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good ideas for "streetfood tour de san francisco" ?

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Toying with the idea of of spending a couple of days in the city and trying the "best of" carts, stools, small take out and maybe "no sitting places" etc, which i will "complete" along the way with the best of chocolate/ice cream/bakeries etc. Is SF a good place to do so, and i can find good places for ethnic food, informal but very fresh seafood, dim sum, local specialities and whatever other places you may like under this "street category" ? What are your goto places for this? Going slowly through the archive, will appriciate any help, maybe such tours are a good idea..

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  1. Do a search for "crawl." Lots of vendor choices at Farmers markets (Alemany, Ferry Building (Sat but Thurs too)).

    Mexican trucks and bacon wrapped hot dogs were what I thought of as street food when I moved here. Do searches for those or check out Fruitvale (Oakland). That said, a new slew of food trucks have since entered the scene. Each seems to do their own thing so you won't find multiple vendors with their own take on "local specialties", the overuse of bacon and salted caramel notwithstanding:
    https://twitter.com/#!/sfcarts/san-fr...
    RoamingHunger.com
    http://offthegridsf.com/

    6 Replies
    1. re: hyperbowler

      Those are excellent leads, thanks. What about seafood, are there informal window or "hole in the wall" places, maybe at the different wharf areas or anywhere else, that serve good clam chowder, fried or boiled fresh sea stuff, maybe worth trying lobster rolls ?
      Will do also extensive searches on the board, thanks :-)

      1. re: oferl

        Where are you traveling from?

        Clam chowder and lobster are New England specialties. The wharf sells these to cater to tourists but they're not local specialties. The best versions in SF are at places pricier than would be called "hole in the wall." The best cheap seafood is in Chinatown or at Mexican places. Local fish include oysters, petrale sole, sand dabs, monterey bay squid, and tend to be at a higher pricepoint and not at cheap places.

        1. re: hyperbowler

          Sure, don't know why i mentioned clam chowder, the New England speciallity. Maybe because i don't have it available and like the dish in general, when prepared good. I'm coming from Israel, so middle east cuisine is not particularly something im looking for :-) Altough close in theme, i want to try Aziza which sounded interesting on board reviews.. Will be second time to SF and will be coming to the city after a week in NYC with plan for some "upscale" places, so thought that street food scene might be interesting to explore, but it seems that maybe i should aim for more "diverse list" with some nice restaurants thrown in. Actually i'm not limited to SF only, i will have almost a week in the area and might travel to other cities in closeby areas for markets,"foodie places" and whatever good restaurants i will find..
          I don't remember much related to food from last visit to SF about 6 years ago, but did limited search that time.. Had some dim sum takeaway from Yank Sing, was quite good but not "exceptional", at least in my opinion. Strange, but don't remember other places i ate at..

          1. re: oferl

            In my experience, the quality of the food from Yank Sing 2 Go is a couple big steps down from what's served in the restaurants.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              So that may explain, it was just so overcrowded with people waiting, that i took 2 go and sat to eat nearby. I was quite surprised to find out that it wasn't a contest to some of Manhattan's "dim sum temples" i tried a couple of days before, but indeed i should not have judged the 2go against eating in house..

        2. re: oferl

          Hole in the wall seafood, Swan Oyster Depot.

      2. The only good, real street food is the taco trucks, such as El Tonyaense's.

        http://www.eltonayense.com

        Most of the trendy hipster street food is more expensive and not as good as holes in the wall. Most notable example, Saigon Sandwich's $3.50 banh mi can't be improved on and some hipster trucks charge twice that.

        Locals mostly avoid the wharf.

        13 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I would include the paleta carts that one sees around town and also the fruit cups you see in the Mission. Don't forget the hot dog carts downtown.

          Actually, they should just stay in the Mission.

          1. re: chocolatetartguy

            Are there vendors that make their own paletas? The ones I've seen looked like the same ones you can buy in Mexican grocery stores.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Not that I know of, unless the place something de Nieve in Fruitvale Village has a cart. Whatever they are, they are very welcome on a hot day. I like the non-alcoholic pina colada best. Pina is very good too. I have seen those carts all over Berkeley even in my W. Berkeley residential neighborhood.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                There was a vegan paleta cart on the Alameda Point Antique Faire on Sunday. They had a clever name, something like Pop Culture. The noteworthy flavor for me was Avocado Lime.

                Never saw them again during the morning so did have a couple from the usual carts. The packaging looked different, but the paletas were as good as usual.

              2. re: chocolatetartguy

                On that note, look for the elote(corn on a stick with mayo, cheese, chile and lime) vendors in the Mission. Great street food.

              3. re: Robert Lauriston

                This week a friend insisted on taking me to the Kung Fu taco truck downtown at 50 Fremont. I trudged along, since my general experience has been exactly the same as yours with hipster food trucks. Lots of hype, high prices and so-so food.

                I was pleasantly surprised though ! I had three tacos ... pork belly, duck and chicken. They were actually pretty good ! And they weren't too pricey - $2.50 each. Good quality meat as well. Wonders never cease.

                1. re: osho

                  Pork Belly or Duck taco, now that sounds like fun :-) I might be saying nonsense, but "from far" and from food related shows in TV, it seems like most savory "hip" food trucks sell pretty much the same meat cuts either inside a Taco, asian bun or pita bread etc.. I'm sure there are trucks with more diverse cooking offerings, but i guess those are a bit harder to find..

                  1. re: oferl

                    I love Kung Fu's tacos! There is quite a lot of good food to be had at the newer, "hipster" trucks. You just need to try a few and winnow out what you don't like.

                    1. re: oferl

                      You're understanding and my understanding are similar and I live here. If you'd like to check it out first hand check out one of the Off the Grid events. The big one is on Friday evenings at Fort Mason, but there are other times and locations for these gatherings of food trucks.

                      When I think of street/takeaway food I actually stop for here I think of tacos/burritos, banh mi, dim sum, pizza, and burgers. Wander the 24th St. corridor from Mission to York for tacos. Get a banh mi from Saigon Sandwich. The takeout dim sum places on 6th and Clement are better, but when I worked around the Stockton tunnel for a couple months those places saved me on my half hour breaks. Get the burger or the special of the day from 4505 meats at the Ferry Plaza on Saturday or Thursday or fiveten burger if you happen through the East Bay. And for pizza, I like the slices at Gioia, Arinell and Tony's.

                      1. re: ...tm...

                        i second the OTG Friday Ft. Mason event to get a good sampling of what's on offer here. if the weather's nice, it's a beautiful time. get there when it opens to avoid the biggest crowds.

                        1. re: ...tm...

                          Thanks a lot, i will add those places to my notes.. The idea of looking for gatherings "off the grid events" is excellent, probably the way to try many options at once. Those trucks are a "food culture" that our small "foodie community" here founds interesting and yet to "hit the street" around, we do have something like that in much smaller scales and not sure that it involves actual cooking "in truck", mainly selling arab/turkish/north african oriented "snacks" and pastries, tunisian sandwitches, falafel etc. Much more like NYC carts scene of course.

                          1. re: oferl

                            If you want to experience the hipster food truck fad that was parodied on Bob's Burgers, Off the Grid is the place. Just be prepared for long lines and high prices.

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Thanks, i remebered wondering around in the wharf area and not "feeling connection" to the place, was hoping that there might be interesting places i may know about here, but seems that it is not the right direction.. Thanks for the info, also "what to avoid" is very useful "-)
                      I'm not a big taco fan, but there are plenty of other more interesting mexican dishes and cooking i will be happy to find, it may be the most difficult cuisine to have at my country.
                      Maybe i should try Rick Bayless place ? Altough i might prefer a more casual and less "chef centered" place, time to run best mexican in the search box..