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Chef Smelly’s Outside Lands garlic noodles with crab and shrimp.
Lauren Saria

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Here Are the Best Things Eater Editors Ate at Outside Lands 2023

Odesza’s Sunday night set went off — but so did the food and drink throughout the weekend

Outside Lands proudly bills itself as “the world’s only gourmet music festival” and this year’s lineup of 100 restaurants, bars, and wineries fully lived up to the reputation. Over a foggy three days, some of the Bay Area’s top restaurants and pop-ups offered a smorgasbord of food and drinks to thousands of hungry festival-goers. The options spanned tacos from a trio of La Cocina entrepreneurs, massive meaty sandwiches from Oakland pitmaster Matt Horn, and Taiwanese hot dogs from fan-favorite Piglet & Co.

Eater editors did our best to experience it all — in between catching an emotional set from Kendrick Lamar, Janelle Monae’s highly theatrical performance on Friday afternoon, and Odezsa’s fiery, bass-heavy finale for the weekend. From an unforgettable smash burger to a beguiling glass of skin-contact wine, here are the best things Eater editors ate at Outside Lands 2023.

Garlic noodles with crab and shrimp from Chef Smelly

Chef Edward Wolley’s pop-up, Chef Smelly’s Creole and Soul Food, has earned hoards of fans over the past few years, so it should come as little surprise that his Outside Lands booth sported a sizable line. But the reward for the wait was a massive tray of buttery garlic noodles buried under a blanket of crab meat and crowned with a skewer of grilled prawns. This hefty and decadent dish offered more than enough food to share with a friend and brought an iconic San Francisco dish to a legendary San Francisco event.

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Dac biet burger from Smish Smash

Dac biet burger from Smish Smash
Lauren Saria

Some of the longest lines on Sunday afternoon might have been at Smish Smash, the hit smash burger pop-up from chef Vic Donado — and that’s even with the team smashing patties onto two flattop grills at what seemed like lightspeed. But it also makes sense because the pop-up’s dac biet burger might have been the absolute best bite from the whole weekend. On top of a lacy-edged, quarter-pound, grass-fed beef patty, the team layered melted slices of white American cheese, followed by a bounty of fresh herbs including raw onions, cilantro, Thai basil, alfalfa sprouts, and cilantro. A creamy aioli sealed the deal for the pho-inspired burger, which broke all our expectations with its fresh flavors and that refreshing flurry of vibrant herbs. It rotates on and off the menu, but the next time the dac biet shows up, it’ll be high on our list to get our hands on one.

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Eggplant pesto parm from Daytrip

Dianne de Guzman

I wanted to ease into the weekend by starting with something not quite as heavy as burgers and glizzies. I landed at Daytrip’s booth and spied their eggplant pesto parm, and it was just what I was looking for: a light, flavor-packed sandwich to fuel me for the next few hours. The eggplant was smoky and perfectly cooked, giving the sandwich a nice bass note of heartiness that played off the generous slices of mellow mozzarella. The crunchy baguette was generously slathered in a vibrant walnut pesto that helped lift the flavors of the sandwich and rounded out each bite of eggplant, cheese, and bread. An honorable mention goes to Daytrip’s coconut and black sesame cookie, which was a perfect balance of sweet and salty, with the added nuttiness of brown butter and sesame seeds. Everyone I shared a bite with agreed that it was indeed an excellent cookie — “This is so good!” a friend exclaimed — and together the two items perked up my foggy Friday afternoon.

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Taiwanese fried chicken from chef Melissa King

Taiwanese friend chicken from chef Melissa King
Lauren Saria

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers got to enjoy a nice perk at this year’s festival: access to the cozy Sapphire Lounge, complete with comfortable couches to sink into, complimentary all-day snacks and nonalcoholic beverages, and a daily happy hour hosted by celebrity chef Melissa King, who gamely posed for photos and handed out food to fans at each event. And because it’s happy hour, after all, cardmembers could also feast on complimentary bites from the Top Chef winner including this packet of Taiwanese fried chicken. Each bite-sized piece of fried chicken sported a light and delicately crunchy coating boosted with salt, pepper, and just a touch of spice. It made for a perfect mid-afternoon snack to pair with a cocktail while catching your breath before heading out to enjoy more music.

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Jolie-Laide Trousseau Gris

Jolie-Laide Trousseau Gris
Lauren Saria

It’s not exactly easy to get your hands on a bottle of Jolie-Laide, so seeing not one but two options available by the glass at Wine Lands Reserve, inside the festival’s VIP section, made my eyes light up when I went in search of a beverage. And so, alongside a 4-ounce pour of Scribe Winery’s tart and floral Rosé Pét-Nat, I sampled Jolie-Laide’s Trousseau Gris, an elegant skin-contact wine made from a varietal once relatively common to California but now an excessively rare French variety. If you’re expecting a punchy, tart natural-style wine, you won’t find that here. Instead, Jolie-Laide’s Trousseau Gris blushed a light peach hue and offered delicate notes of stone fruit balanced with floral white tea. The cult-favorite winery just finished building out a new winery near downtown Sonoma, so keep an eye out for information on when you might be able to pop by to pick up a bottle or two.

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Carioca from Abaca

Carioca with strawberries
Lauren Saria

After a long weekend of food, drinks, and music, Sunday late afternoon found me craving something sweet to wrap up a marathon of decadence. Abaca, the modern Filipino restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf had the perfect bite to fit the bill. The restaurant’s deep-fried carioca, or mochi rice doughnut holes, came with passion fruit curd and coconut caramel, a well-balanced pairing that teetered expertly between sweet and tart. A smattering of sliced strawberries reminded me that, despite the weekend’s persistent fog, it was actually summertime and delivered a burst of natural sweetness. The texture of the carioca was the ideal juxtaposition of light and crispy on the outside and dense and chewy on the inside, plus the tray of a half dozen doughnuts made it a perfect dessert for sharing between sets.

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

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