For Marin County residents, Sunday marked the debut of Off the Grid — a traveling smorgasbord of gourmet trucks offering everything from Peruvian sandwiches and Filipino roast chicken to salted caramel cupcakes and chocolate-bourbon bread pudding.
But for many of Off the Grid’s most devoted fans, Sunday’s event at the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur was simply another chapter in their love affair with the caravan of cuisines.
“It’s like a food court, but it’s so much better, because it’s out in the open — and because it has such good food,” said San Francisco resident Ari-Asha Castalia, who crossed the bridge to visit an exhibit at the Marine Mammal Center — and to dine at her favorite moveable feast.
“You have so many options. Today, I went with Peruvian and Indian,” Castalia said. “And I like supporting small businesses.”
The San Francisco-based Off the Grid works with a fleet of about 50 food trucks, appearing in 12 different locations on a weekly basis. For Sunday’s Marin debut, founder Matthew Cohen chose an eclectic mix — Peruvian, Filipino, Cajun, Indian, Japanese-Korean and, of course, cupcakes.
“The basic idea is to create an atmosphere that’s appropriate for each location,” said Cohen, dressed in a bright red Off the Grid T-shirt. “So for this location, we wanted something very family-friendly, with a lot of high-end food and a lot of value added for the price.”
The event, which lasted from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the marketplace formerly known as Larkspur Landing, attracted a diverse crowd of dog lovers, hipsters, parents with strollers and residents who said they had been waiting for something like it to arrive.
“We love good food, and this is something great on a budget,” said Fairfax resident Katherine Kielich, digging into a Korean taco from Koja Kitchen. “This was a really good idea.”
Long lines formed in front of Koja — a Korean/Japanese fusion food truck — and Sanguchon, whose menu of Peruvian steak and pork loin sandwiches had mostly sold out by 2:30 p.m.
“Our most popular was the pollo a la Brasa” — a $7 roasted chicken, tomato, lettuce and garlic-lime-mayo sauce sandwich, said Karen Casas, who explained that the rolling restaurant was the latest offering from the creators of Mochica, an eatery in San Francisco’s SOMA district.
Cohen wouldn’t say which trucks would be in the lineup for Off the Grid’s next visit to Larkspur. Interested parties can check the company’s Facebook page, where more than 27,000 people currently “like” what Off the Grid has to offer.
Castalia says that’s because the company, like other participants in the gourmet food-truck movement, manages to combine a downmarket aesthetic with creative and unexpected takes on regional dishes.
“It’s a creative solution to the idea of going out to eat,” said Castalia, a sign-language interpreter who is in the process of becoming an art therapist. “There really is something for everyone.”