When you walk into an event and this is the first sight you see, you become pretty convinced that this evening is going to rock.
I was invited and hosted to Taste of Potrero by my friends, Kathy and Frank. When she first reached out to me, hearing a little bit about it and how it was to benefit the Daniel Webster Elementary School, I was relatively certain that (1) it would be a small event, (2) it’s basically a PTA meeting with restaurant sponsors, and (3) I’m going to attend so I can chit chat with them more than I am to actually cover the event.
I was wrong on all counts. And, I came back with almost 600 photos.
First, of all the nights for this to happen, Mother Nature chose the one night I’m heading to a “partially” outdoor event to rain. Anyone who knows me knows that I value hair and makeup more than even food — and rain doesn’t go well with either. That said, it was merely a light but consistent drizzle, my hair was up anyway, and it didn’t deter anyone from enjoying the event, except maybe the performers who showed their talents off at Taste of Potrero.
Hundreds of people gathered for Taste of Potrero, the majority inside due to the weather, but before I could set foot inside, I had to try the many booths that were set up outside, including the shrimp shown above.
Mission Rock Resort at Taste of Potrero
As mentioned, being greeted by an open oyster and shrimp bar at any event immediately elevates that event as one to remember. Kudos to the Mission Rock Resort folks for supply endless seafood that lasted until well past 9pm that evening, even with folks going back for seconds or thirds, and some folks actually standing and eating at this booth only. The oysters were divine, but the shrimp was perfect. They were citrus-poached wild Mexican prawns and I’ll admit, I had three. The tartar sauce that was served with this at Taste of Potrero was a really nicely balanced creamy, tart and slightly sweet accompaniment to the shrimp.
With $0.99 cent oysters from 3-7 pm on weekdays at the Mission Rock Resort, you can be sure I’ll be dropping by in the near future.
Del Popolo at Taste of Potrero
If you do a search on San Francisco Food, you’ll find that there really aren’t a lot of reviews about pizza. I just don’t like pizza that much and the majority of the time, it doesn’t taste good to me. The ratio of dough to sauce to cheese to whatever else you put on it doesn’t jive well with me, and thick or thin crust, I’m rarely impressed with pizza with just a few exceptions.
Del Popolo is now one of those exceptions.
I had never heard of Del Popolo until I arrived at Taste of Potrero, and quickly discovered why: they’re a mobile pizzeria without a brick and mortar location, and I’m just not privy to much that goes on in the food truck and mobile pizzeria world, apparently. Check out the fabulous setup of this shipping container on wheels with an actual wood-burning stove in it!
They were pumping out pizzas at Taste of Potrero like nobody’s business for the entire evening. When I Ieft at 9:40, they were still going strong with pizza pies flying out of the mobile kitchen.
From this small kitchen, Del Popolo served some fantastic pizza for a large attendee count at amazing speeds.
The crust was thin but not weak; it held a good amount of sauce and cheese on top of it without getting limp or soggy. The flavors of ricotta cheese and fresh mozzarella were distinct and I, the one who never finishes the crust, ate the crust, too. They had two kinds of pizza, and I tried both, but apparently forgot to take a photo of the margherita pizza before downing it. On that pizza, the tomato sauce was so brilliantly bright and fun.
Other Outdoor Sponsors at Taste of Potrero
It’s simply impossible for me to go over all of the food or drinks at Taste of Potrero. I can tell you that by this point, I made the mistake of actually eating the whole serving of food. I wouldn’t learn my lesson for at least a few more booths, but I was soon going to learn that indoors, there were approximately 35 other booths to taste.
El Sur was busily making fresh empanadas on their mobile truck; the choices were Traditional with beef, Parisien with country ham, prosciutto and cheese, or Verde with Swiss chard and cheese. The Parisien was like a breakfast pocket full of flavorful ham and lots and lots of cheese — how could anyone not love that?
With all the eating and drinking happening at this event, it was refereshing to see Voss there with ice buckets and cold water. We need water if we’re going to gorge like this.
Here are some of the drink sponsors who kept us merry all night long:
Yes, by this time, I’ve had a glass of Chardonnay and now, a Pisco Sour. No, no…I’m fine, but if the photos start getting blurry, well, you know what happened.
La Mar at Taste of Potrero
La Mar was another one that was impressive. They’ve always cooked great food and provided fresh seafood in their restaurant, and at Taste of Potrero, they offered just as good in their cebiche. But the colorful concoction next to it caught my eye: is that mango? What’s that hot purple stuff?
Well, it’s a sweet potato causa topped with a beet salad mash and an avocado puree. The flavors in this were incredible! (Note: I had two. In about five minutes, I smack myself upside the head for this when I enter the venue to see how much food is inside.)
Entering the Indoor Area of The NWBLK for Taste of Potrero 2014
Comstock Saloon at Taste of Potrero 2014
Onto my third drink, I tried Comstock Saloon’s version of sangria. Compared to regular sangria, it was a fruitier and brighter creation that woke up your palate. At the time, it seemed a good enough reason to have two, so I did.
Mr. Espresso at Taste of Potrero 2014
I meant to save a tasting of the coffee at Mr. Espresso, but alas, I was so full by the end that coffee didn’t even enter my mind. However, they were a delight to see at the left corner, brightening up the room with Faema espresso machine. I need one of these machines. In my dream home, I have one of these machines…and this will happen, I promise you!
But yea, sorry — I forgot to try the coffee before leaving.
Luke’s Local at Taste of Potrero 2014
While I really love the look and feel of this venue, this colored lighting business is my worst nightmare when it comes to photos. Keep in mind that all of this food looked much better in person and in white light than what is shown.
First thing I tasted upon entering was a Lamb BLT from Luke’s Local. As bacon, lamb apparently loses all of the gaminess and gives a nice porky punch. The perfectly toasted pain de mie brought this altogether nicely.
Luke’s Local was also serving little cups full of delightful vadouvan soup made of Chantenay carrots. It was earthy and sweet, providing a very balanced and fresh taste.
Local Mission Eatery at Taste of Potrero
The pâté by Local Mission Eatery was really delicious. It was more coarsely ground than usually expected of pâté, more in line with pork terrine, which made it all the more interesting texturally. The cherry ketchup brightened up the dense notes and the green onions provided a little kick. Each bite was packed with flavor where you could discern the meat, the fat and the seasonings.
Local’s Corner at Taste of Potrero
Two ceviche offerings down, I was delighted to see that one of the restaurants, Local’s Corner, which I had previously not heard of, had brought salmon! They provided nice slices of citrus-cured salmoln with almonds and coriander mustard. Gorgeous to look at, it was fresh, salty and instantly made me crave a bagel with cream cheese.
Local Mission Market at Taste of Potrero
God bless the vegetarians of the world for eating wheat berries. Local Mission Market was endlessly serving this sugar snap pea salad with feta, mint, radish and wheat berries. It’s a dreamy creation, really, with crisp and clear flavors, all kind of textures from crunchy to chewy to soft, and a nice mix of dense flavors that were made playful by the natural sweetness of the snap peas and radishes. Frank had brought me one cup when I was at our table; I grabbed another after I took these photos.
I hate to admit this, but after I was finished with all of my photos, I had another. THAT good!! I declare this my favorite for the evening.
Paragon at Taste of Potrero
It’s not an event these days until someone offers some sliders, and at Taste of Potrero last night, it was Paragon. While I have driven by Paragon multiple times as it’s close to the AT&T Ball Park, I had never eaten there, so I was looking forward to this. The BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders were glorious to look at. While a bit too sweet for my taste, I’d guess most people prefer it that way, whereas I’m not about sweet meat of any kind.
With the slider came a tiny square of strawberry cheesecake. Can I just spend a moment explaining how good that cheesecake was?
The sweetness was mild and the creaminess of the cheese as well as the buttery goodness in the soft crust….it was absolutely perfect!
Gilberth’s Rotisserie & Grill at Taste of Potrero
While my favorite dish was probably the sugar snap pea from Local Mission Market, my favorite new restaurant discovery was Gilberth’s. It’s a very interesting twist to the current offerings we have in San Francisco, where they claim “Latin Cuisine Meets Urban Chic”. And so it does.
First up was a purple corn polenta, which I haven’t seen offered anywhere. It was similar to regular corn polenta but had a deeper flavor — more corn taste. The color was rich purple hue that automatically caught your eye. From bottom to top, it layered from heavy to light, and the taste of arugula was vital to cutting the heaviness. I loved it!
The arugula was also accompanying the alligator tacos. It was nicely seasoned and cooked in sauces that moistened the alligator meat that is easy to dry out due to the lack of fat. The tortilla was super crispy, daring you not to chop it into two halves with the first bite.
Gilberth’s appears to open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is quite intriguing; it’s on my list of places to visit for a review.
Hillside Supperclub at Taste of Potrero
The meatballs by Hillside Supperclub were nice. Tender, juicy and brightened by a nice tomato sauce, it was really enjoyable with the pecorino cheese, not to mention the soft, wonderfully-baked foccacia bread. The broccoli soup was a was a nice change from the heat of the meatball to the coolness of the soup.
Green Chile Kitchen at Taste of Potrero
There are still a whole section of food sponsors to visit, most of them desserts, but I had basically reached capacity. Looking at the food laid out, I’m thinking I can’t eat any more to save my life when I spotted a soup.
If you know Koreans, it’s that we always have room for soup.
Looking up, I see it’s the Green Chile Kitchen….and if you know Koreans, we like spicy. So, I made room, and I I’m glad I did.
The pork green chile stew was a fascinating soup. You could definitely see and taste the pork broth, yet it wasn’t heavy at all, even in my fullness. With a dab of creme fraiche, it turned the stock-like soup into something a little creamier. Best of all, it gave a really significant kick and heat — something I love.
And that’s the final tasting I’ll cover in this post, primarily due to space. There were a lot more tables full of food — and I did my utmost to taste at least one item from each food item, shown above as well as below, but unfortunately, even tasting the dessert section was out of the question.
Here’s a quick photo overview of everything else:
And finally, some of the desserts and beverages at Taste of Potrero:
Summary of Taste of Potrero
You can easily see why I announced this as one of the best food events I have attended in San Francisco. First, the majority of the food sponsors went out of their way to bring an ample amount of food for the attendees. Unlike other events where one hour into it, the food is gone, I’d guess that about 80% of the eateries were still stocked and putting out food at 9:30 PM, which you’ll note is a lot for a food event. The same applied to wine and cocktails — there was no end in sight and the event was scheduled to go through to 11 P.M.
The cause itself is fantastic. What had led me to believe this might be a PTA event was that this was a fundraiser for Daniel Webster Elementary School — a school that the local neighborhood parents fought to keep open, and succeeded. The event supports the organization that was created to keep the school opened in a neighborhood where a decent percentage of the population is underserved — The Potrero Resident Education Fund (PREFUND).
I had thought that my friend was asking that I attend this event because she wanted coverage for her daughter’s school. It was only en route to the event that I realized she doesn’t have a child who goes to this school! They attend this event yearly to support the organization and because the event food is so great, they said….and they were right.
Taste of Potrero was well-organized and a lot of fun. From music, to location, to sponsors, to food and drinks — it was clear that a lot of work and meticulous attention were invested. The ticket cost was $100 for general admission that got you access to almost all of the food and drink vendors, barring a few in the VIP Lounge.
It would be one of the grandest ways to spend $100 in San Francisco and nowhere else in this city would you get more food and drinks for that price. For 2015, I’ll be sure to bring at least twenty friends with me.
I would wholeheartedly recommend supporting PREFUND & Taste of Potrero — and look forward to many more years of great food, great drinks and great people.
Below are some videos about the event itself, and PREFUND, the organization behind Taste of Potrero.
Grace Keh is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to San Francisco" and the critic, editor and photographer behind San Francisco Food. In her regular day job, she consults for corporate clients in marketing and event strategy. Once the sun sets, she's on the hunt for great food in what she considers to be one of the world's greatest cities, San Francisco.