I absolutely adore the concept of a food cart: portable, inexpensive, appropriate portion sizes, and typically innovative good food.
The food cart scene has really exploded in San Francisco and I wanted to dedicate as many of my meals as possible during a 3 day stay to street food. Ottawa has delicious food but its food cart scene is a bit lacking, unless all you want off a cart is poutine, burgers, or hot dogs. Don’t get me wrong, those foods have a place on the street food scene but I know that there could be a lot more variety and creativity infused into Ottawa’s food cart scene.
Once I landed in San Francisco, I realized that the one challenge with eating from food carts is finding them in the first place. They’re supposed to be transient in nature and without knowing the lay of the land too well, this proved to be my nemesis (not to mention my lack of access to smartphone/twitter access on the go). That is, until I found out about Off the Grid. Off the Grid started in 2010 with the concept of bringing together food carts to create an Asian night market feel. They started off small and in two years have grown to include over one hundred vendors! Every day, there is a market either for lunch, dinner, or both, somewhere in San Francisco. The locations, dates, and times can all be found on the Off the Grid website. Just show up (early, if you want to avoid lines), sample food from a handful of food carts, then chow down while people watching.
In addition to Off the Grid, the day before I left San Francisco, I learned that the city’s first permanent food truck lot had opened in June 2012! It’s called Soma Streat Food Park and is located at 428 11th Street in SoMa (south of the market area). I happened to see it on a bus ride into SoMa and it looks pretty nice. There are usually a good handful of trucks, there’s ample seating and washrooms in the park, apparently there may be music or movie nights, and there’s wifi! Because it’s a permanent location, the mystery and adventure of seeking food carts in your area is taken away but this place has everything one could want for a fun night out! (they also open for lunch)