It’s that special time of year again. Seven polo fields in Indio, CA are once again set to become the backdrop for the most influential music festival in the country. And with a lineup that includes everybody from A$AP Rocky to Sia to Guns N’ Roses, 2016 is going to be one for the books.
But whether you’re dancing your face off at the Sahara Tent, hitting the headliners at the Outdoor Stage, or meditating under an art installation, one other element has become just as integral a part of the festival as the music - the food. Some of the biggest names in LA (and Southern California) food have made their way out to the desert in recent years, and 2016 is certainly no exception. So without further ado, here is your official Coachella food lineup (and when you need to be eating it).
Let’s get real. 12:30pm is morning when you’re on Coachella time, and your body just doesn’t know whether it wants breakfast or lunch. Easy fix - Free Range. The reigning king of fried chicken in LA will be cooking up their classic sandwich, and you’re going to want all of it while hiding behind your sunglasses and listening to that band your friend said was cool.
So last night wasn’t exactly an in-bed-by-10pm-watching-Netflix kind of night. You’re tired as all hell, and you need coffee fast. Take a breath. The caffeine titan is making its way to the desert to make sure your mornings (and afternoons and nights) are as painless as possible.
We don’t care what time of day it is, donuts always win out. And this year, the Donut Farm is bringing its all-vegan, all-delicious donuts to the hungry mouths of Indio. We’ll see you in line.
We know that was you cannon-balling into your AirBnB’s community pool at 3am, and now you’re paying the price. The sun is out and has a bone to pick with your hangover. Dull the pain with a nitro coffee that’ll surely wipe out all remaining cobwebs.
Joe Jonas threw his hat (most likely a fedora) into the LA restaurant ring last year with Santa Monica’s Hinterland. But luckily the spot isn’t just for the see-and-be-seen crowd. The food is good - really good. And the seafood-focused joint is bringing a fantastic brunch option to Coachella, while saving your hazy morning in the process.
One of LA’s best brunch situations will be on-hand to get your metabolism up and running for what will surely be another marathon day of swaying to the beat. The Venice standby will be bringing their fried chicken sandwich and other treats to you and your crew’s hungry needs.
WHEN YOU CAN'T FIND YOUR FRIENDS SO YOU BEFRIEND A SANDWICH
It’s Saturday, your phone is dead, and you’re starving. Time to take matters into your own hands. The Church Key will be offering their insanely good Dagwood Burger all day, and you’re going to want to get involved. You’ll find Jessica later.
Consider Top Round Roast Beef the Arby’s that doesn’t suck. Their sandwiches are hefty, simple, and delicious. Perfect for when you have a half to hour to kill while your friend makes out with that boy in Birkenstocks.
There comes a point in every day at Coachella where it all sort of falls apart. None of your texts are sending, your next “must” concert isn’t for another hour, and your bff went to the bathroom and never came back. Head to Beer Belly. There’s isn’t a better place to grab a beer and some delicious bar food, and recharge for the rest of the day.
You probably know Sotto as that romantic basement on Pico you go to for sexy date night, but probably not for your Coachella food fix. Until now. The fantastic Italian spot is bringing a mini meatball sandwich to the desert, and this time it’s you ditching your friends to go get in line.
The nearly 70-year-old Koreatown burger staple got a massive overhaul last year, and now the classic is back and better than ever. Expect old-school burgers and fries and expect them to be excellent. You were going to get one for Joey, but he vanished at the ferris wheel. His loss.
Your other friends promised they’d meet you at Silversun Pickups and they’re complete no-shows. You’re hungry and over it. Go get some of the best Barcelona street food you never knew you needed so badly. Think razor-thin sandwiches and patatas bravas that’ll change your life.
What the hell. You just got a text from Casey, and everybody decided to go back to the house to relax until Sia. Thanks for the heads up, assh*le. Oh well, you’re here and you’re ready to LIVE. But first a sandwich. Phorage has some of our favorite pho in LA, but you’re here today for the pork belly banh mi. Get after it.
Burgerlords opened in Chinatown last Fall and has had lines out the door ever since. These are simple, old-school burgers that will immediately have your friend regretting giving up meat for no reason last week.
THE "HELP, I'M MELTING" MELTDOWN
It’s Day 3, Snapchat just told you it’s 103 degrees outside, and you can’t feel your face. Luckily, the Santa Barbara original (and current Grand Central Market resident), will be on the premises this year, dishing out all of the ice cream your sweltering self can handle.
SoCal original and Instagram celebrity, Afters Ice Cream is about one thing - the Milky Bun. The signature dish is essentially an ice cream-filled donut, and it’s going to be magic in your mouth when the desert sun hits full throttle and you just can’t deal.
The Bay area ice cream staple (and El Segundo favorite), will be dishing out its insane liquid nitrogen, made-to-order ice cream for you and your skyrocketing body temperature. And word on the street is that it’s going to be even hotter tomorrow. Plan accordingly.
DETOX BEFORE THE RETOX
You’ve hit a wall. Perhaps literally, but most definitely figuratively. It’s day 3, you can’t find your blood sugar, and you need nutrition. Give thanks, because Commissary is here. The best restaurant-in-a-greenhouse-on-a-pool-deck in LA will be on hand, and you know that means all of the vegetables for your much-needed detox.
If you don’t do the meat thing, there isn’t a better option for you on the grounds this year than Sage. The all-vegan outpost is setting up shop and dishing out only the very best of the meat product-less variety. PS: There’s going to be some soft serve too.
So it’s not even Saturday yet, and your family-sized Tums bottle is cashed. We know the feeling. Head over to Clover Juice for a real detox and set your body’s clock back to zero. You need it, we need it, and that guy dancing to the sound of his own puka shell necklace definitely needs it.
You decided to camp. We fully applaud that decision, but it’s Sunday, and you can’t take any more of Alan’s shitty propane grill skills. Good bye half-cooked beef patties, hello Backyard Bowls. America’s shangri-la of acai bowls is heading out to Indio this year, because you need fresh pureed fruit more than your body realizes.
What a time to be alive for poké enthusiasts. There’s seemingly a new raw fish bar popping up every day in LA right now, but Sweetfin remains top of the class. And there isn’t a better way to fill up the tank at Coachella then with a spicy tuna bowl and all the fixins on top.
Is there a more anticipated restaurant opening in LA this year than Rosaliné? We think not. Ricardo Zarate is back and bringing high-end Peruvian food to our hungry mouths. And he'll be at Coachella. So expect all the fresh vegetables and ceviche your beating heart desires.
POST-SAHARA TENT DANCE BINGE
It’s 5pm and the vibe inside the Sahara Tent is everything you’ve ever wanted, but you also haven’t eaten since noon, and it’s time to refuel. Head to one of our favorite Mexican spots, Mexicali, for authentic baja cuisine. But hurry up, the dance floor is calling you back.
You had no intention of dancing that hard at Major Lazer, but here we are, and now it’s time to reward yourself with a big old bag of filet mignon jerky. And Three Jerks Jerky is frankly as good as it gets. Not to mention the ideal snack to grab-and-go and get back out there.
Praise the desert gods. One of the best tacos in all the land will be at Coachella this year, and that’s great news for anyone dancing five hours to house music. Guerrilla will be cranking out their sweet potato taco to the hungry hoards, meaning even our meatless friends can get in on the action.
When it comes to hot dogs, you won’t find many better than what’s happening over at Fritzi. The Original Farmer’s Market staple will be serving the very best for your post-dance binge snacking needs. Just don’t leave without getting some of those tots.
The super popular burger and beer bar from Hawthorne will be on site flipping burgers of a more gourmet variety. Think figs and goat cheese and arugula and everything else you could ever want between the buns. You and your fist-pump have earned it.
You probably haven’t heard of Rossoblu, and that’s because its Fashion District brick and mortar isn’t open yet. But with the Sotto crew manning the kitchen, this new Italian joint is set to be one of the biggest openings of the year in LA. So consider this a preview that’ll give you all the bragging rights needed. And also, you just need a slice of pizza asap.
No one’s counting, but chances are you just lost 800 calories dancing up and down to Calvin Harris, and you’re starved. Get those calories back at GD Bro Burger. The Instagram superstar and all-out burger nirvana slopfest from Santa Ana will be on the grounds this year - consider it a must-stop.
Last years runaway pop-up sensation is back. The Japanese-style hot dogs are coming to you and you want it badly. These are tempura hot dogs of the finest variety and after two-hours of Flume, that's just what the doctor prescribed.
WHEN YOU REALIZE THE DESERT IS FREEZING AT NIGHT
Wait, what’s happening right now? The sun went down and so did your body temperature. Welcome to the desert, sun babies. The good news is that LA’s best Indian-fusion will be on hand to warm your poor, helpless bodies right back up. And that means chicken tikka poutine. Run don’t walk.
Oh my god, it has to be like 71 degrees out right now. Go feed your frozen soul with Ramen Hood, the latest Grand Central Market star and home to some truly excellent ramen. When the sun’s back tomorrow, they’ll also be serving some non-ramen offerings.
Some of the best things we’ve eaten this year have come from Button Mash, the Echo Park arcade bar whose food comes courtesy of Starry Kitchen. This is Chinese-fusion drunk food of the very best variety, and if you need us at any point during the festival, you will find us here.
The entirety of LA collectively lost their sh*t when this legit Korean BBQ spot opened up last fall in Culver City. And guess what? They’re coming to Indio. As the sun goes down over the polo fields, we can’t think of a better food to have in hand than these delicious KBBQ bowls.
There’s going to be an all-out barrage of fantastic alcoholic beverage options at the festival this year, but when you need a quick warm-up, nothing’s going to beat the whiskey cocktails happening over at the DTLA cocktail staple SevenGrand’s pop-up.
The arrival of Pok Pok in LA was a big one. And this year, the Portland empire will be cooking up the best Thai food at Coachella. This is authentic Thai street food, so it’s going to be a lot of one thing - spice. But that’s a good thing because it’s 55 degrees out, and you only brought daisy dukes.
Deep breaths, everyone. The original after-dark snack, the marshmallow, will be in attendance this year courtesy of the freedom fighters over at Mallow Mallow. Made-to-order marshmallows as you physically prepare your body for Ellie Goulding? See you there.
The Chinatown pop-up incubator will stay true to its form, housing a number of rotating concepts throughout both weekends. Expect everything from Chinese BBQ to modern Filipino food, but we can’t help be most excited for nightlife/breakfast genius Nighthawk and their planned pork belly banh mi bowl.
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