The fourth edition of the SF Street Food Festival has come and gone but not without making a lasting impression on the bellies of thousands of hungry food-lovers both young and old over the weekend.

Having attended two years ago, I was fully expecting a bit of mayhem, huge crowds and long lines at booths. In reality, the large crowds and long lines were fairly manageable. There were plenty of volunteers and La Cocina staff on hand to help people navigate. Lines moved fairly quickly and the addition of a few blocks really helped with spacing. Schoolyards were utilized for booths and one of the bars was set up in a large, gated basketball court area. Really impressed by the overall cohesion and organization for the event and props to the La Cocina staff for the endless hours put in to pull off such a great festival.

I would be remiss to not first mention the Friday Night Market held at the Alemany Farmers Market. This was a welcome addition to the weekend festivities. Despite the chilly weather, there was plenty of music, dancing, great food and booze to boot. Because it was a bit of a smaller gathering, it really gave guests a chance to talk one-on-one with each vendor. A great idea and one I hope La Cocina continues next year for the SF Street Food Festival.

Night Market

In terms of the main event, it was really like an endurance test. A person can only each so much. Some observations from the early part of the day:

Spicy Pork Ribs from To Hyang

Longest Lines: Without a doubt, State Bird Provisions had the longest line throughout the day. Offering its delicious hand-pulled burrata with garlic bread, it didn’t hurt that the restaurant just got named “Best New Restaurant of 2012” by Bon Appetit Magazine. Pinx, a catering company based in San Leandro, had sold out of its maple glazed bacon by early afternoon. A lot of the out-of-town vendors like Swamp Shack and The Peached Tortilla also were met with long lines. And some of the locals did well like Onigilly, Southern Sandwich Co. and Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement, all of which were packed.

Best Dishes: I’ll go with two that were surprising hits for me. The deviled ham scotch egg from Il Cane Rosso was amazingly innovative (served in a cone like shaved ice) and delicious at the same time. And the house-made burrata with roasted peppers, basil oil and crostini from Mozzeria was to die for. Mozzeria was one of four vendors awarded a spot at the festival via the Local Forager Contest.

Scotch Egg from Il Cane Rosso

There were so many different options from sweet to savory, small bites and big that there truly was something for everyone. Click here for a visual tour of the SF Street Food Festival 2012.