2013 San Francisco Street Food Festival

Yesterday, I spent the late morning/early afternoon in the Mission, enjoying the mild weather and eating my way through the crowds at the San Francisco Street Food Festival. Five years running, this gathering of 80+ food vendors is put on by La Cocina, a not-for-profit incubator kitchen that offers affordable commercial kitchen space, industry assistance, and market opportunities to small food businesses.

I am a huge fan of the street food scene, and the times I’ve been to Portland I’ve really enjoyed supporting it. I can’t believe that this has been going on for five years a stone’s throw from me and I only learned of it a couple days before the festival. Street eats, BART-friendly, and I get to help folks make a living on their own terms? Sign me up!

The Mission, San Francisco

The Mission, early Saturday afternoon, while sipping on a creamy soy cappuccino. Beautiful.

Because I live in the ‘burbs and parking in the city makes me see red on a good day, my husband and I took public transit into the Mission. We arrived about 30 minutes after the festival started. At this time, the foot traffic was still relatively thin on the street, and it was still fairly easy to get around. The crowd started to grow rather fast, but I was a woman equipped with a list of vegan-friendly foods to try and a good pair of elbows. (I’m kidding about the elbows. I didn’t need to use them! For the most part, the crowd was pretty mellow.) We spent around two hours walking around and visiting different stands until we couldn’t eat another bite.

Vegan eats from SF Street Food Festival

Clockwise from top left: Lusty Lovers taco, Hella Vegan Eats; spicy green kitfo injera rolls, Eji’s Ethiopian; marinated eggplant rice ball wraps, Onigilly; soy cappuccino, Ritual Coffee Roasters; moo shu vegetable taco, Kung Fu Tacos; falafel sandwich, Liba Falafel

My first stop was at Onigilly for a couple rice wraps. These were delicious, and I don’t even like eggplant all that much. I liked THIS eggplant though. It had so much flavor, and you just can’t go wrong with rice and seaweed. I bit into one of them before I remembered to take a photo. Don’t judge me.

Next up was a sandwich from the Liba Falafel truck, served with the falafel piping hot, tucked into a wholemeal pita, and dressed with a fresh herby sauce and tahini. I added the dill/cardamom pickles and pickled red onions from the toppings bar. I also added a swish of the harissa and it gave me that warm and special feeling in my eyeballs (heat lovers, you know what I’m talking about).

While I was waiting on my sandwich, my husband was at the Kung Fu Tacos truck one spot over, and asked about the moo shu veggie taco while he was ordering for himself. As it was vegan, he bought me one. I loved this, and that’s not surprising because I like moo shu vegetables, and I love nearly anything put into a corn tortilla. Some wives like jewelry. Bring me tacos instead.

My next stop was the Hella Vegan Eats booth. The offerings there were a Doughnut Beet Burger and a Lusty Lovers Taco. I was tempted by the doughnut burger, but I like tacos. I mean, I really like tacos. So I asked about it. The person behind the counter started telling me about what was in it, and once she got to the corn flakes, I’m pretty sure I had the What?! Mind. Blown. face going on. Vegan chicken, macaroni and cheese, and chipotle corn flakes, topped with chopped scallions. And I thought I had put everything into a corn tortilla. It was delicious. I tip my hat, Hella Vegan Eats.

My last food stop was at the Eji’s Ethiopian booth. All vegan eats? I’m sure I can find room in my belly somewhere. I ordered the spicy green kitfo injera wrap, which was a whole piece of the bold-flavored 100% teff injera that I so rarely get anymore, topped with a thinly-spread layer of sauteed chopped greens, and then rolled and cut into pieces. It was dressed with what I’m guessing was mitmita paste, because it felt more fiery than berbere, but that’s all to the good. Very tasty!

Alas, I could not bear to eat anything else, but I did stop by the Ritual Coffee Roasters trailer to see if they were steaming soy, and they were indeed. I finished my festival day by sipping a rich soy cappuccino in the afternoon sun before we headed back home. All in all, I had a lovely and delicious day in the Mission and I can’t wait to go again next year.