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San Francisco Gourmet Food Trucks Seek Permanent Home

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Customers line up at the El Tonayense taco truck on Harrison and 13th St. in San Francisco. (Dan Lu)

Customers line up at the El Tonayense taco truck on Harrison and 13th St. in San Francisco. (Dan Lu)

Mike Sugerman’s About the Bay
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – You could call it critical mass for foodies.  Plans are in the works in San Francisco to establish a permanent home for gourmet food trucks.  KCBS reporter Mike Sugerman took a closer look, during his travels About the Bay.

Sugerman was recently in Portland, where he found to his delight food “pods,” which were essentially food trucks permanently parked next to one another.

There were 36 such pods, with about 450 trucks total in the area. Sugerman figured San Francisco would be an obvious place for this type of thing to be replicated, even though there are only 40 registered food trucks. And, as Sugerman was so quick to point out, those 40 trucks were anything but generic foods stands.

“The most delicious falafels ever,” declared one food stand chef. “And sweet potato fries.”

“Popular items are our quail and our stew,” offered another San Francisco food truck chef.

“I don’t know, I have to think about it,” responded the customer.

Last weekend, San Francisco launched a pilot program to establish a food pod.

“It’s a roaming mobile food market where we bring food trucks from all over the Bay Area together,” explained Matt Cohen, the man considered by many to be the “go-to guy” for anyone who is interested in launching a food truck business.

Cohen started Off the Grid, a weekly meeting of food trucks in locations like Fort Mason, the Upper Haight, and San Francisco’s Civic Center.

Last weekend, another gathering of food trucks began on Valencia, near the big U-Haul store off Market Street. It was expected to be open on Saturdays, on a two-month trial. If deemed a success, it could become a permanent fixture.

“Smoked pork shoulder, sausage, chicken, fresh corn, lima beans, potatoes in a smokey tomato broth,” one food truck chef participating in the new Valencia gathering described her offerings. “It is awesome with garlic bread.”

“Mmmm, it’s smokey and sweet,” Sugerman reviewed his meal. “Oh, man.”

Not totally unexpected, some restaurants criticized the trucks, arguing they would cut into their business.

“Stay really nice to all the neighbors, you know everyone respects what everyone else is doing,” suggested one food truck chef. “We bring people to the neighborhood, you know, we liven up that corner of the neighborhood, I mean, it’s a win-win situation.”

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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