Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SoMa StrEatFood and others

This is only half a #lunchinginpublic item - I've been ill. The main idea of this recurring feature is still to picnic each week in a privately owned public space in order to test its level of welcome to the actual public, and we'll get back to that as soon as I'm better.

This past week all we managed was a wimpy exploration of street-food trucks. At least, from an urban sociology point of view, we managed to find three completely different outdoor food experiences within a block of each other South of Market (that is, within the half-blocks of Harrison on either side of the 80/101 freeway).

On Friday we meant to eat at the new food-truck corral with covered seating at 11th and Harrison, the SoMa StrEatFood Park, but by the time we got there it was past 3 p.m. They were switching out the trucks at the assigned parking spaces and the woman directing traffic said it was felafel or nothing. Our own fault for timing it wrong.

As I'll note in a minute, we came back Saturday during full-service hours and it was great.

But on Friday, not wanting felafel, we crossed under the freeway to El Tonayense, the Zagat-rated taco truck that for the past few years has parked regularly next to the Best Buy. Everything there is good but try the stewed tongue -- lean and spicy. (Recommendation originally from a woman at the printing counter in the OfficeMax across the street. No, I don't think she meant anything by it.)

It looked like there's no need to fear that SoMa StrEatFood would poach business off of El Tonayense. There was a line at the truck at three in the afternoon and lots of people standing waiting for their orders, chatting mostly in Spanish.

Joel didn't want a savory meal so he picked up a sweet waffle and cappuccino from Goody Goodie, the baked-goods shop that started as a part-time window next to the Velo/Blue Bottle Coffee off Ninth and Folsom and has moved to its own cafe-type space on Harrison just south of the OfficeMax.

I took my plate of tacos over to meet Joel at Goody Goodie and poached space next to him at one of the cozy outdoor tables with umbrellas. None of the other El Tonayense customers bought table space by joining a taco with a Goody Goodie item. Nobody said anything but I imagined it might be a crossing of lines.

Anyway, great food, both places. Goody Goodie waffles are gluten-free, so I can tell you they are rich and sugary and a little of one goes a long way. They were btw advertising something terrifying that we didn't order and likely never will. They call it the Wafflegato and the mere concept is to shudder.

So, Saturday, re-trying at SoMa StrEatFood:

Mid-afternoon Saturday the food trucks were all there and the shaded picnic tables full of festively weekendy groups. Took a while to explain the large number of middle-class families with children, then we realized they must have come downtown to shop at the Costco next door, then looked around for something to eat that wasn't Costco's pizza and hot dogs. The dining area had loud pop music. The U.S. Open was showing silently on a TV monitor overhead.

Lots of fusion cuisine at StrEatFood. I had a pastrami tostada -- sorry, I forget the seller. J. had a "Drunken Master" sandwich from Adam's Grub Truck: pulled pork with cheese and and "Asian slaw," which seems to mean coleslaw with black sesame seeds. No sign of alcohol in it, but, per J., a good sandwich.

Three Twins ice cream for dessert. Was trying to avoid dairy due to cough. Eh, worth the lapse.

Funny to think about these dining experiences together: three ways of eating food outdoors, all of them on Harrison Street near the freeway in an area that was recently car-only territory, and each one creating its own very distinct environment.

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