would you eat street food in san francisco? what if it was wrapped in bacon?
Ah, street food. You can pretty much get it in every country, though, outside of big cities, you don't see real street food that much in the US. This is unlike most places around the world where it is remarkably prevalent in both small and large towns. But we've all heard that caveat when traveling--"don't eat street food!" or "don't eat anything you don't see cooked in front of you!" And as an average tourist who doesn't travel much, I'd say it is usually a pretty good rule of thumb.
For the hearty traveler, part of the trying it out is the experience of it. You go in knowing there is always the possibility that no matter how good it looks or tastes, you may end up worshiping the porcelain throne later. In the beginning, fear of that used to stop me. The more I traveled, the more WTF I became. I've been relatively lucky having really only gotten sick twice. Once in China, what a shock and once in Morocco. Yikes, it was a bad one. Lost a whole day, but hey, it was Marrakech at night, I got swept up in it all.
Thing is, we hear this mantra to stay away for traveling, but when Joe Bob and Sue set up their I made this at home and wanna sell it to you stand, we all seem to go all in a buy because it is so quaint and "what the locals do" kind of thing. When you think about though, it's not. It really is just like taking a chance when you are abroad. You are relying on someone you don't know to fix you something you aren't sure what it is or where it came from. We aren't talking food trucks here as those are regulated. More the side of the road spot you drive by on the highway when you are in the middle of nowhere and think "that could be fun!"
With the proliferation of food trucks in SF, the old school street vendor food cart are around quite as much, at least not everywhere at any time. Usually you see some down in the Financial District during the week for the lunch crowd. Or sometimes wandering around the Mission, especially on weekend nights when many restaurants are closed and bar patrons may just want a quick bite to soak up some alcohol.
Another spot some have come to congregate at over the last few years is near AT&T Park. Used to be you couldn't take food into the stadium, but he relaxed that rule a couple years ago and with it came a slew of a particular hot dog vendor we used to only see in the Mission. The bacon wrapped hot dog cart.
Really, what is more quintessentially American than hot dogs and baseball. Since I live near the park, I'd see the cars all the time and the smell of cooking bacon was its own aromatic aphrodisiac to draw me in. Well, normally it is, but for whatever reason, I was always like, I should try them sometime. That day came recently where I had my travelers WTF moment and decided to get a couple.
Much like Starbucks, there were multiple carts close together and it was really a matter which was closer as opposed to which was better since they all looked the same. The carts, as you can see, look like someone took a baking tray and set it on a little red wagon. They are actually cooking the stuff on there so there is some heat generating thing underneath, though I don't really want to know how close to either an electrical fire or gas explosion I actually am.
The carts have become more popular since their Mission beginnings as now you can pay credit card through Square instead of just cash and, well, if that isn't very SF I don't know what is. Outside of a yes I want everything on it, much of my ordering was done without speech, 2 fingers for 2 dogs (one for the SO!) and 5 fingers for $5 each. Technically, that is kind of a lot for a hot dog, even wrapped in bacon. But compared to what it cost inside the stadium, it constitutes a better deal as they are pretty much the same size and at least these come with onions and other stuff instead of just plain.
Most of the dogs on his tray were already cooked and I pointed to the two most done ones. He then proceeded to take out the buns and put them in the bacon hot dog grease on the tray to cook/warm them up. And I thought, yaaassss, more bacon grease is what it needs, there can never be enough. He then plopped the toppings on, wrapped them in foil and voila--dinner!
Okay, I do feel we got a little shorted on the green and red peppers, but there were more than enough onions if you are into that. The carts themselves have ketchup, mustard, hot sauce and mayo (not exactly refrigerated and stored next to a hot grill) you can add to condiment them up. Since I was taking these back to the apartment, I chose to forgo their supply and just use my own.
The hot dogs are old school, all beef ones with that lovely greasy, smoky beef flavor enhance by being wrapped in a mostly crispy piece of bacon. Let's face it, there isn't anything fancy going on here and it's not like one couldn't do this sort of thing at home, for cheaper. But looking at context here, these will go great with a $10 beer in the ballpark. When you go to a game most of us aren't looking for some high falutin' eating. You can get it there, but classic and easy suits most folks fine. And these fit the bill pretty well.
No, it isn't the best dog I've ever had, but for what it is, it's fine. Plus, if I came across them on a late night bar hopping in the Mission, after a few drinks and some hunger pangs, they'd probably taste like "the best thing I'd ever had!" I mean, can't you just see yourself saying "oh, my, god, these are soooo good!" with a drunk slur going on? Kid yourself all you want, we've all done it. What's good with a few beers ain't always so good with a Diet Coke.
I'm not saying you should actively seek one of these out to try. Unless of course you are tipsy in the Mission and crave some salty, bready thing that isn't a taco, then this is a nice alternative. Or if you are headed to a game, I'd say it would be worth it. Those games can go on for hours and at some point you are going to get hungry and want a quick bite, then you'll be glad you spent the $5 on a bacon wrapped hot dog instead of having to shell out $8-10 for some plain 'ol dog. Better to save that cash for the stadium booze. Especially if the Giants can't shake this current losing streak, at least you had a beer and a decent enough hot dog without going too broke.