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Best street food in SF

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  • Kinyo Jun 25, 2010 07:11 AM
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I will be in SF in two weeks for 4 days. What is the best street food possible to find in SF.

Thanks!

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  1. Here are some links to Tacos and Taco trucks. The Saturday and Thursday Ferry Building Farmers Market and the Alemany Saturday Market have interesting slections of street food.
    http://www.chow.com/lists/151?tag=pos...
    http://www.chow.com/lists/344?tag=pos...

    1. Spencer on the Go in SOMA (Folsom, corner of 7th) is great! They are there Wed-Sat after 6PM. Their menu changes. I've enjoyed the shrimp vol au vent, truffle burger slider, braised lamb cheeks sandwich and they always have a good bisque. The escargot lollipops are also fun. Great area to get a drink.

      -----
      Chez Spencer
      82 14th St., San Francisco, CA 94103

      Spencer-On-The-Go
      300 7th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

      1 Reply
      1. re: summer_sf

        Would second Spencer on the Go.

        Better than many sit-down restaurants serving comparable cuisine at higher prices

      2. If you are in town on a Friday, check out Off The Grid at Fort Mason Center

        http://offthegridsf.com/

        Fort Mason Center
        Fridays 5-8pm

        Chaac Mool
        Azalina's Malaysian
        El Huarache Loco
        Kung Fu Tacos
        Onigilly
        Peko Peko Catering
        Hapa SF
        Soul Cocina
        Chairman Bao Truck
        El Porteno Empanadas
        Curry Up Now
        Global Soul
        Seoul on Wheels
        Adobohobo
        Creme Brulee Cart

        -----
        El Huarache Loco
        100 Alemany Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94110

        Creme Brulee Cart
        San Francisco, CA, San Francisco, CA

        Chairman Bao
        San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

        Chaac Mool
        Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA 94123

        20 Replies
        1. re: gnomatic

          Thanks for the link to off the grid, gnomatic, and the subidiary info if you click on the green thingy at the top right which gives usual street cart locations. V. cool.

          1. re: gnomatic

            I went to Off The Grid last Friday and had a really great time. The lines were long but still bareable. A few trucks and stands sold out of food, but that was their debut event so I am sure they will adjust amounts accordingly.

            Curry Up Now has a fantastic spicy Chicken Tikka Masala burrito. Beware even the non-spicy is spicy! Kung Fu Tacos' duck with mango taco is great. But a surprise hit was the small food stand of Global Soul. They had a mediterranean salmon taco that was perfectly cooked, perfectly spiced, and had a wonderful creamy, tangy sauce to go with it.

            Hoping today's weather warms up because last week it was windy and made a lot of the food cold (and air born).

            1. re: Keesey

              Tried Curry Up Now for lunch today. Should have heeded the advice here. I asked for my Chicken Tikka Masala burrito "spicy" - probably one of the spiciest things I've consumed in the past few months.

              Despite the spice level, it was still tasty enough for me to try again, but I'll try the "normal" version. Nothing I'd go out of my way for, but it's close enough to the office that it's worth a repeat visit.

              1. re: nsheth

                To follow up a little, I do find myself returning time and time again! Guess I liked it more than I originally reported here!

              2. re: Keesey

                Got to try the Curry Up Now tkm burrito the other day as well, ordered up spicy. It was indeed, but not anything close to the "give me that mango lassi stat!" level, at least for my taste buds

                Some of the chicken chunks bordered on dry, but my general review is kinda like nsheth's - tasty enough, but nothing I'd go out of my way for. Next time I go, I might try their quesadillix next

                1. re: josquared

                  I tried the quesadillix + samosa combo the other day. A quesadilla in name only (well, it did have some cheese), but very tasty, I'd go back for this one. (Decided on "normal" this time, wish I got spicy, definitely could have used a little more heat!). I wasn't a fan of the samosa at all. Overly greasy (soaked through the bag), and underseasoned.

                2. re: Keesey

                  I finally got around to standing in line for the Curry Up Now truck. Glad I did. I had the special Punjab burrito, which I think is the chicken tikka masala burrito with spinach in the curry. Ordered it spicy, and acknowledged the order-taker's warning.

                  The chicken was moist and the curry was quite flavorful, not too salty (ahem, Pakwan), and spicy without being overwhelming. I'm extreme in my spice-level preference, and I know few people who would have enjoyed that level of heat, but it was much calmer than the spiciest Thai food I've had. Curry was generous -- it didn't feel diluted by too much rice or garbanzos. The one downside: sloppy! I couldn't imagine eating it by peeling back the foil, banana-like. I had planned anyway to bring it home and was glad to have a plate, fork, knife, and lots of napkins. Messy but yummy.

                  -----
                  Curry Up Now truck
                  Shaw Rd, South San Francisco, CA

                3. re: gnomatic

                  I spotted a La Cocina table there with alfajores as well. (I think La Cocina is one of the sponsors).

                  1. re: gnomatic

                    Chairman Bao's pork belly with daikon bun was marvelous -up there with Roli Roti's porchetta! Azalina does wonderful Panang style (Malaysia) lacy pancakes with great chicken and/or vegetable curry. Apparently she is also at Alameda Market on Sundays. And Curry Up Now was also great with great chicken curry -- we had it spicy which was perfectly authentic and just how we like it, but some may want to avoid asking for spicy since they are calibrated high on the spicy scale.

                    We arrived at just after 5 last Friday and lines were short. By 545 there was a huge line for Chairman Bao... I worry that this will turn into a mob scene and they will need more space as the word gets out. This was only the second Off the Grid event.

                    While I am at it, I have been meaning to report on another first class street food experience this week, although it was inside. Every Wednesday and Thursday, Soul Cocina shows up at La Victoria Bakery in the Mission (2937 24th St @ Alabama, SF). Last week it was all vegan (I think maybe he does vegan once a month ???). Usually anything vegetarian is a real turn off for us, since so often it is just badly made standards with ersatz meat simulations (think tofu stroganoff). But this was really really good. There was an excellent hand made guacamole. We also had a buel puri with mango (a variation of Indian chaat) which was perfect and an excellent Arepas filled with Roasted red Palm Platano Maduro, Black Beans, Pickled Onions. And a liquado alll for just about $30. Altogether marvelous. And then there is Humprey Slocombe a block away.

                    The menu is posted each week on the La Victoria website
                    http://www.lavictoriabakery.com/categ...

                    ... and today Chowdermobile will be across from the Japanese Gardens in GG Park from 11-3 -- I don't know if we will get to try the lobster rolls...

                    This is the summer of street food. 3 cheers!

                    -----
                    La Victoria Bakery
                    2937 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                    1. re: Thomas Nash

                      Soul Cocina's chaat was one of my favorite bites at last year's Eat Real festival.

                      1. re: Thomas Nash

                        I found Chariman Bao Truck's pork buns somewhat pedestrian compared to those he's copying (Baohaus NYC's "Chairman Bao" buns). A much better SF version of a pork belly gua bao can be found at Spice Kit on Howard, IMHO.

                        Azalina is at Alemany Market in SF on Sundays, not in Alameda. Her "lacy" crepes are known as Roti Jala, I believe.

                        -----
                        Spice Kit
                        405 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                         
                        1. re: soupçon

                          Thanks for the correction (Alameda->Alemany) -- my finger/brain slipped.

                          I did really like Chairman Bao's pork belly bao, not having experienced the NYC version. Your take on Spice Kit's bao's is on the positive end of rather mixed opinions about Spice Kit on this site. Guess we will have to try it. While we were there, Chairman Bao's truck had the longest lines by far. Maybe it is all the FIDI people who live nearby in the Marina who have been to the Chairman at lunch?

                          Azalina recommended mixing the chicken and vegetable curry for a good balance on her "lacy" crepes. This was an interesting item as I think the idea is that the crepes start to turn into noodles as you eat them. I thought her curry was quite balanced if not extremely complex in flavor. She says they use fresh not dried spices in this Panang dish.

                          A big concern that Melanie alludes to is that Off The Grid was extremely crowded even on its second Friday. The space is really too small and will become impossible as this becomes even more popular. What would be the problems with having this happen at Civic Center Plaza, for example? Much closer to public transportation and much larger.

                          -----
                          Chairman Bao
                          San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

                          Spice Kit
                          405 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                          1. re: Thomas Nash

                            One of the Off the Grid people told me they were looking to expand to other neighborhoods. I don't know if he meant on different days or dispersing vendors more on Fridays, but in either case it should relieve demand at Fort Mason.

                            Whether the Chairman Bao's gua bao takeoffs are among the better or the worse of their genre, they are in any event among the least interesting foods to be found at the event, in my opinion. Azalina's roti jala are a good example of what I look for to turn up; they're not something being done by every other fusion startup.

                            -----
                            Chairman Bao
                            San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

                            1. re: soupçon

                              Off The Grid is adding 3 more locations (approved by the city yesterday):

                              * Fri - Civic Center Plaza @11am-4pm
                              * Sat - Mission Playground (Linda & 19th streets, aka. birthplace of Magic Curry cart) @noon-7/8pm
                              * Tue - Golden Gate Park at Waller & Stanyan, across the street from McDonald's (Upper Haight farmers market held on Wed.) @4pm-7/8pm
                              * Sun - Golden Gate Park at Waller & Stanyan @2pm-7/8pm

                              More details to be spelled out next week.

                              1. re: L C

                                I believe the number of vendors per venue is limited, with only the GGP site approaching Fort Mason's array of ≈15 vendors.

                                1. re: soupçon

                                  From EaterSF: "Off the Grid will park five or so carts at Civic Center Plaza on Fridays; 15 on the closed portion of Waller Street at Stanyan Street on Tuesdays and Sundays; and eight at Mission Playground on Saturday."

                                  more here: http://co117w.col117.mail.live.com/de...

                      2. re: gnomatic

                        Thanks for letting us know about Off the Grid at Fort Mason. I got there about 5:30pm and was able to get a space in the parking lot. Some of the vendors already had long lines at that point, and in the enclosed space, things started to feel claustrophobic soon. I was a bit concerned that there were only two ways to exit, one at each end of the defined premise. Some of us squeezed in between the parked food trucks to sneak out of the middle instead of jostling through the crowd.

                        My first stop was Peko Peko Catering to order a selection of skewers grilled on site: shishito peppers, tsukune (chicken meatballs with Persian lime), and crispy chicken skin. The shishito peppers were quite unsatisfactory. Covered with black soot and tasting of creosote, but not blistered or charred, instead, dehydrated and tough. The two chicken items were better, as the chef has a fine hand with seasoning. I did add a shake of pepper spice from the self-serve condiments. Neither had much char either and the chicken skin yakitori really shouldn’t be described as crispy if this is the way it’s going to be served. The tsukune were tasty too but with a rubbery surface and dryish interior. Maybe the mesquite charcoal grill wasn’t hot enough early on to get better results. Good potential here, and I’d probably give it another try.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                        During my long wait for the yakitori, I spotted orders of giant shrimp passing by and could smell the intense garlic aroma wafting up. I asked where these came from, then made my next stop at Global Soul to order the Shrimp Toastie, $6. This was the best bite of the night. Three shrimp cooked to order and doused with chili-garlic oil topped toasted French toast dabbed with coconut curry bourbon sauce. A little greasy, but packed with flavor and especially impressive for how perfectly the firm, juicy, sweet shrimp turned out. The blend of the seasoning oil and the curry sauce was masterful. I’ll want to try more from these folks.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                        After that super-rich and spicy bite, I wanted something with less oil and heat and turned to the Onigilly booth. The onigiri were on display and they’re assembled to order. Two for $5, I tried the hijiki (sea vegetables) and miso tuna. The hijiki blended with carrots was pleasant enough but sweetness was the dominant flavor rather than the natural brininess of the seaweed. The blah miso tuna had no detectable miso flavor and looked and tasted like a dab of the simple tuna salad that I used to pack for lunch in elementary school. The brown rice base was overcooked, broken and mushy, and the dried seaweed isn’t toasted. I’ll pass on Onigilly, not my idea of tasty onigiri.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                        By the time I squeezed my way back to the Soul Cocina table for a fruit drink, the more interesting concoctions were already sold out. Instead I had a very good Jamaica (hibiscus) agua fresca from El Huarache Loco. Concentrated flavors and just the right level of sweetness for me.

                        Then my last stop was Azalina’s Malaysian Lacy Crepes. I’ve had the turmeric-stained crepes and chicken puffs at Alemany farmers market before and found them interesting but not craveable. Yet, the proprietress is so gracious, I felt like I needed to give her another try and got an order of the Banana chai fritters, 4/$4. These were fried to order by the hard-working helper in the back who was a whirling dervish of activity. Once again, it was my fate to be dressed in a black t-shirt for a powder sugar dusted dessert. The breeze kicking up at Fort Mason immediately blew half the sugar off the fritters onto my clothing. The fritters were very tasty from the chai spices with a pleasantly chewy texture, but unfortunately, not quite right. I gave away one of them to a hungry looking guy. Of the three I tried, two were uncooked with raw dough in the center and the third was fully cooked but had no banana in the middle. I’d likely order these again but would need to figure out how to request a well-done order.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                        Navigating the lines and eating this handful of items took 1.5 hours. In truth, this isn’t fast food. Also the cost adds up quickly. But Off the Grid and these vendors offer a chance to try a diversity of tastes at a single venue. I’ll return to try more.

                        More photos for Off the Grid -
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                        -----
                        El Huarache Loco
                        100 Alemany Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94110

                        Peko Peko Catering
                        584 64th St, Oakland, CA 94608

                        Onigilly
                        San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

                        Global Soul
                        San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

                        Azalina's Malaysian Lacy Crepes
                        San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Global Soul is taking this week off.
                          http://twitter.com/GlobalSoulTruck/st...

                          Off the Grid's hours have been extended to 9pm, starting tomorrow.

                          -----
                          Global Soul
                          San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Global Soul has abandoned San Francisco and moved to Los Angeles.

                            -----
                            Global Soul
                            San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

                          2. re: Melanie Wong

                            Off the Grid announced that Happy Dumplings will be vending 7/30. Cynsa's report here,
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7093...

                            And I hope that Tabe Ramen will make an appearance this summer.
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5264...

                        2. Definitely check out Curry Up Now, the Indian taco truck, which parks at Bush and Sansome Streets:
                          http://www.curryupnow.com/
                          They have amazing tacos, as well as burritos, samosas, quesadillas, and other random foods. One caveat: If you don't like spicy, this is not the truck for you.