Customers patiently await outside of Steelhead Coffee
Venturing into a local Instagram obsession on a $20 budget
By Jordan Daniels Opinions Editor
Growing up in the East Bay area, there were many times I would see a forest of shipping containers littering the Port of Oakland. I’ve seen movies and TV shows of people using shipping containers as secret homes and hideouts. But I have never seen them crafted to hold miniature eateries.
I guess that’s they why they call it SteelCraft.
SteelCraft is an urban foodie paradise-park made out of repurposed shipping containers. I’ve followed them on Instagram ever since they had their soft opening; but upon hearing about the official opening on Feb. 2, I decided that it was time to finally check it out.
With the promise of coffee from the Steelhead Coffee container, which is a port from one of our favorite shops in the California Heights area, I dragged my housemate out of bed.
Entering through the metal-fenced doors, we found ourselves in a lush combination of turf, dirt and reclaimed wood. In between, the space holds a neutral color palette with pops of red for vibrancy. There are currently eight vendors in the food court. The shops range in delectable variety from craft beer to gourmet burgers, to Ramen and even a waffle shop. So there isn’t a shortage of a choices.
Despite only coming for coffee on the first day, I knew I had to come back again because their Instagram feed was too mesmerizing to ignore. Loading my wallet with $20, I set out to see how far it would take me.
I began at Smog City Brewing Co., the craft beer vendor. I’m not a huge beer person to begin with, but lately my taste buds have started enjoying the flavors more.
The vendor, which has a taproom in Torrance, prides itself on having pilsners, stouts and ales. I tried two different beers, Kumquat Saison and Coffee Porter. The first was a bit on the dry side, with a tangy flavor that I imagine was the kumquat, but the latter was where it was at. Tasting like a smooth cold brew, the Coffee Porter was a treat I would definitely get again.
An employee from The Fresh Shave poses for the camera
With the beers out of the way, I needed something to help soak them up so I went to Pig Pen Delicacy, which was caddy corner from Smog City. Pig Pen looked the most promising on Instagram because they have so many different styles of burgers and appetizers. Their signature is a “Cheesy Mac Bun Burger,” which literally has mac and cheese fried to make buns for a burger.
Unfortunately, I was already seven bucks down from my $20 so I had to be economical. I settled on their “Pork Belly Fries,” a sinful treat. Their fries are smothered in melted cheese and cilantro sauce, then topped with crispy pork belly and pico de gallo. I also scored some tater tots from a neighboring table that offered me theirs because they received an extra batch for free, and who am I to turn down free deliciousness?
Down to my last $7, I knew that I wanted to have something sweet to end my time. I spotted WaffleLove, a vendor that originally began as a food truck a few years ago and imports their waffle batter from Belgium to create beautiful Liege waffles. I ogled at their “Dulce de Liege,” a churro waffle topped with fried ice cream, strawberries, fresh cream and drizzled caramel. The total came out to almost $10, so I had to cheat the haul and use my debit card for the rest of the payment. I figured it was a small price for satisfaction.
The adventure at Steelcraft was as swift as it was delicious, and a little bit expensive. Clearly, your $20 won’t exactly get you far; but if you budget well, you can come out pretty satisfied. Next time, however, I’m coming for the ramen.
WaffleLove’s Dulce de Liege is a churro waffle topped with fried ice cream, strawberries, fresh cream and drizzledin caramel.