Have a Delicious Summer at These Five Food Festivals
San Francisco summers mean street fairs and street foods of all stripes—some highlight experimental cuisine, others prioritize local eats, while still others delight in the simplicity of greasy snacks. Here are five upcoming reasons to get some sun and fill your belly at the same time.
When: July 19–20
Where: Japantown, on Post Street between Webster and Laguna Streets
How much: Admission is free; bowls of ramen are $8 each
Billed as San Francisco’s first ramen fest, this two-day event debuts this year in Japantown during the J-Pop Summit, a street fair celebrating Japanese culture. Six ramen shops hailing from California to Japan will serve up their version of this classic Japanese fast food. Some of their signature dishes include spicy red ramen, traditional miso ramen, and even a ramen burger, with “buns” made of fried noodles.
When: August 1–3
Where: Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd.
Eat Drink SF is one of San Francisco’s premier culinary events, a foodie fantasy that gathers the city’s most talented chefs and drink aficionados for three full days. The tasting pavilion at Fort Mason acts as the festival hub, hosting a nightly extravaganza of bites, booze, and live entertainment from more than 100 of the city’s top restaurants. This year, AQ, Spruce, Pizzeria Delfina, A16, Coqueta, and Twenty Five Lusk have all signed up. Want to get more involved? You can also purchase separate tickets for cooking classes and demonstrations, such as a blind wine tasting with three of San Francisco’s best sommeliers.
Can’t make it? The SF Cooking School offers classes taught by some of these same chefs, who teach you how to make their restaurants’ signature dishes.
When: August 16
Where: On Folsom Street, 21st Street, and 25th Street in the Mission
How much: Admission is free; all dishes are $10 or under. You can purchase prepaid “passports” that work like debit cards or simply pay cash at the vendor booths.
Food trucks and carts have become an integral part of San Francisco’s landscape, so a festival in their honor was the natural next step. For one day, several blocks in the colorful Mission District are blocked off and turned into the biggest street (food) party in the city—so big, in fact, that it will relocate to a larger space after this year. Check it out on Folsom while you still can! The festival celebrates local food entrepreneurs and a mix of ethnic specialties, spanning Filipino, Ethiopian, Peruvian, Indian, and Korean cuisines.
Can’t make it? Many of these food trucks can also be seen tooling around the city: check Off the Grid for a schedule of where and when some of the most popular ones will show up.
When: September 13–14
Where: Ghirardelli Square, 900 N. Point St.
How much: $20–$25 entry fee good for 15 chocolate tastings; buy tickets here
One of the longest-running food events in the city, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival is heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth. The entry fee gives you access to chocolate bars, cupcakes, ice cream, and dessert-inspired libations, all made by more than 30 local vendors. Don’t miss the ice-cream-eating contest, which challenges participants to eat an Earthquake sundae without using their hands.
Can’t make it? Stop by Ghirardelli’s flagship chocolate shop and ice-cream parlor the next time you’re by the square, and enjoy a sundae with the beautiful bay view.
When: September 19–21
Where: Jack London Square at Broadway and Embarcadero, Oakland
How much: Admission is free; all street food items cost $8 or less
San Francisco might be the epicenter of the Bay Area food scene, but Oakland is definitely gaining ground. The Eat Real Festival is the town’s biggest food celebration, set in picturesque Jack London Square by the waterfront. The festival’s tagline (“Eat it. Make it. Grow it.”) speaks to its focus on homegrown and handmade food. Expect to see unique food trucks, classes on charcuterie and jam making, demonstrations by local chefs and food artisans, and live music—all in all, a perfect way to cap off the summer.
Can’t make it? Try Friday Nights at the Oakland Museum of California. From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., gallery admission is half off, and there are food trucks, live music, and dancing outside for everyone to enjoy.
Image credits: Ramen Street photo courtesy of Fujin Ramen, Eat Drink SF photo by Gamma Nine, SF Street Food Festival photo by Anita Chu, Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival photo by James Hall Photography, Eat Real Festival photo and header photo by Phillip Yip.
Anita Chu, also known as pastrygirl, is the creator of Dessert First, an award-winning blog dedicated to all things sweet. Dessert First was nominated for Best Baking and Dessert Blog in Saveur’s First Annual Best Food Blog Awards in 2010. Anita is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and she is always trying out the latest sweet spots in town. She is the author of Field Guide to Cookies and Field Guide to Candy. Anita’s books and blog have been profiled in the New York Times, Sunset and The Washington Post. She contributes her writing and photography to several online and print publications.