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Best Food at Music Festivals

on July 12, 2012, 11:57pm
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Food-related social gatherings are an integral part to the human spirit. It’s an exchange in culture and, more often than not, it’s a chance to accept that culture. In his 2000 autobiography Kitchen Confidential, celebrated chef and writer Anthony Bourdain wrote, “I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure.”

If that’s the case, Bourdain would get along pretty well with the modern music festivalgoer. The most skilled of our kind has a number of Bonnaroos, Coachellas, or Lollapaloozas under their belts, in addition to some sacred rarities that would make the average reader here cry. But outside of seeing unique performances, they’ve also tasted a number of eats specific to that festival or area. If you want to talk about risk, here’s a nice picture: You’re about to eat some kind of strange meat you’ve never tried in your life and you’re 100 miles away from a traditional bathroom. That enough, Tony?

Risk has its rewards, naturally, and over the years Consequence of Sound has dabbled in a spoil of riches. With that in mind, we scaled back our taste buds and put together a rogue’s gallery of our favorite eats from various music festivals across the world. Some of our picks might startle your bellies (remember, it is festival food), others might make them ache with hunger. But really, our gang is a bunch of picky eaters, so there’s gotta be something for everyone here. Having said that, we’re open to suggestions, especially this time around.

-Michael Roffman
President/Editor -in-Chief

Alligator Nuggets

Festival: Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
Location: Manchester, TN
What: Alligator Tail deep fried in crispy batter. Sure, you didn’t have to fight the alligator to get it, but someone did. And that’s awesome.
Taste Factor: 5. Not terribly tasty, but definitely a textural heaven. Also it’s made of alligators.
Best for: On the side of some spicy jambalaya in the hot sun, you’ll sweat out the calories right away.
Eaten by: Michael Zonenashvili

Asiadog

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Governors Ball
Location: New York, NY (Randall’s Island)
What: Remember Bánh mì sandwiches? Neither do I, because I discovered Asiadog. Not only does it embody the Great American Food Mashup, it’s hard to argue with pate, aioli, and pickled daikon. Just be sure to get two.
Taste Factor: 7. Really depends on which ones you get, and in which combination. Time’s limited at festivals, so decision-making time compromises its desirability.
Best for: Lunch or dinner.
Eaten by: Harley Brown

Baohaus Buns

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: The Great GoogaMooga
Location: Brooklyn, NY
What: Like cupcakes, Asian-derived meat buns are kind of a fad. But Baohaus elevates this from the pages of an eat-this-now column to something that will make you never want to eat fried chicken again unless it’s encased in a pillow of dough and drizzled with orange ambrosia.
Taste Factor: 10. Just be careful of getting sauce on your face and bun in your teeth lest you start a feeding frenzy.
Best for: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can even stash some in your pockets for later.
Eaten by: Harley Brown

Cajun Duck Po Boy

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
Location: New Orleans, LA
What: Well, the name’s pretty self-explanatory, but hey, there’s lettuce and pickles in there, too.
Taste Factor: 7.5. I’m sure the crawfish ones are better — considering that’s what most people were eating — but goddamn those seafood allergies of mine. For now, the duck does it.
Best for: A pre-headliner snack, right as the Louisiana sun is cutting you some slack.
Eaten by:
Michael Roffman

Chicago Diner Gyros

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Pitchfork Music Festival
Location: Chicago, IL
What: You won’t find better vegan simulcra than The Chicago Diner and the toast of their menu are the gyros. Even for people who don’t like fake meat (me), you (almost) can’t tell you’re eating synthetic lamb shavings. 
Taste Factor: 6. Only because I now think of it as synthetic lamb shavings.
Best for: Impressing your vegetarian boyfriend or girlfriend.
Eaten by:
Jeremy D. Larson

Coolhaus

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Austin City Limits // South by Southwest
Location: Austin, TX
What: Two freshly baked cookies barely hold together a heaping amount of gourmet ice cream. Create your own (double chocolate cookie + peanut butter ice cream is heaven), or rely on the menu options. Either way, be sure to eat the paper, because it’s edible, obviously.
Taste Factor: 12. Ice cream sandwiches are flawless to begin with. Add an extra 2 points for flavor options. 
Best for: Austin heat.
Eaten by: Alex Young

Crifdog

crifdog e1341870478529 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: The Great GoogaMooga
Location: Brooklyn, NY
What: Hot dogs a million and a half ways, but whenever there’s an egg involved, the egg comes first. And a bacon-wrapped hot dog nestled within an egg within a bun? Better than any McDonald’s breakfast sandwich, and that’s saying a lot.
Taste Factor: 8. Delicious, but you’ll probably feel at least a little ill afterward.
Best for: Good Morning Crifdog + beer = festival breakfast of champions.
Eaten by: Harley Brown

Dave’s Mini Donuts

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival // B.O.M.B. Fest (R.I.P.)
Location: Manchester, TN // Hartford, CT
What: A bag of 12, piping hot miniature donuts drenched in cinnamon and sugar. Best of all, they’re apple cider donuts. Second best of all? Free samples.
Taste Factor: 8, unless you burn your tongue. Then it’s still an 8.
Best for: Bonnabreakfast
Eaten by: Michael Zonenhasvili

Double Grilled Cheese

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
Location: Manchester, TN
What: Available exclusively along Shantytown road, this double-sized grilled cheese sandwich is the most delicious and econmical item (it’s just $2!) at all of Bonnaroo. Short a dollar? You can always opt for the single sandwich.
Taste Factor: 8. If only there was a way to make it carb-less.
Best for: Everyone.
Eaten by: Alex Young

Fresh Fruit (of Full Belly Farms)

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Outside Lands Music Festival
Location: San Francisco, CA
What: It’s fruit, of all sorts, plucked from the fine valleys of Northern California. 
Taste Factor: 10. There’s hardly a better state that can grow tastier produce.
Best for: It’s cold at Outside Lands, not exactly nectar-weather per se, but c’mon, there’s always room for fruit.
Eaten by: Michael Roffman

Fries w/ Mayo and Veal Stew

photo 1 e1341861620164 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Rock Werchter
Location: Werchter, BE
What: They call this “Stoofvlees”, which is sweet-sour beef (veal) and onion stew made with beer, and seasoned with thyme and bay, served over fries with about a pint of mayo. I call it the “Because fuck you that’s why.”
Taste Factor: It’s a 9 if you replace the veal with something that isn’t all that cute, a 7 if you keep the veal, or a 4 if you keep the mound of mayo.
Best for: When in Belgium…
Eaten by: Jeremy D. Larson

The Growler (from The Meal Machine)

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Glastonbury Festival
Location: Pilton, UK
What: At Glastonbury, you’ll need some serious carbs. The Growler consists of fries, cheddar cheese, and bacon stuffed inside a toasted baguette. Drizzle your choice of mayo, mustard, ketchup, or that ubiquitous brown sauce on top to complete this massive overload of flavor and calories.
Taste Factor: If sober? 7. With cider in the hand or belly? 8.
Best for: The Growler is best for the punter sprinting from stage to stage or anyone nursing a hangover.
Eaten by: Frank Mojica

Hot Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Coachella Music & Arts Festival
Location: Indio, CA
What: Take your run-of-the-mill ice cream sandwich. Remove the chocolate cookies. Dip the ice cream in chocolate. Roll it in sprinkles and nuts. Replace cookies with two warm Belgian waffles. Sprinkle with powered sugar. Shove it all on a stick.
Taste Factor: 7-8. Comes in a variety of combinations, all dessert-gasms, but you’ll probably hate yourself a bit afterwards. But also love yourself.
Best for: Can’t decide between breakfast and dessert? Done.
Eaten by: Ben Kaye

Ice Cream Man

icecreammanmattallen Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Various Festivals
Location: N/A
What: A man, an ice cream truck, and a mission. The truck travels the country handing out all your favorite mobile frozen treats, for no more cost than a smile. Free ice cream. From a truck. At a music festival. You see why this rules, right?
Taste Factor: 100. It’s free ice cream. I really don’t see why this needs further explanation.
Best for: Whenever you want to share the joy of ice cream without incurring any of the expense.
Eaten by: Ben Kaye

Jameson Ice Cream (of Boiler Room)

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: North Coast Music Festival
Location: Chicago, IL
What: Chicago’s Boiler Room adds their rebel touch to a summer time favorite, infusing soft serve ice cream with the taste and alcoholic content of Jameson Irish Whiskey. With one shot per serving, too many of these and you better be taking the Green Line home. 
Taste Factor: 6, but approaching a 9 after a few cones. Even the sweetness of the soft serve won’t mask Jameson’s robust spiciness. If you can’t handle a shot stick to chocolate swirl.
Best for: Munch on this cone to cool down in Chicago’s late afternoon sun. Then grab a second to enhance the soulful electro vibes of Pretty Lights.
Eaten by: Derek Staples

Kuma Burger

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Lollapalooza
Location: Chicago, IL
What: Chicago’s much-talked about hamburger, served up to perfection, sans the two-hour wait. It’s colossal, it’s delish, and it’s (still) on a pretzel roll.
Taste Factor: 11. You don’t eat Kuma Burger, Kuma Burger eats you.
Best for: Right after seeing your favorite mid-day set. Eat your victory.
Eaten by: Michael Roffman

Le Super Royal (from La Grande Bouffe)

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Glastonbury Festival
Location: Pilton, UK
What: Conveniently located near the popular Brothers Bar, La Grande Bouffe’s must-have meal deal is Le Super Royal. Consisting of a jumbo sausage simmered in a white wine sauced served atop a bowl of sliced potatoes  roasted in the creamiest of French cheeses and smoked bacon, Le Super Royal puts your typical festival food stand to shame.
Taste Factor: 10. Good luck going back to ordinary bangers & mash after this savory feast.
Best for: When you’re hungry from a long day of walking around and need to stay warm during Glastonbury’s infamous rain showers, a visit to La Grande Bouffe can’t be topped.
Eaten by: Frank Mojica

Lobster Dog

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Lollapalooza
Location: Chicago, IL
What: Graham Elliot’s trademark festival entree: A corndog that’s less dog and more lobster. It’s gotta be great — after all, our own Nick Freed wolfed one down in record timing last year with Les Butcherettes’ Jonathan Hischke — but I’ll never know thanks to my blasted allergies to seafood. I’m from a port town for Christ’s sake, too.
Taste Factor: At least four thumbs up, according to Freed and Hischke. Considering it’s now a Lollapalooza institution, we’re going with an 8.
Best for: Saying you ate Graham Elliot’s food without actually going to Graham Elliot’s.
(Not) Eaten by: Michael Roffman

Mmmpanadas

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Austin City Limits // South by Southwest
Location: Austin, TX
What: Hot empanadas right off one of the snazziest food trucks in Austin. They come savory (breakfast, green chile chicken, bbq) or sweet (mango ginger, s’more, blueberry) or even customized. Basically, it’s where you find your true colors. Word.
Taste Factor: Usually a 9 all around.
Best for: Anytime. They’re just fun snacks, and by fun, we mean inordinately unhealthy. Whatevs.gov
Eaten by: Michael Roffman

Pad Thai (at Rosetta’s Kitchen)

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Moogfest
Location: Asheville, NC
What: Vegan-styled Pad Thai, available late at night, in a city where there aren’t many places open late at night. Fact: Asheville has ways to go with nailing late-night eating, but Rosetta’s Kitchen (right outside the Asheville Convention Center) keeps hunger at the very least sane.
Taste Factor: 7. It’s all about the context.
Best for: A night cap of sorts.
Eaten by: Michael Roffman

Pizza Cones

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Osheaga Music Festival
Location: Montreal, QB
What: As expected, Montreal’s Osheaga Festival has local delicacies like smoked meat sandwiches and poutine (french fries covered with cheese curds and gravy). But a hidden gem are pizza cones: fried dough in a cornet shape, filled to the brim with sauce, meat, and topped with a good helping of cheese, all broiled to perfection.
Taste Factor: 9. If you’re any kind of ‘za fan, you’d be sure to agree these cones rank at least that high on the deliciousness scale. Absolutely heavenly!
Best for: Later in the day, when the weather on Saint Helen’s Island isn’t as hot. They’re great for the long walk back to the Metro.
Eaten by: Gilles LeBlanc

Pupusas

Pupusas Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival // The Great GoogaMooga
Location: Manchester, TN // Brooklyn, NY
What: Pupusas are kind of like the Latin American version of scallion pancakes. Stuffed with chicken and slathered with pickled cabbage and sour cream, these corn flapjacks blow the competition out of the water when they explode in your mouth.
Taste Factor: 11. Trust me, it’s one of the more delicious things you’ll eat north of the border. Because what’s better than a pancake? A savory pancake.
Best for: When you’re really effing hungry but want something a bit more effete than a hot dog.
Eaten by: Harley Brown

Seattle Dog

seattledog Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Capitol Hill Block Party
Location: Seattle, WA
What: Yelp.com refers to this establishment as Hot Dog Stand in front of Neighbors and the only thing better than that name is the Seattle Dog I ate with — wait for it — cream cheese, sauteed onions, barbeque, and sriracha sauce.
Taste Factor: 9. After the prerequisite “I’m from Chicago, dude, I know what–” he stopped me short, put his finger delicately on my lips and whispered in my ear like an angel “Just wait.”
Best for: It should be noted that I was wasted.
Eaten by: Jeremy D. Larson

Spicy Pie

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival // Coachella Music & Arts Festival //  Sasquatch! Music Festival (camp only) // Orion Music + More
Location: Manchester, TN // Indio, CA // The Gorge, WA // Atlantic City, NJ
What: The tastiest slice of ‘za that’s not from a place construed as overrated in New York City.
Taste Factor: 10. Heads explode in camps all over.
Best for: Everyone that’s not lactose intolerant and likes a swift kick to the buds.
Eaten by: Pretty much every staff member here who’s attended the festivals above.

Strawberry Lemonade

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
Location: New Orleans, LA
What: They take fresh strawberries and mash ’em into fresh lemonade. Read that one again if you’re lost.
Taste Factor: Depends. If it’s sweltering out: Priceless. If you’re dabbling: Around an 8.
Best for: Curing that onset case of sun poisoning.
Consumed by: Michael Roffman

Sweet Potato Pancake (at Tupelo Honey Cafe)

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Moogfest
Location: Asheville, NC
What: Do you love sweet potatoes? Do you love pecans? Do you love breakfast? Do you love life? Tupelo Honey, an Asheville restaurant in the heart of Moogfest, took those questions and just fucking ran with it.
Taste Factor: Something like Pi, but at a higher rating and also that mysterious and infinite.
Best for: Anyone, anytime, anywhe—err, that is, if you’re in Asheville. Even if you hated the acts (which, let’s be honest, you can’t), this plate alone will make you want to return to Moogfest each and every year.
Eaten by: Michael Roffman

The Potato Tornado

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Orion Music + More
Location: Atlantic City, NJ
What: It’s a potato ribbon on a stick. Somewhere between fry/chip texture, and probably about a foot long. The secret? Put a potato on the edge of a circular drillbit then let it rip. Voila, tornado potato.
Taste Factor: 8, unless you poke yourself with the skewer trying to get that last bit of potato, then 6
Best for: What better way to eat a potato at a metal festival than one that has been assaulted by a drill?
Eaten by: Michael Zonenashvili

Watermelon

coachellawatermelon e1341858960858 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Coachella Music & Arts Festival
Location: Indio, CA
What: There is literally nothing better than watermelon on a hot day. Except for maybe an IV drip with ice water, but not all of us have health insurance.
Taste Factor: 7. Usually it’s good, but a mealy watermelon can ruin an otherwise perfect Death Valley day.
Best for: Sunscreen in one hand, watermelon in the other. Does a body good.
Eaten by: Harley Brown

Wine Lands

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Outside Lands Music Festival
Location: San Francisco, CA
What: Let’s just say the lineup for the Wine Lands is usually on par with the festival’s talent. Let’s also say you’re in Northern California. Then let’s say we get a drink. 
Taste Factor: 8-9. It’s not Yellow Tail, bro.
Best for: Those attempting to go home with someone older and wiser.
Consumed by: Michael Roffman

Yume Burger

 Best Food at Music Festivals

Festival: Austin City Limits // South by Southwest
Location: Austin, TX
What: There are a lot of Asian fusion things going on these days. (“There’s this awesome taco joint…”) However, this burger, topped with that meth-like jalapeno-onion relish, keeps that relationship going strong. It’s not necessarily festival food, but it’s out on the streets during South by Southwest and ACL, so, okay, we’re going with it.
Taste Factor: 9.5. 
Best for: A really, really late night, where you’re not only drunk, but famished. Take two and call me in the morning.
Eaten by: Michael Roffman

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