By Tanya Henry
Though the quality of food at large-scale music fests has been steadily improving over the years, it was arguably the inaugural 2008 Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival that pioneered the growing trend toward heightening concert goers’ gastronomical experiences.
This year, music lovers who swarm Golden Gate Park for the annual summer fest (August 5-7) will not only enjoy three days of a diverse lineup of musical acts from Radiohead to Lionel Ritchie, but they’ll also have the luxury of choosing their meals from a dizzying array of food trucks, carts and restaurant offerings. All told, more than 75 vendors will be touting everything from ramen and tacos to lobster sandwiches and fresh oysters.
Along with a food curator, Outside Lands has a designated sommelier and beer curator who manage the more than 40 participating wineries and 28-plus breweries. “Drinking wine engages more of the senses and elevates the experience,” says Peter Eastlake, who owns Solano Cellars and Vintage Berkeley and has been with Outside Lands since its inception. “I remember approaching wineries in the early days and it was a new idea—not everyone was on board.” Today, many of the wineries come back year after year to the annual event that draws more than 200,000 people.
Dubbing itself the world’s only gourmet music festival, the event continues to expand its culinary footprint with its sixth annual Summer Pairing Series. These events bring together different beer, wine and food vendors at restaurants throughout the Bay Area (who will be at the event) and give folks the opportunity to experience the pairings before the show. Now in its ninth year, the event has also spawned an Outside Clams, Cheeselands, Chocolands and this year debuts a Forest Feast that includes a four-course dinner from San Francisco’s Trestle restaurant.
The North Bay will be well represented at Outside Lands as well. El Huarache Loco will be serving up their signature huaraches, chilaquiles, tacos and quesadillas for the eighth year in a row. Belcampo Meat Co. debuts this year with a double fastburger with pickled goat horn chiles, a grass-fed beef Belcampo hot dog with all the fixings, and roasted beets. Both Fairfax’s Iron Springs Brewery and Mill Valley-based Headlands Brewing Company will be pouring their seasonal IPAs, and Three Twins Ice Cream (founded in San Rafael) will have special treats on hand.