Curtis Cartier/Seattle Weekly Yay, sandwich!
Some 100,000 fans cycled through San Francisco's Golden Gate Park for the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival this weekend.
Curtis Cartier/Seattle Weekly Yay, sandwich!
Not everyone bought their meals at the park, but a whole lot of them did (myself included).
And hopefully a few of the food planners for Bumbershoot were among those eaters in attendance, because when it comes to grub, Seattle's urban music festival could learn a thing or two from San Fran's.
Fifty four different restaurants set up booths, trucks and stands at Outside Lands--nearly all of them from the Bay Area.
That's compared to 33 different eateries booked for Bumbershoot.
At Outside Lands, a concertgoer could pair his or her smuggled-in Jack Daniels and reefer with everything from a Puerto Rican spit-roasted pork sandwich (pictured above being cheered by the crowd for Major Lazer), to a sieved egg and sugar-beet salad, or a locally-caught salmon filet.
There was a fully-stocked "farmer's market" at Outside Lands, complete with fresh fruit and vegetables. There was also an area of the park called "Coco Lands" with five different chocolate-leaning dessert booths, and another area called "Food Truck Forest" where a half dozen food trucks were parked, doling out street-food delicacies to the munchies-inflicted crowd.
Bumbershoot has some good food planned, no doubt. There's Chutney's Grille for Indian, Kaleenka Piroshky for Russian, Piecora's for pizza and Ballard Brothers for burgers and salmon.
But where innovative cuisine is the exception at Bumbershoot, it's the rule at Outside Lands.
On Friday, I paired a roasted pancetta sandwich ($11) from the SF salumeria Flour + Water with cold Heineken and hot funk from The Original Meters. The meat was slow roasted and tender and served on a thin bed of gem lettuce with a spicy mayo-based sauce.
Curtis Cartier/Seattle Weekly Roasted pancetta sandwich, serenaded by The Original Meters.
Later, Farmer Brown's Little Skillet cooked me up some of the crispiest, most delicious chicken and waffles ($12) I've had since I tried the $20 variety at Skillet Diner in Capitol Hill.
Saturday, the food tour switched into high gear with some shrimp and avocado ceviche and gingered ahi tuna with wontons from nearby Pacific Catch. Though the ginger was a bit overpowering, the fish was fresh and the crispy wontons made for a perfect early-afternoon snack.
Finally, for dinner, local Cajun restaurant Criolla's Kitchen whipped up one of the heartiest shrimp po'boys ($12) I'd ever had--a perfect compliment to lukewarm flask bourbon.
Of course, no description of Outside Lands' food selection would be complete without mention of Wine Lands, the festival's homage to the famed fields of nearby Napa Valley.
For $10, thirsty patrons can get a Wine Lands tasting pass and sample 10 of the 30 wineries on hand at the festival. Full glasses cost $7 to $10 and, like all alcoholic drinks sold at the festival, the drinks can be brought anywhere on the grounds.
That's opposed to Bumbershoot, where (according to Washington State law) all drinking must be done in shame inside the separate beer gardens; and the selection of beer, wine and cocktails can be counted on one hand.
Indeed, one was hard-pressed to find Outside Lands concertgoers who hadn't been seduced by one of the festival's tempting eateries. San Francisco Police Ofc. R. Wilson was digging a spoon into a split fresh coconut when I asked her what else I should try.
Curtis Cartier/Seattle Weekly SFPD Ofc. Wilson tried everything to eat within a 1,000-yard radius, including this fresh coconut from the festival's farmer's market.
"Well, besides the coconut, I've had the Korean tacos, the chocolate empanadas and the sweet potato tater tots," the officer told me. "I'd say try them all."
I didn't have a chance to try them all, as Ofc. Wilson suggested. But I did try the fried mac & cheese, the pork carnitas tacos and the aforementioned tater tots (served with a delicious blackberry barbecue sauce) and I can say that none of them disappointed.
All told, I dropped about $30 per day on food at Outside Lands--no small amount given that the festival itself costs more $200 to get inside (unless you have the benefit of working for a newspaper). But considering that all the food came from established local restaurants with fresh ingredients, and not some global food vending company, I'd say I got a deal.
Bumbershoot, though older than Outside Lands, is in many ways the same thing. Both are urban-oriented music and arts festivals that look to showcase the best that their respective cities have to offer.
Both festivals certainly deliver in terms music and art. But when it comes to food, Outside Lands eats the competition.