Pulled Pork Sandwich from Heirloom Cafe ($8)
This juicy pulled pork was really more braised than barbecued, but it was tasty nonetheless, served with a bright, crisp slaw tucked into an excellent baguette. San Francisco does bread right.
Seven Vegetable Tagine and Grilled Flank Steak from Radio Africa & Kitchen ($3 and $7)
Flavorful vegetables with or without ultra-tender chunks of marinated flank steak. The steak could have used a bit more color, but the flavor was spot on.
Beef and Mushroom Pho Rolls from Rice Paper Scissors ($8)
Fresh steamed rice rolls filled with seasoned beef, lettuce, cucumber, and a spicy chili sauce. I will definitely be back here for more.
It wasn't too crowded early in the day, and at no point did we have to wait longer than five minutes for anything.
Margherita Pizza from Mozzeria ($3)
The crust on this pizza was pretty phenomenal. Ultra tender and moist with a lightly crispy, nicely charred outer shell. If the pizza in their brick and mortar shop is of similar quality, I won't have to miss New York pizza at all.
Totopos from Nopalito ($8)
Generous and meaty, the chips themselves were excellent, though the salsa they were soaked in and the picadillo on top could have used more flavor.
Esquites from Nopalito ($4)
Grilled corn with queso cotija, lime, pico de gallo, chili, and a whole lot of mayo. Surprisingly refreshing, this was the best vegetable-based dish we had.
Falafel Sandwich from Liba Falafel ($8)
The falafel balls themselves were excellent, but the real standouts from Liba Falafel were the pickles and other toppings from their great fixin's bar.
Bunny Banh Mi from Central Kitchen ($8)
Rabbit and pork terrine, pork belly, and rabbit mortadella with a creamy carrot and daikon slaw, chilies, and cilantro. Some very fine charcuterie going on in here.
Lamb Skewers from Beijing ($3)
Deep fried, rolled in a cumin-heavy spice mixture, then grilled over hot coals, these skewers were as juicy as could be.
Porchetta Sandwich from A16 ($8)
One of the more disappointing bites of the festival, if only because I expect so much from A16. I was promised crispy skin and instead got leathery rind that was impossible to chew through. Higher heat for longer next time, please!
Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich and Kimchi Shot from Hapa Ramen ($8 and $3)
Another disappointment from a pop-up with a great reputation. Served on a cold bun, the chicken tasted steamed rather than grilled or broiled as good teriyaki should be. Hopefully they do better with their noodles.
Fried Chicken from Hard Water ($6)
"This might be the best fried chicken I've ever had," said my wife. And she's a fried chicken fiend (It's the only exception she makes to her pescatarian diet). Super juicy, well seasoned, and crisp, with a mild sriracha-based sauce, this is the stuff fried chicken dreams are made of.
The Ramen Burger Line
It seems like Ramen Burgers might be the new cronut, at least judging by the lines at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn and at the Nombe Izakaya line at the SF Festival on Saturday. The line extended for over a block.
Making the Ramen Burgers
We did not stand on the hour long line, but we got some reports from diners we spotted eating the burgers. "These are not worth the wait," was the general consensus. We'll check out the burgers at the actual restaurant some time soon and report back.
Okonomiyaki from Namu Street Food ($8)
A rather unique take on this staple late-night Japanese cabbage pancake, theirs was far creamier than any I've had, with a texture not unlike a takoyaki octopus ball. It came topped with a fried egg, Japanese mayo and Worcestershire sauce, and plenty of shaved bonito flakes. I would have appreciated this one far more if I'd had a couple more beers in me, I think.
The "Real" Korean Taco from Namu Street Food ($4)
If these are the "real" version, I'll stick with the bastardized form. Steamed-tasting meat in nori shells that quickly turn soggy from the hot fillings.
Sisig Tacos from Señor Sisig ($3)
One of the best deals of the day, and one of the tastiest, was this soft corn tortilla stuffed with calamansi lime and chili-seasoned pork. If Asian-inflected tacos are here to stay, Filipino-style sisig is not a bad way to go.
Hambone really liked the look of the sisig tacos as well.
Vegetable Samosas from Curry Up Now ($3)
A rather unexciting samosa that had decently crisp and chewy dough, but a mild, starch-heavy filling.
Meat Pies and Corn Maque Choux from Boxing Room ($8 and $3)
Boxing Room brings a bit of New Orleans heat to San Francisco, but their street fair offerings were a little short on flavor. The corn maque choux in particular needed a bit more seasoning and some sweeter corn would have been nice. Luckily the Strawberry Limeade ($3) was one of the best drinks of the day.
Vegetable Tamal from Alicia's Tamales Los Mayas ($3)
Truly excellent tamales are hard to come by, but these ones fit the bill. Moist and flavorful corn, bright vegetables, and a vibrant sauce made me want to head straight to their storefront (but we still had a job to do).
Tomato Giardiniera and Hand-Pulled Garlic Bread with Burrata from State Bird Provisions ($2 and $8)
Damn, that's some good giardiniera I thought to myself. Vinegary, tender, packed with flavor, and doused in awesome olive oil, it was the single most flavorful bite of the street fair. The fried garlic bread doused in creamy burrata wasn't half bad either.
Fried Chicken Sandwich from Jarred SF Brine ($8)
The sesame bun seemed a little big at first, but the copious pickled cucumbers and onions brought big flavor to this sandwich. The fried chicken itself was perfectly crisp and juicy. Maybe the pickle experts should move into the fried chicken business.
The Dogs, Chilling
Yeah, they drew their share of looks and pets.
Pickled Cherry Mexican Coke from Jarred SF Brine ($3)
I love cherry coke, I love Manhattans, and I love Thai-style drinking vinegar. Imagine putting all three together into an ice cold refreshment, and you've got this excellent drink.
Frankaroni from 4505 Meats ($4)
What do you get when you combine bacon-stuffed hot dog chunks with macaroni and cheese, bread it, and deep fry it? A big fat delicious mess on a stick. That's what.