Was there ever a better food medium for families than the food cart? It’s like a treasure hunt, ending in a fuss-free gourmet experience. It is no surprise that SF has a flourishing food cart scene, but perhaps it is a bit of a surprise to find out that many of the local food carts can be tricky to find—here today gone tomorrow—and fickle about twittering their locations. However, we have done the leg-work for you and found some great spots you and your kiddos will love.
The Pizza Hacker guy fires up fresh pizzas in his space-age, tricked out portable oven and the result is cheesy goodness topped with fresh local ingredients such as figs and pears or gourmet meats—all in about 8 minutes. Plus, he’s just nice. People rave about his dough, which he says was inspired by the folks at Tartine. He hangs out in the Mission, but check his website for details.
If you want an old school hot dog experience, head out to Da Beef in SOMA. They serve hot dogs Chicago-style, right down to the chips and Coke. The dogs are great, and so is the retro styling. Treat your kids to a bag of Fritos and tell them how we used to get them as a vegetable in our school lunches growing up.
The Creperie Saint Germain has three locations, one of them near SFMOMA which makes it the perfect destination after checking out the art scene with the littles. They serve a variety of savory crepes with fresh ingredients, including chicken, ham, cheese, eggs and assorted seasonal vegetables. They also have faulous dessert crepes, in which you can combine lemon, sugar, cream, nutella and strawberries to your heart’s content. The crepe is thin and has a satisfyingly nutty flavor.
3 Sum Eats (pictured) offers your brunch basics—scrambled eggs, french toast, bacon, cinnamon buns—and dresses them up. This makes everybody happy: your kids get food they recognize, and mom and dad get top-notch gourmet breakfast. They do lunch as well, including a deep fried PB&J your kids will love. (These guys often participate with Off the Grid, on Saturday mornings, if you need help finding them).
Gobba Gobba Hey makes whoopie pies. That’s it. But they are so amazing, and so hard to find, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled across some leprechaun’s booty. For the experimental, there are flavors green tea with lemongrass filling, gingersnap with raspberry, and peach melba, to name a few. The cart hasn’t been seen lately, but you can sometimes order from the website, if you’re not up for waiting for his reappearance.
Off the Grid is a food truck event planner that makes finding the good stuff much easier because they organize food trucks into mini fairs around the city and communicate their whereabouts effectively. Their most famous event is at Fort Mason on Friday nights—a massive endeavor hosting some 30 or more vendors—it’s scheduled to re-open at the end of March—but they also arrange delicious little hot spots all over the city.
The best Off the Grid event for kids is probably the Upper Haight fair on Thursday evenings just off the edge of Golden Gate Park by Haight street. There can be up to 11 trucks parked on a cul-de-sac including the justifiably famous Chairman Bao which serves steamed pork buns served with pickled daikon radish, and sometimes with duck and ginger. Grab a few for yourself and take some home. Your kids will like the burgers at 51st State, made with Niman Ranch beef, or perhaps the grilled cheese at Eat Curbside. Hapa SF makes smooth tasting filipino food such as the sweet and savory chicken adobo sandwich–which some kids will like—but as good as the food is at Curry Up Now, it will likely be too spicy even for some parents. Save room for the amazing cupcakes offered by CupKates—they have the usual flavors plus some retro favorites such as Twinkie or S’mores.
Check out the Off the Grid website for more locations and times.