8/21 LA COCINA SF STREET FOOD FESTIVAL: Everyone who was there last year recalls the nightmare that was the SF Street Food Festival : three hour waits for a bite, only to find much of it gone by the time you reached the front of the line. I went at the 11am start time last year, yet still only got to try two vendors in two hours. At least I was able to hang out in the cocktail and beer garden awhile, as I heard that, too, was an impossible wait before long.
The organizers of the event are intent on making it different this year. Only time will tell, but the physical space is seven times larger, with four times as many vendors. I have long been a fan of La Cocina  as a community treasure, and there are some new people behind the scenes this year who have a good track record with organizing large events. I'm hopeful... but you'll still find me there at 11am, just in case.
Yes, beer, wine and spirits gardens have returned. You know I'm looking forward to cocktails by bartenders from Rye, The Alembic, and Beretta. There's an eating contest hosted by none other than Pepto-Bismol (oh, the irony!) How about a scavenger hunt and silent auction? Or an after party at Cocomo with live salsa, dancing and street food? La Cocina will host the first annual San Francisco Street Food Conference  on August 22-23 following the festival, with panelists discussing the political, economic, and social impact of street food vending.
At the festival, expect 40 food vendors and restaurants, plenty of drink and a celebration of all things street food in SF. Whether you're eating street food treats from stellar restaurants like Aziza, Nombe or Flour+Water, from actual street carts and trucks like Curry Up Now or Kung Fu Tacos, or La Cocina greats such as Kika's and El Huarache Loco, you should not leave hungry.
Saturday, August 21, 11am-7pm
In the Mission at Folsom from 24th-26th Sts., 25th from Shotwell-Treat Sts., Treat St. from 25th-26th Sts.; Garfield Park
Passports for eating range from $25-$150 can be purchased in advance, or bought a la carte the day of
8/27-29 EAT REAL FESTIVAL IN JACK LONDON SQUARE: I also attended Oakland's three-day Eat Real Festival  last year and, being in a much bigger space with more vendors, it was considerably easier to navigate than the SF Street Food Festival. In fact, I tried well over a 15 vendors last year, finding many exciting eats and drinks from SF and East Bay purveyors. About five hours into Saturday, the heat and lines became unbearable, but I got in five great hours of eating first, with no body-to-body crowds.
Eat Real Fest focuses on sustainably produced products and regional food producers and farmers. With 80 street food trucks and carts comes a limitless amount of eating possibilities. There's also an Urban Homesteading Zone highlighting DIY food acts like canning and preserving, cheesemaking, animal husbandry, and vertical gardening - with contests, in case you want to enter your own wares. Try fermentation tasting stations with kombucha, wine, handcrafted beer, iced teas and lemonades. There's an outdoor short film fest, a literary portion of the festival with Bay Area writers talking food, and an entertainment stage with music, sure, but also pizza tossing, noodle pulling and a Flying Knives butchery contest.
Friday-Sunday, 8/27-29, 2pm-9pm (Fri), 10:30am-9pm (Sat), 10:30am-5pm (Sun)
Jack London Square, Oakland
Food and drink tickets will be sold on-site