Hallo-weekend is all the wilder this year. Though the ultra-scary pandemic is still looming, Golden Gate Park’s favorite festival is back. Outside Lands is returning, defiant against the delta variant and with heavy hitters like Lizzo, Tame Impala and The Strokes.
The Examiner has your back for plotting the best course through the food and beverage areas of the festival. There are the stalwarts, something fried and a little too expensive. But Outside Lands is unique among festivals in this regard: There are over 85 food vendors as well as over 40 wineries and 30 breweries. The grazing areas are divided into sections with dizzying names like Taste of the Bay Area, Cheese Lands and Cocktail Magic.
To make your foray into the festival less daunting, here are some vendors to try.
Bloomstock (Taste of the Bay Area)
Bloomstock’s appearance at OSL lets you know that the festival has an ear to The City that’s not all Mission and Pacific Heights. The coffee shop is in the Bayview, and its owner, Ross Rayala, makes not just great coffee but outrageous waffles. The churro waffle is the slam dunk. It’s also vegan. You must eat this waffle.
Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas (Taste of the Bay Area)
The team at Alicia Villanueva’s beloved business is not only cooking delicious tamales, it includes nice people. They donate proceeds from their Hayward-made tamales to nonprofits to support when they can. Unlike many tamales in San Francisco, Alicia’s are also affordable, making the steam rising from the peeled leaf sing all the more. Try the pumpkin mole.
Otra (Taste of the Bay Area)
Lower Haight has a righteous new Mexican restaurant, and OSL is lucky to have Otra pop up among the music and the madness. Nick Cobarruvias and Anna Sager Cobarruvias, who launched and operate Son’s Addition in the Mission, have turned to Nick’s Mexican heritage for this new venture. It is going super well, or it seems so as everything tastes really good. If you can, order the hen of the woods huarache, served with house ground heirloom masa.
Escape from New York Pizza (Taste of the Bay Area)
It’d be a shame not to get this pizza. That’s a rule of any well spent day in San Francisco, but it’s all the more true at a music festival. Escape from New York Pizza is a tried and true, a classic pizzeria with a legendary location on Haight, not far from Golden Gate Park. Nab a slice, revel in the city vibes, listen to Kaytranada.
Vegan Mob (Taste of the Bay Area)
Toriano Gordon is another San Francisco classic. Born and raised in the Fillmore, way before the Goop store came and went, Gordon spent most of his life working with formerly incarcerated young people. Now his food truck serves up the “Bay Area’s Favorite Vegan BBQ” on the corner of 18th and Valencia and in Oakland a block from the Grand Lake Theatre. The Mob Plate is about as fire as fire gets.
Mission Bay Wine & Cheese (Cheese Lands)
If you are a cheese person, as most people are, you will find this very specific area of OSL much to your liking. The options in cheese land are not as wide-flung as the other “lands,” but foodies won’t be disappointed. Further, Debbie Zachareas has helped build many of The City’s wine programs and master sommelier Peter Granoff joins her in serving an artisan cheese and charcuterie plate and a burrata with sea salt and olive oil.
BloodRoot Wines (Wine Lands)
Few wineries have as cool a logo as BloodRoot wines. Noah and Kelly Dorrance of Reeve Wines have taken their new business in a minimal, sleek direction. Their catchphrase is the somewhat jarring “Wine from place. Life from death.” Here’s a wine aesthetic that isn’t pseudo-Franco and ultra posh — just badass. This is their debut pour at a music festival. Their 2018 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is not to be missed.
Hella Coastal (Beer Lands)
Among 8,000-plus breweries in the country there are only 60 that are Black-owned and operated. The owners of Hella Coastal noticed there were also none in Oakland. Since opening, they’ve been doling out some impressive offerings. Their mango habañero, an American wheat ale with big spice and big sweet, is not to be missed. They also concocted the “Black is Beautiful” oatmeal stout with a twist, aging the brew with oak chips soaked in Hennessy and Madagascar vanilla. Proceeds from the beer go to Campaign Zero.
Frank & Vlad’s (Cocktail Magic)
This neck of the haunted woods features pop up “lounges” for guests to hang their masks and have a drink. One offering there is the Sazarachnophobia with Bulleit Rye, Absinthe, Spooky Spice Syrup, Peychaud’s Bitters and Spider Ring. To drive the point home, there are actual magicians performing for music-weary drinkers. If you like craft cocktails while talking to Gob from Arrested Development, then you will really, really enjoy this.