There is so much food at Coachella now that one person can barely make a dent. I set out to Coachella on a solo mission to find the best eats, which only proved that there’s far too much for one person to cover it all. I didn’t even make it into the Beer Barn, which housed Bludso’s and Beer Belly. I didn’t skip around the field with a waffle on a stick from Sweet COMBforts either. I had big plans for that waffle. Much time was spent interviewing bands while they ate delicious things, which fed my soul in other ways. So, in the end, a few of my Coachella culinary dreams were crushed, but only because there’s so much food and so little time. And that’s not a real problem. Plus, what I did eat was pretty terrific.
Badmaash: chicken tikka poutine
A favorite of the weekend by a long shot. This dish was so good, I failed to take a proper beauty shot of my own. If you’re a fan of Indian food and/or exciting, complex flavors, this $20 poutine is worth it. Crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside fries are covered in mozzarella cheese and gravy, then topped with tandoori chicken and cilantro. Every bite is exciting. This is available in Main VIP and you’ll need gum afterward.
Bling Bling Dumplings
Bling Bling Dumpling has two stalls in the field, one in general admission and the other in a general-admission beer garden. They offer three flavors, which can be mixed and matched, including chicken and Thai basil; ginger pork; and shiitake, and each and every one is bursting with flavor. While many Coachella concessions can be unnecessarily large, the six-dumpling serving is $12 and perfect for one person. Plus, the beer garden location is situated a few vendors down from the Cupcake Vineyards Rosé All Day stand. There’s nothing like sitting on a patch of grass with a set of dumplings and a glass of refreshing wine.
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Sumo Dog Sumo Tots
It’s tater tots with a ton of incredible Asian-inspired toppings, such as spicy pork chili, togarashi cheese sauce, jalapeños, pickled peppers and furikake, a dried seaweed seasoning. While I’d hoped the sushi tots would make an appearance (sushi rice morsels instead of potatoes), chef Jeffrey Lunak explained that the labor-intensive dish wouldn’t work logistically at a festival. Fair enough. He was also nice enough to let me hop back into the kitchen to see how they're made, and it's a mesmerizing process piling melty cheese and tangy sauces on perhaps the best form of potato. The Sumo Tots can fill you up for the entire day, or be shared by three to four people. This is a heavy $10 dish, which makes it both time- and cost-effective.
Backyard tandoori chicken and Filipino-style carpaccio at Outstanding in the Field
On Sunday night, chefs Bruce Kalman of Union and Knead, Nakul and Arjun Mahendro from Badmaash and Alvin Cailan of Eggslut teamed up to create a family-style dinner for the Outstanding in the Field series. It is in its fourth year, but it was my first time attending this event in the VIP Rose Garden, where people can sit at an actual table and use real wine glasses and flatware for $225 a seat. (Though there are other ways to score a spot, like the middle-aged couple who sat across from me. They won the dinner at an American Express dance contest earlier in the night. "It was EDM," they said.) The best dishes were the Filipino-style filet mignon carpaccio, which was rich and buttery, and the backyard tandoori chicken; juicy and packed with flavor. There was also a perfect crusty loaf of bread with olive oil. Three wines were poured, including an Oregon rosé, which was dry and crisp, and a pinot noir from the same state that made me pour the white out and ask for more of the red. The low lighting at the 7:30 p.m seating wasn't conducive to photos, and the staff was nice and accommodating yet over it. But that's Sunday at Coachella.