Eat Your Way Through Summer Fest!

◀ Back to blog


This year, Summer Fest brings you the best selection of food options to date! Offering anything from BBQ to beignets, our vendors will be selling gourmet sweets, authentic ribs and catfish. There will also be healthier alternatives for those looking for a lighter meal as well as vendors that cater to vegans and vegetarians. The Blues Stage will be a hot spot for a lot of great food and food information, so be sure to plan to catch all the great options available to enhance some great music!

BBQ Competition

Looking to witness some friendly competition? Then visit the Blues Stage, where regional barbeque heavyweights Sims’ BBQ, Big Ed’s Buzzard BBQ and Cinco Hijos will be battling it out for individual barbeque awards.

The Sims’ BBQ tradition stretches back to 1937 when George and Allen Sims opened two locations near Little Rock, Arkansas. Today, owner and cook Ron Blakely continues the Sims tradition his grandfather and uncle started many decades ago by sticking to the motto “Slower is Better.” Sims’ menu will include several BBQ staples, including ribs, chicken, beef brisket, baked beans and potato salad.

For Ed Somerfield, the man behind Big Ed’s Buzzard BBQ, moving his passion from part-time hobby to full-time venture came after years of simply cooking for fun. After years of grilling for church, family and friends, Ed Somerfield finally decided to use his 20-plus years of experience to pursue his passion full time and move into on-site catering. Meat offerings will include beef brisket, pulled pork, hot links and tri-tip.

Upstart contender Cinco Hijos will be injecting a dose of youth to the fray. Rather than handle the traditional, their menu delivers BBQ with a Latin and Cajun twist. Notable menu items include Cajun tri-tip with Creole Jus, macaroni salad, carnitas and carne asada.

After enjoying a $5 sampler plate from any of the contestants (includes 4 oz meat portion and two sides), festival attendees can vote for their favorite, with winners to be announced in four categories: Best Beef, Best Pork, Best Poultry, and Best “Other.” BBQ can be enjoyed after buying barbeque tickets, and general festival drink tickets may also be used to purchase items in this special BBQ area.

Gordon Biersch and Whole Foods Market @ Blues Stage

Beer connoisseurs will love a special sneak preview of Gordon Biersch‘s new Zwickelpils and Zwickelbock, poured from wooden kegs and available only at the Blues Stage. Unfiltered versions of Biersch’s Czech Style Pilsner and Blonde Bock and are set to launch publicly in September.

Whole Foods Market will also be on hand to spread info on healthy eating habits. Their extensive set up will include hourly talks promoting their Health Starts Here campaign and providing info about the market’s 4 Pillars of health. Lastly, Whole Foods will be featuring a jazz themed photo album flipbook!

Additionally, five different food trucks —  Grandma Catherine’s Homemade FoodsMunch IndiaWaffle Amore, Gold Rush Eatery and Say Cheez — will be at the Blues Stage.

Food fans will want to stay by the Blues Stage to see our many chef demos scheduled throughout the weekend. At the Salsa Stage, Kaiser Permanente will have a full set-up offering a variety of services and goodies, including free salsa dancing between sets and sun block for those needing relief from the sun.

Summer Fest Food Picks

With so many vendors offering a little taste of everything, navigating Summer Fest’s many food options may at first seem daunting. Consider these four choices. Some honor tradition, others stress unorthodox fusion, but all are guaranteed to deliver for your taste buds.

Chef Dionne Knox operates Oakland-based Zella’s Soulful Kitchen as an homage to her late grandmother, the establishment’s namesake. A chef that cooked everything from scratch, her grandmother Zella only used the freshest ingredients – a point Dionne honors by creating farm-fresh, handcrafted soul food using seasonal and locally produced ingredients. Zella’s will be offering pulled chicken sliders with slaw at the Kaiser Permanente Salsa Stage Saturday and Sunday.

Say Cheez takes the comfort food angle one step further by offering their spins on grilled cheese on locally-baked breads. They will also be selling house-made potato chips and homemade bread pudding Saturday and Sunday at the Blues Stage. Sandwich options include the B.P.T. (Bacon, Provolone, Tomato) and the French Onion (Havarti & Caramelized Onions on Sourdough).

The Pattiwagon is a great option not just for vegetarians and vegans but for those looking  for a fresh perspective on traditional dishes. Chef Patti Doyle has cooked all over the country, inclusind a stint as Chef de Gard Manager at The 21 Club in New York City. Inspired by her exposure to food from around the world, she likes to focus on uncommon combinations, using spices to add to traditional flavors. She will be serving at the Salsa Stage all weekend.

If you’re ready to continue that great New Orleans flavor, grab some beignets from Cloud 9 at the Main Stage. Enjoy them will be served with bananas, strawberries or an assortment of other topics. There may be no better time to grab a small batch than after Amanda Shaw’s highly-anticipated set at noon Saturday, when she’s sure to brings her Cajun fusion sound and undeniable violin virtuosity to the stage!

While music may be the focus of Summer Fest, don’t overlook the many tasty food and drink options. This year’s extensive offerings include something to suit anyone’s taste, and each vendor is just as much a reflection of Bay Area culture as the music itself. Food vendors will be on hand at the Main Stage, Blues Stage and Kaiser Permanente Salsa Stage. For a listing of current participants, check our vendors page.

Will you be visiting the Patti Wagon or any of our picks? Is there a particular vendor you make sure to visit every year at Summer Fest? What kind of food would you like to see at the festival? Join the conversation by leaving a comment on our Facebook post!