No Restaurant Required

No Restaurant Required

There is an explosion happening in San Francisco of irreverent and inexpensive places for food, whether it's delicious bites in bars (like Broken Record, Taco Shop at Underdogs, 15 Romolo) to curry and crème brûlée from carts. Here's a little recap of five places you can go scout. Wait, seven. Anyway, have fun go-karting!

Mission Street Food
This is the one that really seemed to start all the street food buzz, first operating out of a taco truck, and then moving into the dingy Lung Shan restaurant in the Mission on Thursday and Saturday nights. Guest chefs and cooks prepare affordable dishes (often less than $10 each), the servers are friends of the kitchen, the crowd is eclectic and friendly, and a chunk of the profits go to a charity of the guest chef's choice. Did I mention the price is right? Kudos to Anthony Myint, formerly a cook at Bar Tartine, for putting this all into motion. Subscribe to the site's feed to keep up with the roster of guests (and their rotating menus). Here's more on Yelp.

Magic Curry Kart

It feels like a Burning Man project that was released on city streets. Brian The Magic Curry Man will cook your Thai curry to order, but since the word is out, the line can be long (one man, two burners, you do the math). He pops up on the Linda Street Alley and 19th Street in the evenings and has been making appearances in Dolores Park. You can follow the Magic Curry Man's whereabouts via his twitter feed, and read some reviews on his Yelp page. Get it hot, while it's hot!

Crème Brûlée Cart
Who knew the Magic Curry Man has a brother, Curtis! And he's here to ply you with little crème brûlée treats, with flavors like vanilla bean, chocolate Grand Marnier, and Bailey's Irish Cream. For just $3, yo. And here's a man who knows his audience: look for the Big Lebowski-inspired White Russian brûlée on 4/20. Seems like he is also open to considering special appearances for events: email your party info to thecremebruleecart [at] gmail [dot] com. Here's more on his Yelp page, and a video and pics from the SFoodie blog. Fire up the torch!

Da Beef
Let's hear it for Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef with giardiniera! And how about carts with a happy hour? No joke: $1 off all sandwiches from 4pm-5pm. The last time I was as Da Beef, I had a fully loaded Vienna Beef dog, topped with feisty sport peppers, celery salt, atomic green relish, mustard, onion, and some honking pickle wedges ($5). Good Polish dogs too. The stand is open Tue-Sat 11am-5pm. Read the raves on Yelp here. 300 7th St. at Folsom.

Photo by eviloars/flickr.

Kitchenette SF
This little roll-up garage spot in Dogpatch is a lunchtime offshoot from caterer Living Room Events. You can swing by to pick up a sandwich from Monday through Friday, 11:30am-1:30pm. What's on the menu? Check out the site each day for a full-tilt slobber-inducing update (the menu is posted online the night before), from porchetta to fried chicken to knockwurst ($8). Ingredients are organic and top-notch. Cash only, and supplies are limited, so when the vittles are gone, they're gone. Just look for the garage door at 958 Illinois Street in the American Industrial Center.

Oh yeah, there's also Sneaky's BBQ (can you say BBQ delivery?), but they are experiencing growing pains, so I don't want to get you too fired up on them. Well, just order early as soon as they announce the smoker is getting fired up (like this weekend!). To order Sneaky's BBQ or receive Sneaky's weekly email, email sneakysbbq [at]

And here's one classic for you:

Dona Tere

A friend tipped me off to the street stand a while ago--Dona Tere holds it down with a variety of flautas, tamales (take it easy on the hot sauce!), tacos, corn on (or off) the cob loaded with mayo and cheese and cayenne, tostadas, and mango with chile. Get a medley of stuff, you can't go wrong. In the mood for something new? Try some champurrado (a hot chocolatey drink). Oh, and if you have dietary needs, bring your Spanish dictionary because you'll need it--minimal English spoken here. Look for the blue tarp and van, usually serving around lunchtime until 9pm or so. Corner of 21st and Alabama.