It was huge. Four city blocks in the Mission with over fifty street food vendors. San Francisco chefs, restaurateurs, food entrepreneurs, street food purveyors, and street food aficionados converged in the Mission, Saturday, for La Cocina’s biggest San Francisco Street Food Festival.

Like any huge food event there were lines, long ridiculous lines like the queue to get those delicious octopus balls at Nombe that snaked down Folsom Street. But, seriously, crazy crowds are a given in any food festival as popular as this, in a city as street-food-smitten as San Francisco. We came prepared by coming early.  Thanks to the good people at Foodbuzz we had a chance to chat with Caleb Zigas, the director of La Cocina and organizer of the festival, and we met some of the festival’s chefs and street food vendors before all the madness began.  La Cocina is San Francisco’s incubator kitchen that provides commercial kitchen space as well as technical and marketing resources to small business owners.  From recipe testing to social media marketing, La Cocina has helped local food entrepreneurs like Azalina Eusope of Azalina’s Malaysian, Isabel Caudillo of El Buen Comer, Veronica Salazar of El Huarache Loco, and Luis dela Luz Vazquez of Chaac Mool.

Last year, La Cocina launched the city’s first San Francisco Street Food Festival, a street food block party to celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship, which La Cocina enthusiastically espouses.  They invited not only their small business clients but the city’s renowned chefs and restaurateurs as well.  The rules were simple: in a small booth, each vendor would sell a small plate, preferably eaten using only one’s fingers and priced at around $3, a larger plate priced at around $8 and a beverage.  This year La Cocina also invited the city’s popular street food carts and trucks to join the festivities — the true street food entrepreneurs, like Soul Cocina, Hapa SF, AdoboHobo, Lumpia Cart, Good Foods Catering, Brass Knuckle, The Whole Tortilla, Gumbo Cart, and Gobba Gobba Hey.  And the roster of chefs and restaurateurs grew even longer this year with incredible people like Thomas McNaughton and David White of Flour + WaterDavid Bazirgan of Chez Papa Resto, Charles Phan of The Slanted Door, Nicolaus Balla of Nombe, and Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats.

Veronica Salazar of El Huarache Loco

Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats

Neil Gottlieb of Three Twins Ice Cream

Thomas Odermatt of Roli Roti

So what did I eat, you may ask.

Choosing what to eat among a field of over 50 street food vendors proved challenging. The street food options, which traversed the entire spectrum from street food carts to brick-and-mortar restaurants, were a bit overwhelming plus factor in the lines.  My personal favorites, Hapa SF’s sisig tacos, Namu’s Korean tacos, Hapa Ramen’s ramen bowl, 4505 Meats’ Zilla Dog and Gobba Gobba Hey’s gobs, were in the line-up but I ended up choosing those I have never tried before. And I am a sucker for anything fried, more so if it is fried chicken.

Here is my list of the festival highlights.

Flour + Water melon, duck prosciutto and lardo salad. Light and refreshing.

Flour and Water Melon, Duck Prosciutto and Lardo Salad

Nombe takoyaki and fried chicken wings in tograshi. The takoyaki — octopus balls with dashi-infused batter, was sensational,

Nombe's Tokayaki

and the fried chicken wings with tograshi were absolutely phenomenal. The spicy citrus flavors of the tograshi were big and bold, which made it definitely worth every minute of the wait.

Nombe's Fried Chicken Wings with Tograshi

Aziza‘s fried chicken with harissa sauce and grilled corn.  The salty, crunchy breading was topnotch and the bird was perfectly fried.

Aziza's Fried Chicken

Kika’s Treat‘s s’mores. Chocolate-covered graham crackers with roasted marshmallows were a delightful treat.

Kika's Treats S'mores

And a San Francisco Street Food Festival will not be complete without the classic American street food — a personal favorite — the funnel cake.  Endless Summer Sweets‘ heavenly plate of funnel cake with homemade cream and strawberries wonderfully capped the day.

Funnel Cake with Cream and Strawberries by Endless Summer Sweets

San Francisco Street Food Festival

  • tracy @ladyleet

    yummmmmmers! are you going to eat real fest! we’re doing a foodspotting dishcrawl there! :) also, you can use dishcrawl to view the menus/create a guide to eat real.! :) see you soon jun!!

  • Jun Belen

    Thank you, Tracy!! Unfortunately, we won’t be in town for Eat Real in Oakland next Saturday. We’ll be in Seattle for the IFBC by Foodista. We have to check out your Dishcrawl soon… you’re getting more and more fans!! :-)

  • MissTdJ

    No food festival is complete without luchador masks.

  • CarolineAdobo

    All the different types of food that day–foodie heaven! I’ve seen plenty of tweets about this event glad to finally see what everyone ate. Planning on making it next year, hope to be in line with you then :)

  • Liren

    What fantastic tastes! Oh my goodness, now I regret not being able to attend the festival! The octopus balls and the smores look especially tasty to me – definitely worth the long lines, I’m sure!

  • The Wife of a Dairyman

    I love your take on the food fest! Great pics! And looks like great food:) I hope to make it next year.

  • Kathy Diaz (found baking)

    I want the s’mores and the funnel cake stat! Looked so much fun. I love the street food scene… as long as the food is good, I am there. Just recently here in LA, they had a hearing on what laws to implement now with the abundance of food trucks. I just hope they don’t wipe out our fave trucks.

  • Pingback: Bohemian Transcendence

  • iya

    everything looks absolutely delicious! takoyaki! alam mo bang for a time, nagka-takoyaki craze dito? :p

  • lisaiscooking

    Fried chicken with harissa sounds fantastic! Sounds like a delicious day.

  • Sabrina

    Oh, your photography is BEAUTIFUL. I hope your food doesn’t get cold as you’re trying to get the perfect shot. I was at the festival and wasn’t as bold with my food choices as you.

  • Jun Belen

    Thank you, Sabrina! I’m glad that you’re enjoying my photography. Most of the time, my food does get cold (or my ice cream melts!) but it’s all okay. What did you end up eating last weekend?

  • Jean

    I hate to miss out on food events like this. Everything sounds wonderful and my head would have been spinning not knowing what to have first. Great coverage of the event, Jun! :-)

  • Jun Belen

    Thanks, Jean. It was a great festival! Huge crowds!!

  • Sabrina

    While you were taking photos, I was doing video. Here’s the link to my SF Food Fest experience.

  • Pepy @Indonesia Eats

    OMG, I can believe what I saw. I almost licked my monitor LOL esp over the takoyaki.

  • Lauren

    Thanks for the mention! You have an awesome blog and your food pics are dee-licious — can practically hear the sizzle of the fried chicken and octopus… Wish I could eat each and every food right off the screen! – Lauren/The Whole Tortilla

  • angi

    What a lovely recap of an amazing event – I feel like I was at the festival again! I also got to try Nombe’s takoyaki+chicken wings and Aziza’s fried chicken, both of which were worth the lines. Also finally got to try 4505′s burger and RoliRoti’s porchetta – now I understand why their farmer’s market lines are so long! Did you get to try Azalina Malaysia’s anise curry? It was so interesting!

  • Jun Belen

    Hi Lauren,
    Thank you for the thoughtful comment. Trying The Whole Tortilla is definitely on my list of must-eats. I have to do this soon!

  • Pingback: Mastering Moroccan: How to Make Harissa and Lamb Tagine

  • Pingback: Strangely wonderful food Fried - Chicken Recipe, Beef Recipe, cake recipe, food network, how to cook - Chicken Recipe