Oakland, Epicenter of the Taco Truck Scene, Finally Lets Food Trucks Move Downtown

Oakland_foodtrucks_downtown.jpg
Lydia Chow/Flickr
More truck gatherings in downtown Oakland may soon appear.
Oakland's International Boulevard has been the heart of the Bay Area's food truck scene for decades -- thanks to the benevolent (even relaxed) oversight from the city, the Fruitvale neighborhood has become the densest strip of taco trucks in the region. International Boulevard's many loncheras still make some of the best Mexican food around. But the new wave of food trucks don't want to park in the lower-income Latino neighborhood. They want access to downtown and the wealthier parts of Oakland, and the city hasn't been so welcoming there.

On December 7, East Bay Express restaurant critic Jesse Hirsch reported that the city had just passed an interim food-truck policy that allowed for food truck "pods," or Off the Grid-style gatherings, in these wealthier, high-traffic areas. Since then, he's been tracking the response of the new-generation food trucks. Off the Grid is in, and so is Bites on Broadway; Doc's of the Bay owner Zak Silverman is also hoping to organize a few more pods on his own. It will take until February at least for details to be worked out.

Not participating: Oakland Mobile Food Group, whose organizer, Elizabeth August, tells the Express she's quitting the mobile food business for once and for all because she's disgusted with the heaps of permits and inspections required to host a food-truck pod. Uh, any brick-and-mortar restaurant owner might be able to put some perspective on that ...

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