Savoring Summer at Menlo Park Street Fair

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® Food Truck Joins Line-Up of International Food Vendors

Menlo Park has been a fine dining destination for decades, and the international food feast that happens along Santa Cruz Avenue every July is no exception. Menlo Summer Fest, “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” takes place this year July 20-21, from 10am to 6pm. Apply sunscreen, wear comfortable shoes . . . and come hungry.

an international array of food trucks including Oaxacan Kitchen and Capelo's Barbecue
Bring a hearty appetite and enjoy from an array of fresh, festive, summery food, much rooted in tropical, warm-weather destinations to celebrate the festival’s fun in the sun, summer-vacation theme.

Partnering with the festival this year, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® food truck will be selling fish tacos using seafood fished or farmed in ways that support a healthy ocean. A delicious vegan option will also be available. Plus, friendly brand ambassadors will be on hand offering educational tips on sustainable seafood and best seafood choices.

If you think the summertime temps are toasty in Menlo Park, they’re nothing compared to the over-1,000-degree heat inside the custom-made wood-fired pizza oven at Nahua Pizza. That’s what makes their thin pizza crusts so crispy, whether the foundation for a simple margarita or pepperoni pizza or for the combo with mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, bell peppers, olives, onions and mushrooms. As they say in Italia, mangia bene!

The folks at Chicken and the Farm cook up “Farm Food for Humans,” starring their famous farm-fresh chicken wings with a choice of 22 sauces, such as sweet wasabi, lemon pepper, honey walnut and ginger-sesame. (By the way, the sauces are equally as delicious atop their fried cauliflower.) Fried chicken also gets tucked into their hefty po boy sandwiches. And this year they’re introducing Barnyard Bowls, with smoked meat options including brisket or pulled pork, and either grilled or crispy fried chicken. The meat sits atop mixed lettuces, corn, black beans and tortilla strips, and is topped with ranch dressing, barbecue sauce and shredded cheese. The tacos are new, too, featuring crisp-fried premium skirt steak. Farm Tacos come with coleslaw and pickled red onions, and Moomoo Tacos have ranch dressing, lettuce and cheese. Keeping with the Mexican theme are the Not-chos—tortilla chips with smoked brisket, sour cream and their signature honey-sriracha-mayo Farm Sauce, green onions shredded cheese. Feeling like fries? Waffle-cut loaded fries come in eight varieties, including Lobster on Land, with garlic butter, parsley, green onions; Dirty Piggy, with pulled pork and green onions; and Ol’ Bessie, with brisket, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, green onions and crispy onions. Holy cow!

Oaxacan Kitchen Mobile truck has gained a following on the Stanford campus for their chicken tamales with classic mole negro and soul-satisfying burritos, and handmade tortillas made with imported Oaxacan corn. Their Californian take on Mexican fare is the WaHaKa bowl with organic veggies, rice beans, and guacamole, and a meat choice of barbecued beef, chicken, steak or chipotle prawns.

Traditional Greek flavors can be found at Hot & Sizzling Grill, where aromatic herbed lamb and chicken are served as a gyro in pita or over rice, accompanied by the creamy tzatziki yogurt-garlic sauce. They also offer plump grilled sausages.

plates filled with international foods are festival favorites
Suitcase Ron kettle korn booth is a festival favorite

At Sonoma Teriyaki, it’s a trip to the street food stalls of Japan, where teriyaki chicken sticks are ubiquitous. It’s also a favorite stop for vegetarians, who love digging into their crispy veggie chow mein and deep-fried zucchini and artichokes.

John Capelo earned the title “the boss of barbecue” in his native Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. Now that he’s a travelin’ man, he brings his beloved Capelo’s BBQ to Bay Area street fairs using local wood to slow-smoke coffee-rubbed beef brisket, pork spareribs, and herb-rubbed chicken and pork. He serves these mouth-watering meats as a plate with classic sides of corn muffins, coleslaw and baked beans, or piled into sandwiches.

Mike Hutslar is another master of the meat, grilling up half-pound smoked pork and beef sausages and loading them into buns with grilled onions and sauerkraut. He rounds out his menu with corn dogs, curly fries and fried zucchini.

The Philly Cheesesteak food truck pays homage to that East Coast stick-to-your-ribs institution, piling plenty of grilled beef, cheese, sautéed onions and peppers into a fluffy bun. Cheeseburgers, gyros and hot dogs can be had as well.

If you’re looking for an out-of-the-ordinary dessert, visit the Waffle Puffs Catering booth and discover its eponymous dessert, eaten unadorned or with ice cream and Oreos like a sundae, or filled with fresh fruit. The Mochi Donut is also an unusual treat. Like a donut hole but made with Japanese rice, it’s crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Try it plain or with sesame seeds and red bean paste. They also make classic crêpes, with fillings such as Nutella, fresh fruit and whipped cream, and a not-so-classic but tempting topping of ice cream. Dole whip, root beer floats and fresh juices are also on the menu.

Wandering through a summer street fair can work up quite a thirst. The Juicery comes to the rescue with organic slushies (watermelon, lemon, lime, orange and hibiscus), lemonade, limeade, watermelon juice and iced teas. And because the day wouldn’t be complete without a bag of kettle corn, Suitcase Ron returns year after year, popping nonstop. And lemonade, the symbol of summer, will be squeezed and stirred from open till close at Barrett’s. Just look for the bright yellow booth.

Menlo Summer Fest

Hot Fun in the Summertime
July 20-21, 2019 10am to 6pm
Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park, CA