Authentic Food and Drink, from Paella to Piña Coladas
Every culture around the globe has its own traditional street food—an authentic taste of the place in just a few bites. Here in dynamite downtown Menlo Park, Santa Cruz Avenue will host a two-day international street-food extravaganza at Menlo Summer Fest, “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” July 21-22, from 10am to 6pm.
There’s nothing as hypnotizing as watching simmering paprika-scented tomato sauce, rice, meat and seafood slowly melding their flavors in a massive black cast-iron paella pan under the warm summer sun. This year Gerard’s Paella will join the festival with a dazzling and aromatic chicken and shrimp paella.
Another slow-cooked specialty of a Spanish-speaking region is Mexican mole, particularly from the southern city of Oaxaca. Frequently seen on the Stanford campus, the Oaxacan Kitchen Mobile truck will serve handmade chicken tamales topped with rich mole negro, as well as burritos and their signature WaHaKa bowl with organic veggies, rice beans, and guacamole, and meat options including barbecued beef, chicken, steak and chipotle prawns. Devoted to traditional cooking methods, they make their own tortillas with masa freshly pressed from imported Oaxacan corn.
Hot & Sizzling Grill serves up traditional Greek gyros with delicate slices of lamb and chicken redolent with Mediterranean herbs and spices. Either in a pita or over rice, the meat is delicious drizzled with yogurt-garlic tzatziki sauce.
A perfect finale after gyros is a new Greek classic at this year’s festival—bite-sized doughnuts called loukoumades. Sold at The Sweet Greek, these diminutive delights are crispy and golden on the outside and fluffy and airy on the inside, drizzled with honey, chocolate or caramel.
Japanese-style street food can be found at Sonoma Teriyaki, famous for its teriyaki chicken sticks as well as two vegetarian favorites—crispy veggie chow mein and deep-fried zucchini.
From the U.S. south, of course it’s barbecue that comes to mind. At Menlo Summerfest, it’ll be John Capelo’s Barbecue, direct from the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. Known as “the boss of barbecue,” Capelo uses local wood to slow-smoke his coffee-rubbed beef brisket, pork spareribs, and herb-rubbed chicken and pork for pullin’. Side dish classics include corn muffins, cole slaw and baked beans.
Rainbow Snow also puts Texas on the menu, with its grilled Colby jack cheese sandwich made with thick Texas toast. For dessert, they assemble their signature double-decker creation—a layer of vanilla ice cream beneath a globe of custom-flavored shaved ice.
Mike Hutslar cooks up Americana in the form of half-pound smoked pork and beef sausages tucked into a sturdy bun with grilled onions and sauerkraut. “Lighter” fare includes corn dogs, curly fries and fried zucchini.
Looking to cool of with something light and fruity? The Juicery offers 100% organic slushies (watermelon, lemon, lime, orange and hibiscus), lemonade, limeade, Arnold Palmers, watermelon juice and a hibiscus cooler. Or for an especially festive libation, check out Tropical Hut, where non-alcoholic blended piña coladas (did you know they originated in Puerto Rico?) are served in hollowed-out pineapples.
You’ll know the Kona Shave Ice cart is nearby when you hear the beat of Hawaiian steel drums. Kids especially love the self-serve Flavorwave® dispenser with offerings from Ninja Cherry to Strawberry’d Treasure to Tiger’s Blood.
Have a hankering for good old American street food? Look no farther than Suitcase Ron’s for the best kettle korn around, and Barrett’s for fresh-squeezed lemonade that tastes just like summertime.