The San Francisco Foodgasm: Off the Grid

Written by on August 1, 2011 in Americas, Blog, California, Nevada, Reviews - 20 Comments

Living in Las Vegas means there are tons of amazing food options. You name it, we’ve got it. Five-star restaurants. Michelin rated. Celeb chefs with numerous outlets across town. But, what we don’t have a lot of is food trucks.

Yes, there are some. Las Vegas has, what you could say, a burgeoning street food scene. But, step outside of Las Vegas and into another city, and holy. cow. The street food options are overwhelming.

Abby, Kristin and I had planned on having a low-cost San Francisco/Napa weekend. Before Abby and I even stepped foot on the amazing Virgin flight, we had discussed, at length, our dining options for the weekend.

We were for sure hitting: Oxbow Market in Napa. And, Off the Grid in San Francisco.

I’ve never really been into the street food scene, mostly because I work in the back of a restaurant and I eat, sleep and breathe restaurant food. But, this … this street food orgy, sounded pretty fantastic.

It started with a conversation between us and the awesome blogger, Spencer Spellman, a recent newbie to San Fran. His goal? To eat his way through the food trucks at Off the Grid.

Naturally, we decided to join him on this adventure.

The day of our flight, also the day of Off the Grid, Abby and I were messaging each other back and forth. Apparently, the weather in San Francisco was not what we were used to in Las Vegas.

Low 60s. Drizzle. Which, in Las Vegas/desert life translates into “holy shit, it’s f#$%ing cold.”

“What do we wear? What does 60 degree weather even feel like?” We asked each other.

“It’s soooo cold.” We lamented.

So, when we finally arrived to town, the clouds were thick and the threat of rain hung in the air.

Abby pulled her winter coat tighter, and  I, clad only in jeans, Chucks and a cardigan, wondered what the hell I was thinking when I packed.

Quick enough, Kristin was at the BART station to pick us up and drive us over to our hotel, the historic and palatial Fairmont Hotel.

We quickly re-grouped. I grabbed a sweater. Then, we headed down to grab a tiki cocktail with some PR ladies from the hotel. And then, it was getting late. And we were hungry.

The three of us headed over to the marina and Fort Mason, where we were greeted with the ultimate street food festival.

Our first stop: The Taco Guys

Yes, we had heard about it. But, what we encountered was immense.

An entire huge parking lot was converted into a food festival. Trucks. Tents. Smells. Plates. In all about 30 trucks were parked there offering just about everything under the sun.

Off the Grid, founded by Matt Cohen, is a rotating street food market. Monday through Saturday, it stops in various locations across the city, with anywhere from a few to a little more than 10 food trucks. But, Friday night is the Grand Daddy of all Off the Grid’s. It’s when people flock to the street food scene. The love the city feels for the event is apparent.

Entry is free, and then it’s a free-for-all. Want tacos? No problem. How about a new drink concoction (I tried hibiscus cinnamon tea)? OK. Gourmet rotisserie? Cajun? Korean? Artisan burgers? Check. Check. Check. Then, there’s the desserts. Creme brulee. Cupcakes. Cakes.

You want it, Off the Grid has it.

Plus, there’s a beer and wine tent and live music.

Our group ended up being six total, and we took turns going to trucks and getting food for everyone to taste.

Somehow, between the mix of plates and wine, I tried duck.

On accident.

I have sworn up and down I would never eat the cute lil’ guys. Every night at work, I see them hanging, featherless, ready for consumption. And, I have just never been able to convince myself to try the game.

We were eating tacos, and they saved one for me. I rolled the meat around in my tongue.

“This … tastes … not like chicken,” I said.

Abby and Spencer looked at what I was holding. The not-chicken-colored-meat glared back at us.

“It’s my duck!” Abby exclaimed.

One of each

I washed it down with some red wine, then we headed over to the infamous creme brulee stand where Nutella strawberry and french vanilla with honey was being offered.

Of course, I had to sample both little bowls of yum.

Sinful.

And, then it was 10 p.m. and the stalls were closing.

We wrapped up our night with some drinks at a local Japanese restaurant, then Abby and I headed back to the Fairmont.

Stomachs full. Ready for our Napa leg of our whirlwind NoCal weekend.

 

 

About the Author

Diana Edelman is a travel writer and expat currently residing in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In 2010 she quit her job in PR to go on a solo backpacking adventure and tackle her 30-Life-Crisis. After seven months abroad, journeying throughout Europe and Africa, she returned to America and relocated to Las Vegas. Following a year-long stint back in PR, she once again quit her job to follow her dreams; this time her journey took her to the elephants and Elephant Nature Park where she is involved with raising awareness about responsible elephant tourism. Recently, Diana was named a finalist in the Destinology Travel Bloggy Awards for travel writing. She has been a regular contributor to Viator and recently served as the Las Vegas contributor for OneTravel.com and CheapOair.com. Her work has appeared in print and online, including The Huffington Post, Matador Network, Travel + Escape, Vegas Seven, World Nomads and more.

20 Comments on "The San Francisco Foodgasm: Off the Grid"

  1. Camels & Chocolate August 1, 2011 at 9:16 pm · Reply

    The number one attraction I will miss in San Francisco! Some of the best food you’ll find anywhere, I think.

    • The Adventures of D August 1, 2011 at 11:34 pm · Reply

      I want to go back and try more! Thinking Spencer needs to start a spread sheet on and his last go-round, I bop back up. Ya know … for historical documentation of his feat. And to eat more.

  2. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures August 2, 2011 at 7:33 am · Reply

    Ummm where are the pics of you beautiful girls!?!

  3. Hogga August 2, 2011 at 8:45 am · Reply

    Sweet ass! I would also like pics of you guys and more food num num photographs! I recently started going to more foodie places in Toronto from tagging along with foodie’s @TravelingEditor and @NearaFar. It can be quite deadly to now know of such delicious places right in my backyard haha… eeeek!

    • The Adventures of D August 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm · Reply

      Pics are on my facebook page! I try not to post pics of people in my life on the site … give them a little privacy. But, then again, it is Abby, Kristin and Spencer, and … well … most travel people know them anyway. But, still. :) I don’t know what I would do if that festival was in Vegas. It was pretty cool … and not filled with teenagers, like the one in Vegas.

  4. Spencer Spellman August 2, 2011 at 10:35 am · Reply

    Ha! I love it. And I don’t have a spreadsheet, but I do have a list for the entire web to see of places I’m checking off :). A fun night!

    • The Adventures of D August 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm · Reply

      Hahaha. I’m on a big spreadsheet kick right now. It was a fun night! When you come here, we’ll take you to our food truck event … hopefully it will be on that weekend!

  5. Erica August 2, 2011 at 11:50 am · Reply

    OMG I love food trucks. Seriously. Wow. Yum (although I would eat duck).

    As for 60 degrees, I understand that. When we got to Xela I though I was going to die of cold lol.

    • The Adventures of D August 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm · Reply

      Just wait until you come to visit Vegas. You will get to go to our food trucks! Not nearly the caliber of San Fran yet, but still cool!!! Yeah, coming from desert heat to marine cool was a bit shocking. :)

  6. Sherry August 2, 2011 at 4:57 pm · Reply

    So jealous that you gals got to do this event. I love food trucks – anywhere. And its probably even better in San Fran since they have some of the best gourmet food in the country already. BTW, duck eggs taste a lot better than the duck meat, in my opinion; should you ever want to try it. Looking forward to reading about your Napa leg.

    • The Adventures of D August 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm · Reply

      Duck eggs? Ooooh. I barely did the duck meat!! But, maybe, one day … we shall see. Napa is coming soon!!!

  7. Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista August 2, 2011 at 6:59 pm · Reply

    I am ready to get myself to enjoy Off the Grid some Friday night soon! Honestly, I think I would be more surprised if it wasn’t 60 degrees in San Francisco. Thats where we go to cool off :)

    • The Adventures of D August 7, 2011 at 12:11 pm · Reply

      The weather, for us desert gals, was such a shock!! 60 in the dead of summer?? Craziness!! Kinda refreshing, but mostly just really cold. I think it was about 50 degrees cooler in span of two hours for us. Now that I know what to be on the look out for, I’m prepared for next time! :)

  8. Stephanie - The Travel Chica August 2, 2011 at 8:01 pm · Reply

    That’s some pretty fancy food truck food. I would definitely spend a few days there sampling the goods.

  9. Abby August 3, 2011 at 11:44 am · Reply

    It was sooo fun! And yes, FREEZING. Great food piece, lady.

  10. Margo August 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm · Reply

    Looks fabulous! Love San Francisco and it seems like the perfect place to have a great street food scene. Tacos and creme brulee? YUMMMMMm.

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