Coachella 2013: A festival where vegan food rules

A couple enjoy a quiet meal at the Mirage, an art installation on the grounds of Coachella.
(Bethany Mollenkof / Los Angeles Times)

This post has been updated. Please see below for details.

For any festival epicure, Coachella dining is essentially a weekend-long Treat Yo Self Day - and even more so for meat-avoiders.

As an 11-years-and-counting vegan, I will say that Coachella has always been a Bizzaro world of food choices. And eating lighter saves you more room for beer without feeling like an engorged python.


Coachella took on some enticing new vegan options this year (but seemed to lose some too). We know this is a music blog, but we’re going to live up to our L.A. stereotypes and betray our roots as total crunchy hippies. Here’s what was tasty this weekend:

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The Jamaican Ital stand: Does L.A. even have a good Ital restaurant? That’s the Rastafarian cooking tradition in which Jamaican food gets a meat-and-dairy-free spin for purifying the spirit. And lo, did this stand purify at Coachella: an excellent wrap with curried tofu and greens with a vegan ranch dressing; a very irie bowl with a melange of rice, black beans and plantains. Coachella’s never lacked for aspiring Rastas, and now they can take the next step.

The 118 Degrees vegan stand by the Outdoor Stage: The Coachella edition of chef Jenny Ross’ three-outlet O.C. establishment sported some verde tacos that were summer in a bowl. Crunchy lettuce wedges replaced the tortilla, with a mix of picked veggies, salsa fresca and what tasted like a tangy cashew spread to add heft.

Green Truck veggie burgers: To the young server at this truck who killed time between orders by sashaying around the condiment area like Stevie Nicks having a crystal vision: Please never, ever change. And also keep serving your very hearty and intriguingly spiced vegan burgers.

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The indoor cocktail bar at the Rose Garden: Generally we stick to light beer at Coachella (it’s cheaper, quicker and more reliable than cocktails), but we made a brief exception for one Sunday afternoon indulgence. The mix of Jameson, ginger juice, lemon and a hodgepodge of supposed electrolyte pick-me-ups felt somewhere between a highball and a detox juice. Is that contradictory? Sure. Delicious? I’m trying to replicate it at home right now.

Two minor quibbles to end, though. We were really pumped to try our first Baohaus offering, but for the life of us, we scoured every corner of the field and VIP and couldn’t find the darn thing. And what happened to the tempeh and tofu wrap stand that usually posts up at the Outdoor stage food alley? That was the platonic ideal of Coachella vegan food, and it was missed.

Until then, fellow vegan Coachellans, it’s off to detox, put on some light dinner jazz and cook something simple at home tonight. Or pound some Heinken Lights to keep the dream alive.

[Updated 11:45 a.m. April 16. Information about the vendor 118 Degrees was added.]


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