Outside Lands 2023 best food to try

For those that want to pair this weekend’s stacked Outside Lands lineup with scrumptious food, you’re at the right place. With nearly 100 food, drink and dessert vendors — many from the Bay Area — the annual festival at Golden Gate Park is as much a food event as it is a sonic one. 

Newcomers include fried chicken savant Fowl + Fare, smoked meat-slinger Horn Barbecue, Taiwanese comfort specialist Piglet & Co., Colombian small plate joint Parche and chefy torta pop-up My Friend Fernando. Moon, a new concept by the folks behind the Michelin-starred Sorrel, is also set to make its debut at the festival offering grilled skewers dusted with spice. They join the colorful cast of returning restaurants like El Garage, Jo’s Modern Thai, Chef Smelly’s, Wahpehpah’s Kitchen, Daytrip and alaMar (this time introducing its Dominican Menu).

With an overabundance of delectable options, here are 10 places to try that the Chronicle has already tried — many of which are some of the best restaurants in the Bay Area, in their respective genres. (Will their wonderful food translate to the festival setting? Check back during the three-day event for updates.)

The celery salad at Daytrip in Oakland.

The celery salad at Daytrip in Oakland.

Gabrielle Lurie/The Chronicle

Daytrip

During the course of its nearly three-year lifespan Daytrip, the groovy restaurant in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood, has evolved into something beautiful. Its focus on fermentation means change is always afoot and you’re guaranteed to try something challenging or unheard of, but in the best way possible.

Location: Polo Field near the park’s north tunnel

Menu: Spicy pork butt sandwiches, eggplant parm sandwiches, habanero fries, coconut and black sesame brown butter cookie and stone fruit spritzer.

Quesabirrias at El Garage in Richmond.

Quesabirrias at El Garage in Richmond.

Kelsey McClellan / Special to the Chronicle

El Garage

El Garage, a birria trailblazer from Richmond, started off selling spiced, stewed beef from a garage before graduating to a brick-and-mortar restaurant. The taqueria’s claim to fame is well-stuffed, gooey quesabirria.

Location: Polo Field near north tunnel

Menu: Quesabirria, beef birria tacos, aguas frescas, fresas con crema and esquites.

Jerk fried chicken sandwich from Fowl + Fare in Oakland.

Jerk fried chicken sandwich from Fowl + Fare in Oakland.

Cesar Hernandez / The Chronicle

Fowl + Fare

Chef William Allen is like a food alchemist turning ideas into edible gold. Fowl + Fare, his comfort food outfit with an indefinite residency at the Oakland bar the Lodge, is his lab. He makes some of the best fried chicken in the Bay Area.

Location: Hellman Hollow

Menu: Chicken sandwich, citric hot chicken sandwich and seasoned fries

The pork laab burger (Isaan style fried pork laab patty, lettuce, cucumber, herbs, shallot, laab dressing, makrut lime mayo on a brioche bun) at Jo’s Modern Thai.

The pork laab burger (Isaan style fried pork laab patty, lettuce, cucumber, herbs, shallot, laab dressing, makrut lime mayo on a brioche bun) at Jo’s Modern Thai.

Santiago Mejia/The Chronicle

Jo’s Modern Thai

This contemporary Thai restaurant in Oakland combines razor-sharp cooking and a semitropical aura. The dish that embodies the newness of what Jo’s brings to Thai cooking is the blockbuster burger full of Thai flavors.

Location: Polo Field near north tunnel

Menu: Drunken noodles, wings, Thai iced tea and Thai burger

Doughnuts from Johnny Doughnuts in Marin
Doughnuts from Johnny Doughnuts in MarinCesar Hernandez / The Chronicle

Johnny Doughnuts

Johnny Doughnuts started off as a food truck in 2012 and opened its first store in San Rafael a year later. Today Johnny’s fried delicacies empire has stretched to three additional locations in San Francisco, Larkspur and Santa Rosa, and are a sweet staple at events like Outside Lands. 

Location: Polo Field near Beer Lands

Menu: Doughnuts, doughnut sundaes, cake, coffee, affogatos and matcha lattes

Hot pork Milanesa from pop-up, My Friend Fernando.

Hot pork Milanesa from pop-up, My Friend Fernando.

Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle

My Friend Fernando

This pop-up is run  by a Tartine Bakery alum Jacob Croom and focuses on elevated tortas with quality bread and supper club dinners. Whether it’s lengua (tongue) drenched in silky mole or birria made with lamb, My Friend Fernando offers creative takes on Mexican favorites.

Location: Hellman Hollow

Menu: Pork Milanesa torta, summer squash torta, birria torta and birria fries

The flatbread wraps from Reem’s San Francisco.

The flatbread wraps from Reem’s San Francisco.

Santiago Mejia/The Chronicle

Reem’s

Reem’s started off as a farmers’ market bakery, offering Arab baked goods before settling into its Mission District location. Whether it’s well-spiced flatbread, flavorful dips or colorful decor, Reem’s has a vibrancy that’s undeniable once it hits your lips.

Location: Polo Field near the south tunnel