Aside from the A-list artists and trendy free-spirit fashion, there is a spectacular food revolution happening once a year in the hot and sandy city of Indio, California. During the two weekend-long Coachella Music & Arts Festival, popular LA Chef's and restaurants readied their plastic silverware, hung freshly laminated 'order here' signs and displayed newly chalked menus in preparation for Coachella Weekend 1, Day 1.
While most festival goers paced their drinking, bathroom breaks and cellphone battery percentage, I was focused on pacing the amount of times I stuffed my face with unique Coachella treats. This was my first time attending Coachella and my mission was to eat as much as I possibly could. Yes, I am serious.
I tasted it all, visited the most exciting booths, food trucks, and pop-up restaurants so I could give you the low-down. At the very bottom was my favorite Coachella dinning experience with a four course menu and wine pairing!
Food, Drink & Snacks
No surprise here, both of my favorite snacks are full of french fries! But these are no ordinary fries, they are fried potatoes sticks, dressed two ways.
Corn Dogs & Crab Fries
These crab fries were indulgent with a creamy dressing and, literally, a scoop of crab on top. It was such a surprising and delightful combo, I was in greasy, creamy crab sauce heaven.
The Church Key
With an eclectic menu, the item that stuck out the most was the 'Cheeto style' french fries with Jalapeño Ranch dip. And yes, they were as fantastic as they sound. Lightly dusted in cheese powder, the complimenting spicy dip was finger-licking good.
When you are dancing all day in the hot sun, it is so nice to cool off between sets with a chilled drink. I was pretty obsessed with a few beverages at the festival and I highly suggest you check them when you start to get sick of beers at the Heineken tent.
118° Vegan Raw
I typically don't care for coconut water, but having it served ice cold from the actual coconut is nothing like the supermarket coconut water carton. Bonus: you can bring back your empty and they will crack it open so you can eat the silky, fresh coconut meat from the natural fibrous shell. Sip on this and you will feel like you are on a tropical magic island.
Just tell the bartender in front of the pop-up restaurant that you want a 'Jesus was a Bass Player' and you will be presented with Terrine's featured cocktail. The drink description included ingredients I couldn't pronounce, but is light, refreshing and so delicious.
When you are tired of eating greasy festival food and you want something light and healthy after spending hours in the hot sun, choose some of these light bites.
Unlike the 'Cheeto fries' featured above, the Church Key booth also serves light and fresh sushi. These raw tuna slices were accompanied by a light salad topped with peanuts, green onion and radish.
Fresh Cut Fruit
I will admit I did not actually get anything at this booth but these fruit booths were located all over the festival. I saw so many people with huge watermelon slices and I couldn't think of a better snack when taking a break in the shade between shows.
This vegan, raw, organic ice cream vendor was delicious but I must warn you, you might have to wait to indulge. We tried to get their frozen menu staple three times over two days and their machine was broken at two different locations. And after we were finally served a swirl of the frozen chocolate and coconut vegan treat, the ice cream machine broke again. It was a little frustrating.
Sit Down Dinner
Believe it or not, I found two spectacular pop-up restaurants with outstanding four course dinners. Using the Reserve app I easily booked two dinners, two completely different eating experiences, both located in the VIP sections. These sit-down dinners were located in quaint, lush gardens with picnic-style furnishings and live shows echoing in the background. Finding places within Coachella to 'get away from it all' and unwind from the chaos will not only help you stay sane during the three day music fest, but also keep your inner foodie happy.
Here at Terrine, the servers, bartender and Chef Kris Morningstar are committed to giving you a top-notch Coachella dining experience serving up four courses, each unique from the rest. As mentioned above, I was a huge fan of the specialty cocktail 'Jesus was a Bass Player' which was light, flavorful and captured the essence of summer.
The first course was a bit interesting and unique, with a smoked trout spread, cheese, and truffled chicken liver on a sliced baguette. The flavors were very complex and you might need a strong pallet to enjoy these spreads. Next course was fantastic, slice-with-your-plastic-knife tender octopus with semi-fried broccoli greens and creamy burrata cheese. I could not believe the octopus was so tender, it was like cutting through a stick of softened butter. The main entree was something I am going to be thinking about for quite some time. This pork belly was perfection, with a spicy, fruity and chunky dressing that paired perfectly with a farrow salad and glazed almonds. This dish had such a beautiful blending of flavors with the fresh and spicy sauce complementing the fatty pork, creating complex forkfuls of flavor. Dessert was a bit too heavy, with a chocolate cake square and salted caramel frosting that I only poked at with my fork.
Terrine is nestled between two other fantastic restaurants I highly recommend looking at all three menus and checking out which one you like the best.
Outstanding in the Field
This dinner, for me stole the Coachella show. Outstanding in the Field is the definition of a pop-up restaurant, setting up long, white clothed tables in unconventional locations all over the world, like on sandy beaches, between vineyard vines, creek side.. or at Coachella. After creating this jaw-dropping dinner scene, they invite a guest Chef to transform locally sourced ingredients into multiple courses to create a true farm-to-table experience. I felt at home with the mismatched plates, community-style seating and shared family style dishes. Located on the VIP Rose Garden lawn, we dined with David Guetta throwing down at the Sahara tent next door.
We were greeted with two different types of alcoholic adult popsicles, one with coconut and serrano peppers, the other with cucumber, lime and mint. For the first course, I was swimming in the flavors of tangy ponzu sauce, the delicate marinated hamachi and tender avocado chunks with a bite of crunchy quinoa served in a beautiful glass cup. The second course was a large skillet of head-on prawns with arroza chaufa (resembling fried rice) and pieces of seafood. The tender prawns were fun to take apart with a tender and sweet flavor. For our third course, we had roasted lamb leg with a mint chimichurri, roasted small potatoes and a mixed greens salad with confit dressing. This was a classic roasted lamb leg and the simplicity of the dish highlights the natural jus, grassy meat flavors and the beauty of the rustic presentation. The final dish was a bit underwhelming and fell flat with a berry square-shaped gummy that could have been the departing candy at the host stand. Overall, the dishes were so well executed with traditional flavors.
We sat amongst the most fascinating people; one a struggling college drop-out turned record label engineer who was still looking for his first big breakout artist, the other was a stage hand who has been assisting Coachella since it's first year. After leaving the table three or four times throughout the diner, the stage hand guy told us that Chris Brown's entourage was planning to get Chris on stage during the Drake show and it was his job to avert the crisis. He then made reference to Justin Bieber who successfully tried to do the same last year because he "slipped right past security because he was so small". I tried to not inhale my food while listening to all of this juicy insider gossip.
After seeing all of the food options and checking out what I ate, I hope you will expand your pallet at Coachella and take some time to explore the food scene. Whether you are a carnivore who eats all things fried, or a raw vegan who enjoys salads, there is fantastic food for everyone!
What was your favorite dish at Coachella?