SAN JOSE -- Kevin Roberts, something of a food-truck connoisseur, had plenty of fare to sample Saturday at the second annual San Jose Taco Festival of Innovation.
The Porky's SJ truck won him over.
"Lots of different spices, but not too much," said Roberts, 56, of Los Gatos. "We tried several trucks, and this is the best. We had seconds."
Produced by Moveable Feast, a San Jose-based food event production company, the one-day taco festival at History Park drew several thousand, half of whom had bought tickets online in advance. Moveable Feast founder Ryan Sebastian said he wanted to "put together a themed event to honor the diversity and things that make San Jose special."
Sebastian said outdoor festivals have been struggling because of a poor business model: Most are free events centered around live music, and the high security costs for an open event require steep food prices. In addition, he said, other goods offered for sale are the type of "crystal dolphins and paintings of eagles" crafts you could find at street fairs anywhere.
At the taco festival, he said, the food is the headliner, and the live music and crafts are local and unique.
"What we've found is there's been a shift away from the rock 'n' roll model," Sebastian said. "People have shifted to food the way they used to be into popular music."
To control crowds and keep food costs low, the festival charges $10 admission for ages 12 and up. But none of the dishes cost more than $5.
The event featured a variety of food, not all Mexican themed. There was the Louisiana Territory truck, Mo Bowl Modern Asian Rice Bowls and Curry Up Now Indian Street Food.
Joe McGonigle, visiting family from Oregon with his son and daughter, liked Mo Bowl's jerk shrimp. So did his 6-year-old daughter, Alexis, who whirled around on the grass in delight.
Other kids, like 9-year-old Additya Katragadda of Fremont, favored something a little more basic.
"The french fries!" he said.
One of the longest lines was at Rocko's Chocolate Tacos cart. Alice Lastra of San Jose waited in line for an hour with her daughter, granddaughter and grandson for some.
As she walked away from the cart, she wasn't so sure it was worth such a wait. But after a bite of her sumptuous salted-caramel taco, her 8-year-old granddaughter, Mariah, had no doubt at all.
"Yes!" Mariah shouted, before slipping off her shoes and darting into a bounce house.
Contact John Woolfolk at 408-975-9346. Follow him at Twitter.com/johnwoolfolk1.