Five Great Choices for Alternative Holiday Catering

Tango & Stache
Tacos from pop-up Tango & Stache often include an egg on it.
It's that holiday party time of the year -- a full month's worth of an expanding waistline by a deluge of heavy passed appetizers and eggnog. While nice and festive in the beginning, by the end of the month, the standard tray of cold cuts and mini-quiches is as exciting as listening to "Jingle Bells" for the 162nd time.

We know we're poor models of restraint, so we're not preaching gym time instead of revelry, but we are advocating mixing it up if you're planning a party. While not all of these options work for every budget or guest list size, these are all interesting alternatives to the standard holiday event.

Just make sure to invite us.

See also: Beer of the Week: Drake's Abominably Jolly is a Perfect Winter Seasonal for California
Recovering From a Holiday Food Hangover
Holiday Season Activity: Dickens Christmas Fair

La Cocina
For something completely different, La Cocina, the non-profit organization that helps foster the growth of interesting and local food business run by low-income individuals, is offering classes taught by any of the businesses they guide. Not sure which one you want? Check out the Gift Alley event this Friday that will feature goodies for sale from all of its vendors at the Crocker Galleria from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Services provided: Private group cooking classes with any of La Cocina's vendors
What's included: All materials, food, space, and instruction
Things to keep in mind: Hosting a class here helps support both La Cocina and the vendor
Price range: Starting at $85/person
Best for: Groups of 5-40 people looking for an activity
Contact: or 415-729-4565

Lou Bustamante
The Rock & Rye as a toddy and an old fashioned from Rye Bar, the stationary component of Rye on the Road
Rye on the Road
If you've ever tried hiring bartending services for a party, you know it's not easy or cheap. Go DIY and you find glass rental is expensive and the time you spend running around picking up ingredients and prepping is a thankless job. Luckily, the folks over at Rye on the Road have created a simplified package that includes everything you need for a great price; the only limitation being the menu is set at three drinks of your choice at the time of the event. Better yet, their services can also be combined with most of the other food options in this listing including La Cocina classes.
Services provided: Cocktails -- strong and with a smile
What's included: All rentals, mixers, liquor, vintage glassware, 3 hours of service, hand-cut ice, bartender, all necessary permitting and insurance
Things to keep in mind: This entry option doesn't include a full backbar, meaning the drink menu will be limited to the three you choose
Price range: Starting at $1000 for 35 guests ($28/person)
Best for: Parties where you don't want to be stuck mixing drinks all night
Contact: or 415-474-4448

Off The Grid
If you have a venue booked and need some food options but don't want to make it too fancy or simply want to have a food truck or three present for your guests, then this is for you. The organizers of some of the most popular food truck rallies in the Bay Area can help get a truck to your party. Even better, the organization is working with Quality Beverage Co., which can bring a bar with wine on tap, by the bottle, and full bar to you as well.
Services provided: Food trucks brought to your party
What's included: Trucks or carts, with wine or cocktail service add ons
Things to keep in mind: You don't need to have a venue set up before you contact; venue booking can be provided
Price range: Starts anywhere between $1,500-$2,500 per truck, plus $12-$15 per person for drinks
Best for: Casual holiday parties with a lot of people and no kitchen
Contact: or 415-339-5886

The barn at SOMA StrEat Food Park
SOMA StrEat Food Park
What's great about the StrEat Food Park is that it offers several sizes of private areas: from a bus converted into a dining room (room for 50) to the heated barn (room up to 200), or simply to rent the whole park. Price varies depending on number of people, food/drink, and date and time. Given that it is private property that regularly host food trucks, the park's roster allows for more leeway than street parking.
Services provided: Venue rental and offsite food truck coordination
What's included: Your own private area
Things to keep in mind: The bar is wine & beer only
Price range: Starting at $75/hour for a private space for 50 and up, with optional meal and drink voucher system, open tab system at the trucks and bar, or Scrooge it with a no-host option
Best for: Parties that want food trucks, but don't have a venue

Tango & Stache
Have you ever had a turkey mole taco and thought, "this would be much better if it had tequila in it" or wanted to combine the magnificent power of cocktails with your food? The appropriately mustachioed Joshua Wilder Oakley of Tango & Stasche is happy to oblige with a Mexican-inspired and Northern California ingredient-driven holiday fiesta.
Services provided: Cocktail-fueled cuisine with a Latin American flair
What's included: Food, service, and food table decor
Things to keep in mind: They can also do an adult holiday piƱata!
Price range: $35 per person
Best for: Adult parties; the food is boozy and delicious -- not for kids
Contact: or 533-7600.

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