Everything You Need to Eat at Coachella This Year
With LA legends and pop-ups from New York, this year's Coachella food lineup is as good as the music.
There will still be music at Coachella this year, or so they say. But over the last few years, Southern California’s signature music festival has become as much a fashion show, doomed NFT launchpad, and culinary showcase as it is a concert. And that’s not because the lineup of musical acts has fallen by the wayside. It’s still a killer bill featuring the likes of Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, Frank Ocean, Björk, Pusha T, Noname, and literally Idris Elba on the decks. But there is enough awesome stuff to eat and drink at Coachella this year to make it worthwhile to brave the heat, crowds, and influencer-driven chaos for the food alone.
Local SoCal stars are also bringing their best to the desert, and specialists from across the country are making a rare West Coast appearance. There are secret speakeasies, an entirely non-alcoholic bar, a pop-up tasting menu from a Michelin-starred restaurant, and tons of vegan food. From barbecue to coffee and hot chicken to handrolls, this is what to eat at Coachella 2023, organized by the section where you can find these fantastic food vendors.
12 Peaks VIP
The freshly Michelin-starred bistro brings its modern French-ish cuisine to Coachella in two different but equally exciting ways. Co-executive chefs Max Boonthanakit and Lijo
George will serve a family-style ticked prix-fixe tasting menu in a full-service restaurant-style space. They will also have a window that they’re calling Le Burger, through which they’ll be slinging the bistro’s signature burger, a decadent special that’s only available at the bar and on the patio at Camphor’s Arts District brick-and-mortar.
Some people can do it all; as it turns out, Brandon Tiffith is one of them. His day job is as the chief marketing officer of Top Dawg Entertainment, where he manages SZA, ScHoolboy Q, and more, and in his ample free time, he becomes Big B The Chef, Chief executive officer, and head chef of the eponymous food truck and catering company. He’ll serve Chicken Wingz, Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese, and Cajun Pasta in the desert.
Chefs Kat and John Hong have a certified banger in their year-old modern Korean-American deli Yangban Society. The Arts District mothership has a full menu of composed dishes like a Congee Pot Pie and Biscuits with Kare Gravy, but at the festival, they’re getting straight to the point and only serving one thing, their signature twice-fried soy and garlic Yangban Wings.
LA Taco’s viral story announcing the official supremacy of LA pizza may have been an April Fools’ Day joke, but like all good humor, there’s a kernel of truth to it and LA pizza rules. If you happen to be at Coachella and want to confirm the thesis, head over to Ronan, one of LA’s very finest neo-Neapolitan pizzerias. They’ll fire up Margheritas, vegan Marinara pizzas, and the Spicy Chomper with Soppressata.
The Venice Beach mainstay covers your caffeine needs in the VIP this year. Menotti’s is bringing all the usual coffee drinks made to exacting standards, as well as a few go-to specialty drinks like an Espresso Tonic, a Matcha Tonic, and a Vanilla Latte. They’re also serving a drink unique to the festival, the Don Chella, served hot or iced with Coconut Condensed Milk and a Magic Cinnamon Dust.
The street noodle sensation now has a fixed location in Culver City but is pulling up stakes and heading for the desert for the two weekends of Coachella. Bang Bang Noodles will serve its much-lauded Shaanxi-style noodles, a modern take on the wide and thick Biang Biang Noodles, in bowls with Sichuan chiles and lots of garlic, topped with either beef or mushroom.
One of our favorite new bars in LA will be serving its creative agave-focused cocktails at the festival in partnership with sister restaurant Mírate, home to chef Joshua Gil’s thrilling modern Mexican cooking. The booth will have some particularly fun stuff, from a Mexican Birria Pizza to Takoyaki-style Crab Esquites and a Vegan Cauliflower Ceviche.
When backyard smokers ruled the LA barbecue scene, Burt Bakman and his Texas brisket were right at the top of the class. And as the scene as a whole has moved into brick-and-mortar spaces, Bakman hasn’t slipped a bit—Slab is fantastic. In the desert, Bakman’s outfit will serve Texas Cheesesteaks with sliced brisket, Loaded French Fries, and a Pulled Pork Sandwich.
Indio Central Market
There’s a robust vegan presence at Coachella this year, and animal-free pop-up favorite Cena Vegan is among the most prominent names. They will serve plant-based taqueria classics in Indio Central Market, including Vegan Nachos and Vegan Burritos.
Roy Choi’s legendary Korean-Mexican-LA fusion food truck, the idea that launched a thousand trucks, is pivoting away from tacos for Coachella. Instead, Kogi is going all-in on KBBQ French Fries, with Kimcheese Fries, Kogi Spiced Fries, and Loaded Fries. The latter comes with cheese, kimchi, short rib, salsa roja, and sesame seeds.
Attaboy is a hidden cocktail bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side with no sign out front, and they’re bringing that fun trick across the country by setting up a speakeasy in the Indio Central Market. The Coachella pop-up, however, is called Sonny’s and is a Miami Vice-themed bar with a list of bright-colored slushy cocktails and a playlist of Nu-Wave jams. We can’t reveal the precise location, but we can say you should look for the beachball.
Chef Govind Armstrong’s modern California soul restaurant is coming from Baldwin Hills to Indio for the festival, bringing vegetable-forward Southern-inspired cooking to the Rose Garden. They’ll serve Hot Pastrami Sandwiches, Smoked Cauliflower, and Vegan Crab Cakes.
The legendary Watts burger shack has served some of the best hamburgers in LA for more than 80 years across some five generations of the Hawkins family. That legendary burger will be in the desert, along with some decadent specials like the Whipper Burger, a two-patty monster with pastrami and a hot link stacked on top. There will also be lighter options, like Turkey Burgers and Veggie Burgers, as well as the not-so-light Chile Cheese Fries.
Speakeasies are dotted throughout the grounds, including a second NYC import, PDT, a cocktail bar whose brick-and-mortar location is hidden behind a phone booth inside a hot dog joint in the East Village. PDT stands for Please Don’t Tell, so all we can say about the festival location is that the entrance may be familiar to people who’ve been to the NYC original. If you make it in, the drink menu leans bright and crisp, with options like the Pep Talk, made with tequila, lime, bell pepper, and grapefruit soda.
The exuberant seafood shack has locations all the way up California, from Malibu to Santa Barbara and a forthcoming San Francisco outpost. It’ll be a little farther from the usual ocean digs for the next few weekends, serving seafood in the desert to pescatarian party people. The baller menu includes the celebrated Lobster Roll, a Half-Dozen Oysters, and an option to go super lux with Caviar & Chips.
Plant-based eaters won’t go hungry in any section at Coachella this year, and Compton Vegan is holding it down with popular takes on Vegan Soul Food. The menu includes Jackfruit BBQ Ribz, Chik’n Sandwiches, Pulled Pork Fries, and Vegan Wingz.
One of last year's most exciting returning food experiences is also one of the most opulent. Chef Phillip Frankland Lee’s Sushi by Scratch is putting on a ticketed omakase meal. The 17-course modern sushi meal runs $395 per person and includes a sake pairing, set in their hidden sushi-ya behind an unmarked door.