Foods to Stuff Your Face with at Outside Lands 2019
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San Francisco’s biggest music festival is coming this weekend and while Paul Simon may be the musical headliner, the food is always a huge draw. This is one of the few times a year you can find some of the best dishes in SF all in one spot, so I’ve scoured the food vendor list to come up with the best picks for the folks in town just for the festival, (or for the SF folks who never leave their own neighborhood).
Since this is Broke-Ass Stuart, I would be remiss if I didn’t shame the fuck out of OSL for having Caviar operate inside the festival this year. That’s right – you now have the option to pay someone else to stand in line and get your food while you are passed out on your blanket at the main stage, or safely ensconced from the hoi polloi in the VIP section. This should not be a thing. This should be a free accessibility service for disabled attendees and that is it. If you want a real San Francisco experience, you need to wait in line. Waiting for the delicious food items while people pass you with their own dish, will make you appreciate the labor* that went into setting up an entire functioning restaurant, in a tent, in the middle of Golden Gate Park, that is faithfully reproducing dishes you would have to bounce all over the city to find.
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Given that everyone has different dietary choices, I’ll give you the best choice and a runner up in a few different categories. My only criteria are it must be both delicious and reasonable to eat without a table. So while I love a good ramen, it would be the makings of a comedy sketch to try and eat a big bowl of soup at a crowded festival with limited tables. Also, while it is delicious and somewhat portable, anyone who eats sushi at a music festival is an asshole.
With the departure of 4505 Meats and the Best Damn Cheeseburger from OSL, we have some new contenders for the best burger at OSL, but the winner is:
Kronnerburger has bounced around from the Bruno’s Mission, to Piedmont Ave in Oakland, which closed after a fire, and now to its current home at my old stomping grounds at Henry’s in Berkeley. This is a great chance to get this umami bursting burger on this side of the bay. The secret to its unique flavor is a scoop of roasted bone marrow which is a-ma-zing.
Causwells’ burger is on a ton of best burger lists, but its in the Marina so I have yet to try it myself. This weekend is a good time to give it a chance without the hordes of screaming marina girls… Wait, … nevermind.
Best Fried Dough:
Rich Table’s Porcini Doughnuts with Raclette Cheese
I am a sucker for a good doughnut and an even bigger sucker for a savory one. These porcini doughnuts are one of the best things I have ever eaten at OSL and are worth the wait. Fried dough dusted with porchini mushroom powder with a side of cheese to dip them in. Its a simple combination but so unbelievable delicious. They have become such a San Francisco tradition you can get them at Giants home games too.
Johnny’s Old Fashioned Doughnuts if you prefer your doughnuts sweet. Johnny’s doughnuts are gigantic and incredibly good. You may pass out from the sugar over dose but it will be worth it.
Best Fried Chicken:
Proposition Chicken‘s Crispy Fried Chicken Sandwich
There is some really good fried chicken available this year but sandwich portability wins out in a festival. Proposition Chicken is a fast casual spot with two locations in SF and Oakland and their menu is simply fried chicken because thats what they do best. At their restaurants you can get the chicken as an entree or in a salad too but they are smart festival goers and you can only get it in sandwich form at OSL.
Suite Foods’ Liége Waffles Stuffed with Fried Chicken is a close runner up. This one is more about the whole package than the chicken. Suite Foods’ liege waffles are regularly found packaged at local shops but they are a whole other thing when they are made fresh, so when you come across them at a festival or event you should give them a try. The yeast dough waffles with pearl sugar make a damn good pocket for fried chicken.
Best French Fries:
Wise Sons’ Pastrami Cheese Fries will forever be the pinnacle of a stoner’s delight at OSL. Given that they now have Grass Lands now I would expect the line to be even longer. A pile of fries with Wise Sons’ house made pastrami, cheese sauce, russian dressing scallions and pickles can’t be beat.
Son’s Addition Dirty Fries. I am a big fan of this relative new-comer in the Mission and suspect their fries with chorizo gravy, cotija cheese, cilantro, and green onions will stack up with the rest of their menu.
Best Vegan option:
Southpaw BBQ’s Smoked Pulled Jackfruit Sandwiches
Southpaw has been one of my go to restaurants since it open and I genuinely mourned when it closed at the end of June. This is likely your last chance to get Southpaw except through its catering service Sneaky’s.
Rosemund Vegan Sausage Sandwich. As a dedicated meat eater I have always been a little weirder out by fake meat but even I have had Rosemund’s vegan sausage and its really good. You won’t be disappointed.
Best Gluten Free Option:
This category goes hands down to Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen an excellent Venezuelan spot in the Mission. The entire menu is gluten free and delicious. Arepas are traditionally corn meals based and handily portable. Any one of the stuffing options is a good choice – vegan sweet plantain, pulled pork or shredded spicy chicken, I’ve enjoyed them all. Go crazy and get a side of the yucca fries too.
Curry Up Now Tikka Masala bowl. This violates my portability rule but honestly I am having a hard time finding other main dish type items that are specifically listed as gluten free. Bowls seem to be a gluten free persons saving grace. That said about half the vendors seem to be offering some form of gluten free side, snacks or desserts that will keep you satisfied.
Humphry Slocombe Secret Breakfast Scoop or Sundaes
Yes, it will be freezing too cold in the park and visitors will shell out big money for sweatshirts and blankets when they are shivering in their perfect festival outfit, but you will be prepared with toasty layers and and can enjoy some of the best ice cream around. This sundae is made with their signature flavor of bourbon ice cream with cornflakes
If you get too cold for ice cream head to Charles Chocolates for Gourmet S’mores. They also have brownies and cookies but I think Charles Chocolate is best experience in its bar form and combined in a toasty s’more it will be even more delightful.
Happy eating folks!
*also note most of the people working in the food tents are “volunteers”, only being compensated with admission to the festival for the day they work. OSL charges vendors admission fees for each worker they bring beyond three people. (I think its $150 per person, per day). Tips are the only cash workers will walk away with, so remember to tip well. OSL – stop gouging vendors on the worker wristbands so vendors can pay their staff.