs of the East Bay mobile-food scene — has decided to take her popular falafel truck off the road for good.

See also:
Have a Ball at Liba Falafel’s New Brick-and-Mortar Shop
Oakland Aims to Allow Food Trucks to Operate All Over the City


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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Oakland Aims to Allow Food Trucks to Operate All Over the City

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Feb 9, 2016 at 10:53 AM

An evening event at Tacos Sinaloa in East Oakland. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • An evening event at Tacos Sinaloa in East Oakland.
Off the Grid-style mobile food gatherings might have taken the Bay Area by storm, but here in Oakland, the food truck revolution hasn’t gained much traction. It’s been limited, for the most part, to East Oakland’s vaunted taco truck scene and a handful of high-profile events elsewhere in the city.

But all that may be about to change. The city recently unveiled a proposal for a new mobile food policy that would greatly expand opportunities for local food truck operators. In theory, your favorite Fruitvale taco truck would now be able to set up shop on, say, Piedmont Avenue. And it would become much easier for individual food trucks to get permission to pull up to a metered parking space in Oakland to do business, the way they do in other cities that have a vibrant street food culture.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Everything You Need to Know About This Weekend’s Eat Real Festival

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 11:54 AM

Last year's Eat Real Festival brought hundreds of thousands of visitors to Jack London Square. - ROB LEVY
  • Rob Levy
  • Last year's Eat Real Festival brought hundreds of thousands of visitors to Jack London Square.
When Oakland’s Eat Real Festival made its debut in 2009, gourmet street food was still somewhat of a novelty in the Bay Area, and the national media was still several years away from deigning to recognize Oakland as a world-class food destination. Now in its seventh year, Eat Real simply feels like an inevitability. The sprawling three-day street food festival will take over Jack London Square again this weekend, with a lineup of eighty-plus food and beverage vendors — about a quarter of them making their first Eat Real appearance, according to Ally DeArman, director of the nonprofit Food Craft Institute that organizes the event.  

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Snow Park Food Pod Returns Next Wednesday

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 2:30 PM

The Doc's burger (via Instagram @docsclassic), coming soon on Wednesdays to Oakland's Snow Park.
  • The Doc's burger (via Instagram @docsclassic), coming soon on Wednesdays to Oakland's Snow Park.
While gourmet food trucks are hardly a rarity in today’s Bay Area food scene, it was starting to seem as though downtown Oakland’s brief flowering of lunchtime “food pods” — a weekly convergence of three or four trucks, typically — had become a thing of a past, despite the convenience they offered to nearby office workers. But on Wednesday, July 15, one of those pods will mark its return: the Snow Park Food Pod. Three trucks — Doc’s Classic (formerly known as Doc’s of the Bay), Kenny’s Heart and Soul, and Fist of Flour the first week — will set up on the Harrison Street side of the park (between 19th and 20th streets) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a rotating lineup of trucks for every Wednesday thereafter.


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Monday, September 15, 2014

Your Guide to This Weekend’s Eat Real Fest

by Luke Tsai
Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 2:44 PM

JOON OH
  • Joon Oh
Eat Real Fest, Oakland’s biggest and most widely celebrated food festival, descends on Jack London Square this weekend, bringing with it a veritable smorgasbord of street food, craft booze, and DIY demos.

The festivities kick off on Friday, September 19, at 1 p.m., and will run from 1 to 9 p.m. on Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. As always, admission is free.

Now heading into its sixth year, Eat Real is already something of an institution — certainly, Jack London Square residents know, by now, to brace themselves for the throng of cars scouring the neighborhood for street parking. That said, the event organizers add a few new wrinkles each year. Here are a few highlights, for those of you who wouldn’t think about attending an event like this without a concrete plan of attack:

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Friday, August 22, 2014

East Oakland’s Grilled Links Kings

by Luke Tsai
Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 8:57 PM

BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
On a bright Saturday afternoon in August, the line was five deep at East Oakland’s most famous grilled links and hot dog stand, and an older African American woman was telling the proprietors that she thanks Jesus for them, and for all of their success. “Just look at this line!” she said. “I’m praying for you.”

I’d come to the corner of 69th Avenue and International Boulevard to check out a food cart I’d heard about through vague rumors and scattered Yelp reviews. In this stretch of East Oakland, however, it seemed like everybody knew about it. Everyone waiting in line seemed to be a regular, anyway. 

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Off the Grid Comes to Uptown Oakland

by Luke Tsai
Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 10:00 PM

Even as some mobile food businesses transition to opening brick-and-mortar restaurants, the continued success of Off the Grid, noted organizer of massive food-truck gatherings in the Bay Area, offers convincing proof that the dining public has yet to tire of gourmet street food — at least as consumed while sitting on folding chairs in a tent-lined parking lot or street enclosure, surrounded by ten or twelve (or as many as 39!) trucks and a throng of fellow bao and fusion-taco lovers.

Now, Off the Grid founder Matt Cohen is looking to tap into one of the East Bay’s juiciest markets for food lovers — Uptown Oakland. Updating an initial report by Diablo Dish, Cohen confirmed that Off the Grid’s newest event will be located near the Fox Theater, on the stretch of William Street between Telegraph Avenue and Rashida Muhammad Street that’s adjacent to the Henry J. Kaiser Memorial Park.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Bites in Uptown: A New Food Pod for First Fridays

by Luke Tsai
Fri, Mar 7, 2014 at 4:26 PM

ETA: Bites in Uptown is canceled for tonight, Friday, March 7. Hester only notes, by way of explanation, that "due to circumstances beyond our control, (red tape, bureaucracy, scarcity mentality, lack of solidarity), Bites In Uptown has been cancelled tonight." Stay tuned to see if the situation is resolved in time for next month's First Friday festivities.

Food trucks have long been a prominent feature of Oakland First Fridays, even in the popular street festival’s earlier, more loosely organized incarnations. But, as they say, variety is the spice of life, and next week a major player is launching a new food truck event, adding as many as eight mobile food vendors to an already booming First Friday street food scene.

Bites in Uptown will set up shop in a private parking lot at 478 25th Street, outside a currently unused warehouse, from 6-10 p.m. on Friday, March 7 — and, if all goes well, on every First Friday thereafter. The monthly food truck gathering will be curated by events coordinator Karen Hester, who also organizes Bites Off Broadway, a similar event.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

LIBA Falafel to Open Restaurant in Uptown Oakland

by Luke Tsai
Mon, Dec 23, 2013 at 7:00 AM

LIBA Falafel, one of the Bay Area’s longest-established “new school” gourmet food trucks, has announced that it will open its first brick-and-mortar restaurant location in Uptown Oakland, at 380 17th Street. Owner Gail Lillian, who founded the business four years ago, said she’s in the process of raising funds for the Uptown project but expects the restaurant to open by the summer of 2014.

The LIBA food truck will also continue to operate.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Bay Area’s First Soul Food Truck

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Oct 22, 2013 at 12:00 PM

The Bay Area is home to food trucks that specialize in Eritrean-Irish fusion cuisine, Hong Kong-style egg tarts and curry fish balls, and tacos of every conceivable ethnic origin, among countless others. So it’s somewhat amazing to consider that Oakland resident Kenny Stuckey’s new venture, Kenny’s Heart & Soul, may become the first soul food truck in the Bay Area.

While there’s a mobile soul food trailer in San Francisco and a handful of trucks that serve soul-food fusion concepts — i.e., gussied-up twists on Southern-style grits or chicken and waffles — Stuckey said he wasn’t aware of any truck that specializes in “strictly soul food.”

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