American Grilled Cheese Kitchen’s classic grilled cheese sandwich. Courtesy Cristina Jocson via Flickr
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Farmerbrown’s fried chicken and waffles. Courtesy Andy Chen via Flickr
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Q Restaurant’s tater tots with chili lime aioli. Courtesy KQED
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Spicy Pie gourmet pizza slices Courtesy Alex Hong via Flickr
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Wise Sons’ pastrami cheese fries. Courtesy Foodspotting
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Outside Lambs’ lamb gyro. Courtesy KQED.
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Big Chef Tom’s pork belly burgers. Courtesy Yelp.
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Homeroom’s Gilroy Garlic mac n’ cheese. Courtesy Yelp.
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Let’s have a round of applause for the amazing food at Outside Lands. After all, at what other music festival can you find a porcini mushroom donut? But, the truth is, most concertgoers are not hankering for Rich Table sardine chips and Delessio Bakery chocolate macaroons. Rather, they're buzzed on the other kind of brownie, and they’re craving the most grease-a-goocious delicacy they can shove in their mouth for less than $10. There’s a reason Q Restaurant’s tater tots and The American’s grilled cheese are among the top sellers at Outside Lands every single year.
In the spirit of these delicious gut-bombs, here are the eight most satisfying (if not most gourmet) bites from the 2013 lineup. (Note: This list is purposely biased towards items containing a lot of cheese.)
1. American Grilled Cheese Kitchen’s classic grilled cheese sandwich: Because one of the owners here is a seven-time National Grilled Cheese Invitational winner, and this plain old grilled cheese comes with options. You can get it with pickles, tomato, and/or—you knew this was coming—bacon.
2. Farmerbrown’s fried chicken and waffles: Because of the sauce. It sounds like it’s just going to be meat and breakfast carbs, but then they hit you with a side of maple syrup and another side of bright orange hot sauce. If you ask for “the works” Farmerbrown will add a square of jalapeno corn bread and a slap of macaroni and cheese to your plate, but you’ll have to decide if that’s worth $15. One promise: You won’t finish hungry.
3. Q Restaurant’s tater tots with chili lime aioli: Because nobody cares if Q makes these tater tots from scratch or if they buy them frozen, but we all know that “chili lime aioli” really means mayonnaise, and you can dip the fried potatoes in said mayonnaise. That’s really all that matters.
4. Spicy Pie gourmet pizza slices: Because we know they’re really just kidding about that “gourmet” part. This is a slice of pizza that’s bigger than your face and there is jalapeno-spiked cheese dripping off of it.
5. Wise Sons’ pastrami cheese fries: Because the more Jewish your poutine is, the better. Wise Sons takes hand-cut fries, and then piles them up with chunks of their own smoky, greasy house-made pastrami, and creamy Swiss cheese sauce. It sounds Nine Inch Nails heavy, but generous garnish of healthy-looking chopped-up pickles and green onions keeps coaxing you to have Just. One. More.
6. Outside Lambs’ lamb gyro: Because there is a butcher with a cleaver behind this stall and he is hacking into the body of a whole lamb. You will get all kinds of deliciously mismatched lamb parts wrapped up with cooling cucumbers and yogurt sauce in a thick, warm white processed flour lavash. It’s rugged and melodious at the same time, kinda like Surfer Blood.
7. Big Chef Tom’s pork belly burgers: Because this is not so much a burger as an exquisitely engineered compilation of ground up pork belly that is proffered to your mouth on a carefully buttered and grilled bun. Big Chef Tom is a giver.
8. Homeroom’s Gilroy Garlic mac n’ cheese: Because this macaroni and cheese is in a totally different league from the kind by Kraft. If you don’t buy it, you will have it lingering there in the back of your mind until you get home and make boxed grilled cheese, which will make you sad. Homeroom’s version comes with al dente elbow shaped noodles, just a touch of roasted garlic, creamy pecorino and gouda cheeses. You definitely don’t have gouda at home.