User’s Guide: How to Handle the Street Food Festivals

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Photo: Alexis Wright/Grub Street Flickr pool

With the Eat Real and San Francisco Street Food festivals looming in the near future, we’re getting pretty excited about some blacktop dining. This weekend will see the 2900 block of Folsom Street (between 25th and 26th streets) closed to non-food-bearing traffic while hungry, beer-toting crowds shuffle between trucks, carts, and roving vendors. Next weekend, August 28 through August 30, Oakland’s Jack London Square hosts the Eat Real festival, where a fleet of taco trucks will support a host of other vendors — including carts, cocktails, and a beer tent. We asked Matt Cohen, who runs street food twitter aggregator San Francisco Street Food for his tips on how to handle two weekends of mobile mayhem. Check out his advice below.

Try Food From People Outside the Bay:
There are lots of vendors at (especially) Eat Real that are going to be coming from far away. Sam’s Chowder rarely comes to San Francisco with their Chowder Mobile. Roli Roti and Pizza Politana serve the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market on Thursdays, but this is a great opportunity to get some cool Street Food that you can’t just go and pickup any time.

Try The New Guys
Both Festivals will have many newcomers to the Street Food scene. Some of them have been cooking for a while doing catering (El Buen Comer, Estrellita’s Snacks, Onigilly Rice Balls) while others will be showing off their skills in new digs (Liba Falafels, The Pie Truck, Adobo Hobo), and some are making valiant returns (Seoul on Wheels). It ain’t easy making this street food thing work, so show the new guys some love for their efforts.

Street Food Crossover:
Some notable names are throwing their hats in the Street Food ring for these festivals. In San Francisco: Absinthe chef Jamie Lauren and will be cooking some of her famous hot dogs. Heaven’s Dog will be doing some lemongrass pork bowls. In Oakland, keep an eye peeled for Tim Luym (of Poleng Lounge). Don’t know what he’s cooking, but one can only hope he’s inspired to cook some Ramen. At either festival, these are one-time opportunities to eat street food from great chefs who usually don’t focus on street food.

Go on a Liquid Diet:
Plenty of alcoholic and non-alcoholic options will be available for swilling at both events. Urban Nectar will be in Oakland serving freshly squeezed juice. The SF Street Food Festival is going to be selling street food-inspired cocktails created and poured by Cantina’s Duggan McDonnell. Word on the street is that one of them will include something that starts with an “H” and ends with a “chata.” If it’s anything close to his five spice margarita, the SF Beer garden is going to be a very happy place.

User’s Guide: How to Handle the Street Food Festivals