While the city isn’t the birthplace of the craze for gourmet food trucks, San Francisco has revved up mobile street food to new gastronomic heights. On any given day, the city’s gastro-fleet dispenses everything from fried oyster and bacon sandwiches to Moroccan curry goat tacos and frozen treats to rival the best ice cream shops. While regulars follow their favorite vendors on Twitter and Facebook, the truck collective, Off the Grid, offers a dozen weekly markets, with stops at Civic Center, Haight Street and Fort Mason among others. Urban-hip Streat Food Park is a permanent address for a revolving array of trucks, wedged between the elevated freeway and the Costco in SoMa.
Food trucks in San Francisco
A combination street festival/eating extravaganza, Off the Grid events take place all over San Francisco and feature a mind-boggling melting pot of ethnic cuisines, plus music, crafts, beer gardens and activities. Families shouldn't miss Picnic at the Presidio on Sundays (April–Oct), a giant gathering on the lawn of the Presidio's Main Post overlooking the Golden Gate, with food vendors, free lawn games, music and a “bubble bar” for grown-ups. Twilight at the Presidio (April–Oct) is a Thursday night “campout” with lantern-lit dining cabanas, cocktail service, Adirondack chairs, s'more fire pits and live music.
A dozen or more trucks ring the festive picnic tables and tent pavilion at this decidedly urban gathering in SoMa. Open for lunch and dinner, the line-up changes daily, with entertainment ranging from arts and crafts bazaars and karaoke to comedy, trivia contests and the popular bottomless mimosa brunch.
Call it coastal Mediterranean, new wave surf and turf, or just seriously tasty, Fins on the Hoof features seafood and meat creations by chef-owner Todd Middleton. Don't miss the fried softshell crab Po Boy, heaped with pickled Old Bay coleslaw, tomatoes and remoulade sauce on toasted French bread.
Local, sustainable meat, fruit and vegetables are crafted into Go Streatery's “glorious peasant food,” such as the from-scratch brisket sandwich spread with savory jam. The slow-cooked shredded meat is stacked on a house-made bun, accompanied by spring greens tossed in creamy caramelized onion dressing.
The perpetual queue even when it's foggy and chilly attests to the popularity of this ice cream truck, which holds a more or less permanent position near the 9th Avenue entrance to Golden Gate Park. Join the conga line for Straus Family Creamery soft-serve dipped in rich, dark Tcho chocolate and sprinkled with Maldon sea salt on a hand-rolled cake cone—need we say more?
Snout-to-tail cooking is the mantra of the Whole Beast, which offers an eclectic global menu of meats cooked over open flame, in an oven or on a Hawaiian imu pit. The Vietnamese caramel ribs are a sticky-sweet-spicy revelation—slathered in an Asian black pepper sauce and complemented by fresh pineapple-papaya slaw.