The San Francisco skyline as seen from the marina

Everything You Need to Know about San Francisco’s Food Truck Scene

Everything You Need to Know about San Francisco’s Food Truck Scene

By Marina Nazario

There’s nothing like San Francisco during the summer. Much like NYC, this hilly, seaside city comes to life. You’ll find people having picnics in the parks, enjoying drinks on an outdoor patio, and suntanning at various grassy spots along the coastline.

Not only do San Francisco’s colors shine brighter during the summer, but also its food truck game becomes next level. Food trucks are great because they give tourists and locals a taste of the city. Plus, who doesn’t love ordering food from a graffiti-decorated truck? Here’s everything you need to know before indulging in San Francisco’s food truck scene. Bring an appetite!

Food truck gatherings in San Francisco

San Francisco is already a culinary melting pot, but you’ll experience that quite literally at a food truck rally — which is yet another budget-friendly activity to do in a pricey city. Food truck gatherings are usually free to attend. You just need extra cash to order food and have an adventurous attitude for trying new things. 

Off the Grid

Off the Grid offers three major food truck rallies: two in the Presidio and the other in Fort Mason. We’ll start with the Presidio Picnic — it’s a HUGE community gathering on the main parade ground of the Presidio (an enormous lawn with amazing views of the city and the bay). It happens on Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm during the months of April to October. It not only gathers over 30 food trucks, but also hosts dance performances, live music, and yoga. Best part? It’s FREE! You can get there via the PresidiGo shuttle (free!) or by public transport (hop on the MUNI 43 Line). Try to get there early as the lawn fills up, and don’t forget a picnic blanket!

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If you miss the daytime festivities at Presidio Picnic because you were roaming around on a City Segway Tour (jealous!), don’t worry because Presidio Twilight is a thing! It happens on Thursday nights from 5 pm to 9 pm at the same main parade ground of the Presidio. It features about 8-10 food trucks, plus a full bar, firepits, and music. It’s cozy! If you arrive early enough, you might get the chance to snag a super cool lawn dome (think summer igloo) to snuggle up in. Presidio Twilight happens from May to September.

Off the Grid at Fort Mason Center is a Friday night street food party. It’s from 5 pm to 10 pm and also hosts over 30 delicious food trucks. It gets chilly at night in San Francisco, so the location has firepits and sheltered lounge spaces. You’ll find every type of food here – we’re talkin’ dumplings, handmade pasta, gourmet grilled cheese, chicken wings, and Korean BBQ. Drooling yet? Plan on this free event when you’re in San Francisco. If you spent the day having a photoshoot at the Golden Gate Bridge, jump on Bus 28 to Lombard Street and Laguna Street. Then walk 10 minutes in the direction of the Bay and you can’t miss the gathering of colorful food trucks. The Moovit app is pretty handy when trying to get around San Francisco.

SoMa StrEat Food Park

The SoMa Street Food Park hosts a rotating list of international food vendors. Think of it as a mini carnival — it has food trucks, beer, wine, and games. They even host a trivia night, happy hour, and live Bluegrass music. You won’t get bored here! Some of the food vendor’s include a truck dedicated to gravy and another serving 13 kinds of gourmet corn dogs (sheesh!). It’s a fun space to meet others in the community and dip your toes in some real SF vibes. Stop by this Division Street location for lunch or dinner. Then take a walk through San Francisco’s trendy Design District.

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Spark Social

Spark Social is SoMa’s sister venue in Mission Bay. Rather than a carnival, it’s more like a block party. It has a beer garden with a rotating menu full of California breweries, plus Spark Social works with over 150 food truck vendors to mix things up every day. It’s open for lunch and dinner and the best way to get there is by taking the MUNI Line T to Mission Bay. Head there on a Wednesday night if you’re into trivia, or keep an eye on Spark Social’s events page as they host different festivals and activities throughout the year (social is in its name!).

Truck Stop SF

Truck Stop is a cool (yet very small) venue on Mission and 1st Street in the Financial District. It’s only open for lunch from 11 am to 2 pm but has a rotating lineup so you could try something different Monday through Friday. As it’s in San Francisco’s downtown area, the Truck Stop fills up for lunch. Keep an eye on what food will be there during the week and plan to get there early before the vicious lunchtime crowd (you know how that goes). It’s a great place to stop if you’ve been walking around The Embarcadero and need to refuel before an Alcatraz tour

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Individual food trucks worth a visit:

If you don’t have time to make it to one of the food truck gatherings, here are a few fan favorites to seek out during your time in San Francisco. If you’re looking for a specific cuisine, you can use the Roaming Hunger app to help you locate a food truck as they might be tricky to find.

Check out Roli Roti if you’re into European-style cooking such as slow-cooked rotisserie meats, porchetta sandwiches, and fingerling potatoes.The Chairman was voted best food truck by SF Magazine — dig into tasty bao buns and never look back. The Lobsta Truck serves just what you’d expect: New England-style lobstah! Get. In. Our. Bellies. And The Codmother wins best food truck name in our books. Grab crispy fish and chips to go and eat them by the Bay!

There’s so much to do in San Francisco, but you don’t have to break the bank! Food truck rallies are a cheap activity that lets you experience SF’s food scene while hanging out with the community. Check them out when you’re in the area!

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