My trips home always remind me how easy it is to take our surroundings for granted. I spend the year tucking away names of places and restaurants in San Francisco that I want to visit, and often when I suggest an outing to my local friends I’m met with a chorus of “yes, I’ve been meaning to go there!”
You probably already know that food trucks are having a moment. These aren’t your mother’s – or perhaps more accurately, your Mexican gardener’s – greasy taco trucks either. They serve up a range of cuisine from all over the globe and have rabid followings on Twitter. And, luckily enough for me, many of the SF food trucks congregate every Friday night for Off the Grid.
Obviously I had to go. A couple friends had been before, but others were glad of the push to finally make the trek across town to Fort Mason. More friends = more stomach space to try more foods, but while we did our best, we were no match for the variety on offer. I still want to try the Korean barbecue tacos that looked so good and the famous Señor Sisig burritos, but here’s what we managed to sample this time.
I was prepared for full sensory overload and so decided to go in with a plan by asking for recommendations on Twitter, where Spencer alerted me to The Chairman’s pork buns. This pork belly steamed bun with pickled daikon was both the first and the best thing I ate all night. I’ve been let down by pork buns before, but this one was a winner.
Kristin gave me another recommendation which I couldn’t wait to follow. You see, Kristin and I actually had our first interaction over a tweet of hers from way back referencing the fact that there is a creme brulée truck. I have dreamed about this truck ever since (and this was well over a year ago, people), so there was no way I was leaving without trying it for myself.
The strawberry Nutella creme brulée I had wasn’t the absolute best creme brulée of my life – I’m something of a CB connoisseur, and I’ve had some damn fine custards in my day – but the flavor was spot on. Plus who can resist such a fancy-sounding French dessert coming from a cart?
Thirsty after my first complete mini-meal, I enjoyed a Sutton Cellars cider. Its dry, tart flavor was a nice contrast to the creme brulée, and it cleansed my palate for the next truck on my recommendation list: Happy Dumplings.
My shrimp dumplings were both good and cheap at $3 for 3. Three of us got dumplings, and our opinion was the same – nice flavor but WAY too salty. I realize I could have done my part by not insisting on dipping them in my little pot of soy and chili sauce, but a) the mix of flavors was too good to stop and b) things that are served with soy sauce should have a salt level that allows you to enjoy them with said sauce.
My dining companions tried several of the many Mexican options on offer: a chicken taco with mango salsa, a Latin crepe (no, I do not know why that isn’t just called “a burrito”) and tamales, all of which I was told were yummy.
To round out the night, it was time for dessert. Again. With the temperature dropping after a gorgeously sunny day, Kara put on an extra jacket in order to better enjoy a Fat Face popsicle of blueberry and lemon yogurt. Priorities.
Sydney, Meggie and I opted for Cupkates. My Mexican chocolate had a great kick of chili in the frosting, and Sydney’s salted caramel was as delicious as you’d expect anything labeled “salted caramel” to be. But for me, Meggie had the winner: a ‘smores cupcake with a little layer of graham cracker underneath the chocolate cake. I loved both the flavor and the attention to detail.
I had a blast stuffing my face with food served from trucks and playing with my new DSLR (did you notice? it’s a Canon 40D! now if only I knew how to use it!), but of course, the real highlight was spending time with my friends. Well, that and the creme brulée. It’s ok, these people have known me for years. They understand.