Friday Foodcart Fiesta: SF’s Off the Grid

Off the Grid: Circling the wagons of street food

The wagons have circled around the coolest food scene in the Bay Area — the Friday night foodcart extravaganza in Fort Mason called Off the Grid. And SoCo is solidly representing.
The idea: Somewhere between 15 and 20 of the best street food trucks ’round SF and beyond roll up into the Marina parking lot between 5 and 9pm on Friday evening, forming a tight ring of squeal-worthy eats at rock-bottom prices. Add some kickin’ tunes and a full bar, and you’ve got a gastro-party worth the hour trip south.
If you’re a fan of the Bay Area’s food cart scene (bottom line: top-notch chefs and creative cooks are reclaiming the roach coach, turning out restaurant-worthy bites from their mobile kitchens at prices anyone can afford), you’ll recognize many of the names: The Creme Brulee Cart, Chairman Bao, Kung Fu Tacos, Hapa Ramen and of course, Santa Rosa’s own Street Eatz truck, which is easily holding its own among the SF giants of cart cuisine.
Bring a pocket full of cash, a bib, some friends and a willingness to try anything. BiteClub and friends ate through as many of the trucks as we could in 90 minutes (we parked illegally and didn’t want to get towed, after all). Here’s the Fork-1-1…
Chairman Bao: By far the longest line is for these nouveau Chinese steamed and baked buns. And we counted no less than five very pregnant ladies in line, which is never a bad sign when it comes to crave-worthy eats. Best bet: Order one of each flavor (there’s a six bun max limit!): pork belly with radish, duck confit with mango, sesame chicken with scallions, garlic tofu with miso and meatball with kim chee. Regretting missing the pineapple salted caramel shaved ice.
Global Soul: Bourbon shrimp toasties were the best meal of the night. Curried shrimp atop two toasted buns.
CupKate’s Truck: “Best cupcakes ever” was the mantra overheard again and again. Solid.
The Taco Guys: Fish tacos to swoon over
Street Eatz: The gals from our neck of the woods change up their styles frequently, and we loved that “Asian” was on the menu last week, dishing out their amazing agedashi and curries.
Kung Fu Tacos: Don’t miss the duck and pork belly tacos.
Curry Up Now: Deconstructed Samosas are everything you love about a samosa turned inside out.
Hapa Ramen: Slow food noodles. Ramen, a soft boiled egg, pulled chicken, fresh corn and lots of happy slurping.
Happy Dumplings: Fresh-made dumplings. The only “meh” of the night.
Gobba Gobba Hey: Whoopie pies done right. Dulce de leche. Mmmm.
You can find nearly all of these vendors (and many more) at the Street Food Festival August 21, 2010 in San Francisco.