Mediterranean Crepe (Feta Cheese, Olives, Avocado, Spinach, Green Onions)
For all its charms, San Francisco falls sadly short when it comes to late-night dining. Ten o'clock may be normal in New York City and a little on the early side in Barcelona, but here, you'll be lucky to find a burrito, much less a plate of pasta and an arugula salad.
OK, maybe we're exaggerating a little, but it's definitely true that noshing options drop dramatically after midnight, unless you're looking for a Mission Street bacon dog or fried eggs and French fries at Sparky's or the Bagdad Cafe. And if you're out clubbing, bar-hopping or catching a show South of Market, the chowing opportunities on those wide windswept streets are few and far between.
Nutella, Strawberries, Bananas with Whipped Cream Crepe
Enter Creperie Saint Germain. From this cute, custom-built wagon parked at the sidewalk edge of a private parking lot on Howard Street come sweet and savory crepes made to order. The daytime business is good, filling up the bellies of nearby office workers and loft dwellers with chicken-feta crepes at lunchtime or chocolate-banana ones later in the afternoon. But the real scene at Saint Germain comes late at night, when the brightly lit little stand beckons hungry clubbers from blocks away. Open from 7am-7pm Monday to Wednesday, the cart often serves until 3am on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
A little nightlife buzz is already building up around the place, since there's nothing like topping off a happy buzz with a warm crepe dripping with Nutella--or laying down some beer ballast with smoked salmon and cream cheese, ratatouille and spinach, or ham and pineapple all stuffed into a buckwheat wrapper. Along with the printed menu, there are usually a couple of daily specials, like a recent sweet crepe layering fig jam, almond butter, and sliced banana into deluxe spin on the PB&J.
Fresh Apple, Cinnamon, Brown Sugar with Vanilla Ice Cream Crepe
Why crepes? Although crepe stands are ubiquitous in Paris, San Francisco's burgeoning street-food scene was surprisingly bereft, given how many local chalkboard cafes treat them as a staple. Owners Ahmet Cagin and Zeynep Aynaci, friends from Istabul who jettisoned careers in finance to become micro-restauranteurs, felt that crepes would be easy to make on the spot, reasonably healthy and endlessly flexible.
Meet Lover's Maya Crepe
Unlike other Tweeting food carts, Creperie Saint Germain doesn't roam around. By parking in a parking lot, rather than on a street corner, the owners avoided the high sidewalk-permit fees charged by the city for legal food carts. Instead, they negotiate a monthly rent with the owners of the parking lot, pretty much as if their tidy blue-and-white wagon was a stretch Hummer in need of a double-wide space with a view. The only drawback right now is a complete lack of seating, making eating a crepe here strictly a stand-up affair. But isn't clutching a crepe in one hand and a napkin in the other a small price to pay for curbside Nutella at 3am?