San Francisco Street Food Festival: Veg-Friendly Eats

by Sarah Henry on August 19, 2011 · 23 comments

in bay area bites,food events,street food

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

Constana Ortiz - Maite Catering. Photo by Wendy Goodfriend Constana Ortiz of Maite Catering.


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

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

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.

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

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


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

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.


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

This post originally appeared on KQED’s Bay Area Bites.

You might also like:

San Francisco’s Street Eats Scene

Street Cart Cuisine: Think Global, Eal Local

Off the Grid & Bites on Broadway: Food Trucks Debut in East Bay


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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

LisaSF August 20, 2011 at 8:35 am

My mouth was watering reading those descriptions.


Sarah Henry August 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Were you there among the crowd, LisaSF?


Sheryl August 22, 2011 at 4:38 pm

This sounds like it was a fabulous event. Too bad I don’t live closer; I definitely would have attended with comfy shoes and layers!


Sarah Henry August 23, 2011 at 3:37 pm

So much for the layers: It was a rare roasty, toasty day by the bay. You can just never predict here.


Alisa Bowman August 23, 2011 at 6:16 am

Can you just adopt me already? That way I can live in a town that has all of these wonderful food offerings!
Alisa Bowman´s last [type] ..How to Own Your Life


Sarah Henry August 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Ya just gotta come visit Alisa — and lemme know when you do.


Vera Marie Badertscher August 23, 2011 at 8:00 am

Oh darn, I should have known better than to eat this before breakfast. I’m STARVING!
Vera Marie Badertscher´s last [type] ..Food, Glorious Food


Sarah Henry August 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Ha! Hope you found something satisfying to eat this morning Vera.


Meredith August 24, 2011 at 6:44 am

It’s always a delight to see vegetarian offerings. I like that more and more these are as readily available as anything else!
Meredith´s last [type] ..The 5-Question [Author] Interview: Alisa Bowman


Sarah Henry August 24, 2011 at 7:25 am

There was a ton of veggie stuff on offer on Saturday, M. No plant-based eater went home hungry — unless they go tired of waiting in line for food.


Melanie Haiken August 24, 2011 at 10:55 am

Mouth is watering just reading this. Particularly like hearing about something completely new like the Colombian fried plantain thingy — sounds amazing. I’ve been wanting to explore South American food and have no idea where to start — future post?
Melanie Haiken´s last [type] ..5 Foods to Help You Sleep


Sarah Henry August 30, 2011 at 4:19 pm

We’ll have to go on a little local South American food tour, Ms. M. Travel post?


Living Large August 24, 2011 at 11:59 am

This sounds like such a tasty adventure. I wish I could go!


Sarah Henry August 30, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Come visit, LL, during food festival time.


Kris @ Attainable Sustainable August 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm

I’m not vegetarian, but I LOVE that there are some healthy alternatives available. We could all learn a thing or two from Berkeley!
Kris @ Attainable Sustainable´s last [type] ..Homemade Gluten Free Pizza Crackers


Sarah Henry August 30, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Not just Berkeley, Kris. Loads of veggie and vegan friendly food all over the Bay Area.


Jane Boursaw August 26, 2011 at 6:09 pm

What a great event! Seems like I remember you writing about this before and me coveting it then. A food lovers paradise.
Jane Boursaw´s last [type] ..The Hunger Games: First Teeny-Tiny Peek at Katniss in Motion


Sarah Henry August 30, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Good memory, Jane, but actually I think you’re thinking of the Eat Real Festival (coming soon), as I haven’t covered the SFSTF before. Does this ring a bell:


MyKidsEatSquid August 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm

My mouth is watering–any way you could send out samples? Curry Up Now would be my first stop.


Sarah Henry August 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I’m a big fan of Indian street eats too, MKES.


Jennifer Margulis August 29, 2011 at 8:35 am

My daughters are vegetarians and will be delighted to see all these options! Wish we lived just a little bit closer.


Sarah Henry August 30, 2011 at 4:25 pm

That’s why you have to say hi next time your in town. My boy’s a vegetarian too, so the kids would at least have food stuff in common.


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