We're still eating and drinking our way through Outside Lands 2013 and bringing you our favorite bites from the festival. Don't miss our picks from Day 1, including Gilroy garlic mac and cheese and pastrami-cheese fries.
Rich Table's Porcini Doughnuts
Not knowing in advance how many doughnuts come in an $8 order, it's entirely possible to think, "Rich Table is in Hayes Valley and is extremely well-regarded and I know I'm going to love these doughnuts, but there are probably only going to be two of them." (After all, the Blue Bottle stand is selling Dynamo's for $5 a pop.) But no -- you actually get seven, and indeed, they are extraordinary. Doughy, salty and with a subtle but unmistakable dusting of porcini mushroom, they're served with an amazing raclette (Swiss melting cheese) but tragically, there is no som floating around to steer you towards a pairing across the way at Winelands. - Pete Kane
I'm dead serious about this: If you eat more one thing at the festival today, make it the superlative lamb poutine from the Whole Beast. There's a reason everyone's been recommending this dish to me all weekend -- the wedge fries are cooked in lamb fat, covered with lamb gravy and sheep's milk cheese and little bits of lamb and other little delicious crispy bits. The whole thing is so superbly done, and so deeply satisfying, that sharing an order is inadvisable; couples have broken up over less than who gets to scrape up the leftover gravy with the last few fries.
Next door, the lamb banh mi from One Market also scored big -- the French bread was properly pillowy, there were plenty of jalapenos and cilantro and pickled carrots and daikon, and a very generous helping of thinly sliced lamb leg, medium-rare. The only downside for me was that the lamb was cold, but that's a personal preference as much as anything.
Gerard's Paella was the most dramatic operation at Outside Lambs, with huge vats of it being made before our very eyes. It had a good mix of flavors -- the calamari was well-done and not overcooked, and played well with the lamb. The citrusy, saffrony rice had the right texture, and crust from the bottom of the pan was mixed in with the fluffier grains. It was a hearty portion at $10, and they certainly get top points for style with their massive custom-made paella pans. - Anna Roth
1300 on Fillmore's BBQ Shrimp and Creamy Grits
Short of a joint with singing waiters, you don't get a more musically minded restaurant than 1300 on Fillmore with its gospel brunches, so it's probably worth a stop at Outside Lands. The BBQ shrimp and creamy grits, perfectly cooked, are buttery and cheesy and don't require any gilding of the lily via hot sauce -- and among the three shrimp was a piece of roasted garlic that's been butterflied to the extent that that's possible with garlic. It's a nice presentation and certainly delicious, but for $12, you could get something as tasty but also cheaper and substantially larger at Outside Lambs. - Pete Kane
Nopalito's Spicy Awesome Chips
They looked like Doritos, tasted like chilaquiles, were topped with a healthy (well, unhealthy) dose of ground pork, and were as spicy and awesome as advertised. A whole order of these chips was a little much for one person -- this is a good dish to grab and snack on as a group if you need strength to get from the Panhandle to main stage or vice versa. - Anna Roth
Charles Chocolate S'Mores
Forget what you know about Honey Maid and Hershey s'mores - you've just been slumming it this whole time. This one starts with a graham cracker that's about as far as those ones in the box as you can get while still calling it the same thing; it's probably about three inches in diameter and has an almost fluffy texture with a hint of cinnamon and brown sugar. It's capped with a slab of good bittersweet dark chocolate (no waxy nonsense) and a giant marshmallow that's fired up when you say go. If the Polo Field (aka Lands End stage) is too crowded for you to even consider attempting to get food there, you can also find smaller s'mores at the Sharon's Chocolate booth in the Choco Lands area. But bigger is usually better in these kinds of circumstances. And if you're not at Outside Lands at all, this doesn't have to be a total tease because Charles Chocolates was generous enough to share the s'mores recipe on the company blog a few years back. - Tamara Palmer
Almanac Brewery's Extra Pale Ale
While Outside Lands doesn't represent the total triumph of branding that, say, SXSW embodies, it is weird to be drinking locally-brewed craft beer from a Heineken cup. (At least they're compostable.) That said, S.F.'s own Almanac Beer is a formidable presence at Beerlands, and the bitter orange-flavored Extra Pale Ale is both relatively low in alcohol (at six percent, pretty standard for Belgian-style) and not so hoppy that it dominates whatever you might be eating. Rather, its bitterness cuts greasy festival fare nicely, making it ideal for this circumstance. Enjoy! - Pete Kane
Fried Egg Sandwich and Hash Browns from Il Cane Russo
I'm a big believer in potatoes to cure all morning-after ills, and in this sense, Il Cane Russo more than delivered when I arrived at Outside Lands in the early afternoon. The hash browns were well-seasoned, and though a little mushier than I'd ideally liked, there were still plenty of crispy bits that you could seek out with your fork -- the cheesy gravy on top just gilded the lily. The breakfast sandwich was pretty standard stuff, nothing remarkable but got the job done nicely: a buttery bun, fried eggs with yolks that burst when you bit into them, and high-quality bacon. - Anna Roth