7 Tips for Making the Most of the S.F. Street Food Festival

Albert Law
The Street Food Festival is getting ready for you. Are you ready, too?
​As everyone should know by now, the S.F. Street Food Festival is coming up this weekend. Now, we love street food and we love food festivals, but sometimes, when faced with long lines, hoards of hungry people, and too many choices, we get a little overwhelmed.

So what are the best strategies for making the most of your Street Food Festival experience? Some of the SFoodie staffers like to walk around and check everything out before buying anything. Others just go for the first thing that looks yummy. One staffer says she gets "things on sticks, because they're always interesting."

Whatever your strategy, here are some good tips for everyone.

1. Do your homework
And pique your appetite, while you're at it. If there's one thing you know you don't want to miss, you might as well line up there early, before the lines get hideously long or food runs out. La Cocina has a handy list-maker online, and SFoodie has a list of our own recommendations.

2. Arrive early
The festival starts at 11 a.m. and it's guaranteed to be packed. At peak hours last year, lines averaged 10-15 minutes, though the wait times at popular stands are likely to be twice as long. "It's best to get here as early as you can," recommends La Cocina.

3. Walk, bike, or Muni, but don't drive
"NO one should drive," La Cocina tells us. SF Bike Coalition is providing monitored bike parking and is ready to watch over hundreds of bikes at the festival. You can also take Muni buses 12, 14, 14L, 27, 48, 67 or take the BART to 24th St Station, provided there isn't another protest going on.

There will be no street parking, but if you absolutely need to drive, contact streetfoodfest@lacocinasf.org for more information.

4. Bring Cash
The vendors only accept cash. Don't get caught unprepared then have to walk around looking for an ATM.

5. Wear good shoes
The good news is that there will be large, open seating areas where you can rest your feet, but they're likely to be packed by midday. So be prepared to stay on your feet. La Cocina adds, though, that especially for senior citizens, "we'd be happy to find extra seating for anyone who needs it."

6. Don't bring a heavy water bottle
It is always good practice to stay hydrated, but lugging around a large Nalgene is tiresome, and La Cocina is providing free water at 24th Street (at Folsom) and at La Cocina (Folsom Street between 25th and 26th). Many vendors will also sell beverages, if you don't mind cracking open your wallet for a drink.

7. Family friendly areas
If you're bringing kids and think they might get bored, you can bring them to the playgrounds at Cesar Chavez Elementary (2650 Folsom at 22nd) or Parque de los Ninos Unidos (3090 23rd Street at Treat).

Did we miss anything? If you have good tips or strategies for making the most out of the Street Food Festival, leave a comment below!

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Jeff Forward
Jeff Forward

"NO one should drive..." Hmmm..I guess that means I won't be coming from my home in Woodland (near Davis...) since it would require me driving. Sad comment and "advice..."

Caroline Chen
Caroline Chen

Hi Jeff,

I called La Cocina and a representative said, "I think it'd be more pleasant to drive to Oakland and take BART. It's just that parking is a nightmare, so we don't want people to get upset about that."Hope that helps!Caroline

Jeff Forward
Jeff Forward

Thanks to both of you for following up. The Oakland drive and BART option is one I have done before. However, in light of the recent problems on BART, I'd say it's not really uber-reliable or time-friendly. In the end, I'll cook up some pasta at home and be sorry I'm missing Ryan Franklin Farr's incredible food. Thanks again...


Drive to the city. park near a bus line that goes to the mission. BOOM. not sure what all this back and forth is about.  i was dumb to say "dont drive".. you should have said "dont expect to park near the festival"  

W Blake Gray
W Blake Gray

Jeff, as usual you raise a larger issue. Does La Cocina want people from as far away as you are coming to the festival? It's really a good question -- they want customers, they want to influence people, but they don't want the locals crowded out. I wouldn't presume to answer it for them.

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