What to eat if you’re going to weekend two of Coachella
Around 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon, midbite into a Canadian spot prawn dressed with prawn head butter and a sprinkle of matcha green tea over warm sushi rice, I momentarily forgot where I was. I forgot that I was at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival, sweat fusing me to my seat, wristbands crowding my arms and a budding sunburn kissing my shoulders.
The faint booms of Bishop Briggs’ set brought me back to reality. I was halfway through this year’s premier food offering at the festival: a 17-course sushi omakase inside an air-conditioned tent complete with sake pairings.
Festival organizers commissioned Sushi by Scratch Restaurants in Encino and Montecito to create a pop-up version of the restaurants. Reservations and tickets were required, and $375 a head. They are getting the sushi band back together for weekend two, if you’re interested in snagging a seat.
I ate incredibly well during weekend one of the festival, and not just at the sushi bar. A number of restaurants from Los Angeles set up shop on the Empire Polo Club, in both the general admission and VIP areas. If you’re headed out for weekend two, here are some favorites:
The line for the chicken fingers stand was the longest throughout the weekend. Avoid it. Make your way over to the Indio Central Market tent instead and order the loaded Korean BBQ fries from Kogi ($18). The fries are beer-battered, tossed in chile salt, plentifully bestrewn with shredded cheese, short rib, kimchi, salsa and sesame seeds. Or head to Trills Burgers, a pop-up from Houston rapper Bun B and Andy Nguyen, founder and co-owner of multiple dessert shops in California including Afters Ice Cream and Dough & Arrow. The OG burger with onions ($15) is anchored by two hefty patties (not the smashed-to-meat-lace burgers still pervading Los Angeles) with American cheese and dreamy, jammy grilled onions on a Martin’s potato roll. If you’re looking to save a little cash, bring your own water bottle and fill it up at one of the filtered-water stations. You can also visit the Lay’s chip tent (it’s air-conditioned!) for free samples of three Lay’s flavors: dill, loaded baked potato and truffle. Yes, we said free.
Rose Garden VIP
Love Hour is making the chicken nuggets of your dreams, coated in a piquant, safety-vest-orange Buffalo seasoning ($9 for 10 pieces). It’s also serving smashburgers ($15 for a double or $11 for a single) with its signature condiment station so you can pile on the diced onion, pickles and special sauce (think Thousand Island but smooth). A few stalls down, Xiao Chi Jie, a restaurant from Bellevue, Wash., is serving xiao long bao. Nearby, Bar Flores from Echo Park has a pop-up bar with an excellent margarita, gin and tonic, lavender spritz, a mezcal and carrot juice cocktail and micheladas.
The trompo at the Tacos 1986 booth is hard to miss. It’s stationed at the entrance to the main VIP area, and both the smell and the sight of the slowly rotating, dripping meat are intoxicating. The pop-up turned taco empire is slinging tacos, quesadillas, mulitas and vampiros ($6.50 to $8). Just across the walkway you’ll find leopard-spotted pies from the Melrose Avenue pizzeria Ronan ($18 to $21). The White Lightning, smeared with ricotta and painted with chiles and torn basil, is a favorite. Ask for a side of ranch, honey or chile oil for a crust dip. A few steps to the right and you can order a Spicy P ($20) from Ggiata, the Melrose Avenue sandwich shop. It’s a chicken parm sandwich big enough for two, with fresh slabs of mozzarella on a fried and dressed cutlet. And for a cocktail, Best Friend, Roy Choi’s Las Vegas restaurant, has a bar with Salty Dogs (Absolut grapefruit vodka, juice and pink peppercorn salt), a watermelon tequila drink and Peach Tea (whiskey, peach puree, iced tea and sweet and sour) (all $17).
Eat your way across L.A.
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