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6 Weird Things I Ate at the Gilroy Garlic Festival

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I guess you could say I like garlic.

I guess you could say I like garlic enough to drive 50 miles to a festival that celebrates it.

I guess you could say I like garlic enough to ditch my friends and drive to this festival alone on a Friday morning at 9.

Okay, so maybe I have a bit of an obsession.

The 2013 Gilroy Garlic Festival is in its 35th year, held in a town hailed as the Garlic Capital of the World. When I moved to California last year in September, I had just missed it. For 10 months now, I have been dreaming of attending this festival. As a lover of garlic and all things weird, I simply couldn’t WAIT to try it out.

I got to the garlic festival as soon as it opened at 10 a.m. on Friday. My mission was to find the strangest foods and devour them. What did I eat? Feast your eyes upon the photos below.

1. FREE Garlic Ice Cream

Free garlic ice cream at the Gilroy Garlic Festival

Price: Free

Would I eat it again? Yep!

Since when have I ever turned down anything that was free? The free garlic ice cream is a staple of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, often drawing long lines. I got to the festival as soon as it opened and made a beeline for this booth, so there weren’t many people lined up yet.

“Have you tried it?” I asked the man handing garlic ice cream out.

“Of course!” he said. “I love it!”

I gave him a doubtful look.

“Try it,” he said. “You’ll be back.”

So what did it taste like? Surprisingly NOT revolting! For the first two seconds, you can convince yourself that it’s just sweet vanilla ice cream. After that though, the garlic taste comes through, but not in an overpowering way. There are actually tiny, tiny pieces of garlic in the ice cream. So by the end of it, in your mind, you’re like, “Oh, I just ate vanilla ice cream.” But in your mouth, you’re like, “Hm, I just ate garlic.” Really disorienting.

2. Garlic Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Garlic pineapple upside down cake

Price: $6.50

Would I eat it again? No

The owners of this booth beamed when I ordered this.

“This is our very own creation,” the lady said proudly.

It wasn’t completely gross, but it wasn’t completely great either. If I owned a waffle booth and had to incorporate garlic into one of my items, I’d make a savory waffle, rather than a sweet one trying to disguise the taste of garlic. The cake itself was good, as was the pineapple sauce on top, but then there were bits of garlic (which were disguised by lots of syrup). It was a really odd combination. I didn’t eat it all. But I give the owners props for coming up with it! Glad I tried it.

3. Garlic Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

Garlic chocolate peanut butter cup

Price: $2

Would I eat it again? I want to give an emphatic NO! But unfortunately, the chocolate surrounding it keeps luring me to take another bite, which always makes me gag, but then I keep doing it. When will I learn?

I was REALLY excited about this one, perhaps because of all the foods there, it was the strangest.

It was gross. First of all, the chocolate shell is DARK chocolate–not NEARLY enough sugar for my sweet tooth. Second, the garlic is encapsulated inside this chocolate shell, giving it time to really soak into the peanut butter, resulting in an oily, strong garlic presence inside. Gross…

I still have the partially eaten garlic chocolate peanut butter cup inside my fridge if anyone wants it. (Please take it off my hands, or I’ll keep trying to eat it.)

4. Garlic Jelly and Garlic Butter

garlic jelly and garlic butter gilroy garlic festival

Price: I tried them for free at Rapazzini’s Garlic Shoppe. Go there for TONS of free tastings!

Would I eat it again? Yes, though I’m not sure what I’d eat it with.

I walked over to this booth, and they kept shoving free food samples in my face, which is my idea of paradise. The strangest thing was the garlic jelly; it’s tart and sweet and a little garlicky, actually pretty tasty. The garlic butter was pretty good; I could picture that being spread on bread or crackers. The employees and I joked that instead of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, we could make a garlic jelly and garlic butter sandwich…can someone please make that happen?

5.Garlic Kettle Corn

Garlic kettle corn

Price: I got the free sample sitting outside the booth

Would I eat it again? Yes

This is the one instance in which I found a food that combines sweetness with garlic and it actually worked!

6. Crab Garlic Fries

Garlic crab fries

Price: $9 

Would I eat it again? Yes, please!

Walking around the garlic festival, you will see at least 10 places advertising in big font “GARLIC FRIES.” I consider myself a garlic fries connoisseur with the highest standards, so I didn’t want to be disappointed.

I walked over to a volunteer booth, assuming all of them were locals and knew much more about the festival than I did.

“Which one of these booths has the BEST garlic fries?” I asked.

Immediately, they all pointed to their left, “The crab garlic fries!”

So I went. And though the whopping $9 price tag killed me a little bit inside, I do not regret buying the fries.

They are beer-battered fries topped with chopped garlic, crab aioli, and chunks of dungenness crab meat. *Drool*

My only complaints are that I wish it had more chopped garlic (nothing ever has enough garlic for me) and more crab meat.

More photos from the festival

I should've asked him where he got his awesome garlic hat
I should’ve asked him where he got his awesome garlic hat
This guy was sprinkling garlic chunks over 6 pounds of garlic. He said on Friday alone he would cook up 2,000 pounds of meat for festival-goers.
This guy was sprinkling garlic chunks over six pounds of garlic. He said on Friday alone he would cook up 2,000 pounds of meat for festival-goers.
They call these "flame-ups" for obvious reasons. It was bizarre...it's a cooking show where the cooks sing along and dance to rock music while trying to see how big they can get the "flame-ups" to be.
They call these “flame-ups” for obvious reasons. It was bizarre…it’s a cooking show where the cooks sing along and dance to rock music while trying to see how big they can get the “flame-ups” to be.
The Burning Bulb of Gilroy, AKA Garzilla.
The Burning Bulb of Gilroy, AKA Garzilla.

Garlic inflatable man at Gilroy Garlic Festival

Garlic eggroll, garlic chicken at Gilroy Garlic Festival

Garlic lumpia, garlic pansit, garlic bowl

Garlic grove and garlic braiding at the Gilroy Garlic Festival
If you go to this booth, you can get free “garlic growing kits.” Basically, free garlic bulbs.

Garlic fries at the Gilroy Garlic Festival

Gilroy Garlic Festival Tips

When? It’s always the last full weekend in July

Where? 7050 Miller Avenue, Gilroy, California

Cost? $15 if you buy the ticket online. $17 if you buy it when you get there.

How long does it take? I would allot at least 3 hours to see everything at the festival. The place is HUGE.

  • Buy your tickets online to save $2 and beat the long ticket lines when you get there. Do not forget to print the tickets and bring them with you!
  • Bring water, at least two bottles for yourself. Buying drinks at the festival is pricey, about $3 for a bottle of water. Plus, it’s really hot, and you’ll be sweating a lot.
  • Dress for hot weather.
  • There are THREE very important things to remember if you ever want to find your car again
    1) The parking lot COLOR
    2) The row LETTER
    3) The row NUMBER
    I parked in Green parking lot, row G. However, I didn’t realize there was also a tiny number on the sign bearing the “G.” So when I got back to my parking lot, I found several G rows, and it took 20 minutes to find my car. It was in G 4.
  • If you don’t like garlic, this festival will probably not be worth it for you. You may even hate going there because it smells like garlic everywhere and, like, it’s kind of the point of the festival.
  • If at all possible, get there as soon as it opens (10 a.m.) on Friday. Saturday and Sunday are packed and insane.
Amy

Amy founded The Wherever Writer in June 2012 and handed this site on to a new owner in April 2019. An avid traveler and passionate entrepreneur, Amy continues to explore the world and encourage others to follow their dreams.

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