Great cuisine at a music festival isn’t a revolutionary idea, but it’s interesting to note that some excel where others fall short. Unlike a typical concert, where pizza, burgers, and chicken strips adorn the menu (or a bacon-wrapped hot dog waits for you outside the exit), the better music festivals take the opportunity to showcase local establishments. Many opt for food trucks, which tend to be less efficient and are iffy on quality.
But Coachella goes much further, featuring a few full-service restaurants, as well as quick versions of some of LA’s most celebrated restaurants. Between the meals offered in the VIP section, the beer gardens, the numerous food courts, and an assortment of scattered vendors, choosing what to spend your bucks on is tricky. Spicy Pie always works. You can’t go wrong with an agua fresca. But to help anyone out in the desert eat well for the next five days of Coachella, we’ve highlighted some of our favorites.
This concept dates back to 2007 in the Bay Area, but LA residents might have noticed this vegan doughnut and coffee shop recently moving back into Silver Lake. To start off your day at Coachella, Donut Farm’s menu is extensive to suit attendees’ varying tastes. Orange Creamsicle doughnut? Check. Roasted Red Chili? Yeah, they have that, too. For the less adventurous eaters, there are Chocolate and Vanilla varieties, but we suggest dipping into a fritter if you really want a sugar rush to jolt you into your music fest.
Southern Fried Vegan
Southern Fried Vegan is a Coachella institution, and nothing makes me happier. Operating as a business that mostly serves at street fairs and farmers markets, year after year they set up shop at Coachella and dish out the most filling and tasty dishes on the grounds. Try the BBQ Beef and have it served on the jambalaya rice, with both the corn and the coleslaw as worthy toppers. For the non-vegans, the fake meat is seasoned so well that you won’t miss the legitimate flesh. Located on the Terrace.
Starry Kitchen x Button Mash
Button Mash is a pretty sweet new Echo Park bar known as much for their video games as their food. Which is saying a lot about the quality of their video games, since the creative Asian cuisine of Starry Kitchen is pretty special. They serve full meals inside the Terrace beer garden, but it’s worth stopping by for a snack of Fried Tofu Balls. It’s light, crunchy, and packed with protein to carry you until dinner.
Located in the Terrace beer garden, Sumo Dog takes one of the most common concert meals and elevates it into something special. The concept actually debuted as a pop-up at Coachella last year, the product of Jeffrey Lunak (a student of Iron Chef legend Masaharu Morimoto) and Nic Adler (owner of LA’s Roxy Theatre and Food and Beverage Director of Coachella), and this year’s dogs don’t hold back on the intriguing flavor combinations. The Bacon “Bahn Mi” and Spicy Miso Pork Chili Cheese give diners what their names promise, but the best bet is the $15 foot-long dog that bears the establishment’s name.
McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream
Well, it has “fine” in the name, so it must be good. Jokes aside, there are a ton of ice cream options at Coachella, which makes sense considering the possibility for scorching temperatures. And to be fair to all the other ice cream vendors, McConnell’s doesn’t have anywhere near a monopoly on exciting, novelty flavors. McConnell’s separates themselves through tradition, with more than 50 years of experience in the small-batch ice cream trade. This year’s offerings: Sea Salt Cream & Cookies, Eureka Lemon & Marionberries, Dark Chocolate Chips & Nibs, and Blackberry Lime Sorbet.
To check out the full list of Coachella food offerings and their locations, check out this delectable directory.