Off the Grid returns to Fort Mason Center on Friday. With more than 30 vendors in attendance, food is sure to be plentiful, but organizers have a few new tricks up their sleeve this year.
We caught up with Off the Grid founder Matt Cohen, who said there are a few new options at the popular weekly get-together. “We’ll have Prix Fixe dining this year at Fort Mason with an overall focus on the new and innovative. This gives an opportunity to people who want to bypass standing in line or for those who want more composed dishes,” said Cohen. “Prix Fixe dining is the San Francisco take on Asian hawker stalls.” Prix fixe dining vendors will include Azalina’s Malaysian, Californios, Hapa SF and Stag Dining Group.
Cohen said they are bringing in 13 new vendors to OtG: Fort Mason Center this year, with a mix of tents and trucks. “Usually the new food trucks begin to launch in the spring and a lot of creative new trucks will come out during the course of the year that we’re excited to work with.”
With great food there should always be great drinks and this year at Fort Mason is no exception. The space will include four different bars – Alembic, Derby, Magnolia and QB Catering. Alembic is providing seasonal cocktails and infused alcohols while Magnolia will have their mobile beer service along with debuting special limited runs of beer from partners and friends. QB Catering will be debuting a wine experience with flights, pairings and a full standing bar and Derby will offer barrel aged cocktails and shaved ice onsite.
Off the Grid will also be pairing DJs and bands all season long.
Cohen said Off the Grid will also be bringing back the event, Picnic at the Presidio this year, with new concepts being developed.
In terms of the food truck industry, Cohen said that “food trucks have really become an accepted part of the dining scene in the Bay Area.” He said that while the novelty of eating off a food truck may be dying down, the core value of the community experience of eating in grouped mobile vendor settings is growing. And on a personal note, he said he loves Nopalito and is happy they will be participating at Off the Grid: Park in the Presidio this year.
It’s been an amazing run for Off the Grid, something Cohen said he never expected. “When I started Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center, my goal was for 200 people to come. At the first event 500 people showed up, the next week 1,000, the next week 1,500 and it just kept growing. This week, if all goes according to plan, we’ll serve 27,000 people over the course of the week at 17 locations across the Bay Area; you can’t plan for that kind of growth, just be thankful for all the support that allows it to continue.” And while there is still some friction between brick-and-mortar restaurants and food truck owners, he feels there is a lot more understanding between the two sides than there was three years ago.
Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center kicks off on Friday, March 22 from 5-10pm.