Coming from Asia where night markets and street food are prominent, when I first arrived here at San Francisco, I was bummed that I did not see anything similar at night. However! After researching on yelp about weekend events, I stumbled upon this lovely food market – Off the Grid. (http://offthegridsf.com/)
Off the Grid happens every Friday in San Francisco at Fort Mason Center from 5pm to 10pm. The concept of the market is to gather up all the food trucks around the bay area at this center, and have a blast showing people the varieties of food trucks we have here. Food ranges from Mexican, Fusion, Chinese, American…etc. When weather is good, there could be as many as 20-30 food trucks gathered here at a time.
A Few Words From the Founder!
Matthew Cohen, the founder of the event, talked about how it all began,
“When I was consulting and helping entrepreneurs start and run their food trucks, one of the challenges that they experienced (still do) is finding legal places for them to regularly group and sell their products. That is when the idea of “Off the Grid” was born.”
Sure one would think the event is just organizing all the food trucks in a huge parking lot, piece of cake. But when reality sets in, there’s a lot more than just bring the trucks into the lot. “..The logistics involved in working with so many branches of government bureaucracies, and so many different individual businesses (we work with over 50 trucks weekly) can be challenging” said Matthew. But because of the hard work and lots of communication the event requires, the reward for his action is rather sweet.
“The best part of what we do is seeing the community of great people that genuinely love street food, and appreciate the events we throw as an opportunity to spend time with their neighbors and friends” said Matthew.
Time for Food!
I was starving when I arrived at the market. I heard that because it is a popular weekly event, it gets really crowded. So I arrived early at 5:30pm to avoid the lines.
I went by myself but I want to try as much food as I can, so I brought some food containers to save some for later =) Normally I recommend go to the food event with a group of 3-4 friends, and everyone buy different things to try together.
First I started off with Deviled Eggs and Marconi & Cheese Spring Rolls. Yes….Macaroni & Cheese Spring Rolls. The Spring Rolls were very interesting and never thought about that concept before. The Deviled Eggs were seasoned perfectly and I saw a lot of people with Deviled Eggs in their hands.
Next. You may have heard of Spam Musubi, but! Have you ever seem Peking Duck Musubi before?? I had to try one!! There was plenty of duck meat in my musubi, and the portions of rice, onion, meat and oyster sauce was perfect. Recommended 2 people sharing one though because of the size..
I first bought a Lemon Ginger Cupcake. I love ginger, and did not mind the strong taste of ginger at all. The cupcake truck also sells other kinds like Red Velvet, Chocolate..with Vanilla being their most popular choice. The cake part is so soft and moist, unlike some cupcakes in the stores that are dry after sitting in the shelve for the whole day. Many people buy like 4-6 in a box at a time.
I also bought Fried Sweet Plantain with Goat Cheese. Plantain is a kind of banana that grows in South America. They fried the plantain first until it is golden with sweet plantain juice coming out, then add the goat cheese on top, with a side syrup dip. Yummm.
Tips & Transportation
It gets pretty cold here as night goes on because Fort Mason is right by the ocean. Make sure you bring cash to buy food!! Some food trucks do not accept credit card. If you want to come here for the event, Muni (our public transportation)’s #30 and F line can get you here from downtown area, but requires some walking over a small hill at the end of Van Ness Avenue. Google Fort Mason and you can find a route map =)
Atmosphere: 4(out of 5) Has music playing onsite, which add points to the atmosphere. Lots of people, lots of food trucks, very lively. After 6:30pm it gets really really crowded though, so plan to get here early.
Food: 5 (out of 5) So many specialty food that you won’t find in restaurants, their creative concepts and tastes will amaze you.
Price: 4 (out of 5) Many food trucks are worth the price they are selling for. Price ranging from $3 – $10 dollars.