The 18 Best Outside Lands Restaurants guide image


The 18 Best Outside Lands Restaurants

A music festival is only as good as its food offerings.

Neon heart-shaped sunglasses are being shipped out all across the city, the jumbo Ranger Dave statue is coming out of a year-long hibernation, and thousands of San Franciscans are planning to call in “sick” on August 11th. It’s Outside Lands season, baby. If you’re one of the 75,000 people preparing to descend upon Polo Field—first, see you there. Second, start to plan what to eat during the three-day extravaganza. This year’s restaurant lineup is as exciting as the artists—over 95 spots from across the Bay in one place, for one weekend only. 

We’re highlighting the best spots in the city that are taking their talents to OSL—and serving promising menus (including dishes we’ve had and loved). Among them is an incredible fried chicken joint from Oakland, an exciting new sandwich spot in the Haight, a place with phenomenal momos, and more. Get ready to eat well in between sets.


Bodega SF

Proclaiming our love for Bodega SF in the Tenderloin is easy—this place is one of the city’s best new restaurants, and their fantastic Northern Vietnamese dishes are punched up with unexpected surprises, like a shaking beef with truffle butter and crispy bánh khọt crowned with caviar. There won’t be caviar at the festival, but instead, seafood dumplings and short rib stew—they’ll likely come in handy when Karl rolls in as a guest performer. 

You probably had drunken noodles before, but have you met the version from Jo’s Modern Thai? Topped with salty-fatty slabs of brisket, it’ll rewire your brain with in-your-face flavor. And lucky for you, these noodles from the Oakland Thai spot are on the menu at OSL. Also look forward to pork laab burgers and garlicky, tamarind-heavy party wings. 

OSL is the perfect opportunity to get introduced to the muffulettas from Sandy’s in the Haight. The soppressata, mortadella, provolone, and spicy olive spread-filled take on the New Orleans-style sandwiches are divine—and the fuel-up needed before you haul ass to the SOMA tent. Their vegetarian version with earthy mushrooms and scallions (it’s serious competition with the meaty original), are on deck, too. 

The chicken wings from this Korean restaurant in the Sunset are on the shortlist of best SF chicken wings—they’re crunchy, pull-off-the-bone tender, and drenched in an incredible sticky ginger-sesame-soy glaze. Their OSL offerings (thankfully) include fried chicken, along with bibimbap bowls with purple rice and tofu, and Korean turkey legs. 

We’re big fans of whatever comes out of the oven at Reem’s, the Arab bakery and restaurant with locations in the Mission and Ferry Building. Their golden-brown man’oushe is last-meal-in-the-city worthy, and it’ll appear at OSL topped with za’atar. As far as proteins go, they’ll also have their tender braised sumac chicken wraps and falafels served with tahini. 

This pop-up is home to some of the crispiest, most caramelized smashburgers in the Bay. The meaty knockouts are super thin, sandwiched between soft potato rolls and topped with everything from classic grilled onions and pickles to jalapeños and bean sprouts. We don’t know (yet) what kind of smashburgers they’ll serve at OSL (though, they’ll probably be f*cking delicious). Beef tallow fries and fruit smoothies will also be available. 

Abacá is a fine dining spot near Fisherman’s Wharf that puts a California spin on traditional Filipino classics, like smoked chicken palabok and okoy fritters. Now the remixed dishes are touching down at Polo Field. Dumpling molo soup, sisig fried rice, and carioca mochi donuts? Sounds like a pretty damn balanced meal to us. 

One likely weekend scenario: you have an out-of-body experience scream-singing in the front row of Twin Peaks, and need to reground yourself in reality with a plate of hot momos. Bini’s Kitchen, a Nepali spot in the Mission, makes some of the best in the city. The exact fillings are still TBD, but if it's well-spiced turkey, lamb, or vegetable, you’re in good hands. 

Chef Smelly’s, the semi-permanent soul food pop-up in Oakland, is opening their first brick-and-mortar later this year. And while you count down the days until then (a worthwhile activity), it’s time to shovel in their garlic noodles at OSL. This year, they’re topped with Dungeness crab, or steak and shrimp, and slathered in a boatload of fragrant, garlicky butter.    

There’s only one thing on Fowl + Fare’s festival menu: a fried chicken sandwich. It's a masterpiece—just a gorgeous fried hunk of thigh meat, chipotle aioli, and creamy, crunchy pear slaw. Inhaling the entire thing is the smart way to spend a precious 15 minute break between sets. And if you’re still thinking about the sandwich during your post-OSL come-down, know that this pop-up serves it, plus burgers, quesabirria tacos, and more, out of The Lodge in Oakland. 

Horn Barbecue is Bay Area smoked meat royalty. This is why you’ve probably heard a story about your neighbor’s favorite grocery store cashier who stood in line at the West Oakland spot for hours. And likely, you’ve done the same—camping chair and all. At OSL, get pumped for their brisket chopped cheeses, burnt ends sandwiches, and self-proclaimed “Messy Fries.”

If you’ve never had falafel nachos, the falafel nacho-less streak ends here. Lulu, an excellent Palestinian brunch and lunch spot from Berkeley, will be churning them out during their OSL debut. They’re also serving tabbouleh shrimp ceviche and elotes arabes.  

This is Trick Dog’s first time at the festival, and the Mission bar is arriving with a bang—in the form of hot dogs. We love their “Mission dog” with bacon and jalapeño spread, which they'll star at the festival alongside vegetarian nuggets. Also, be on the lookout for Quik Dog (Trick Dog’s pandemic-born hot dog concept)—the OSL stall will have the same exact menu. 

Also new to the OSL lineup this year is Piglet & Co, a Taiwanese night market-inspired spot in the Mission. They serve an excellent and actually exciting brunch of Asian comfort dishes, from boba-topped french toast to stacked breakfast burgers. At the festival, they’ll be doling out chashao roast pork over rice, and loaded Taiwanese hot dogs

This Jamaican patty spot is a Ferry Building staple—that’s due to their flaky, turmeric-tinted crust, which will appear at OSL. These hearty handheld beef pockets in perfectly buttery dough are on the menu, as are jerk chicken wings and sweet plantains. 

Wahpepah’s Kitchen is an Indigenous restaurant serving traditional Native American dishes in a colorful, mural-adorned space in Oakland. This year, they’re bringing tender bison burgers, smoked sweet potatoes, and vegetable bowls to Golden Gate Park—a great way for you to get acquainted with native foodways and cooking techniques. 

The shawarma wraps from Shawarmaji in Oakland are the length of an adult forearm. We’re guessing the OSL version will be smaller but just as delicious—stuffed with Jordan-style crispy chicken, plus thick garlic toum that warrants throwing back a dozen Altoids. The vegetarian option is their equally excellent falafel wrap, and there’ll also be fries as a side. 

Daytrip is an Oakland bar/restaurant highlighting the power of fermentation—think buttery golden-brown focaccia and miso butter pasta. For the festival, they’re honing in on sandwiches: spicy pork butt or eggplant parm. Also on hand are habanero fries, which are the fried sustenance that’ll keep you going for another 15,000 steps. 

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

photo credit: Outside Lands

The 18 Best Outside Lands Restaurants guide image