I went with my two cousins this year, and we each chipped in $20 into our money pot. $60 may seem plenty for street food, but believe me, that money disappears quickly. Appetizers or "small bites" are anywhere from $1-3, main entrees or "big bites" for $7-8, and beverages for ~$3.
They expand this festival a few more blocks each year and include more vendors, which is exciting to see. Reflecting the SF eco-friendly lifestyle, the streets were lined with wooden pallet crates, stacked up to form tables, or in the case for Whole Foods, cardboard tables.
Here are the foods I've tried for today, from least favorite to favorite:
I was pretty determined to not get a pulled pork sandwich, mainly because I've tried pulled pork sandwichs at a few other food trucks in the past and rather stuff myself with other items I haven't had before. My pulled-pork-loving cousins couldn't resist, so we visited Heirloom's stand for their griddled pulled pork (left). I'm sure their ingredients were fresh, but the bread was hard to chew, meat was dry and lacked flavor, and veggie slaw was bland. We couldn't help, but think back to the first delicious pork burger we had (right) from 2010 SFSFF from Zella's Soulful Kitchen - melt-in-your-mouth fresh bread, flavorful slaw, and juicy pork.
Blue Bottle had a stand selling their ever-so-popular drip coffee, New Orleans Iced Coffee, and a saffron snickerdoodle. I've been increasingly curious about saffron, so we got the cookie. I have to say I feel pretty neutral about it - it had a nice, refreshing flavor to it, but not exactly memorable. My fellow food companions disliked the taste of saffron in this, so I'm guessing this cookie is a hit-or-miss for many.
Next is the unphotographed watermelon sweet tea from Minnie Bell's Soul Food Movement. The drink was also refreshing, but it didn't have enough tea nor watermelon flavor to it. I much prefer the watermelon tea from Brenda's.
Yikes, sorry for the poor photo quality here. This is the smoked pork hash from 15 Romolo, a bar located in North Beach, SF. This was an appropriate first meal we had for this festival. The hash contains bits of shredded pork, sweet potatoes, red cabbage and a few other veggies topped with a nicely cooked egg. The flavors were quite good, but I can probably make this at home.
This is Boxing Room's chicken and sausage jambalaya. We all agreed this was pretty good, and I would choose to eat this again when/if I visit their restaurant.
One of our favorites for the day - Pinx's sweet potato pie waffle. Apologies for the dark photo on the left, but this entree included three different kinds of sweet potato/yam. On the right side is the ube/purple yam waffle, which was delicious! The waffles were fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside just as they should be. Not sure what the syrup is, but I'm glad it wasn't too sweet.
This is Chiefo's Kitchen's Moi Moi - a blackeyed pea cake with a hint of crayfish, tomatoes, peppers, onions and corned beef. Apparently this is a West African/Nigerian cuisine-inspired dish (reading more about this dish right now). I loved this! The texture of the cake is somewhat similar to that of firm tofu. The flavors of the ingredients complemented each other really well.
Our favorite items of the day are the crawfish boudin balls from Swamp Shack...all the way from Portland! This was one of the few where we stood in a long line for, and this was $3 for ONE BALL, which made them the most expensive item of the day. Perhaps, the money goes towards funding their trip to SF? Who knows. But these boudin balls were so good and really worth a try. I didn't know what a boudin ball was, so I was pretty surprised to find rice in it and in such a thin, crispy outer layer. The spices and bits of crawfish were good, and the flavor is similar to that of the crawfish beignets also mentioned in Ngoc's Brenda's post.
Overall, this was a great festival. There were still so many items I would have liked to try, but we were discouraged from certain stands as their lines grew longer and longer. Still have $15 leftover from the pot! I'm glad that this year's festival featured a lot more southern/Cajun and South American-type cuisines and dishes I've never tried or heard of before. I think we're all somewhat familiar with the Asian/Korean taco by now (and they're still good!), so it's nice to step away and try something new. :)