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Outerlands

Outer Sunset
With its reclaimed-wood walls and mellow surfer vibe, this fog-shrouded café just blocks from Ocean Beach is a far cry from the slick kitchens at Coi and Saison, where Brett Cooper cooked before he landed here. But the chef’s fine-dining training serves him well, and this popular brunch and lunch spot has become a true dinner destination. The faithful wait on a driftwood bench outside the door, wrapped in the blankets thoughtfully provided in a basket, until one of the few tables opens up, meanwhile warming themselves with a glass of wine or—thanks to a new spirits license—one of the seasonal cocktails. The meal begins with thick slices of co-owner David Muller’s homemade bread and butter and ends with a short list of elegantly simple desserts, including a supersmooth, mousselike “soft chocolate” scattered with hazelnuts. In between, it’s bite after blissful bite. A lemon-tinged tangle of radishes, avocado, and cucumbers tastes as if it has been ripped from the garden just moments earlier, and a panzanella with roasted eggplant, squash, basil, and creamy ricotta ruins you for any other bread salad. Sardines, the current it fish, are delicately pan-fried and served over quinoa and tomato jam. Entrées, like the fork-tender Prather Ranch pork shoulder with toasted-barley risotto and morel mushrooms, or the confited duck leg with beets and roasted grapes, are as filling and special as a holiday meal. Residents of the Outer Sunset are lucky to have Outerlands as their neighborhood café—and the rest of us need to remember that it’s well worth the trip.

4001 Judah St. (at 45th Ave.)
415-661-6140
$$$ W ★★½
 

Our review policy: To ensure that we get a typical consumer’s experience in a restaurant, our writers dine anonymously; all expenses are paid by the magazine. Reviews are pulled from our listings two years after the review date or any time personnel changes at a restaurant render a review invalid. Our admittedly imperfect star ratings are based on food quality, variety, service, ambience, and value.
Staff reviewers and contributors to our restaurant guide include John Birdsall, Susan Bryan, Stett Holbrook, Rachel Levin, Jan Newberry, Josh Sens, and Lisa Trottier.

Prices:

Average price of an entrée:
$ = $10 or less
$$ = $11–17
$$$ = $18–24
$$$$ = $25 or more

Symbols:

D = Dinner only
R = Reservation required/recommended
C = Cash only
V = Valet parking
W = Wheelchair accessible

Ratings:

★★★★ = superlative
★★★ = excellent
★★ = very good
★ = good
✩ = below average