As the founding fathers of the $4 toast, Northern California has a rather particular relationship with food: we like it fresh, artisanal and original. More importantly, we’re willing to show up, stand in line and pay big bucks for it. With that kind of dedication in mind, you can bet that we know how to throw one heck of a food festival! Getting hungry yet? Fill your calendar with our list of can’t-miss fests for foodies coming up in Northern California.
August 19: Taste of Petaluma – Petaluma
North Bay’s ever-charming town of Petaluma lines it’s streets with local vendors and live music for this annual showcasing of culinary talents. Hop aboard one of the provided trolleys to sample treats from the likes of beloved ice cream slingers Three Twins, or sit back with a glass of the good stuff from regional winemakers and craft breweries at their wine bar or beer garden. The $40 wristband required for entry goes a long way at this fest, with ten tasting tickets included.
Serious foodies know that Eat Drink SF is the premier culinary festival of the Bay. Over the course of four days, Fort Mason is completely transformed into a veritable who’s who of the Bay Area’s world-class chefs and the food (included with the price of admission) reflects just that. This year’s event kicks off with a taco showdown between chefs, before turning things over to their signature Grand Tastings, featuring food from 35 area restaurants and unlimited beer, wine, and cocktails.
September 9 – 10: Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival – San Francisco
San Francisco’s iconic chocolate factory rallies for a good cause this September when they present their annual festival benefiting Project Open Hand, a meal service for the elderly and critically ill. Hosting more than 50 vendors, Ghirardelli’s festival is one of the sweetest out there, with ice cream sundae eating contests, chef demos and a special lounge stocked with gourmet desserts, plus cocktails for the 21 and over crowd.
Eat Real Fest celebrates nine years of feeding and educating hungry Oaklanders this September with their Jack London Square takeover. Backed by the Food Craft Institute, Eat Real Fest focuses on building awareness for local and sustainable ingredients, as well as how to use them in your everyday meals. The event is free with all food available for less than $8, making this one of the most accessible food fests in the Bay.
September 23: Farm-to-Fork Festival – Sacramento
It’s no wonder that Sacramento has been dubbed America’s Farm to Fork Capital –- they’ve got more access to high-quality farms and ranches than any other city in the United States! Similar to Eat Real Fest, Farm-to-Fork is a celebration of all things local, with an emphasis on awareness and education around what we consume and where we get it. You’ll even get a chance to meet the folks behind the very food you’re enjoying, while taking in live music, cooking demos and, of course, locally produced wines and beers.
The San Francisco Street Food Festival honors the melting pot that is American street food and the diverse backgrounds that make it so great. Presented by La Cocina, an incubator for low-income food entrepreneurs, this festival asks visitors to consider the tough legalities that food trucks and street vendors face, while providing the awesome assortment of bites available at odd hours that city dwellers often take for granted. For just $5 (or $9 for a two day pass) plus the cost of tastings, guests gain access to more than 30 vendors representing San Francisco’s vibrant culinary makeup.