After two years of COVID cancellations, Coachella returned last weekend with a larger crowd of influencers in the wild than ever before. As expected, the culinary lineup kept attendees fueled for dancing to Flume and moshing to Baby Keem, bringing a surprisingly strong roster of dishes that far exceeds standard festival food. With the obstacles that come with surviving all the fun in the desert heat, remember to hydrate, slather on the sunscreen, and seek out these visiting vendors from Coachella 2022, especially for attendees planning to go for the second weekend. Note that some vendors will change for the second weekend, such as Eater LA Best New Restaurant Bridgetown Roti, which will serve this coming weekend.
Ducky Fry, GAGGAN at Outstanding in the Field
A cursory examination of the chefs making the pilgrimage to Indio had one notable name that demanded attention: Gaggan Anand, the Chef’s Table star whose namesake Bangkok restaurant made it as high as fourth on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2019. The Indian-born chef with a rock-and-roll culinary approach took the stage at Outstanding in the Field, the outdoor dinner party with a long, undulating dinner table that snakes through the VIP Rose Garden. The nightly dinners with rotating chefs are always a highlight at Coachella, as an opportunity to have a brief respite from the main grounds to sip chilled natural wines and dine on interesting dishes.
The clear star of the four courses was the Southern duck pepper fry: Hidden under a flurry of marigold petals and crispy curry leaves, the coconut- and spice-infused duck brought bold South Asian flavors to the desert. Warm, hand-pressed blue corn tortillas created the ideal vehicle to envelop the duck fry. With its spicy-sweet tamarind chutney and zippy tomatillo salsa, the taco hit every part of the palate.
Single Burger, Love Hour
It wasn’t just festival goers who kept Koreatown hit Love Hour slammed with tickets. The demand from the concert’s artists was so great that the entire kitchen would take breaks from service to keep up with everyone’s need for smash burgers and seasoned fries. And the hype wasn’t without merit: the team grilled crispy-edged patties and then dressed them in the signature sauce, diced onions, and thinly-sliced bread and butter pickles to create a balance of rich and acidic flavors within a pillowy Martin’s potato bun. Be sure to try the artist collab burgers, like Carly Rae Jepsen’s Beyond burger with vegan garlic aioli and caramelized onion.
Mushroom Taco, Tacos 1986
If an award were to be given to the most popular vendor at the festival, LA mainstay Tacos 1986 would likely win. The line for adobada sliced from the flame-spitting trompo stretched from morning to evening. The mushroom tacos are always a sleeper hit, with thinly sliced, deeply browned mushrooms covered with generous swab of guacamole and oniony salsas that come together in a compact package.
Seafood Party, Broad Street Oyster Co.
If there was one gripe with the dining facilities, it was the lack of seating. The festival always leaves hungry diners to gobble down juicy burgers and ice cold poke bowls on the grass. While that can be fun for a few meals, it’s worth relishing any opportunity to sit at a table. And with its full restaurant build out with a bar and all, Malibu darling Broad Street Oyster Co. is always a reliable treat for seafood towers and buttery lobster rolls. The pop-up restaurant prepares a pre-set “seafood party” with anchovy toast, giant shrimp cocktail, a lobster roll, and a fruit paleta. After hiking miles through the dusty heat, there are few greater pleasures than sharing a dozen cold oysters on a picnic table with friends.
XLB Soup Dumplings, Xiao Chi Jie
Just as curated as the lineup of performers, the vendors showcased diversity that satisfied nearly every craving. Seattle-based frozen soup dumpling purveyor Xiao Chi Jie had ideal infrastructure to turn out steamed dumplings and chili-dusted lamb barbecue skewers at record speeds, which left the VIP Rose Garden dotted with dim sum aficionados dipping dumplings in scallion ginger sauce and black vinegar.
Double Burger, Irv’s Burgers
After several visits to Roy Choi’s Best Friend bar (pro tip: opt for the fresh watermelon cocktail that is lightyears better than anything available at the main bars), there was nothing better to soak it all up than a double burger from legendary West Hollywood roadside stand Irv’s Burgers. Although notably missing were the iconic drawings and handwritten notes on the takeout boxes, the meaty patties layered in cheese were overflowing with juice, bringing immense joy to the end of a weekend filled with every sensory experience imaginable.