At the 2014 Coachella music festival, the most buzzed-about headliner wasn’t OutKast or even Beck but the elevated food lineup that debuted, boasting restaurants like Baco Mercat and Night + Market, craft cocktails from L.A. hot spots like Honeycut, a craft-beer barn, and even a formal white-tablecloth dinner. Food-loving festival-goers were ecstatic. Finally, they had options other than the usual greasy festival fare. And, naturally, after an impressive first impression, there’s a killer food lineup this year.
Not only have last year’s popular craft-beer barn and the Outstanding in the Field dinners ($225 this year) returned, but sit-down dinners with $50 prix-fixe menus by Roy Choi’s Pot and Kris Morningstar’s Terrine are also part of the lineup. Perfect for those who want to have a nice meal but don’t want to blow all their cash on one dinner.
This year, general-admission folks will get some love too, with the craft-beer barn featuring eateries like Beer Belly and 800 Degrees, and yurts on the Terrace serving up artisanal items like coffee, jerky, and juice. Back in the VIP sections, Grand Central Market star Eggslut will be in the Rose Garden while Dante’s Fried Chicken and The Church Key will be in the main VIP area.
Here’s a look at where to eat and drink well during the festival:
Just because it’s general admission doesn’t mean you’re screwed. Everyone has access to all the craft-beer goodies at the beer barn, the small-batch snacks at the yurt marketplace, and quality meats from Custom Butcher and Mexican food from Pinches Tacos.
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT… BEER BARN
The craft answer to the showy macro beer Heineken House made its debut at last year’s festival and was one of my favorite places to hang out. It features a selection of craft beers to geek out on. The eateries in the barn will offer the perfect nosh to complement your draft craft or sate the inevitable munchies:
- 800 Degrees: Pizzas of every persuasion like margherita ($8), pepperoni ($9), Tropicali pineapple and ham ($10), veggie ($10), tartufo with truffle cheese, mushroom, arugula ($12), plus salads ($5 each)
- Beer Belly: How a serious case of the munchies is handled–grilled-cheese sandwich, pork-belly chips, brown sugar buffalo wings, deep-fried Oreos ($5 to $15)
- Eureka! Craft Burgers & Truffle Fries
- Kushiyaki Dog
- Sage Pretzels
- Top Round Roast Beef: Original roast beef sandwich ($8), beef and cheese ($10), barbecue ($9), Horse & Hole ($10), Chicken “Cali” ($10)
AND ALSO… YURT MARKETPLACE
These huts on the Terrace and near the craft-beer barn will once again offer an array of tasty pick-me-ups from pressed juices to pour-over coffee to filet mignon jerky.
- Verve Coffee Bar
- Juice Served Here
- Sweet Clementine’s Popsicles
- Three Jerks Jerky
- Bond Bar
- Chocolatier Eve
- This Bar Saves Lives
- Milk Jar Cookies
- Granola Mama
Rose Garden VIP
This was my other favorite spot to seek refuge from the crowd and the occasional sandstorm. Since it was way on the other side of the festival, it wasn’t as impossibly crowded as the main VIP area. Plus, it’s where you can find craft cocktails. Just grab some shade by a palm tree and enjoy your refreshing drink and gourmet bite.
- Ramen Champ
- Kind Kreme
- Status Kuo
- 213 Nightlife bars:
- Las Perlas: Spiced Margarita (Avión Silver Tequila, Perricone Farms fresh lime juice, agave, orange curacao, cucumber, cilantro, jalapeno) and Jarritos Paloma (Avión Silver Tequila, Perricone Farms fresh lime juice, grapefruit Jarritos soda, pinch of salt)
- Cana Rum Bar: Daiquiri (Don Q Silver Rum, Perricone Farms fresh lime juice, simple syrup) and Forbidden Peach (Don Q Añejo Rum, lemon juice, clover honey, Fee Brothers Peach Bitters)
- Cole’s: Moscow Mule (Absolut Vodka, Perricone Farms fresh lime juice, Fever-Tree ginger beer) and Tom Collins (Beefeater Gin, Perricone Farms fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, club soda)
- Tony’s Saloon: Jameson Black Mule (Jameson Black, Perricone Farms fresh lime juice, Fever-Tree ginger beer) and Mint Julep (Whiskey, house-made mint syrup)
INSIDER TIP: OUTSTANDING IN THE FIELD DINNER IN THE ROSE GARDEN
This $225 four-course meal at the festival is certainly a splurge, but you get a lot for your money. Not only are you enjoying a delicious meal by a big-time chef, but it also comes with booze (cocktail, beer, wine)–and if you time it just right, you get to hear your favorite band live on the nearby stage while having dinner. There are two seatings (5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) available every day on each weekend. Plus, the big news is that chef Ricardo Zarate (Picca) is back from wherever he disappeared to, and pastry wizard Nicole Rucker is making one of her first appearances since leaving Gjusta.
- Jamie DeRosa of Miami’s Tongue and Cheek
- Michael Beckman of Palm Springs’ Workshop Kitchen & Bar says he’s working on a “lamb concept that is focused on spring market vegetables, a medium-rare sous-vide braise, house-made merguez, tartare with pickled egg yolk.”
- Alex Reznik of Ditmas Kitchen
- Ricardo Zarate
- Tin Vuong of Little Sister
- James Trees of Hutchinson Cocktails & Grill
- Steve Fretz of The Church Key says one of the dishes he will be serving up is ricotta cavatelli with lamb ragout, green olives, kale, and pecorino cheese, as well as a Bloomsdale spinach salad with Harry’s Berries strawberries, pickled red onions, blue cheese, pine nuts, creamy balsamic dressing, and crispy shallots.
- Nicole Rucker of Bludso’s Bar & Que
- Vartan Abgaryan of Cliff’s Edge
- Steve Samson of Sotto
Even though this is VIP, it’s still crazy packed thanks to its proximity to the VIP entrance and the stages.
- Afters Ice Cream
- The Church Key: Tuna sashimi ($14), brussels sprouts Caesar salad ($12), Angus beef burger ($16), grilled chicken ($15), and Sex on the Beach (vodka, cranberry, peach puree) and Fruit Punch (vodka, blood orange, pineapple) Odder Pops
- Dante’s Fried Chicken
- Mexicali Taco & Co.
- Sage Vegan Bistro
- Juice Served Here
- Verve Coffee Bar
KNOW ABOUT… POP-UP SIT-DOWN RESTAURANTS AT MAIN VIP
Prix-fixe meals are $50 per person. Like for Outstanding in the Field, use the Reserve app or check in at the host stand in Main VIP during Coachella. Or you can try your luck the day of and walk up to see if there are any available seats. Pot is definitely the most buzzed-about dinner thanks to Roy Choi’s red-hot celebrity, but I’m liking the idea of fancy Terrine in the festival setting. And The Gadarene Swine/Scratch Bar combo should satisfy those in search of healthy vegetable dishes and/or refined pub food.
- Terrine by Kris Morningstar: Dishes include octopus with burrata, charred broccoli, salsa calabrese, sunflower seeds; pork belly confit with toasted farro, pea tendrils, almonds, black vinegar, apricot mustard (vegetarian can have white Alba mushrooms instead of pork); supplementary charcuterie plate with truffle chicken liver and duck sausage; grab-and-go pork belly cone, onion soup poutine, and Croque Forestier (truffle cheese, hen of the wood mushrooms, herbs de Provence)
- Pot by Roy Choi: A mix of Pot hits like banchan, hot pots, barbecue dishes, and Pot Cafe dessert.
- The Gadarene Swine and Scratch Bar