Street Food Festival Says Goodbye to the Mission

I awoke on Saturday morning to the sound of furiously popping kettle corn and the smell of funnel cake wafting into my window. It’s rumored that this is the last year that La Cocina’s Street Food Festival will take place on Folsom Street, as it has for the past six years, which I have bittersweet feelings about.

For those of us who live on Folsom, it’s exciting being able to walk out of your front door straight into the festival, but then again, there’s really no escape from the noise, the smells, and the general chaos. Although fifty thousand people and an insane array of dumplings, tacos, sandwiches, burgers, fried chicken, pho, and some other stuff you’ve never heard of (okto okono on a stick?) can be pretty overwhelming, I’ve learned to try to make the most of it.

Most will agree the ideal strategy to actually enjoying the festival is to travel in a pack. It makes standing in long lines less boring and you can try bites of everything your friends get. Here’s what my roommates and I accomplished in a few short hours.

The best thing I ate: Salumeria’s fried chicken. Perfectly spicy and slightly vinegary. For some reason it had poppy seeds on top. No line.

Next best: Turkey Momos from Bini’s Kitchen. Really flavorful little Nepalese dumplings.

Also quite good: Azalina’s Sweet Potato Dumplings. Loved the sauce and the pickled radish on the side. Mmm.

Thoroughly disappointing: Fine & Rare’s Smoked Salmon Reuben. As an $8 “big bite,” it left a lot to be desired. Rather than evoking beloved Jewish-deli classics the reuben and the bagel with lox, it instead was a small, weird and flavorless hybrid of the two. When asked if we wanted to add bacon, we shrugged and said, “why not?” as any rational person would do. I quickly discovered there’s a reason why folks don’t usually pair salmon and bacon, much less with sauerkraut. Meh.

I’d like to note that I resisted 4505’s Frankaroni, a deep fried rectangle of mac and cheese mixed with hot dog bits. (Full disclosure: I did try one last year. It was insane. But delicious.)

We tried a few beverages too: Prickly Pear Agua Fresca, Vanilla Hibiscus Beesap (like a more intense jamaica), and something bright pink and strongly rose-flavored full of chia seeds, coconut, basil and mint. We had been tricked into inadvertently eating a salad. It was time to go home.

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