The Whole Beast Lamb Poutine, $10
Thick, hand-cut fries are cooked in an 80-20 mixture of rice oil and lamb fat. With fall-apart tender pieces of lamb and a tangy sheep's milk cheese, the dish is topped with a roux-based gravy made of rendered chorizo fat, mirepoix, and lamb stock. Your move, Montreal.
Outside Lambs, breaking down the beast.
Eat Le Truc Butt King Tacos, $10
In addition to appealing to my often-present 12-year-old boy sense of humor, these Butt King tacos were really, really good. Pulled pork is slow cooked in Prik Kihng Thai curry, rendering the meat meltingly tender and laced with the sweet, tangy flavor of coconut cream and Kaffir lime. The tortillas and slaw were nothing to write home about, but pork this good deserves a mention.
Inside Le Truc
Bun Mee Lemongrass Pork Bahn Mi, $8
Let me begin by stating that this is not the best bahn mi in San Francisco. It's also not the best-priced. The bread is far too thick. But, the pork was flavorful and tender (if not terribly lemongrassy); the pickled vegetables ample and spicy; and there was sriracha available for generous application. So, while it might not be the best bahn mi, it certainly got the job done. And given the state of many Outside Lands-goers, sometimes, some good pork, pickled vegetables, and sriracha between bread really is all you need.
Southpaw BBQ Smoked Brisket Sandwich, $10
Southpaw's smoked brisket sandwich is deceiving. It looks like it will be dominated by the dripping smoked aioli—but we could barely taste it. Instead, we got some nice, tender fattiness from the brisket itself, and an absolute show-stopping surprise from the pile of braised collard greens topping the meat. The collards had an incredible, meaty flavor from their slow-cooking, and accentuated the flavor of the brisket with each mouthful.
Azalina's Malaysian Chicken Nachos, $8
I had a hard time imagining that Azalina's could top their chicken curry buns from last year's festival, but couldn't not order these Malaysian chicken nachos upon seeing their technicolor toppings.
Malaysian Chicken Nachos, close-up.
Thin corn chips are topped with shredded chicken, spicy curry, pickled vegetables, coconut jam, and a strawberry puree. The salty-sweet-spicy flavors combined into explosively good bites. They're not kidding about the spicy factor, either—it's slow-building and will have you glad you got your Sierra Nevada before eating.
Candy Bar Guittard Hot Chocolate, $8
Is $8 for a hot chocolate steep? You bet. But this rich, tall glass of Guittard hot chocolate may well seem worth it, especially at a particularly chilly Outside Lands. Laced with a hint of cinnamon flavor, it may be even better with a pour of rye whiskey (you didn't hear that from me, though).
Fried Chicken Yum Yum from 4505 Meats, $10
4505 Meats was one of my favorite bites last year, and clearly, plenty of people agreed with me. This year, the purveyors of meaty deliciousness had two booths, one of which was selling this Fried Chicken Yum Yum. Trust the name—this is a really freaking good sandwich. A deboned chicken thigh is perfectly moist and flavorful, coated with a shatter-crisp crust laced with a nicely subtle spice. Even better: the sandwich maintained its heat and crispness despite making an 8 to 10 minute journey to the beer tent.
Fried Chicken Yum Yum, Slaw
The sandwich is topped with a great spicy slaw, packed with cilantro and pickled jalapenos.
4505 Meats Chimichuri Fries, $8
Thank goodness 4505 Meats was given two festival spots. Because that meant that, in addition to the Yum Yum and their always-tasty burger, they could serve these chimichurri fries. Topped with a garlicky, cilantro-packed yogurt sauce, a sprinkle of pepper flakes, and a healthy pour of chili oil, the toppings alone would have rendered less-worthy fries delicious. These, though, were well-salted and fresh, and managed to stay crisp even after 20 or so minutes doused in sauce. (Though I can't promise we allowed them to last for quite that long.)
Farmerbrown's Little Skillet "The Works," $15
Sometimes, on a foggy night in August, you need some comfort food to set you right again. On a really cold foggy night in August, you need "The Works" from the Little Skillet. A massive, salt-brined piece of chicken breast made us quickly forget that we were bummed to not get a leg—the crisp, well-salted crust spoke to an excellent base batter. The powder sugar-dusted waffle had a lovely, yeasty flavor to it; the mac and cheese was textbook-good and laced with creamy sharp cheddar cheese.
Fried Chicken Crust, money shot.
Del Popolo Margherita Pizza, $10
David Kover already took us behind-the-scenes of the Del Popolo pizza truck—the attraction of the massive, shiny, oven-inside truck may have had something to do with the continuous line winding back from its spot on the grounds. Of course, the delicious Neopolitan-style pizza didn't hurt things, either. Their Margherita is layered with a bright, fresh tomato sauce; we would have liked some more of the milky-fresh mozzarella and basil leaves, but this was still an awfully tasty pizza to find at a festival.
Del Popolo, crust shot.
The crust and underskirt had some nice leopard spotting, and was nicely salted, with a yeasty, fresh flavor.
Inside the Del Popolo Truck
Bacon Bacon LGBT, $10
In addition to an only-in-San-Francisco name, this sandwich of Little Gems, deep-fried bacon (yes), tomatoes, and herbed goat cheese was a fresh, flavorful take on a classic BLT. The thick-sliced tomatoes balanced out the rich crunch of bacon, and the creamy tang of goat cheese was a nice substitution for mayonnaise. The menu promised pain de mie, but we're pretty sure this was a sweet French roll. Regardless, the bread from Bakers of Paris was fresh, tasty, and a great vehicle for the sandwich innards.
Hapa SF Chicken Adobo, $8
Not to be confused with Hapa Ramen, Hapa SF puts out a solid, flavorful brand of Filipino street food. This chicken adobo was a delicious, filling dish. Two pieces of skin-on chicken are marinated in soy sauce, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns, and vinegar, until it is forkably tender. Green onions are scattered on top of the meat and healthy serving of jasmine rice, which does well soaking up the juices from the chicken.
Chicken, inside shot.
Seoul on Wheels Spicy Pork Korrito, $10
The description of this korrito promised spicy rice, kimchee, jack and cheddar cheeses, cilantro and sour cream. There was little evidence of anything but pork and rice, both of which were tasty enough that I almost didn't mind. Save the kimchee, that is—the spicy-sweet pork would have been well served by the tangy, crunchy funk of some good, vinegary kimchee.
The Korrito's Spicy Pork.
The Whole Beast was grilled over oak, resulting in a gorgeous charred exterior.
Bourbon Steak House SF Lamb Kefta Meatballs, $10
Two sizable lamb meatballs were served skewered, in a generous pool of lemony cucumber fennel yogurt.
Lamb Kefta Meatballs
The meat could have had more fatty juice to it, but the rich, gamey flavor was excellent.