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Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Best Things We're Eating and Drinking at Outside Lands

Posted By on Sat, Aug 11, 2012 at 9:00 AM


With 65 restaurants, 16 breweries, and 49 wineries on the grounds this year, Outside Lands has expanded to be one of the biggest food festivals in San Francisco. At the festival, you can visit Beer Lands, Wine Lands, Choco Lands, Lamb Lands (!), food stands from critically acclaimed restaurants, food trucks, and more. There's so much good stuff it's almost overwhelming -- you could make an eating and drinking schedule to accompany your list of music acts to hit -- but we're here to help. All weekend, we'll be reporting on the good, the bad, and the unmissable. (Update: Find Day 2 coverage here.)

Pickle Chips from the Fabulous Frickle Brothers

  • Anna Roth

If there's one thing you should eat at Outside Lands when you're drunk, it's the pickle chips from the Fabulous Frickle Brothers. Resist the siren song of tater tots from Q Restaurant, which, though tempting and conveniently located near the main stage, were overseasoned and unremarkable -- instead, walk up the hill to McClaren Pass and you'll see the green Frickle Bros. cart on the right. You'll be rewarded with large, luscious coins of dill pickles; battered with a combo of tempura, panko, and Lagunitas ale; deep-fried them in canola oil; and serve with house-made ranch and other sauces. The breading is perfect: just light enough to not overpower the salty vegetable, but substantial enough to contain its warm succulence. We've heard the fried green tomatoes are good too. -Anna Roth

Sierra Outside Lands Saison (and others) at Beer Lands

  • Anna Roth

Beer is $9 a cup at the festival. Allow yourself a moment of outrage, and then just give into it (what are you going to do, not drink beer?). It's tucked away near the main entrance, but Beer Lands is way worth the slight detour -- if you're spending that much on suds, you might as well be drinking something better than the Heineken they're serving at tents across the grounds. The special Outside Lands Saison from Sierra Nevada is lightly floral and quenching, and once it got colder at night we enjoyed the bracing Black IPA from Pacific Brewing Laboratory. The only thing that's kind of a hassle is you have to get in a separate line to buy special Beer Lands tickets, sold in books of 10 -- the breweries don't take cash. But do it once and you're done for the weekend. (Also check out our list of the top 5 beers to try at Outside Lands.) -Anna Roth

Malaysian Vegan Nachos from Azalina's Malaysian

click to enlarge Malaysian vegan nachos by Azalina's Malaysian - TAMARA PALMER
  • Tamara Palmer
  • Malaysian vegan nachos by Azalina's Malaysian

One of the standout dishes encountered so far at Outside Lands happens to be vegan. Azalina Eusope of Azalina's Malaysian has come up with a clever twist on the conventional festival snack of nachos. Tortilla chips are topped with savory braised tofu in peanut sauce, atomically spicy pickled vegetables, cilantro, and two remixed condiments. Instead of salsa, there's strawberry puree, and Eusope's coconut jam (kaya, which she sells to retail outlets) takes the place of molten nacho cheese. One tray layered with this dream combination fueled an entire evening of festival roaming. -Tamara Palmer

Pizza from Del Popolo

  • Anna Roth

We've been meaning to try this hipster pizza truck for a while now, and visually it lives up to the hype. It's definitely the most beautiful food truck we've ever seen, set in a repurposed shipping container, one side all glassed-in so you can see the hulking pizza oven and watch the chefs do their thing. There was a crowd gathered around the truck, parked near the Panhandle Stage, so we thought we'd see what the big deal was. It took about five minutes to order and another fifteen to get our pizza, a classic margarita ($10) which tasted good but didn't blow our minds and probably isn't worth the wait if you're hungry. Though the people-watching outside the truck was pretty choice. -Anna Roth

Hot Fries from Nombe

click to enlarge Hot fries by Nombe. - TAMARA PALMER
  • Tamara Palmer
  • Hot fries by Nombe.

Mission District izakaya Nombe is serving up crisp McDonald's sized French fries advertised on the booth sign as "wasabi fries" and as "hot fries" on a sign on the counter. We expected some mound of tortuous green wasabi plopped in the middle of the plate, but instead the fries are very subtly seasoned. This isn't a shock snack. The wasabi is there, but it's not hugely noticeable. There are three squeeze bottles offering condiments to kick it all up a notch: Spicy ketchup spiked with the Asian citrus yuzu, an aioli that's more generous with the wasabi, and a mustard sweetened with clover honey. -Tamara Palmer

Fried Chicken in Many Forms

  • Anna Roth

When did fried chicken happen, and why? Suddenly it's everywhere, and there's no shortage of it to fuel inebriated festival-goers. We joined the line and tried the fried chicken, waffle, and mac and cheese combo ($15) from Farmer Brown's Little Skillet, which was fine -- the fried chicken itself was fantastic, properly juicy inside and with a nicely seasoned crust, the macaroni was completely average (but even average macaroni is still great), and the waffle was nothing to write home about. We liked the karaage (Japanese fried chicken nuggets) from Nombe across the field much more -- they were basically what they sounded like, white meat chicken nuggets, and they were delicious. Over by Hellman Hollow, Luella also had a fried chicken sando on the menu that people were eating with gusto. -Anna Roth

Check out all our coverage of Outside Lands

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