by Brian Goldstein
As the night fog rolls down the intersection of Linden and Octavia, neighbors order dinner around three encircled food trucks and enjoy the burgeoning Bay Area experience that is Off the Grid. With live music playing in the background, hungry customers look for food that will fill their stomachs and warm them up this crisp night.
Food trucks are ubiquitous in San Francisco, with innumerable options for palates bent on the adventurous, refined, or simple down-home comforts. Now Hayes Valley residents have a new opportunity to enjoy this unique dining experience, through an organized night market, in the heart of the neighborhood.
Off the Grid is a San Francisco business, started in 2010, that operates weekly open markets with a variety of food vendors. At present there are 12 such markets throughout the Bay Area. Off the Grid Hayes Valley operates in the Proxy Project, the temporary art, food, and retail space along Octavia Street that is dotted with reconfigured shipping containers. The market runs from 5PM to 9PM, with accompanying live music playing 6PM-7:30PM. Currently the market runs Wednesday and Thursday nights, with an additional Friday market beginning April 27. Three selected vendors, from a group of six, rotate for each night.
When I visited the market in March, I spoke with the Hayes Valley Market Keeper Tim Ng. Tim explained that Off the Grid selects market locations based on their unique characteristics. They chose the Proxy Project because it embodies a fusion of food, art, and culture. The location is also home to Smitten Ice Cream, Ritual Coffee, and other food trucks during the day. Tim told me that he initially met with local Hayes Valley businesses and the Hayes Valley Merchants Association. Such outreach is meant to reassure any neighborhood concern over increased traffic and litter.
This night the three vendors included Curry Up Now (Indian Street Food), Senor Sisig (Filipino Fusion Food), and Chairman Bao (Chinese Buns). Each brought a unique take on San Francisco street food, one that is a welcome addition to the Hayes Valley neighborhood. You can learn more about Off the Grid and find vendor schedules for all their locations at www.offthegridsf.com.