San Francisco Street Food Festival: Veg-Friendly Eats

| August 18, 2011 | 2 Comments
  • 2 Comments

SF Street Food Festival Passport. Photo by Wendy Goodfriend
SF Street Food Festival Passport. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Carnivores, omnivores, and pescatarians will find plenty of food truck fare this Saturday at the third annual San Francisco Street Food Festival, which boasts some 70 trucks, carts, and purveyors peddling hand-held grub.

But does the event cater to a vegetarian crowd? Are there enough veggie options to make waiting in line worthwhile? Can a veg head find some variety among the vendors turning out finger food?

In short: Yes, yes, and yes, though plant-based eaters may have to work a little harder than the meat-eating set to find food at the event sponsored by the nonprofit incubator kitchen La Cocina.

No worries, Bay Area Bites is here to help. Regardless of how you define your diet, a few tips to make the wildly popular food festival a successful edible experience: Come early. Tote water. Bring friends (to both have company in line — the time will pass more quickly — and to divide and conquer so you can divvy up food to share once you’ve all been served.) Carry small bills (cash only) or purchase a “passport” in advance (details below).

And, need we remind locals: Wear comfy footwear and don layers to deal with whatever weather the day may bring. As for the crowd phobic and the impatient: You’ve been warned.

Okay, now that we have the logistical details covered, read on to discover a dozen street food vendors dishing up meat-free eats on Saturday. Several brick-and-mortar joints including Out the Door, Flour + Water, Commonwealth, Osha, and Beretta will have veg-centric options in the mix too. Here’s to a finger licking fest.

SAVORY PICKS:

1. Azalina’s Malaysian: Azalina Eusope, a La Cocina participant, will have peanut sauce tacos for vegetarians, with signature spices from her homeland. Heads up: Devotees of the former fine dining pastry chef’s popular banana chai fritters will have to get those on another day. @Azalinamalaysia

Curry Up Now Truck. Photo by Wendy Goodfriend
Curry Up Now Truck at Off the Grid. Photo by Wendy Goodfriend

2. Curry Up Now: Indian street eats from Rana Saluja-Kapoor, Amir Hosseini and crew. Think paneer tikka masala burritos (Indian cheese and chickpeas) and samosas, the popular Indian pastries, filled with spiced potatoes and peas. @CurryUpNow

3. Kasa Indian Eatery: Two veg-centric choices from this truck run by former lawyer Anamika Khanna and self-described geek Tim Volkema. Gobi aloo rolls, house-made roti filled with braised cauliflower and potatoes, spiced with cumin and turmeric, and spread with cilantro and tomato chutneys. Spice fiends should be sure to ask for the truck’s signature crazy hot sauce. Also samosas, see above. @KasaIndian

Gail in front of Liba Falafel truck. Photo by Wendy Goodfriend
Gail Lillian in front of Liba Falafel truck. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

4. Liba Falafel: Gail Lillian and team’s falafel are hearty and hit the spot. Load up on condiments like spiced carrot ribbons, orange-and-olive relish, and tomato, cucumber salad with mint. Don’t forget the sweet potato fries with cilantro, garlic and lime. @LIBAfalafel Or maybe save that pita to serve with Love & Hummus Co.: Try the slow-roasted organic lemon and thyme hummus made by Donna Sky, who is in La Cocina’s incubator line up. @LoveAndHummus

5. Maite Catering: Big hit at the media preview event: The Colombian aborrajado made by Constana Ortiz, also a participant in the La Cocina program. These fried plaintain are filled with guava paste and provolone cheese and hit the spot.

Constana Ortiz - Maite Catering. Photo by Wendy Goodfriend
Constana Ortiz – Maite Catering at SF Street Food Fest Media Preview. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

6. Onigilly: Vegans may well make a bee line for Onigilly’s rice balls known as hijiki onigilly, made with brown rice and hijiki (Japanese black seaweed) with shredded carrots cooked with house-made sweet soy sauce wrapped with seaweed by chefs Kan Hasegawa and Koji Kanematsu, also in the mix at La Cocina. @Onigilly

SWEET NOTES:

1. Creme Brulee Cart: Take your pick between Vanilla Bean or “The Yes Please” (Nutella creme brulee with balsamic strawberries inside). Or share them both. Or not. @cremebruleecart

The Creme Brulee Cart. Photo by Wendy Goodfriend
The Creme Brulee Cart at Off the Grid. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

2. Delicioso Creperie: Gabriella Guerrero who hails from Mexico City turns out dulche de leche crepes for the sweet tooths among us. A La Cocina member.

3. Endless Summer Sweets: Funnel cake fans don’t have to travel to the East Bay (where ESS regularly serves up her sweet treats at the Berkeley Flea Market) let alone the the East Coast to sample one of the summer fair standbys, handcrafted by Antoinette Sanchez, a La Cocina alum. Salty kettle corn too. @ESSweets

4. Kika’s Treats: Chocolate-covered caramelized cookies, tropical shortbreads and honey cakes from Brazilian baker Cristina Besher, a graduate of La Cocina’s program, whose goodies can be found at Whole Foods, Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market and other retail stores. @kikastreats

5. La Luna Cupcakes: Elvia Buendia runs La Luna Cupcakes, and is a member of La Cocina’s incubator program. Last year, Buendia made 1,000 mini cupcakes and sold out within a couple of hours, she told the San Francisco Chronicle. This year, she plans to triple her stock of mini and full-size cupcakes, and introduce chocolate and red velvet “cake pops.” @LunaCupcakes

6. Sabores Del Sur La Cocina participant and Chilean chef Guisell Osorio’s alfajores—delicate round butter cookies filled with creamy dulce de leche caramel and dusted with powdered sugar have loyal fans at the Alemany Farmers’ Market and Whole Foods stores. Find out what the fuss is about for yourself.

Do you have a favorite vegetarian street eat not listed above that’s likely to be in the mix this weekend? Share your chowhound choices below.

FESTIVAL DETAILS:

San Francisco Street Food Festival
Saturday August 20, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Folsom Street between 22nd and 26th streets
Admission free; food costs $3-$8 cash only or buy $25-$150 “passports” in advance.
Twitter: @streetfoodsf
Facebook: San Francisco Street Food Festival

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Category: events, street food and fast food, vegetarian and vegan

About the Author ()

Sarah Henry hails from Sydney, Australia, where she grew up eating lamingtons, Vegemite, and prawns (not shrimp) on the barbie (barbecue). Sarah has called the Bay Area home for the past two decades and remembers how delighted she was when a modest farmers' market sprouted in downtown San Francisco years ago. As a freelance writer Sarah has covered local food people, places, politics, culture, and news for the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, California, San Francisco, Diablo, Edible East Bay, Edible Marin & Wine Country, and Berkeleyside. A contributor to the national food policy site Civil Eats, her stories have also appeared in The Atlantic, AFAR, Gilt Taste, Ladies' Home Journal, Grist, Shareable, and Eating Well. An epicurean tour guide for Edible Excursions, Sarah is the voice behind the blog Lettuce Eat Kale and tweets under that moniker too.
  • Kevin Cooke

    Just tried Azalina’s and the food was mind-bendingly good. And to learn that she grew up in a small Malaysian village and has done so well for herself was really inspiring.

  • http://lettuceeatkale.com/ Sarah Henry

    Agreed, Kevin. Glad you had the chance to sample her food. Happy to report too, that despite some obvious omissions on this list — The Arepa Lady comes immediately to mind — and some changes to the menu (Onigilly served up ume and eggplant, Love&Hummus had falafel too)
    there were loads of vegetarian options on offer on Saturday.