My mom and I each had a list of things we had to do together during my week-long visit to California. Towards the top of her list was eating at the must-try hipster restaurant in SF, Outerlands. Mom first heard about Outerlands on one of her favourite TV shows Check, Please! Bay Area, and has been wanting to go ever since. Before I knew it, we were headed to Sunset, a quiet area on the far West side of SF, which I’m not familiar with at all, in hopes of bagging a table at Outerlands for lunch.
We didn’t have time for a wild walk on the long beach about 5 blocks from Outerlands, making this spot a post-surf destination. My Bay Area buddies all knew about Outerlands and had tried to get a table for the famous weekend brunch, but gave up when they saw a line circling around the block. On a grey Monday afternoon, we managed to walk right in and sat at an outside table – as we had Bogart the pug in tow!
We almost walked right by Outerlands, as it blends in well on the corner of this unassuming neighbourhood. But go inside, and you’ll instantly feel a welcoming vibe from the friendly staff. The waitress who showed us to our table had a GI Jane meets Gwen Stefani platinum bleached shaved hairstyle, and I immediately knew everyone who works here is achingly cool. I would describe the restaurant decor as deceptively simple, trendy and comfortable. There is no dress code here and the more tattoos you have, the better.
As we had Bogart the pug with us, we joined the other dining dogs under the hot heat lamps outside and mulled over the somewhat limited but delicious lunch menu – soup, salads and stylish sandwiches.
In an attempt to try as much as we could off the menu, we split everything starting with the cast-iron grilled cheese sandwich with a side of vegetable broth soup ($12). The soup was a simple but healthy mixture of cannellini bean, kale, mirepoix and shallots. This dish wasn’t especially memorable for me, but the home-made perfectly toasted bread was out of this world. Outerlands makes all their bread in house, so you can tempt your tastebuds with the nice lingering smell of fresh out of the oven bread. Don’t come here if you’re not a carb lover or are attempting the Atkins diet because Outerland’s bread is a MUST.
Then a little piece of heaven on a plate was served. Behold the cast-iron grilled cheese sandwich brushed with garlic oil ($6.50), which was the perfected melt-in-mouth crusty classic. You have the option to add avocado, bacon and fried eggs to this toasted sandwich, but we thought the original version was absolute bliss on an overcast Monday afternoon.
At this stage we were starting to feel a bit full and suddenly somewhat guilty about not walking along the local beach to work up a bigger appetite and justify what was about to arrive at our table. Luckily we were sharing! As you can see the open faced bacon and egg sandwich with bok choy, caramelized onion, almonds and mushrooms ($14) is not for the faint hearted.
Mom and I agreed that this would be the perfect post-hangover dish. I can only imagine how amazing the brunch must be here. We managed to easily find room to polish off this runny melt-in-mouth egg sandwich, which was packed with flavour and crisp bacon. Outerlands prides themselves with sourcing produce from local organic farmers and you can really taste the difference – the small side of fresh greens tasted as if they were picked that morning.
As we hoovered up the plate, Bogart became increasingly concerned that he wasn’t going to get a taste of the bacon – his favourite – woof!
If you’re used to heading downtown in San Francisco, going to the Sunset district seems quite a trek. Definitely worth it, especially if you time it right and can grab a table at Outerlands along with a trip to the local beach. Considering the standard of food is so good here – and we didn’t even sample the extensive California wine list or the creative cocktails (!) – Outerlands truly delivers without putting much strain on your credit card. A very different experience and a restaurant I’m pleased to have checked off our must-try list while in town.