This month we are thrilled to partner with the team at Outerlands, a restaurant in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset neighborhood, to celebrate the launch of our new Open Kitchen collection. Outerlands is known for its menu of seasonal food and rustic dishes and the strong sense of community created by the space — it’s no surprise the restaurant has become a legend among locals. Read our interviews with the owners, chefs and experts behind Outerlands and try their original recipes here.
Outerlands is not just a restaurant, but a neighborhood gathering place built and nurtured by a community. Here, we ask owners Dave Muller and Lana Porcello all about what makes the food and the space so special; read on for their inspiring responses.
What is your food/cooking philosophy?
Lana: To use the best ingredients possible sourced from our local foodshed, and through that sourcing to build relationships with the growers who enrich our region. To present food simply and honestly, showcasing the inherent beauty and flavor present in each ingredient.
How would you describe the food and atmosphere at Outerlands? What do you love about it?
Lana: Outerlands grew out of our love for creating an atmosphere in which food fosters a convivial exchange. We feel our greatest success when we serve the friends and neighbors who have been a part of this venture since its inception, who help Outerlands continue to feel like the extension of our home it truly began as.
Dave: San Francisco was born with a pioneering spirit, and there are still many areas like our neighborhood that offer opportunities for people to create and become something new. The do-it-yourself small business focus of Outerlands is in some ways our homage to an older era of San Francisco, when people came from far away and had to make their lives with their own two hands. My family has been here for generations, working in this same capacity, and we recently found out that my great-great grandparents had a restaurant and bar in the Mission district long ago. It feels special to be here making our way as they did.
Lana: It was initially a little overwhelming for us to be doing something like this here, among so many restaurants whose crafts we respect immensely. But the San Francisco food community is very welcoming and inclusive, and so many of the folks we admire for their long-standing work in the industry were right there to support our vision and teach us the many things we needed to learn.
How have you created a community around Outerlands? Does that sense of community extend to life outside of Outerlands?
Lana: Our neighborhood community links our home, social and work lives, creating for our family a unique integration of experience that was one of our primary goals in beginning Outerlands. We wanted to offer a warm, welcoming space that our community could utilize as a way of coming together, but in so many ways the small-town neighborliness that has always been a part of this special region of SF has truly built Outerlands into the kind of space we hoped to create.
Lana: By involving the public we’re serving. The whole idea stems from maintaining that feeling of being at home, like you’re welcoming people into your own dining room. We are very present as owners, meeting people and being part of the experience. We can gather from these interactions how people want to be involved, so we can continue to grow the project in new directions.
Dave is famous for the bread you serve at Outerlands. Can you tell us more about it?
Dave: Before Outerlands, I didn’t have any background in baking. I asked my friend Chad Robertson of Tartine where we should get bread for the restaurant, and was kind of hoping to buy from him. He was about to release his second bread book with instructions on making Tartine bread at home, so I became a test pilot for that, and learned that I love making bread. I’m at a place now where I feel really good about what it’s becoming, which is a testament to practice. I think the excitement around it comes down to someone making fresh loaves and the nuances that come out – it’s an eternal joy for humans to eat warm, homemade bread.
Do you have any other signature dishes?
Lana: The menu changes constantly, but some of our original items stay: the lemon ginger apple cider, the Dutch pancake, and soups were items we always used to make at home.
What’s the future for Outerlands?
Dave: There was a Chinese restaurant next door, and the owner was ready to move on, so we were able to acquire that space. The expanded area will allow us to achieve some important improvements, including a bigger bar and additional seating. We’re excited to be able to cut down the wait and have more available seating for local walk-ins, as well as to have space to develop our bread, pastry, and other programs.
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Photo Credit: Eric Wolfinger