There are plenty of reasons to stay chained to your desk at lunch time. The work keeps piling up. Everyone surrounding you is still tethered to their cube. You want to save money, so you brought lunch in from home. Power lunches with peers leave you feeling drained instead of energized. …But a parking lot at 428 11th Street aims to dissipate those lunch break fears despite being a stone throw away from the stress and congestion that is 101.

The SoMa StrEat Food Park took root in 2012, and is sandwiched between San Francisco’s Mission District and its South of Market ‘hoods. It’s the brainchild of Carlos Muela who literally has foodie DNA coursing through his veins as a longtime Bay Area restauranteur – both Picaro Tapas Restaurant and Esperpento in the Mission are Muela family restaurants.

You’ll hear beats like DJ Fudge‘s “Pedogbepa,” tickling your eardrums instead of the steady hum of sterile office air conditioning units. By the time you hear Mount & Nicolas Haelg‘s “Something Good,” reverberating off the eclectic mix of food trucks, you’ll feel confident you found your new noon to 1pm happy place.

Who needs to squeeze a stress ball when you can decompress and exchange ideas in an urban playground with co-workers over a quick round of skee ball?

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A cool converted school bus in the park offers you shelter and dining space in the rare instance SF’s sun cuts through its regularly scheduled 65 degree and slightly foggy programming.

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Among the many food options in this lot of dreams are trucks from Torraku Ramen and Lady Saigon. The spicy tonkatsu from Torraku Ramen is made up of a perfect trio (just like the three best friends who own this ramen restaurant on wheels) – al dente ramen style noodles, tasty vegetables and a delectable portion of braised pork belly (if you go with the kakuni option).

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Ho Chi Minh City (often referred to as Saigon) is known for its epic French colonial architecture and its amazing noodles. If the thought of 18 plus hours of flying from SFO to SGN makes you weep, Lady Saigon’s garlic noodles are a fantastic substitute for the crush of incredible food stalls that surround HCMC’s Ben Thanh Market.

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IMG_5445If you order a #1 (BBQ chicken, BBQ pork, BBQ short ribs, vegetables, cilantro and your choice of noodles or rice), you’ll leave SoMa StrEat Food Park feeling as though your belly got an official passport foodie stamp from Vietnam. The garlic noodles are slender and buttery. Set aside all that juicy meant for a moment and you’ll realize that the noodles alone are a substantial serving. This makes an order of #1 Lady Saigon’s Garlic Noodles a meal that’s perfectly equipped to do double duty both as lunch and as leftovers for dinner or noshing the next day.

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Lady Saigon also brews up a refreshing Vietnamese iced coffee at $4.50, so if you’re running a bit low on energy, it just might be the caffeine boost you need to wake you up from your noodle induced coma.

At the very least, this culinary carnival in the heart of San Francisco will inspire you to break out of your PB&J rut. No matter which direction you head at SoMa StrEat Food Park, you’re sure to encounter a tasty plate or two that’s up your alley.

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