After five years of doing it big in Union Square, Eat Drink SF is blowing up in 2014! The festival formerly known as SF Chefs has grown tremendously this year, expanding to take over the Festival Pavilion and conference center at Fort Mason. Mark your calendar to explore the various tastings and workshops from August 1 to August 3.

It can be a challenge to feel like an ultimate foodie in a city where the subject is a universal language, but this is a must-attend yearly experience that exposes so much talent in just a few short days. Choose the Lexus Grand Tasting at the Festival Pavilion, and you’ll get a smart overview of both new and perennially popular restaurants presenting what they do best, all while donating to the charitable efforts of organizations like Share Our Strength, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), Slow Food San Francisco’s NOMADgardens project, and the Golden Gate Restaurant Association Scholarship Fund.

Each of the Lexus Grand Tastings has its own theme and personality. You don’t have to take a BuzzFeed-style quiz to know which ones fit you best; just feast your eyes on these delicious tidbits about them:

My Big Obsession: Can’t Stop. Won’t Stop. Eatin’. (6:30–10 PM, August 1)

Hot, nerdy food-fun alert! Chefs from newcomers like Aveline, 1760, and The Coachman will join top staples like A16, Central Kitchen, and Delfina will geek out on their latest culinary obsessions on the plate and in cocktail glasses. Trend-spotters will love to see – and taste! – the various ideas that are emerging and being embraced. Today, San Francisco; tomorrow, the world.

Meet My Mentor: An Homage (12:30–4 PM, August 2)

The Bay Area food scene thrives on the interlocking relationships of chefs who support and mentor each other. This afternoon’s group of participants includes classics such as Campton Place, Millennium, and Rose Pistola as well as fresh faces like Souvla, Dirty Habit, and Gaspar Brasserie and embody the familial power of our local dining world. Plus, take in demos from Top Chef alum Casey Thompson (Aveline and The European), master beer sommelier Marc Stroobandt, PBS star Joanne Weir (Copita Tequileria y Comida), and chef Duskie Estes (zazu kitchen + farm).

A Night of Classics: Bay Area Originals (7–10:30 PM, August 2)

Tonight, popular restaurants like Farallon, Hakkasan, Park Tavern, Tacolicious, Parallel 37, and The Cavalier present signature, original dishes that can never be taken off the menu for fear of customer upheaval. This is the fast lane to knowing the hearts of dozens of worthy eateries around town, and here’s a little secret/gluttony justification: you can probably indulge a little bit extra at this event, simply because you’ll be dancing it off after dark at the same time.

Made in SF: Celebrating the Bay Area’s Tastemakers (12:30–4 PM, August 3)

The final Lexus Grand Tasting pays tribute to San Francisco’s artisan food makers and the lazy, grazy nature of Sundays in the city, where epic brunches, bountiful farmers’ markets, and endless cocktails keep the weekend party on overdrive. This event features demos from Matthew Dolan (Twenty Five Lusk), Jason Rea and Erik Tennyson (TRACE), and Top Chef Masters alum Suvir Saran (the forthcoming American Masala) alongside bites and sips from young restaurants like The Commissary, Fog City, and Pathos Organic Greek Kitchen as well as seasoned spots such as Cliff House, Bourbon Steak, and Zero Zero.

Take some pro tips for Eat Drink SF from some veterans on the scene: arrive early and hungry, be kind to your nibbling neighbor, and, above all, pace yourself! It’s hard to go slow when there is a showdown of awesomeness to contemplate, but you’ll be glad you did in the long run.

Ready to Eat Drink SF? Use the promo code BOLD14 for 15% off general admission and VIP tickets.

All photos by Gamma Nine Photography