La Cocina’s Incredible Street Food Festival Returns Next Weekend

The San Francisco Street Food Festival takes over Powerstation on Saturday, Oct. 13, honoring women in food (even as most festivals do not).

Street Eat 2017. Photo by Eddie Hernandez

Even as San Francisco reels from the loss of one of its most beloved street-food institutions — Virginia Ramos, aka The Tamale Lady — foodie incubator La Cocina looks to honor the entrepreneurs who keep the city’s stomachs full. For the ninth year running, the San Francisco Street Food Festival gathers together more than 30 chefs and restaurants — some nine-tenths of whom are women — at Dogpatch venue Powerstation for a full day of food and drink.

At $6 in advance and $10 at the door — assuming there are any tickets left — the full proceeds of this ultra-affordable fest are plowed right back into La Cocina, that unstoppably dedicated proving ground for some of S.F.’s best talents. (It’s free for kids under five, however.)

This year, the returning favorites include chilaquiles rojos and chilaquiles verdes from Isabel Claudido (El Buen Comer), a flatbread known as the Pali-Cali man’oushe by James Beard semifinalist Reem Assil (Reem’s, Dyafa), and Cambodian lemongrass skewers with prahok ktiss dip and pickled vegetables from Nite Yun (Nyum Bai). Joining them are Three Twins Ice Cream, Mozzeria, Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas, and more. And if you don’t venture across the Bay often enough to chow down on rosemary fried chicken from Fernay McPherson (Minnie Bell’s), you have your chance because she’s coming to S.F. proper.

2018 newbies include soul food from Pinky & Red’s, Slavic meatballs from Katletki, and shallow pans of the good stuff from Sonoma’s own Gerard’s Paella. Nearby bar Third Rail resumes its duties as the festival’s official bar partner, serving watermelon margaritas and a vodka lemonade with ginger and lemongrass.

Anyone who’s tracked this festival since its 2009 inception remembers how it outgrew its initial Folsom Street location almost immediately. While that growth is impressive in its own right, the more notable aspect is the strong representation of women and people of color. In spite of rising awareness of inequities in the kitchen, women remain relegated to the margins at the preponderance of food festivals. La Cocina has addressed this challenge from the beginning, and the 2012 festival served as the “first formal sales opportunity” for Bini’s Kitchen, which now operates a kiosk on Post and Market streets and counts 15 employees to its name.

La Cocina’s San Francisco Street Food Festival, Saturday, Oct. 13, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., at Powerstation, 420 23rd St. $6-$10; sfstreetfoodfest.com

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