Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bonnaroo Blog-a-roo: Awesome Eats

Time for another common topic for the New-to-Roo crowd: Food. Believe me, there’s lots of it. You won’t go hungry during this festival, and you can easily have something completely different for every meal. From Coffee and Eggs in the morning, to Gyros and Burritos for dinner, your meals can be just as festive as the festival itself.

When it comes to festivals, people always complain about the high price of the food. In this festival, that isn’t the case. There are a ton of vendors all competing for your business, which keeps things reasonable. Most dinner platters are $10 or under, and are huge portions. You can find sandwiches and lunch-style items in the $5-$7 range, and breakfast as low as two dollars. The best bargains are outside Centeroo, on the flea market strip known as “Shakedown Street” so keep your eyes out on your way to the stages. All in all you’d probably spend much more at a restaurant for these items.

Some of the sights you will see include Burritos that cover two full plates, giant corn dogs, turkey legs, Southern Barbecue, and a variety of Asian and vegetarian dishes. There are so many good things that, despite all the exercise you get over the weekend, you might actually gain weight during the festival!

Trust me, the vendors know what type of customers they’ll have and what kind of “munchies” they’ll be hungering for! You’re covered.

Try to resist the urge to splurge on the Bacon-and-Cheese Loaded Butterfly Fries. They cut them right in front of you and the process is hypnotic. Yet another way to attract those with “the munchies”. Not to mention the giant plate they give you will reel you in. Additionally, resist the urge to put additional ranch dressing on them. Yeah. That made up for four days of walking 10 miles in the burning hot sun. And I could only get through a third of them. But soooo good…

If you’re new to ‘Roo, there are two food experiences you need to have. Both have become Bonnaroo celebrities: The World’s Greatest Grilled Cheese, and Spicy Pie. Spicy Pie is a pizza stand in several locations both inside and outside Centeroo. For $5 you get a nice size Pizza slice, with a variety of toppings. But the one to try is the self-titles Spicy Pie slice. It’s a pepperoni-and-cayenne infused slice that’ll give you a nice mid-day kick. The World’s Greatest Grilled Cheese is located outside Centeroo on Shakedown Street and serves just that – Grilled Cheese. For a dollar. Yes, ONE dollar. $1. And this is no joke Grilled Cheese… texas toast loaded with cheese and cooked in garlic butter. Expect a long line at times, but it’s worth it. Last year anytime there was a short line I just ran up and got one. Yeah, easy to overeat this festival!

In addition, some of the sponsors hand out samples throughout the day. Got to load up on Butterfinger Ice Cream and Wheat Thins in years past. They’re hard to resist, especially since most sponsors have air conditioned tents!

Aside from that, I suggest packing your cooler full of snacks. Never know what you’ll be craving. It’s good to have some granola bars and beef jerky to munch on throughout the day… they’re both good for you, and Bonnaroo is very much a hike. Plus a few homemade sandwiches can cut down the festival food calories and save you a few bucks. Snack smart my friends!

And if you're thirsty, don't fear. There are water stations located throughout Centeroo. Look for the blue mushroom-shaped domes. The water is cold and free. The only downside is that the wait can be very long. Sometimes there's no water pressure, which can cause the line to back up. And the dehydrated masses tend to get irritable. My suggestion: try to get in back of people who are only filling up a small water bottle - Camelbacks can take forever when the water comes out drip by drip. But if you have one yourself, you won't have to worry about the lines as much.

For those craving a stronger drink, there’s a beer garden in the middle of Centeroo. There’s a lot of craft beers to try out. It’s a bit pricey, but if you want to meet some friends for a quick beer between sets, this is the place. Otherwise, I would wholly recommend bringing in a case or two of your own favorite brew, and having some fun at your campsite tailgate.

And if booze isn’t your cup of tea, check out the next section for the scoop on some of the other intoxicating-ly awesome aspects of the festival!

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