Knackwurst on a Pretzel Roll from Salumeria, $12
Sausage on a roll is undoubtedly one of the most time-honored festival foods. Salumeria, unsurprisingly, does it better than the rest, with a snappy, meaty knackwurst, bubbling with smokey grill marks and bursting with juice. Served on their much lauded pretzel roll, the sausage is made even better thanks to a DIY buffet with housemade whole grain mustard and sauerkraut, and colorful array of pickled peppers.
Tacos and Pozole Salad from Rancho Gordo, $8
This heaping taco plate was definitely one of the better deals at Huichica, though the tacos themselves were more quesadilla-like in composition. This was perfectly fine with me: heirloom corn tortillas are greasy in a good way, dripping with milky mozzarella and packed with a sun dried ancho chile relish. The pozole salad, while fresh-tasting thanks to studs of carrot and red onion, was definitely lacking in flavor. A sprinkling of Yucatan flor de sal was a nice touch, but some heat, citrus, and vinegar would have made a huge difference.
Pork Belly Cubano from Bunk Sandwiches, $10
Also necessary after lots of wine in the sun: a cheesy, melty sandwich featuring pork and pickles. Halleluja for Bunk's cubano, a rich, perfectly executed version of the Cuban classic. The pork belly is tender and meaty enough to act as a fine stand-in for roast pork, and melts in with the sharp Swiss forming a rather decadent combination. The salty, thin sliced ham was the real flavor star here, though, along with the perfectly proportioned, crisp-edged pressed roll. Yellow mustard and pickles do their work well, cutting through the sandwich's richness.
Duck Ssam Plate from Namu Gaji, $15
Namu Gaji's duck ssam plate seemed pricy, but was a fresh, flavorful way of serving a very well-executed pile of sliced duck breast. Fresh rice noodle wrappers and lettuce provided contrast against the fatty, pink duck slices, which arrived doused in a vinegary-sweet sauce. Peppery pickled radishes and carrots were best eaten on the side (definitely dipped in duck sauce), but tangy sweet pickled onions were excellent wrapped up with the duck. Each serving made three wraps, with duck leftover for eating straight.
Four Barrel Coffee Snowball with Chocolate Topping from Skylite Snowballs, $6
You know what you need after drinking lots of wine in the sun? A Four Barrel coffee snowball, topped with dark chocolate. The Emeryville-based truck makes all of their syrups including this coffee-rich one featuring Four Barrel. Icy but not watered down, this was a necessary mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Sloppy Joe from Craftsman & Wolves, $12
Take everything you know and love about a classic, saucy sloppy joe. The meaty-sweetness, the soft fusion of bun and filling, the, well, sloppiness, then make it 1000x better. That's how you end up with CAW's sloppy joe, made with ground Angus beef and oyster mushrooms, topped with shredded smoked cheddar cheese and crisp butter lettuce, and served on a housemade sweet potato-miso bun. Let's start with that bun, which is soft and pliant, and laced with a hint of smoke thanks to a quick trip to the grill. The dripping meat and mushroom combination adds to the savory-sweet balance, packing a wallop of texture and umami flavor. Lettuce lends freshness and texture, while the smoked cheddar adds another layer of richness. I'll be paying a visit to CAW's Valencia Street location to eat this bad boy again.