Monday, June 11, 2012

Outerlands - San Francisco

Outerlands - San Francisco Unless you're a die-hard restaurant groupie or live in the Avenues, chances are you probably haven't been to Outerlands. It's aptly named, sitting in the farthest reaches of the Outer Sunset - and though the food is good, the crowds thick and and the setting delightful, it's definitely a neighborhood place. I first heard about it a couple of years ago and have been dying to try it since. We finally got the chance when we stayed in the neighborhood a few weeks ago for the Bay to Breakers race. Knowing the finish line was nearby, I found our VRBO by typing in the address of Outerlands on the map. It worked out well - not only were we walking distance from the finish line and Outerlands, but a cluster of other cool spots including Beachside, Java Beach and the lovely General Store boutique.
Outerlands - San Francisco Outerlands is open for breakfast and lunch on weekends and dinner only Tues - Fri. It's tiny and they don't take reservations, so be prepared to wait. We arrived around 7 for dinner on Saturday night and waited at least an hour. The pain was eased by their artisan cocktails - this is the kind of place where they gently stir the booze instead of shaking and the drinks are small but strong.
Cocktails at Outerlands - gin on the left, rye on the right. The one on the left was made with gin (and little else) and a pickled shallot, and the one on the right was a rye concoction with citrus.  The rye one was my favorite of the two.  They also make a mean caipirinha with  cachaca, kumquats and mint.
Outerlands - San Francisco The interior has a charming hobbit-y woodsy look that makes it feel like a secret hideaway.    They're expanding soon into at least one space next door and possibly two - which should mean shorter waits, but may also change the character of the place.
Dinner Menu at Outerlands - San Francisco The menu is small but inventive and reasonably priced.   Our party of six tried just about everything.   Don't miss the toasted levain bread - it's phenomenal.  We ordered it with the cheese, but the butter would have been just fine.  The asparagus salad was a standout spring dish - lightly steamed  with preserved lemon, sesame, mushrooms and fresh cheese.  The tips were left whole, but the stalks were shaved into ribbons.
Salad with asparagus, maitake mushrooms, fresh cheese, lemon and sesame seeds - Outerlands  I had the duck confit for my main.  My only complaint was that there wasn't quite enough of it, and I'm not generally one to complain about that.  It was perfectly cooked though, and the savory, crisp meat paired nicely with the sweetness of the pickled plums.
Duck Confit - Outerlands A couple of people in our party had the shrimp and grits, with ham, snap peas and fresh dill.  A few bites of this rich and hearty dish helped make up for the tininess of mine.
Outerlands - Shrimp & Grits of the few desserts we tried, this Key Lime Cake was my favorite - a small wedge of buttery cake, topped with a lacy caramelized crisp and a bit of cream, garnished with fresh lime and raspberry.   We also had a pot de creme topped with "rosemary caramel corn" that I think everyone else liked better than I did.
Outerlands - Key Lime Cake We didn't try going back for brunch, but the crowds are apparently out of control - with two-hour plus waits.  Instead, we had breakfast just down the street at Beachside - an offshoot of Java Beach coffee.  It's a cute spot and they serve good waffles and a lovely eggs benedict layered on a freshly split popover - but be prepared for a healthy dose of hipster attitude with your breakfast.  (This is one of those places where they are so "serious" about the coffee that they don't serve their espresso drinks hot enough.)  We went early to beat the crowds, but I would bet they have a line by 9 AM.  They also serve lunch and dinner - the menu mostly consists of sandwiches and fried chicken over slaw or on a sandwich (they also serve chicken and waffles for breakfast.)  The General Store boutique is also in that area - with a smartly curated selection of gifts and jewelry made by local artisans.  We also popped into Trouble Coffee on Sunday morning after the race.  I wasn't crazy about the cup of coffee I had and they also do the super duper hipster attitude thing, but it was really crowded after the race, their pastries looked good, and they have a really cool tree out front that you can sit on and drink your coffee.

We had other good meals on this trip at Out the Door, Pizzeria Delfina and Zuni - and then I got on a plane and flew to France!   I still kind of can't believe it myself.  It was awesome and I will be back to talk about it soon!!

4001 Judah St (between 45th Ave & 46th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 661-6140
closed Sunday dinner and Mondays all day
Dinner only Tues - Fri.
Brunch/Lunch from 10-3 on Saturdays and Sundays.
Dinner also on Sat.


  1. love that place, especially the reclaimed wood bar. I went on a totally random day/time and waited, waited, waited. So nice to hear they're expanding.

  2. de-lurking to wish you good times in france. let me know if you want any recommendations in paris - i have really enjoyed your blog!!

  3. that looks tasty. going on my list for the next time i'm up there.