The Bay Area is finally seeing 75+ degree weather, and both locals and tourists are out in full force, soaking up some much-needed vitamin D. Dolores Park is packed from corner to corner, the bubble tea shops have lines out the door, and street food vendors are crowding the alleyways and sidewalks.
When the weather warrants sunscreen, what better activities are there to take part in than those that involve eating? Right now is the time to enjoy an epic ice cream sundae while sitting enjoying the sun on a restaurant’s outdoor patio, or grab a gourmet pizza and chow down in the park. But how do you know where to eat?
Sure you can just grab a burrito from your favorite taqueria, or walk around the Mission District while following your nose, but we thought we’d offer you a few tips on must-taste opportunities during these gorgeous summer days. We’ve tapped two local food bloggers to share their inside tips on the best edible offerings around town: meet Irvin Lin of Eat the Love and Sabrina Modelle of The Tomato Tart, your honorary culinary guides for the summer, as they provide insider advice on the best summer fare around the bay.
What are your favorite summer food events? What makes them so special?
Irvin: Hands down, my favorite summer food event is the San Francisco Street Food Festival. Street food is often where the innovation is happening in the food world. Though the lines are long, the food is always wonderful to eat and there is always a sense of discovery when you go there. This will be the third annual event (I believe it’s scheduled August 20th), sponsored by the fantastic incubation kitchen La Cocina, and there will be established restaurants there as well as unknown vendors. This year sounds even better as they’ve not only expanded into some parking lots and it coincides with the National Street Food conference.
Sabrina: Since it began two years ago, the Eat Real Fest in Oakland has fallen on my anniversary weekend and my husband and I have had a street food anniversary date. We love strolling around Jack London square drinking local beer, sampling real street food, taking in food demos, and hanging out by the water’s edge. This year, it’s moved back to September, but since that feels like our summer anyway, I’ll include it. I’m also really looking forward to SF Chefs this year. It will be my first time attending, but the preview events started last weekend with an amazing pasta-making demo with Chef Anthony Strong of Locanda and Chef Charles Phan of The Slanted Door. You can catch me hanging out at upcoming preview events each Saturday in July. This Saturday will feature Rachel Saunders of Blue Chair Fruit Jam.
When the weather heats up, what are your favorite places to eat in San Francisco?
Irvin: I absolutely love going to Bi-Rite Market and grabbing a sandwich and heading to the park. Though people complain that Bi-Rite Market is packed with people (navigating the crowds in the tiny store on a sunny weekend is a pain) the secret to getting a decent sandwich there and not going crazy is to call ahead. Just check out their website, look at the deli section and call ahead and place your order for your sandwich. Then ten minutes later, pop on over and just pick it up at the register, no fuss. Walk on over to Dolores Park where the people watching is fantastic and the late summer sun will shine on your face.
Sabrina: When it’s hot, I love eating on my little patio, of course. I’m in The Mission, so picking up some essentials from Bi-Rite and throwing together a quick salad is my preferred course of action. If we’re going out, I love to eat sushi when it’s warm. There’s nothing that can compare to the freshness and simplicity of ingredients in well-prepared Japanese cuisine. I’m currently in love with Ichi Sushi. I think Tim Archuletta is amazing — both because he’s very talented and I’ve enjoyed sitting across the bar and chatting with him. Sushi Bistro on 24th is another favorite for really fresh nigiri, the sushi chef is just amazing and I suggest trying whatever he recommends.
Where is your favorite ice cream place in SF? What’s your favorite flavor there?
Irvin: I adore Humphry Slocombe, and I think Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous is fantastic, I’m a Bi-Rite Creamery sort of guy. Again, part of it is the Dolores Park appeal, where you can buy some ice cream and walk over to the park, but part of it is the secret shortcuts that make me feel like I’m in the know. Everyone complains the lines are ridiculous (and they are) but rarely is the line long over a the soft serve window. Even better, if you know what flavors you like, go directly to the cold case in the main part of the ice cream shop and just buy a pint, bypassing the line completely. My partner AJ loves their signature Salted Caramel, but I’m a fan of the Honey Lavender. Rich, floral with a touch of sweetness, I get it every time.
Sabrina: I am a big fan of Humphry Slocombe. I’m exactly two blocks away from their store, and when we first moved in, I actually had a little problem. I had to set rules either one scoop of ice cream or one Dynamo Donut once per week. The ice cream pretty much always won out. Now, I’ve slowed down on my consumption quite a bit, and I visit about once a month or so. I love their salted licorice, their brown butter, and of course, the first thing I ever tried the ancho chili chocolate.