BY LUCIA CHUNG
With the 3rd Annual SF Street Food Festival right around the corner, you can rest assured that I’ve got my elastic waistband pants prepped and ready for action. Organized by La Cocina, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping immigrant and low-income entrepreneurs go after their restaurant dreams, the company’s do-good spirit makes me feel a bit better about the fact that I’ll be glutting myself on some of the best eats in the Bay.
Time: Saturday, 8/20/2011 from 11am to 7pm.
Location: Vendors will be in the Mission District on Folsom Street from 22nd Street to 26th Street, in the parking lot at the Cesar Chavez Elementary School and also at the Parque de los Ninos Unidos. Some areas from 23rd to 25th Streets between Shotwell and Treat will be roped off for communal seating.
Event Highlights: 60 vendors, a Scavenger Hunt, and a National Street Food Conference on Sunday, 8/21/2011.
Prices: Booths will primarily be serving appetizer and entree portions, with small plates priced around three dollars and large plates priced around eight. Drinks will also be available.
Although I’ll be waiting in lines for the better part of the day and will probably be parted from my friends by the sea of people crowding the streets, I’m still super excited for this year’s event for three reasons:
- I’m lazy, don’t live in the city, and would never individually hunt down the vendors I want to try. The opportunity to get them all in one go only comes around once a year, and i’m not going to miss it.
- I love non-stop eating.
- I have a plan.
My friends and I went last year, and needless to say we didn’t fare so well at the festival. Some of the booths ran out of food (sacrilege!) and we were half faint with hunger by the time we got our first burrito. Last year’s experience has led me to devise a stratagem for getting all the most-wanted eats at the festival. Hopefully, you’ll find my advice useful.
SF STREET FOOD FEST PLAN OF ATTACK
Do your research.
This festival is about hitting targets. There will be over 60 new/established vendors from around the Bay and all over the country, so the last thing you want to do is hop in a long line only to wait for 45 minutes, walk four stands over, and figure out that the oh-my-god-so-good-I’m-gonna-pee-my-pants ceviche is not the one you’re currently clutching in your grubby hands. We’re talking multiple blocks of vendors here, and you really don’t want to experience eater’s remorse when you have limited space in your stomach as well as limited funds in your wallet. Do your research, and map out your plan of attack. The SF Street Food Fest website actually makes it extremely easy to do this.
Don’t be late.
I’m not saying that you should camp out the night before or arrive at 5am with fork and knife at the ready (though that may not a bad idea), but definitely try to be there a bit before it all starts. Like I mentioned earlier, some of the more popular booths got bum rushed last year and didn’t have so much as a scrap left for the rest of us stragglers.
Divide and conquer.
If you arrive at the fest with a group of friends, which is optimal if you want to sample a wide variety of offerings, the best way to save time is to split up and wait in separate lines at your targeted vendors. That way, you can bring all the food together and share the spoils. At the very least, you’ll have a constant supply of food truck goodness rolling in.
If you go about the festival as illustrated above, I think you’ll have a pretty successful outing. Then again, if you’re not out to power eat the way I am and you just want to socialize and explore, do what you will and enjoy!
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