Gone are the days when music festival fare was just a slice of crummy pizza or a hot dog to keep you vertical through the night. The options for food, beer, and wine at Outside Lands 2012 are good enough to distract from the main event. Santigold is now up against a limited edition saison beer made just for Outside Lands by Sierra Nevada, and the Heineken dome has to compete with fried chicken and waffles from Farmer Brown's Little Skillet. Tough decisions await, so check out our handy guide to top picks from Beer Lands, Wine Lands, Outside Lambs, Choco Lands and Taste of The Bay Area. You can do it all.
Location: McLaren Pass
This is also the first year with a tent devoted 100% to lamb dishes, all of them cyrated by animal husbandry expert John Fink of The Whole Beast. Daily pop-ups from Michael Mina's restaurants–RN74, Michael Mina and Bourbon Steak–will offer everything from Moroccan lamb stew to lamb poutine, all of it made with local, sustainable, all-natural lamb from Superior Farms in Dixon, CA.
Location: Hellman Field on the east end of Speedway Meadow
The wine tent will have a whopping 39 options this year. Zinfandel fans should hit the stand for festival newbie Turley Wine Cellars. Santa Barbara's Qupe will represent with a slew of Syrah, and Healdsburg's Preston of Dry Creek will have several organic options on offer. There will also be a kitchen sink installation with wines on tap: Free Flow Wines, Simi, King Estate, Cultivar, Rowland Tebb, Darcie Kent on tap and House Band Wines in a pouch.
Location: Hellman Hollow, Lindley Meadow, and the Polo Field
First off, there are some new vendors to get excited about this year: Bacon Bacon, Big Chef Tom's Belly Burgers, Del Popolo, Hapa SF, Living Greens, Luella, Seoul on Wheels, and Southpaw BBQ will all have stalls in action.
There are also some favorites from last year to be aware of. Warning: The following vendors may sell out before the end of the shows. The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen's classic grilled cheese, Farmerbrown's Little Skillet waffles and fried chicken, Woodhouse Fish Co.'s bbq oysters, Maverick's pulled pork sandwich, Namu Gaji's Korean tacos, Pacific Catch's Hawaiian poke, Homeroom's Gilroy garlic mac and cheese, Fabulous Frickle Bros.' fried pickles, Straw's shawarma snow cones, and Q's tater tots with special sauce. Take a look at the slideshow above with some pictures of these beauties from last year's festivities.
Location: McLaren Pass
The participants in the chocolate forest have been a mystery until now. Last year Epic Cookies were among the first things to sell out. Keeping with the chocolate theme, Sharona's Chocolate Shop will sell chocolate-dipped rice crispie treats or brownies, s'mores, and a handmade chocolate peanut butter cup. Candybar will have Guittard hot chocolate with a homemade marshmallow, or frozen chocolate with whipped cream. Kara's Cupcakes will offer—wait for it—chocolate cupcakes, and DeLessio Market will have a chocolate-dipped caramel corn there for you.
Location: Lindley Meadow
This is the first year Outside Lands is offering a beer tent, devoted to 15 mostly Californian craft breweries, curated by Magnolia Pub and Brewery founder and beer guru Dave McLean.
If you can stand the line, try the Sierra Nevada Outside Lands Saison, brewed specifically for Outside Lands in the easy-drinking style best suited to music festivals. We'll also be hitting the stall for hot Oakland-based Linden Street Brewery, and Pacific Brewing Laboratory for their hibiscus saison called Nautilus. There will be 30 beers total in the tent, and the full brewery lineup is here.
Have a favorite from last year's Outside Lands food and wine barrage? Tell the world about it in the comments.