Coachella and Stageoach festivalgoers have no excuse not to sample some of the best Mexican food in the valley.
Shrimp- stuffed yellow peppers served at El Mexicali Cafe.
El Mexicali Cafe, El Mexicali Cafe 2, And La Quinta
For traditionalists, great burritos and enchiladas are the rock stars of the meal — but just as Carla Morrison isn’t the only Latin music performer on the Coachella music menu, Mexican comfort food isn’t all there is at the cafes. We’re partial to the Shrimp Fritters, served in a smooth red sauce. El Mexicali Cafe, 82720 Indio Boulevard., 760-347-1280; www.elmexicalicafe.com. El Mexicali Cafe 2, 43430 Monroe Street, 760-342-2333; www.elmexicalicafe2.com. 47150 Washington Street,La Quinta, 760-625-1541, www.elmexicalicafelq.com
Enchiladas Nuevo Mexico con Huevos al Gusto at Rincón Norteño.
There isn’t much to look at — a room and a patio that are nothing to write home about. But Rincón Norteño has been the culinary home to a lot of locals for more than 50 years. Some like breakfast — Enchiladas Nuevo Mexico con Huevos al Gusto; Menudo (especially for folks who might have overindulged the night before and swear it is the best hangover cure). Linger for lunch, and we recommend the Chuletas de Puerco a la Mexicana — pork chops in an onion-tomato-pepper-green chile sauce. Biftec Ranchero for dinner is fuel for a night’s revelry at the polo club. 83011 Indio Blvd., 760-347-4754; www.rinconnorteno.com
The Pueblo Viejo Grill bar.
Pueblo Viejo Grill
Go ahead, turn your nose up because this is one of a three-store local chain. Your bad. The Grill does chain food like Donald Trump does bashful. This is an upmarket place, with primo tequila and Tropical Chicken Fajitas, that doesn’t ignore the people who like downmarket fare including enchiladas and burritos. The food is fab and the ambiance adoring — families push tables together, lovebirds snuggle, singles sip at the bar. Everyone seems to know everyone else, and you’ll be their new best friend.
81931 Highway 111, 760-342-5900; www.puebloviejogrill.com
Stingray tacos at Huerta’s Restaurant.
The Coachella Valley is 125 miles from the ocean, so it makes perfect sense that Huerta’s decor is aquamarine with sailfish motifs. Makes sense to us, anyway. You could fit the whole Pacific into the enormous breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, but we’re boringly faithful to the classics: a heavenly coctel de camarones, hearty fajitas, and stuffed chiles as plump as a pillow. If you’re lucky, the daily specials will include stingray, and if there’s anything named El Diablo, order it. Huerta’s seafood is worthy of its esteem, but there’s also no better place for Mexican goat soup. 44216 Jackson St., 760-347-7674; www.huertasrestaurant.com