Israel in the Gardens | Curb your hunger: This year, two food trucks are rolling in

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The food truck phenomenon hasn’t really hit Israel yet — but it will hit Israel in the Gardens this year.

The Old World Food Truck and La Falafel, two popular eateries on wheels that make regular appearances around the Bay Area, will serve up their well-reviewed grub to hungry festival attendees.

For those who have never tried anything from a food truck, the festival will provide a good opportunity to see what all the hype is about. The trucks will park across the street from Yerba Buena Gardens, on Mission Street in a small curb cutout in front of the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Old World Food Truck, along with La Falafel, will park directly across the street from Yerba Buena Gardens, on Mission Street.

A few other food options will be available as well. Those include organic and kosher spreads from Living Tree Com-munity Foods in Berkeley, and frozen treats from Rainbow Italian Ice in Oakland. “And lots of great options in the newly renovated Metreon,” festival officials note, alluding to the adjacent mall.

Gone from the lineup is Flying Falafel, which enjoyed a six-year run at the festival.

The Old World Food Truck, which celebrated its one-year anniversary on May 10, specializes in sandwiches, pierogies, borscht, slaws and pickles, and original creations such as Reuben tacos and house-made potato chips infused with horseradish. Owner-chef Kenny Hockert describes his truck as Jewish soul food from Eastern Europe and the East Coast, with a California twist.

At the festival, Hockert will serve the truck’s signature Schnitzelwich, which San Francisco magazine recently cited as one of the top chicken sandwiches in the Bay Area. It’s chicken schnitzel with caraway honey, horseradish aioli, apple-cabbage slaw and an optional shmear of chicken liver on an Acme roll.

The Old World truck also will offer house-smoked fish with pickled onions and greens on a bagel or bread, a roasted beet sandwich, potato and farmer’s cheese pierogis, chilled borscht with crème fraiche and dill, and a dessert to be announced.

“We can’t wait,” said Hockert, who has already done some other events in the Jewish community.

La Falafel was launched last year in October by Nissim Ninio, an Israeli American businessman. The truck was stationed mainly in the Mission District at first, but now can be found at food truck gatherings such as Off The Grid (in various locations) and at the permanent SOMA StrEAT Food Park in San Francisco.

Manager-cook Raquel Torres said the truck “specializes in serving falafel and kabob sandwiches made in the Israeli style.” She said Ninio started the truck to help promote “Israeli culture through food.”

At the festival, La Falafel will sell a falafel sandwich, Israeli salad, french fries and falafel balls with hummus (with condiments such as shatta hot pepper sauce, pineapple sauce and tahini).

“Due to the large volume of this event and the nature of our food, we decided to keep the menu simple,” Torres said. “This ensures that the quality of our food and the delivery time are both optimal.”

Living Tree Community Foods, which handcrafts all its products in small batches in Berkeley, will offer tastings of its chocolate spreads: Dream of Paradise (chocolate, cherry and almond) and Hazelnut Cloud (chocolate, hazelnut, almond). Butters made from pistachios, cashews, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds will also be available for tasting and for purchase.

All of the nut butters are “alive, organic and kosher,” according to Jesse Schwartz, the company’s president. “Our almond butter and tahini are our two most popular products.”

Andy Altman-Ohr covers the Bay Area Jewish food scene for j. in his monthly column “Hardly Strictly Bagels.” Follow him on Twitter at @andytheohr.

Andy Altman-Ohr

Andy Altman-Ohr was J.’s managing editor and Hardly Strictly Bagels columnist until he retired in 2016 to travel and live abroad. He and his wife have a home base in Mexico, where he continues his dalliance with Jewish journalism.