Food at music festivals has come a long way. Noshing whilst rocking used to mean standing in endlessly long lines just to buy hot dogs, burgers and overpriced bottles of water. Non-carnivores had to settle for french fries or fried dough. But over the last decade, events across the country have stepped up their culinary game in a big way. Nowadays, a festival’s restaurant lineup can be almost as important as its artist roster. That’s certainly the case with the following five foodie-friendly fests we’ve chosen to highlight below. Go for the sights and sound -- stay for the tastes, smells, and textures.
Panorama (July 27-29), Randall’s Island, N.Y.
Don’t Miss: Chicken Tinga Tacos from Salvation Taco
Regional Standout: Ed & Bev’s (hot dogs)
If You Have an Extra Day: Atla
NYC is a foodie paradise, and Panorama does the city proud. The list of 2018 restaurants is still under wraps, but if 2017’s two-dozen vendors are any indication, there’ll be plenty to feast on come July 22-24, as top-flight acts like The Weeknd, Janet Jackson, The Killers, Migos, Father John Misty and The xx share the stage. Last year’s scrumptious selections included eggplant parm from Trapizzino, fried risotto balls from Suppli, grilled jerk chicken from Loosie Rouge and edamame pods from Uma Temakeria.
Lollapalooza (Aug. 2-5), Grant Park, Chicago
Don’t Miss: Chicken potstickers from Wow Bao
Regional Standout: Lou Malnati’s (deep-dish pizza)
If You Have an Extra Day: Lula Cafe
The dining area at Lolla is called Chow Town, and sure enough, it boasts more options than most small cities in America. The 2018 restaurant lineup is yet to be announced, but last year’s Chow Town featured 34 local Chicago vendors, including Kuma’s Corner, famous for pumping metal jams while customers gobble down mouth-watering burgers named after rock bands. Other 2017 standouts included Harold’s Chicken Shack, Broken English Taco Pub, and Wow Bao Hot Asian Buns. And of course Lou Malnati’s, a must for deep-dish pizza lovers looking to indulge the city’s most famous dish.
Outside Lands (Aug. 10-12), Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Don’t Miss: Shoyu Chicken Ramen from Itani Ramen
Regional Standout: Pacific Catch (seafood)
If You Have an Extra Day: Namu Stonepot
If you were to take away the music -- and don’t worry, no one’s going to -- this San Fran fest would still draw people by the thousands. That’s because of the food options, which include the Cheese Lands area, where Cali cheese lords Cypress Grove will serve up all sorts of stinky delights. Seafood lovers ought to drop anchor at Outside Clams, where Woodhouse Fish Co. will have lobster rolls, raw oysters, and loads more. And then there are the 83 eateries hand-selected by local restaurateur Anna Weinberg of the Big Night Restaurant Group. Weinberg’s 2018 picks include a whole bunch of newbies, including Son’s Addition (try the coconut-ginger chicken rice bowls), Fiorella (chomp down on some crispy Italian rice balls), and Hawker Fare (that pork egg drop soup has your name on it). Returning from last year are faves like Alba Ray’s, home of chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya, and Nombe, purveyor of fine ramenburgers and sushi burritos. Finally, there’s the fleet of food trucks, featuring Jackrabbit (house-made veggie sliders), Kabob Trolley (falafel gyros), and more.
Bumbershoot (Aug. 31-September 2), Seattle Center, Seattle
Don’t Miss: Khao mun gai (poached chicken over garlic chicken fat rice) from Little Uncle
Regional Standout: White Swan Public House (seafood)
If You Have an Extra Day: JuneBaby
The food program at Bumbershoot is known as B-Eats, and it boasts more than just a clever name. Renowned Seattle restaurateur Dan Bugge returns as curator this year with an assemblage of Emerald City eateries as diverse and exciting as music lineup. When you’re not rapping with J. Cole, swaying to SZA, and rocking out with Portugal. The Man, make a beeline to B-Eats for Bok A Bok Fried Chicken And Biscuits, top-notch Mexican fare from Gracia, Japanese delights courtesy of Adana, woodfired goodness from Southpaw Pizza, top-notch Thai from Little Uncle, meaty New American delights from Radiator Whiskey, and of course, seafood, courtesy of Matt's In The Market, The White Swan Public House and tinned-fish titans Little Fish. For dessert, treat yourself to a scoop of Frankie & Jo’s vegan ice cream.
Grandoozy (Sept. 14-16), Overland Park Golf Course, Denver
Don’t Miss: Craft beer specialties from Steve Kurowski of the Colorado Brewers Guide
Regional Standout: Rocky Mountain Oysters (TBD if these will be available, but here’s hoping)
If You Have an Extra Day: Bang Up to the Elephant!
Brought to you by Superfly, the folks behind Outside Lands and Bonnaroo, the brand-new Grandoozy fest isn’t skimping on sounds or eats. As you groove to artists like Kendrick Lamar, Florence + the Machine, Stevie Wonder, and Miguel, you’ll have your pick of numerous dishes hand-picked by “culinary ambassadors” from Denver’s top restaurants. These ambassadors include Adam Schlegel of the ace breakfast spot Snooze, Biju Thomas of Biju’s Little Curry Shop, Dana Faulk Query of the Big Red F Restaurant Group, Jeff Suskin of DiningOut Magazine, Justin Cucci of the Mediterranean spot El Five, Carrie Baird of the Italian eatery Bar Dough, Jen Jasinski of Mediterranean faves Rioja, and Tommy Lee of hipster Asian food purveyors Hop Alley. It’s unclear how exactly these giants of local noshing will collaborate, but it’s safe to say there’ll be something for everyone, including vegans and vegetarians. Plus, festival goers can wash it all down with beer selected by the Colorado Brewers Guild and spirits chosen by Chad Michael George of the Colorado Bartenders Guild.