A small sample of the spread at SF Street Food 2012. Photo courtesy PixelBoo Studio via Facebook.

If you are planning a visit to San Francisco in August, you’re a lucky devil because one of our most vibrant, flavorful, and fun food events is fast approaching: La Cocina’s fifth annual San Francisco Street Food Festival is coming on Saturday August 17th, and once again this year there will be a Night Market on Friday August 16th.

The Night Market, which will be held at the Alemany Farmers’ Market from 4pm–9pm, includes more than 25 vendors hawking a variety of street food. You’ll also find drinks, live music, and, new this year, street games from around the world, including cornhole, Skee-Ball, and Berlin-style Ping-Pong. The event is a benefit for La Cocina’s incubator program, and tickets are $35, but they’ve got an early bird special running until July 20th that includes drink tickets and $50 to spend at either the Night Market or the Festival for $75. There will be a free shuttle leaving Mission Pie (2901 Mission St. at 25th St.), or you can purchase a parking pass. Pro tip: Don’t forget your jacket, scarf, and hat; it can get chilly out there. 100 Alemany Blvd. at Peralta. Map

Once you’ve gotten a taste at the Night Market, you really won’t want to miss the Saturday main event. The Street Food Festival will take over several blocks in the Mission, on Folsom from 20th Street to 26th Street and 21st Street to 25th Street between Shotwell and Treat, from 11am–7pm. The event includes tons of great food from La Cocina incubator alumni, plus street food purveyors from all over. Each stand will offer a small plate for $3, a large plate for $8, and a beverage, and you’ll also find bar areas with beer, wine, and cocktails. The event is not only amazing but also free to the public, all you have to pay for is the food. And they’ve got a ton of great deals going on, such as “passports” that you can share with your group; check them out here, and don’t forget to use that promo code (5YEARS) for 5 percent off all passports. They’re a great deal, so get ‘em while they’re hot! Pro tip: Go with at least a few non-germphobic friends so you can share bites together and try more. Folsom between 20th and 26th Sts. Map

Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column about the SF dining scene, subscribe for free at www.tablehopper.com. Out now is her first book, The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion, a groundbreaking new style of guidebook. And check out her new app, Tablehopper’s Top Late-Night Eats, which highlights 95 SF spots serving food past 11pm!