Off the Grid: San Francisco's Expanding Mobile Food Market

[Photos: Christine Tsai]

Whenever I make a trip to the Bay Area, I try to visit as many eating establishments as possible. This usually requires careful planning (since some places close at 2 or 3 p.m.), a full tank of gas (since a lot of driving is inevitable), and accommodating friends and family (since I often like to cobble together my meals from 2 or 3 different sources).

You can imagine, then, how excited I was when a friend invited me to go to San Francisco's mobile food truck extravaganza, Off the Grid at Fort Mason. Who could turn down an opportunity to explore 28 vendors in one location for 5 hours? Not I.

Off the Grid

At 5:30 p.m. (half an hour after opening time), there was already a healthy crowd of eaters milling about the grounds, with steady lines at newer vendors like 3 Sum Eats, dishing up inventive creations like sandwiches with Tsingtao braised brisket and Rice Krispies-crusted fried chicken, and the Nom Nom Truck, the just-arrived food truck from Los Angeles offering four kinds of bánh mì and three Vietnamese-style tacos.

Old favorites were also consistently busy. Senor Sisig served their tacos, nachos, and burritos with a Filipino twist. The Indian street food vendor Curry Up Now had his deconstructed samosas and chicken tikka masala burritos. Iz It, the Hawaiian/Chinese/Pan-Asian style vendor, was also there with their famed Kwong Shing-style fried chicken legs. By 8:30pm, some lines were 30 to 40 people deep and many entrées were sold out.

Can't get to Fort Mason before 8 p.m. on a Friday night? No worries. Off the Grid has expanded in its second year to ten weekly events in nine locations (including San Mateo and Berkeley), six days a week, so there are plenty of opportunities to get in on the mobile food truck action. For updated info on vendor lists for each event, just check out the Off the Grid Facebook page.

If you find yourself in the Bay Area this Saturday, September 10th, or next Saturday, September 17th, you can catch the final two weeks of Off the Grid's extra-special event at Golden Gate Fields, where visitors can enjoy a day at the races while listening to live music and eating their way through the largest gathering of mobile food trucks in Northern California. The party runs from 11am-5pm and admission to the races costs $6, free for kids 17 and under.

So, mark your calendars, dust off your favorite fancy hats, and whet your appetites by taking a look through the slideshow for a peek at some of the tasty treats that await you.

* Special thanks to the 7 other mouths that helped consume all the food for this post!

See photos of all 23 foods we tried in the slideshow »