Proposed SoMa park would be ‘destination’ for food trucks

Would cheap Korean beef tacos still smell as sweet if you didn’t have to hunt to find them?

Trendy street-food vendors could park at a triangular parking lot at 11th and Harrison streets near Costco seven days a week under a new proposal. Instead of relying on Twitter for seller updates or weekly Off the Grid fixes, the SoMa Street Food Park would be a permanent, cheap chow stop.

“So far, we’re just thinking we’ll be there for the lunch and dinner crowd,” said Carlos Muela, who is organizing the food park with his parents. But further down the line, they want to open during late-night hours and apply for a wine and beer permit, too, he said.

Muela’s family owns two tapas restaurants in the Mission: Picaro Tapas and Esperpento Tapas.

The family wants to build a restroom and seating area to “serve as a platform for community interaction,” Muela said. They have already passed out descriptions to the neighbors with a picture of 12 trucks parked around the perimeter, 16 food carts planted inside and tables congregated in the middle.

The food park would for the first time create competition for Matthew Cohen, who could be considered The City’s street-food messiah.

Cohen latched on to the trend in July and started his weekly Off the Grid event at Fort Mason, which draws more than a dozen vendors and thousands of hungry patrons every time. Since then, his operation has evolved into five additional events throughout The City and he is planning another half-dozen all over the Bay Area.

“It’s unrealistic for us to expect to be the only ones doing this forever,” Cohen said. However, he pointed out that the area proposed for the street-food park does not get much foot traffic, the vendors’ bread and butter.

“It would be a destination spot,” he said.

Muela said if all goes according to plan and his family gets the permits from the Planning, Health and Fire departments, then the food park could open as early as August.

“I already have a list of vendors who are really excited about it,” he said.

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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