Coachella has a bunch of regular greasy food (think frozen chicken tenders and subpar pizza), but it’s also known for advertising some seriously gourmet and vegan foods.
The mouthwatering lineup highlighted the hottest L.A. restaurants, because if there’s one place that does organic, Instagram-worthy food, it’s Los Angeles.
April, Macey, and I wanted to taste as much gourmet food as possible to see if it was actually worth the hype and high price tag.
2. Tofu Balls from Starry Kitchen x Button Mash (Vegan)
Ingredients: Tofu (Sriracha aioli is not vegan)
Claire: I had no idea why these were green, or why they seemed to be covered in rice crispies. The crunch was nice, but the balls were pretty flavorless. The Sriracha aioli was fine, but why wouldn’t they just make a vegan sauce to go with the vegan tofu balls?
Macey: I appreciate the presentation, but the combination of the low-key flavor of the tofu balls and the high-key flavor of the Sriracha aioli was a little disappointing. It’s almost as if the sauce flavored the entire dish.
3. The Clover from Clover (Vegan)
Ingredients: Random hipster stuff
Claire: I cannot even begin to describe how gross this juice was. Like, WHY would you make a perfectly good juice so unpalatable AND THEN CHARGE $10 FOR IT. Even though this shit was nasty, I felt like it was cleaning out my intestines and it did make me feel like a healthier, more L.A. person.
April: NOPE NOPE NOPE.
4. Crispy Vegetarian Rolls from Phorage
Ingredients: Carrots, lettuce, rando other veggies
Macey: I get it, it’s Coachella, things are overpriced, but come on. I basically bought one vegetable roll cut into six pieces, for $9. It was good, but I expected way more. TBH, I probably would have gotten got my money’s worth if I had thrown these at people wearing Native American headdresses instead of eating them.
Claire: Let’s take a minute to understand that six niblets of an egg roll cost nine whole dollars. Sure, it was cooked to perfection, but there is hardly anything here! I understand that gourmet means quality over quantity, but this was literally a rip-off.
5. Furikake Tater Tots from Sumo Dog
Ingredients: Potatoes, furikake seasoning (supposedly)
Claire: How can you mess up tots? Normally I wouldn’t expect much, but this is supposed to be the GOURMET section of Coachella. I thought my gums were going to bleed because these tots were so hard, and maybe I could have seen the seasoning if I got out a microscope. These were just so sad.
April: During any type of festival, I basically live off of potatoes in all forms. Mainly because they’re easy and relatively cheap. Usually I’m not too judgmental on tots, but when you promise furikake seasoning, I expect FURIKAKE SEASONING. I could’ve saved the extra dollar and gotten plain ol’ tots instead.
6. Avocado Toast from Free Range (Vegan)
Ingredients: Avocados, Sriracha drizzle, pickled onions
Claire: If I could marry bread, I would marry this bread. It was perfectly toasted — not so hard that I had to wrestle with it to take a bite, but not so soft that it mushed. The avocado mash was chunky and slightly chilled, while the Sriracha added some kick. My breath smelled horrible after this, but it was so delicious I didn’t even care. Overall, this was one of my favorite things I ate.
7. All American from GD Bro Burger
Ingredients: Beef patty, Swiss cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce, kettle chips
April: I have no idea why the bun was red, but I’ll go with it. This burger had bacon, homemade BBQ sauce, and, wait for it…POTATO CHIPS. This was the first time I felt like I was eating a proper meal at Coachella. But for $22 (including fries), I don’t know if it was worth it.
8. Roast Beef Sandwich from Top Round
Ingredients: Roast beef, sad cheese, even sadder bun
Macey: This was a little lackluster. The combination of the bread, meat, and cheese felt a little too soft — it needed another texture. Also, there could have been way more meat. The fries were crispy and seasoned well at least! Maybe it would have been better if I had put the fries INSIDE of the sandwich…hmm.
April: The bun-meat-cheese ratio was so off. Usually when I get a roast beef sandwich, it’s overflowing with something that isn’t bread.
Claire: The fries were good, but if you mess up fries then you’re really in trouble. This burger, if you can even call it that, was a pile of mush. The oozy, wet texture made me want to barf. I would never eat this again.
9. Reggae Wrap from Strictly Vegan Jamaican Cuisine (Vegan)
Ingredients: Curried tofu, kale, fresh veggies, plantains
Claire: This is the perfect gourmet festival food. It has an A+ for presentation; it’s portable, which is ideal for when you have to run around; and it already came in foil, so if you didn’t finish it, you could wrap it up and save it for later. The curried tofu had a subtle spice, the veggies were super fresh, and while I’ve had better plantains in my life, I would definitely eat this again.
10. Buffalo Cauliflower from Sage (Vegan)
Ingredients: Cauliflower, spice not made from real buffalos, ranch dressing (for le dip)
Macey: I loved this. The Buffalo sauce was a little too spicy for my liking, and my boyfriend spilled half of it all over my jorts, but I was so impressed with the whole combination that I didn’t even care. I would definitely recommend!
11. Original Chicken Sandwich from Free Range
Ingredients: Tempura chicken, honey mustard, slaw
Claire: First off, this chicken was fucking divine. This was the moistest, yes, THE MOISTEST chicken I’ve ever had. The crunch from the tempura was like a party in my mouth. Ugh, but the bread situation was tragic. I ended up taking off the bread and just eating the chicken and slaw.
12. Chicken Tacos from Mexicali Tacos
Ingredients: Chicken…that’s about it.
Price: $5 each
April: So this was served in the beer garden to the left of the main stage aka the most packed area of the festival. The tacos were $5 each and reasonably priced, but paired with the length of the line and the fact there was A HAIR IN IT, it was worth the extra steps to go find food elsewhere.
Claire: FUCK THAT HAIR.
13. Miso Katsu Hot Dog from Sumo Dog
Ingredients: Tempura hot dog, mustard miso cabbage slaw, tonkatsu sauce, nori
Claire: I was so amped for this. It’s a tempura hot dog, for Chrissake, what more could you ask for? Flavor, apparently. The crunch of the tempura hot dog was perfection, but everything else turned to mush. None of the other flavors stood out. Despite the fancy-sounding ingredients, this was actually quite boring.
14. Garlic Noodles With Beef from Starry Kitchen x Button Mash
Ingredients: Spicy curried beef, lemongrass, cucumbers, garlic noodles
Claire: Now THIS is what I’m talking about! The noods tasted like butter heaven and the spicy beef was a welcome surprise — it was actually quite spicy. It was so delicious that if it was served on a plate I would have thought I was at a real restaurant, not at Coachella. At $12, this is probably the cheapest filling meal offered at the festival.
April: This was probably the best thing I ate at Coachella period. It was flavorful, light, and filling. This is something I’d order again just in everyday life, not just a festival.
16. Pulled Pork Bahn Mi from Phorage
Ingredients: Pulled pork, carrots, cilantro, cucumber
Claire: Oh my god YEESSSSS. This was fucking delicious, and it was huge! It finally felt like I got my money’s worth and wasn’t being insanely overcharged. The carrots and cucumber tasted fresh, and the pork was exactly what I needed after a long day running around in the heat. There was wayyy too much bread, and it was chewy AF, but overall, I was pleased with this meal.
17. Pepperoni and Cheese Pizza from Rossoblu
Ingredients: The usual pizza stuff
Price: $9 for the pepperoni, $7 for plain cheese
Macey: Pizza is a hard thing to mess up. I love pizza. I’m somehow on Domino’s mailing list, and I’ve downloaded their app and deleted it at least twice out of shame. I wanted to love this pizza — trust me, I was starving and literally dead inside from day-drinking and inhaling a literal desert — but it really wasn’t that great. It was kind of cold and could definitely have used more cheese/toppings in general. Idk, I’m from Chicago, so maybe I’m biased. Deep dish 4 lyfe.
April: This was pretty good and filling in terms of festival food. I actually ate two pieces because I was so hungry, but in hindsight, it was basic pizza and that’s about it.
Claire First of all, square pizza is the devil. Also, it was so THICK. It felt like I was eating bad cornbread with some cheese on top. I never thought pizza could be so disappointing, but here we are.
18. Cookie Monster Ice Cream With Fruity Pebbles in a Milky Bun from Afters Ice Cream
Ingredients: Cookies and cream ice cream, Fruity Pebbles, glazed doughnut
April: There was like way too much going on here. The cookies and cream not only turned my tongue blue but had Oreos AND chocolate chip cookie pieces in it. Combined with something fruity like the Fruity Pebbles and sticking it in something even more sugary like the doughnut was just too much for me. Plus, I hate biting into ice cream. Each individual piece was good, but maybe we shouldn’t Frankenstein foods together.
19. “Pop” Strawberry Pop Tart from Indie Jams
Ingredients: Strawberry jam, strawberry icing, strawberry pop rocks
Claire: This thing was tiny for $3, but it was ideal for when you only wanted a bite of something sweet, rather than a whole, rich dessert. I was nervous about the pop rocks, because, like, why, but they were a surprisingly welcome addition to the flavor party happening in my mouth. The pastry dough was a heavenly mixture of sweet butter and toasty texture, while neither the icing or the jam on the inside were too sweet. PERFECT MARKS.
20. Blackberry Lime Sorbet from McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams (Vegan)
Ingredients: Blackberries, lime, probs some sugar
Claire: This is what heaven tastes like, and it’s so refreshing. I thought blackberry-lime was a weird pairing, but I will never question it again. Sorbets have a tendency to be icy, but the texture on this bad boy was smooth and glorious. (I just wish it was cheaper!)
21. Pink Stripe and Candy Pop from Donut Farm (Vegan)
Ingredients: Flour and diabetes
Price: $5 each
April: So the Pink Stripe was basically just a glazed doughnut with a small hint of pink running through it, and the Candy Pop was supposed to taste like maple syrup. The Candy Pop was just way too sweet, and I couldn’t take more than one bite of it. The Pink Stripe, on the other hand, was just a well-made glazed doughnut. Less is more, people.
Claire: My god, if I didn’t have a cavity before trying the Candy Pop doughnut, I definitely do now. One bite was enough for my teeth to ring in pain. The Pink Stripe was tasty, but the “pink stripe” the doughnut supposedly had was ridiculous. I mean, do you see a pink stripe??? Finally, for it to be a doughnut, I’m pretty sure there needs to be a hole. These were just balls. Sad balls of meh in my mouth.
22. Milky Bun Jasmine Milk Tea Ice Cream With Captain Crunch from Afters Ice Cream
Ingredients: Dairy, jasmine milk tea, Captain Crunch cereal
Claire: The Instagrams were a LIE! My sandwich looked nothing like the Instagrams said they would. This was literally just a too-sweet doughnut with decent ice cream and barely any Captain Crunch. IT WAS A SCAM.
23. Nutella S’mores from Mallow Mallow
Ingredients: Graham crackers made from rocks, maybe Nutella
Price: $6 for two or $4 for one
April: These were so tiny, I could not. The graham crackers were so thick and hard that it didn’t make eating it any more enjoyable. Plus, I couldn’t even taste the Nutella…so what is the point of you?!
Claire: I saw April take a bite of one and the marshmallow just squirted out the sides. She was really sad, and you never want to be sad when you’re eating a s’more.
Claire: Did I feel like I was eating gourmet every day at Coachella? No. But I did walk away with some faves, namely the garlic beef noodles and the avocado toast. The blackberry lime sorbet wins my vote for best dessert, closely followed by the strawberry pop tart. Ultimately, I was impressed by the food choices Coachella offered (even if they weren’t necessarily gourmet) and was especially pleased with all the healthy and vegan options.
Macey: I’d never been to Coachella before, so I was impressed at the variety and effort put into the food choices. I was expecting a lot less. The Buffalo cauliflower was definitely my favorite. Hopefully the next time I eat it, I won’t get it all over myself.
April: I’d mess with those garlic noodles until the end of time. I’d also eat those doughnuts again but would be more cautious about my flavor choices.
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