A Downtown Trek to Waffle Nirvana

| February 22, 2010 | 3 Comments
  • 3 Comments

Waffle Mania truck
The Waffle Mania Truck

I’ll admit it. I rarely drive downtown. Now I’m probably going to sound about twice my age when I tell you why, but I’m OK with that. I like to stick to the neighborhoods in San Francisco where friends live, where you can occasionally find parking, where your quarter gets you more than five minutes in the meter. In the short time that I’ve lived in the city, I’ve quickly discovered the frustrations of MUNI and have concluded that, apparently, after crossing Market Street I lose all sense of direction I may have once had.

That being said, I wanted to check out Waffle Mania this week, and I’d heard that the truck was spending more time in the city on a little side street in SOMA. I knew what this meant. That’s right, folks: I was going downtown. And I’m here to report that I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Tehama street
Tehama Street in SOMA: where you can find hot waffles on Tuesday and Friday mornings.

So what’s the draw? For me, waffles are the ultimate comfort food. While some people would vote for macaroni and cheese or chicken potpie, waffles are it for me. They’re warm and fluffy and a little bit sweet– great with coffee and a good excuse to eat a little whipped cream in the morning. What more do you need?

waffle
The classic powdered sugar waffle at Waffle Mania

The “waffle man” that many people seek out is, more often than not, Alain Dupont (while there are a few other business partners, Dupont is frequently working the waffle irons). While he’s a familiar face at many of the local markets, the Tehama Street routine is new. I asked Dupont why he decided to spend more time in San Francisco and how he chose the quiet, unassuming street. After doing a very successful catering event in mid-November at BarrelHouse (@barrelhousesf), friend and marketing guru Marcus Colombano encouraged Alain to come down to BarrelHouse on a more permanent basis, and the CBS folks across the street have welcomed him with open arms. The rest seems to be history.

If I had the clout the CBS employees do, I’d request something similar in my neighborhood. The waffles are pretty remarkable. They’re different than the light, airy Belgian waffles I’ve had in the past. As I was watching Dupont make them inside the truck, I noticed the dough’s actually a sturdy little ball rather than the batter that most of us are used to making at home.

making waffles on Waffle Mania truck
Alain Dupont lining up a fresh round of waffles

According to the So Good website where Dupont orders the imported Belgian dough, these are Liege waffles with 300 years of culinary tradition behind them. I did a little research and the liege waffle is a type of Belgian waffle that’s made with a dense dough and is baked with little bits of sugar inside which, when cooked, give the waffles an almost caramelized, buttery, slightly crispy top.

Waffle Mania truck menu
Keeping it simple: the menu choices at Waffle Mania

While I was tempted by the Nutella Waffle, I ultimately wanted to taste the real, unadulterated waffle I’d been hearing so much about. The meter was ticking. My quarters were about to run out. I had powdered sugar all over my camera bag and, sure enough, I got lost trying to get back to my ‘hood. But it was all worth it in the end. In fact, you may find me right back there on Tuesday.

GET SOME!
Tues. and Fri.: Tehama St., between First and Second St, San Francisco. 8am-12pm (or until they run out which often happens around 10:30).

Wed. Civic Center Farmers Market: 1182 Market St. between Eighth and Grove St., San Francisco. 8am-12pm.

Thurs. and Sun. Marin Farmer’s Market: 76 San Pablo Ave., San Rafael. 8am-1pm

Sat. Grand Lake Farmer’s Market: Intersection of Grand Lake and Park Ave., Oakland. 9am-2 pm

Follow on Twitter: @wafflemaniaSF

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Category: street food and fast food

About the Author ()

Megan Gordon is originally from Eureka, CA although she's lived in numerous college towns around the country (another story altogether). A freelance food and travel writer, Megan has written for publications like Ready Made Magazine, The San Francisco Examiner, Edible SF and Edible Marin & Wine Country, Olive Oil Times and The San Francisco Bay Guardian. She writes regularly for Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn and maintains her own local food blog, A Sweet Spoonful. Yes, Megan even tweets @meganjanesf. In addition to writing and photographing food, Megan is the founder (and head baker) of Marge, a Bay Area baking company specializing in classic American pies and nostalgic desserts.
  • serge

    In the mid 80s, a guy used to go around the cafés of Berkeley (mainly Cafe Roma, then at College and Bancroft) with a rolling Belgian Waffle cart and a big white chef’s hat with red writing that said “Belfoods”. The first time we saw him, we could only see part of the writing and we thought his name was ‘Belfo’ so that’s what we called him. Those waffles were awesome. Thinking about it, though, maybe what made them awesome was that you got a hot, fresh, waffle where you didn’t expect it. Reading the article, Waffle Mania looks likes it’s making a whole different animal — worth a visit.

  • http://flavorboulevard.com Mai

    My calendar is marked, for Saturday at Grand Lake’s FM that is.
    Now I know that this is a completely different pet, but have you tried the Vietnamese green waffle at Grand Century mall in Oakland? It’s pandan and coconut flavored, also fluffy and sweet. Plus you get copious amount of free parking there.

  • http://www.asweetspoonful.com Megan Gordon

    Hi Mai. NO I have never tried this Vietnamese waffle but am going to make a point of it now. Thanks for the recommendation! And Serge, yes, a warm waffle right off the griddle is pretty great–expected or not.