Friday nights at the Oakland Museum of California have become almost synonymous with food trucks. Every Friday from 5-9 PM, a rotation of over 10 trucks park outside the museum to feed hungry customers. These come courtesy of Off the Grid, an organization that oversees weekly markets across the Bay Area. We find out more.
The Lake Merritt or OMCA market represents one of the largest and busiest Off the Grid markets outside of San Francisco. Set against the façade of the Oakland Museum of California and directly adjacent to Lake Merritt, this market has become a staple of this Oakland neighborhood.
It’s a great place for both avid food truck lovers and new comers to try a wide range of diverse offerings in a beautiful and inviting setting. This venue attracts some of the most popular trucks operating in San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area. The trucks rotate every other week, so there is constantly something new to try. The food trucks form a long straight line as far as the eye can see, covering an entire block with the sounds of sizzling grills and clanging spatulas.
String lights are set in parallel, creating a fantastic and romantic ambiance as the night goes on. Customers peruse an array of menus, all in search of the perfect meal. While choosing a truck is primarily a job for the eyes, you can just as easily follow your nose to find your dinner. People are encouraged to try items from multiple vendors, especially those that offer items of varying size. The setting is perfect to share with friends, family members, or even a date. There is ample seating for those seeking out a sit-down style meal or those waiting on friends and family. Customers laden with a selection of compostable boxes full of food find these seating areas a welcome comfort. This market is a great place to sample many styles of food, with items like lobster rolls, Cuban sandwiches, and falafel, just to name a few.
Ebbett’s Good to Go serves a fantastic mac and cheese that’s sophisticated enough for adults and has the right amount of cheesiness to satisfy any kid. Those searching for something a little for upscale and substantial can find oxtail and grits with orange zest at Go Streatery or lobster and crab rolls at Lobsta Truck. For a sweet treat at the end of your meal, try Cupkates, a truck serving both expertly executed classics and more creative seasonal cupcakes.
Though food trucks are certainly the focal point of the event, there are other draws for those looking to do more than eat. A full bar serving local wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages resides just beyond the museum entrance. Since most food trucks do not serve alcohol, this is a welcome convenience for adults looking to relax at the end of a long week. While the bar does cater to adults, the event welcomes families and people of all ages.
Family-friendly dance lessons have people of all ages shedding inhibitions and learning a few new moves. Musical performances change every week, with local artists and groups as well as DJs that facilitate the dancing. Entertainment varies based on a weekly theme, inspiring different styles of music and dance. Many food trucks offer kid friendly options, inviting families to participate in both dinner and activities.
Perhaps the main draw for families is half-price admission for adults and free admission for kids under 18 to the museum and galleries during the market. For families, the event is not just dinner but a fun and complete outing that can be relatively easy on the wallet. The event is wildly popular, so it does tend to get crowded, especially given the limited amount of free parking. Don’t be intimidated by the lines, they tend to move quickly.