This Year’s Eat Drink SF Was the Best One Yet: Here’s Why

San Francisco has a lot of food events but if there’s one event that every foodie in the city looks forward to year after year, it’s Eat Drink SF, a four-day food,wine, and spirits festival that brings all of the Bay Area’s top talent under one roof.

This year, Eat Drink SF not only celebrated the San Francisco Bay Area’s amazing food scene, but also longstanding legacy restaurants that have contributed to the fabric of SF’s culture AND The Golden Gate Restaurant Association’s 80th (!!!) anniversary. It was a long weekend of eating and drinking and we thought we’d round up some of the highlights for those who weren’t able to make it.

Eat Drink SF
Eat Drink SF / courtesy Daisy Barringer

First, a Few Fun Facts:

  • The festival benefits the GGRA Scholarship Foundation, a scholastic-based scholarship program that was established to provide assistance for students who wish to further their education in pursuit of careers in the hospitality industry and has given more than $500,000 in the last 14 years.
  • CUESA (Center for the Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is also a beneficiary and provided the stunning display of fruits and vegetables when you first walked in. (Last year, festival goers actually took the “all you can eat” them to a new level by helping themselves to the fruit and veggies on display, so this year there were backups, just in case.)
  • EDSF featured more than 160 restaurants as well as 70 bars, distilleries, breweries, and wineries.
  • Each tasting had about 2000 attendees total with 600 spots going to VIPs. VIPs paid $90 more for their ticket ($209 total) and were able to enter the tasting 45 minutes early, as well as hang in the exclusive VIP lounge where there were bites from restaurants like ICHI Sushi, RN74, Wayfare Tavern, and Sons & Daughters) that only VIPs could sample.
  • The restaurants were all asked to make 1400-1500 total bites for the evening. That’s a lot of bites.

Highlights from the Weekend

There are four tastings over the course of the weekend and they were all well worth the price of admission, which ranged from $85 for the Tack Knockdown to $119 for general admission to each of the Grand Tastings.

Thursday

The festivities kicked off on Thursday with EDSF’s Taco Knockdown presented by Milagro Tequila. A dozen chefs from AQ, Bar San Pancho, Delfina, Dosa, La Urbana, Matador, Mr. Tipple’s Recording Studio, Myriad Gastropub, Palm House, Picco, Souvla, and Trick Dog battled it out for the “Taco” title.

Palm House Eat Drink SF
Palm House / courtesy Daisy Barringer

The panel of expert judges picked Trick Dog as Best Overall for the second year in a row for its agua chile shrimp taco, while the People’s Choice winner (by a landslide) was Palm House for its Hawaiian smoked brisket in wonton taco.

Friday

Friday night favorites included the ceviche tacos from Tacolicious, the smoked lamb uttapam from Dosa, the loco moco slider from Palm House, the popcorn and caviar from Farallon, and the pork belly with pickled vegetables from Palm House.

Eat Drink SF Tacolicious
Tacolicious Ceviche / courtesy Daisy Barringer

But if we had to pick a winner, it would be the duck grilled cheese and foie gras ice cream cone duo from Hudson Valley Foie Gras. Like, we didn’t literally almost die, except… we literally almost died. That’s how good it was.

Saturday

Saturday night was a little more crowded than Friday, which meant slightly longer lines, especially for Alexander’s Steakhouse’s Japanese beef, spot prawn tartare, and crispy seaweed, as well as Pabu and The Ramen Bar’s spicy salmon hand roll.

There were a lot of meatballs (Asian Box, Delarosa, Plaj, and Waxman’s all had a version), but we didn’t mind because 1.) A meatball makes perfect sense in an environment where you have to serve 1600 portions in 2.5 hours 2.) The meatballs were all very different from each other and 3.) Who doesn’t love a meatball?

Still, props go to Cafe Madeleine, which was serving a huge selection of full-sized desserts and Uno Dos Tacos who put out a carnitas street taco that was loaded to the brim and totally delish.

Farallon Eat Drink SF
Farallon Popcorn & Caviar / courtesy Daisy Barringer

Sunday

Sunday’s Grand Tasting took place in the afternoon, which meant a lot of brunch-inspired bites, like Alioto’s crab bruschetta, Serpentine’s hush puppies, and Fine Cooking’s donut muffins. And though there were legacy restaurants present through the weekend, Sunday was all about featuring Bay Area bars and restaurants that have been open for at least 20 years and have helped shaped the flavors of the local culinary experience, including Scoma’s, Sutro’s at the Cliff House, Tosca, and Irish Coffee from Buena Vista Cafe. There were also appearances from the Golden State Warriors Drumline and The GLIDE Ensemble to close out the event.

All-in-all it was a weekend filled with fun, food, more food, even more food, and sooooo much drinking. So, if you’ll excuse us, we need to get back to recovering. Hope to see you there next year!

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