Were it not for the big name music, Outside Lands would probably be considered among the Bay Area’s best food festivals. Seriously. The vendor lineup for this year’s festival in Golden Gate Park is no exception to that established rule: The whole lineup is here, and some advice on what to look out for, should it be needed, is below.
For festival goers, “they’re as much there for Rich Table’s porcini doughnuts as anyone on stage,” jokes Anna Weinberg. The owner and managing partner of the Big Night Restaurant Group (Marlowe, Park Tavern, Leo’s) organized the food lineup for the second time this year, keeping established vendors and selecting a freshman class of heavy-hitting restaurants like Hawker Fare, Fiorella, Sons Addition, and more.
“It’s me trying to figure out a really interesting cross section of what’s special about dining in the city right now,” says Weinberg, who anticipates, as every year, “lots of visitors to SF.”
They’ll also get an introduction to what San Franciscans are drinking thanks to Winelands (120 wineries curated by Peter Eastlake), Beerlands (dozens of breweries selected by Dave McLean), and the Cocktail Magic area (drinks from bars like Benjamin Cooper, True Laurel, Horsfeather, and others, plus actual magicians plying their trade).
Food will take the literal stage, once again, at GastroMagic: A small venue between larger music stages where festival attendees can catch acts like musician Portugal the Man playing sous chef to James Beard award-winning chef Naomi Pomeroy. Weinberg will perform, too: She’ll be up there cracking kiwi jokes with her fellow native New Zealander Rhys Darby of Flight of the Conchords.
Some food not to miss:
Rich Table: Porcini Doughnuts with Raclette Cheese
These fried umami balls are a cliché for a reason, and if you haven’t discovered what that reason is, you can at the festival.
Sorrel: Fried Chicken Sandwiches with Jalapeño Slaw, Crispy Rosemary Potatoes
Sorrel’s beautiful, well-executed food is playing well in tony Pac Heights — but how will it fare at the festival? Probably well — chef Alex Hong has worked hundreds of pop-ups in all sorts of environments — and fried chicken sandwiches aren’t something you’ll find at the restaurant, so this sounds fun.
Itani Ramen: Shoyu Chicken Ramen, Furikake Waffle Fries
Another reason it’s good to have Anna Weinberg and locals in charge of the festival food: Unlike visitors to the area, San Franciscan’s know to expect chilly weather, especially in Golden Gate Park in August. That means chicken ramen from Kyle Itani’s Oakland Ramen shop will come in handy.
4505 Meats: Best Damn Cheeseburgers and Chicharrones
A reliably great burger from the Divisadero barbecue spot that does as much as anything could to earn its very assertive “best damn” name.
Bini’s Kitchen: Momos (Nepalese Dumplings)
La Cocina alum Binita Pradhan is a momo wiz, and these dumplings couldn’t be a better festival snack. Look out for her pan fried versions, if she’s got em.
Hawker Fare: Khao Soi Spicy Tamarind and Pork Egg Drop Soup
A little spice on a colder evening will be much appreciated, as will a warm, pork-laden soup.
Dumpling Time & Live Sushi Bar: Shrimp and Pork Siu Mai Dumplings and Live Sushi Handrolls
Another newbie that Weinberg wrangled this year, Dumpling Time’s consistently tasty variety of dumplings and its sister spot Live Sushi’s excellent fish are a welcome addition to the festival lineup.