Saturday, August 3, 2013


     Blessed is the foodie who stumbles upon Off the Grid, one of the Bay Area's best food experiences.  Off the Grid started in San Francisco in 2010 when organizers decided to bring multiple food trucks together in one location.  This was so popular with the locals that Off the Grid has expanded its sites to many areas beyond San Francisco: El Cerrito, Hayward, Berkeley, Alameda, and Larkspur.  There can be anywhere from four to fourteen food trucks gathered at one time depending on which location you choose, and each gathering usually lasts four hours.  Visit Off the Grid's website at to find locations near you, times of operation, information on Off the Grid's beginnings, and the types of foods you'll find there.  You can also follow Off the Grid on Twitter and Facebook.
     Now, many people who haven't experienced the food truck renaissance probably cringe at the thought of food trucks.  You might picture a dirty truck that sells greasy, questionable food items and is surrounded by crazy, hung over, or seedy characters.  But this is not Off the Grid.  When you think of Off the Grid trucks, think gourmet.  Think variety.  Think clean, in many cases organic, environmentally friendly, scrumptious, and insanely fresh.  Best of all, think affordable.  There are trucks at Off the Grid that serve every craving and preference.  You can get food from many different world cuisines, and you can also find unique drinks and desserts.
     I visited Off the Grid at the South Shore Center in Alameda on this sunny Saturday, and the type of food available included Vietnamese, Korean, Peruvian, Mexican, and American.  There was a truck that served dishes featuring cheese in its many manifestations, a truck called Go Streatery serving "peasant" comfort food, and even a cupcake truck.  I sampled lemongrass chicken over rice, garlic fries, and salt and pepper chicken bites from Hiyaaa.  For dessert, I got a s'mores cupcake from Cupkates.  The cupcake was the best cupcake I've ever had.  It had a graham cracker bottom and was topped with super soft marshmallow fluff.  Yum.  The lemongrass chicken was hearty and tangy, the salt and pepper chicken bites were lighter and perfectly spicy, and no one can ruin garlic fries.
     The great thing about Off the Grid, besides having a million food choices at your fingertips, is the community feeling it creates.  At South Shore, you eat in a great group in the middle of the food truck ring.  A band plays beside you while you eat, and you can look out at all the trucks and all the people enjoying themselves.  If you are tired of eating the same old stuff, or if you're with a group of friends and need to satisfy many different palates, or if you just want something really good to eat, then Off the Grid is the place to go.  Every time I've gone, the crowds haven't been overwhelming, the lines are usually short, and the service is amazing.
     You can also have Off the Grid cater your special events.  How fun and easy would it be to have a couple food trucks at your big birthday bash?  Plus, Off the Grid hosts a picnic at the Presidio in San Francisco on Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm.  Besides having a great selection of food and drinks, this picnic also has produce and retail vendors.  And on Friday nights from 5 pm to 10 pm, Off the Grid has thirty vendors at the Fort Mason Center.  If you literally want to get a taste of the local scene, check out Off the Grid.  And don't forget to tip your food truck magic makers.

Lemongrass Chicken Over Rice from Hiyaaa

Salt and Pepper Chicken Bites and Garlic Fries from Hiyaaa

S'Mores Cupcake from Cupkates

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