One of my most memorable eats for April was actually at Coachella, an annual music and arts festival held in Indio, California, about two hour’s drive east of LA. Not only was it my first outdoor music festival experience, it’s probably one of the last trips I’ll take in awhile, now that I’m saving up for my new place. I’ll try and keep the post short but four days adds up to a bunch of photos!
We flew into LA and rented a car to drive out to Indio. Lots of wind turbines on the way throughout Coachella Valley, and they’re larger than they look!
Knowing that once we got into the grounds, we were limited to the food stands and trucks inside (think overpriced festival food!), we were desperate to find some good eats along the way into town. Seeing that we have virtually no Mexican food in Edmonton, it was appropriate that we were on the look out for anything that screamed authentic. If authentic means the place looks run down, was in between a liquor store/meat deli and a dental office, then yes, we found our place: Taco Gonzalez.
Jon got the al pastor enchilada, complete with a spoonful of beans, rice, and guacamole. Strong in flavor, although a bit awkward to eat in the car.
I ended up getting two tacos, the al pastor and chorizo (not pictured). Topped with a bed of onions and cilantro and a side of salsa with some kick, this was delicious! Siao ended up getting a taco as well, plus a side of tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole. The guacamole didn’t seem as traditional as you’d think, more on the chunky side and not as much avocado. Still good, just different in texture. Nhan had some sort of gigantor torta which I don’t even recall because he ate it so fast.
It was a good thing we ate in the car because this was our view for the next 3 hours. Rows and rows of cars waiting to get into the campgrounds.
After getting through security and setting up our tent, it was time for more food. To continue with the Mexican fiesta, I split a fish taco with the guys. Nothing mind blowing, but the fish was nicely fried with a tempura batter. Apparently an independently run restaurant known for their giant fish tacos.
We made our way around the grounds, checking out the first set of art installments and a late night dance party to start the weekend right.
Next morning, we were up bright and early (I mean 6am early). Indio has the most scorching heat ever! You wouldn’t even be able to sleep in if you wanted to! Might as well check out the farmer’s market! Best stand of them all, the Bautista Creek juice stand. I started off slow with the mineola/blood orange juice on the first day, and by the second I figured what harm could there be in trying their “Beet Me Up!” juice. Thank God that I did. To give a vague picture of what I’m talking about, just think about this: 4 days of camping, mostly fried or high carb festival food, PORTAPOTTIES with minimal toilet paper. Think of your bowels. I highly recommend going to this stand every day for the sake of your regularity. And honestly, it was delicious! Another tip: bring powdered electrolytes to mix with your water. And a hat. A dizzy spell left me drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day and finding shade when possible!
Other food trucks were located near the farmer’s market too but with such great produce meters away, the trucks didn’t entice me as they normally would. Inside the grounds was a different story.
The first food stand I hit up was Baohaus, a New York based street food restaurant featuring Taiwanese style baos (steam buns). Day one in the grounds had me trying the Birdhaus Bao, a piece of fried chicken served up with their Haus seasoning salt, cilantro, peanuts, and Taiwanese red sugar. Odd combination you say? No. This was pure genius. Crunchy chicken (not at all greasy) and peanuts, mixed in with the soft dough of the bun (slight sweetness) and the sugar made a great flavor profile of salty-sweet with contrasting textures all around. Yum!
Day two, I was back. This time for the Coffin Bao Fried Chicken, one of their newer menu items. This time, the bao itself is fried, the chicken is the same one as the previous, topped off additionally with a chili condensed milk syrup. Of the two, this was sweeter due to the syrup but I preferred it over the Birdhaus. A must try if you ever run into it or stop by New York!
Nothing beats good eats, mixed in with different genres of music, a great atmosphere, and sun kissed weather!
By nightfall, we were looking for food again. When I heard the that Kogi food truck was inside the beer gardens, I had to try it. I wanted to try it last time I was in LA but it was nowhere near where we were staying at the time. Ranked one of LA’s top food trucks, the Korean style BBQ had one of the longest lines of all.
Merging Korean and Mexican cuisine, we got the best of both worlds. Wrapped in flour tortillas, we ordered the short rib, spicy pork, and chicken tacos. All topped with salad mixed in with a kimchi dressing, this was killer. We were back for round two the next day. I preferred the burritos to the tacos though, more filling to tortilla ratio, plus the extra salad dressing makes it nice and spicy!
Other eats for the weekend: LA’s famous Pink’s Hot Dogs, the Snoop Dogg Dog. Seemed like a basic chili cheese dog to me with an extra long dog. Don’t get why celebrities love it so much. Mangler’s Meltdown grilled sandwiches, the Portabello Melt. Greasy! More fish tacos? Oh and Jon’s sister, Melissa had no problem finding a gluten- and egg-free option for the day with a few vegan stands in the midst of everything. Tofu wrap?
Aside from the food, Red Hot Chili Peppers was the highlight of my weekend. Only three rows away and you felt like you could touch the rockin’ 50-year olds!
By the end of the weekend, I was mentally happy but physically exhausted from the scorching heat of the day and the cold winds of the night. We still had one more day in LA though! Next post: what we ate for lunch before taping the Conan show!
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
81-800 Avenue 51