Best Thing We Ate

The 6 Best Things We Tasted at Outside Lands

By Zagat Staff  |  August 11, 2014
Credit: Virginia Miller

Outside Lands 2014 is on the books. Over the past three days, we sampled from over 200 foods, dozens of Wine Lands' stellar wines, Beer Lands' beers and cocktails from numerous local bars in Golden Gate Park. This year also marked the test drive of GastroMagic, an "interactive culinary stage," where bands and food-industry types teamed up for various forms of entertainment. We'd love to see this stage return next year (pictured above and more highlights in the slide show).

On the food front, some bites stayed consistent, like Rich Table's dreamy porcini donuts. Others went downhill, like Azalina's nachos, sadly served over stale chips, and Namu's awfully bland quesadillas, made from grocery-store tortillas, melted cheese and minimal "salsa" on top. On a brighter note, here are some highlights from the weekend that was.

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    Wise Sons' Pastrami-Cheese Fries

    Wise Sons did it again this year with these killer fries, laden with ground pastrami, cheese, pickle relish and Russian dressing. If there is one thing we could gleefully order every day of the festival, it's this. 

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    AQ/TBD's Highbrow Spaghetti Sloppy Joe

    AQ and its kid sister TBD were newcomers to this year's event. They brought back childhood memories with this soft, comforting sandwich, loaded into a crusty baguette. Beautifully sweet-savory red sauce and actual hunks of Parmesan made for addictive bites. It was a total mess to eat — but a happy one. 

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    Del Popolo's Margherita Pizza

    Each year, Del Popolo brings it, firing up proper Naples-style pizzas from its one-of-a-kind wood-burning oven in a food truck. Kudos to them for keeping this pie consistently one of the best eats every year at Outside Lands.

  • Curry Up Now's Deconstructed Samosa

    ​This Indian-Mexican mashup is still a flavor explosion after all these years. In fact, it keeps getting better. A base of fried samosa dough soaks up the juices from cooked chickpeas, pico de gallo and mint and tamarind chutneys. It's all topped off with adorable mini samosas, wrapped in triangular phyllo pockets. Order the version with crisp and tender chunks of paneer cheese. 

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    Nombe's Ramenburger

    Nombe brought it home with a half Wagyu-half pork belly patty nestled in between crunchy slivers of ramen sheets with tomato and mizuna. We liked the miso version with umami notes from blue cheese and mushrooms.

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    Cocktails by the GastroMagic Stage

    Favorite local bars poured better-than-typical festival cocktails representing The Alembic, 15 Romolo and Hotsy Totsy, among others. Local Edition's Hashmir Swizzle provided crowd-pleasing creamy fun with its combination of dark rum, mango, kefir, Velvet Falernum, bitters and Indian spices. It was like a boozy mango lassi.

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    This Breakdown Breakdance happened Sunday on the GastroMagic stage. It was exactly what it sounds like: live breakdancing set to a whole-hog butchery demonstration between Fatted Calf and Avedano's

  • An unexpected GastroMagic highlight: dudes in gold jumpsuits and toques, dancing like crazy. Yep, this is the world we live in now. We also enjoyed Offal Good Music, wherein Chris Cosentino and Tommy Guerrero talked food, music and skateboarding while Sam Flores performed live art. And there was a great bourbon, beer and wine pairing taste-off with Southpaw BBQ and comedian Lewis Black. St. George Spirits' Breaking & Entering Bourbon was the winner. As all-over-the-place as it was, we hope GastroMagic comes back next year.