Our monthly review explores the city's 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: 428 11th (near Division)
Schedule: Monday-Thursday, lunch: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., dinner: 5 p.m.-9 p.m.; Fridays, lunch: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., dinner: 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Saturdays, 11a.m.-10p.m.; Sundays, 10a.m.-5p.m.
Market Info Website: SoMa StrEat Food Park
Approximate Number of Trucks: 6-13 at a time from a list of over 70 different trucks
Parking/Public Transit: Muni, street parking
Restrooms: Full-sized semi-permanent trailer
Music: Down tempo modern mix
Booze: Beer and wine
Seating: Outdoor picnic tables and covered and heated seating, along with a converted bus
Best for: Lunch, early dinner/happy hour, dinner before hitting Folsom street bars
Other notes: Because of its set-up, you will find trucks here you often won't find out on the streets.
A little over a year into SoMa StrEat Food Park's life as the RV park equivalent for food trucks, the little permanent seven-days-a-week rally has steadily refined the offerings. While we love the pop up ambience and bare bones simplicity of the kinds of gatherings that happen in random parking lots, StrEat Food Park's amenities make it feel a little different, somehow more restaurant or a food court. Not that this makes the street food any less legitimate or delicious.
With covered and heated seating areas inside the barn and a converted bus, outdoor seating, five big screen TVs, free WiFi, semi-permanent restrooms on a trailer with running water, skeeball, and an extensive wine and beer selection make this one of the cushiest street food experiences out there. Add a fantastic happy hour (Monday-Friday 4-7 p.m.) with $3 beers or cups of sangria and $2 tallboy PBRs and you have a great after work hangout spot.
Because of its regular hours and location, the StrEat Food Park also plays host to a variety of special nights that range from game viewing to trivia nights to one I stumbled into one night called "Ask a Scientist" that involved UC Berkeley professors and scientists answering audience questions about the universe.
One luxury at this location that other truck gatherings don't have is tables, and while it made for easier balancing of food and drink. The downside is that it also meant having to hunt for a clean table when it got busiest. Another bonus is the shorter lines for everything at dinnertime. Trucks that usually have massively huge lines at other events, have very manageable one here, making this a nice place to try a variety of trucks. It also offers a unique opportunity to rent out sections or the whole park for private events, something that would otherwise require hiring trucks individually and a space.
This mix of restaurant amenities at the park makes sense when you consider that the organizer, Carlos Muela comes from a restaurant family. "I grew up in the restaurant industry, my parents opened Esperpento restaurant 22 years ago and Picaro restaurant 31 years ago on Valencia street waaaay before the neighborhood was the hip trendy hood that it is now," says Muela. After graduating from USF he took over and ran the restaurants for four years, but an interest in food trucks and seeing the need and opportunity to create a more permanent location for mobile food vendors led him to open up the park.
With systems in place and schedules running smoothly, Muela shifting his focus on ways to make the park more entertaining as well as delicious. It's an interesting blend of selection and with many trucks getting their feet wet here, its also a great venue to find the newest trucks to hit the strEats.