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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Off the Grid's Picnic at the Presidio: Like a Day in Dolores, But Better Food, Drinks, and Grass

Posted By on Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 11:30 AM

click to enlarge LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante

Our monthly review explores the city's varied food trucks gatherings, one at a time, breaking down each one with statistics, descriptions of the scene, and vital info to help you plan a trip there.

Location: Presidio Parade Grounds, near Main Post and Walt Disney Museum

Schedule: Every Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. through October 27th

Market Info Website: Off the Grid: Picnic at the Presidio

Approximate Number of Trucks/Vendors: 18 mobile food kitchens, 8 farmers market stalls, plus 6 retail food and outdoor goods merchants

Parking/Public Transit: Yes; Muni

Restrooms: Rows of porta-potties

Music: DJ playing a nice mix of music with enough energy to get you to dance, but mellow enough to allow you to nap

Booze: Bloody Marys, Mimosas, beer, wine, cocktails

Seating: Grass; bring a blanket

Best for: Groups and families

Other notes: Dogs are allowed; bring sunscreen and some friends.

For the first in a new monthly series that reviews not the food trucks but the locations they occupy, it was hard to ignore the warm weather this weekend and a visit to the first of the Picnic at the Presidio series. Certainly Sunday's amazing weather helped the market and our feelings about it, but even with less sun and a few more layers, the picnic would be equally enjoyable.

See also:Food Trucking Events: Cloth Napkins and Blankets

Food Truck Bite of the Week: Porchetta Nachos at The Whole Beast

Food Truck Bite of the Week: Hoofing Burgers at Fins on the Hoof

The first thing you'll notice is the quality of the lawn, or at least we did. Impeccably maintained with a variety of grass that is perfect for bare feet -- blades fluffy and soft yet sturdy, and free of debris or offenses left by lazy dog owners. With a good blanket, it makes an ideal location for napping after a few bites and drinks.

click to enlarge Fried chicken from Wing Wings drew huge lines, but it was well-worth the wait. - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Fried chicken from Wing Wings drew huge lines, but it was well-worth the wait.

Vendors ranged in their offerings like freshly smoked and carved turkey sandwiches with bacon and avocado from the Whole Beast, oysters from Hog & Rocks, pizza from Del Popolo, and fried chicken from Wing Wings. While all great picnic food, we had hoped that there would have been at least a few purveyors offering more brunchy style egg dishes.

Hopefully it was first day excitement and fantastic weather demand, but the bar got crushed, so much so that the mobile cart never had a chance to make its rounds and waits for drinks were 15-20 minutes. By the end of the day, organizers were already working on ways to improve bar with more staff and possibly a second bar. Despite the lines, the jars of Bloody Marys were great with a mass of tasty pickled veggies tucked into each. Honestly, though, the Mimosa Kits (the cucumber-honey version in particular) really made us the happiest. Sitting in the sun with an ice bucket and bottle of sparkling wine couldn't get better.

click to enlarge The Bloody Mary kit at Off the Grid's Picnic at the Presidio - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • The Bloody Mary kit at Off the Grid's Picnic at the Presidio

We were skeptical about the farmer's market component, yet the mix of cheese, fresh berries, bread, and pickled items made perfect compliments to the picnic fare. A small jug of Hidden Star Orchards raw fruit extract syrups made great additions to the bubbly as well.

The crowd was a diverse mix of ages, a good number of folks from the Marina as expected, but it wasn't the dominant group. A nice mix of families, people with their dogs, and even Missionites all united by the need for sun and brunch. The only thing to be aware of is that this event offers the most satisfaction to groups, since you can divide and conquer the tasks of gathering drinks, food, produce, and a nice patch of grass with better efficiency. Besides, this way you can find the time to play one of the lawn games or dance some calories off.

The weather may not always be so picnic-friendly in the Presidio, but with a great line up of food vendors, bar, great tunes, and a couple of extra layers, Off the Grid Picnic at the Presidio is a great place to gather friends and enjoy the views of the Bay and Golden Gate bridge.

Follow @LouAtLarge


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