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The six-day, two-weekend Southern California desert takeover known as the Coachella festival has just wrapped for another year. Perhaps you’d heard? Beyonce was a tour de force, celebrities flocked from near and far — and the festival, which continually reinvents to keep its loyalists and earn their serious stacks of cash, had what was its most over-the-top impressive and diverse food offerings yet, including copious vegan noms.
More than 100 food vendors participated overall, including chef Christina Tosi's Milk Bar, and chef Roy Choi's Pot Pizza Joint and Kogi. And popups located within the VIP area from Southern California favorites like The Exchange, Little Pine, and chef Curtis Stone's Gwen required (wait for it) reservations.
Indio Central Market on the festival grounds featured more than 15 restaurants under a huge shade tent... including, for the first time ever, an on-site kombucha bar. In short, there was a lot to eat out there — too much for one person to sample, though I tried my best in the name of food journalism. (Hey, I’m The Feast’s editor after all!) And here are six of my very favorites:
1. Burrata avocado toast
Chef Scott Conant’s The Ponte restaurant in Los Angeles offered some of the most tempting offerings within the VIP section. Its rustic bread tasted in olive oil was topped with a downright generous helping of avocado. Atop that was a creamy mound of burrata, and chili oil topping the whole thing gave it both color and enough kick to cut through the palate-dampening desert heat.
2. Vegan carne asada taco
How good can a vegan taco grabbed from a festival stand possibly be? As it turns out, among the best tacos I’ve ever had in my life — and definitely one of my favorite things I tasted during the whole weekend. Cena Vegan topped its vegan carne asada with salsa, pico de Gallo, onion, and cilantro, piled atop a corn tortilla.
3. Koreatown Special caramelized kimchi pizza
I’m just a huge fan of everything Chef Roy Choi does, so naturally I had to give his pizza a try for the first time. But why go for cheese, when you could get the full Choi signature fusion experience, with a caramelized kimchi-topped pie? Delicious, and super filling.
4. Coachella-brew kombucha
Maybe it’s the L.A. girl in me, but I just love me some kombucha — nothing makes me feel more refreshed and detoxified than a swig of the stuff, even if most of the benefit is psychological. This year’s new curated on-site program featuring kombucha sommeliers, and I was pretty psyched to try some of the brew made just for the festival.
5. Unicorn Magic vegan ice cream
When you’re out in the desert heat — where daytime temps hovered around 100 degrees during my weekend two visit — ice cream is basically a must. I hit up Cocobella Creamery for vegan ice cream with coconut, marshmallows, sprinkles, and animal cookies because I require my ice cream to have as many inclusions as it can possibly hold.
6. Date-topped toasted coconut pudding
And no, that wasn’t the only desert I ate, with so many options to be had. The chefs from Badmaash restaurant in Los Angeles prepared the super-civilized and delicious Outstanding in the Field dinner within the VIP Rose Garden on April 21, and it all ended with a truly refreshing — and somehow even cooling — coconut pudding, topped with toasted coconut and dates for textural delight. Exquisite!
Photos: Alesandra Dubin and courtesy of Coachella
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