Most people go to Common People for the music, but there’s a lot more to festivals than that. There’s fashion, there’s arts, there’s crafts, but most importantly there’s a lot of exotic food on offer.
Increasingly, festivals are becoming more and more about everything else and less about the music (looking at you Coachella). I mean, Common People even gave the food their own line-up poster.
This year at Common People there were 26 food vans that gifted us with dishes from all over the globe. We taste tested every single one and we’re here to rate it for you.
- Tenth Hole On The Go
This van served up Mac ‘n’ Cheese, which isn’t a food you’d immediately associate with festivals, but, it was decent. The cheese lacked any kind of strong taste (could have done with a splash of mature cheddar or even a sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce) but the portion was a good size and the macaroni itself was cooked nicely. They also offer a variety of tasty toppings including bacon, jalapenos, sour cream, chipotle sauce, basil oil and sunblush tomatoes.
2. Indian Kitchen
This smelt amazing, and the friendly staff were clearly passionate about the authentic food. I liked that it was being cooked from scratch, right in front of my eyes, and they offered a great selection for vegans and vegetarians too. That said, the paneer tikka served in an Indian wrap was a little bland and not all that filling. The samosas were good value and a quick snack for festival goers who didn’t want to miss out on the musical action. The stall also offered homemade cakes in niche flavours (£3 for a slice or 2 for £5) which were amazing – the rose & pistachio cake was even gluten free.
3. Pazzos pizza
Pizza at festivals has a rare quality that it isn’t insanely overpriced compared to the outside world. This was a very popular choice amoung festival goers as the wood-fired margarita, chorizo and veggie pizzas were absolutely gorgeous. Biggest downside – it was too good, there were really long queues, sometimes over 30 minutes.
4. Kitch Chargrill
This stall offered lots of exotic game meats like Kangaroo and Zebra.
The kangaroo burger was very pricey (even by festival standards) for the size of the portion – and was overcooked. No different to an ordinary burger but in a fancy brioche bun. Although if it’s deep fried potato you’re after, these are your guys. The chilli cheesy chips were incredible, we’re having constant post festival cravings.
5. Gourmet Grilled Cheese
This stall served up delicious gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches using fresh, local, artisan ingredients – if you fancy a toastie, this is your place. But again, the queues were long, but the friendly staff ensured they moved quickly.
6. Goodness Gracious Healthy Food
This has been a staple for me at every festival I’ve been to since 2010 and it never disappoints. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian it’s a really nice alternative to ‘just chips’ most other stalls offer. Plus, it can be difficult to eat healthily at festivals, which are usually places saturated with burger vans and pies. Would definitely recommend for vegans and meat-eaters alike.
7. Craft Coffee
Coffee is one of the only things at festivals that isn’t ridiculously over-priced compared to the outside world (that and pizza). For £2.00 we got a strong and decent-sized cup of good coffee. Plus, they also did amazing chocolate brownies, we couldn’t stop going back.
8. Bunnyman’s Bunnychow
Without a doubt, the best festival food we’ve ever tried. No where else at Common People compared to this on value or taste. Bunnychow is a South African dish (made with beef or a veggie option, not bunnies) for less than £7 we got a gorgeous chilli-filled bun, topped with sour cream and garlic bread with a bottle of water. As for the sliding scales of hot: be warned, ‘hot as hell’ is an understatement, this chilli is a fiery masterpiece that will set your mouth on fire – if you can’t handle nando’s extra hot sauce, don’t even bother trying the spiciest version. If you fancy a bit of heat, Bunnyman’s offers a ‘half and half’ version, that still has a kick, but won’t blow your head off.
What was particularly refreshing about Bunnymans is that the staff and owner clearly seemed to genuinely care about the welfare of festival-goers instead of just making a quick buck (which would have been easy with food this delicious). On top of the free bottle of Evian with every meal, the stall set out sun-cream for passersby. The friendly manner of the staff was authentic, and the food was brilliant. If you can only try one food this festival season make it Bunnymans.
9. Smoke Stak
The burgers were pretty standard, nothing special, something I could easily see on the 7bone menu. The slow-cooked meats were very good, especially the pull-porked (it reminded me on Turtle Bay). Although this stall loses points for bad chips – with no condiments on offer – what’s that about?
A fancy burger van. Which is a great thing. The staff were lovely, travelled chefs offered their interpretation of global street food, although it was on the pricier side of the festival foods.
11. The Sea Cow
Good ol’ fashioned fish & chips. The plaice goujons and chips were great value for money (by festival standards). The service was very quick, and they came hot straight away with free portion of tartare sauce (although it was a little on the small side). Very tasty too. A refreshing change from all the hipster shit at festivals.
12. Green Pepper Red Tomato
Compared to Pazzos, this pizza didn’t look as pretty, but the taste was amazing. Quality toppings ensured that this was a great pizza, and shouldn’t have been judged on the look of the stall. Both the pizza and pasta from the stall felt like it used real ingredients and the staff were clearly passionate about the making the food as good as possible, I’d have this over Pizza Express any day.
13. Jimmy’s Coffee
A cold canned cup of caffeine was the perfect pick-me-up in the 20-degree heat of Common People. Jimmy’s had very friendly staff and offered skinny and regular coffee, with the option of free syrups. Just, really, really, lush coffee.
14. Barnaby’s Skyes Pie
Luscious. The mash was great, and the steak pie was beautiful. These handmade pies had all local ingredients and the mash was so soft and creamy, reminded me of my Gran’s Christmas Dinner. I actually didn’t feel ripped off because the portion was so generous.
Really nice burgers, one of the few places that offered chicken as well as beef. However, the chips were this stalls raison d’être, the best at the whole festival (and they came with amazing sauce).
16. Flaming Cactus
By 6pm on Saturday I was starving, so I opted for a large chicken burrito. They really didn’t hold back on the rice and beans and chicken and salsa and salad and oh gosh it was delicious, but a little bland – not quite mission burrito. It also lacked the spice I usually like with Mexican food.
17. Crabbie Shack
Gorgeous, although mainly for the novelty factor. Everything is better deep-fried, and a whole crab is no exception.
The staff at the Crabbie Shack we super lovely! They let us try the samphire before we ordered it and even though the fryer broke just as we ordered, they persevered and even gave us free drinks while we waited. The combination of the hot deep fried crab and salty salad with tartare sauce was definitely worth the wait. It’s probably the most upmarket burger you could come across at a festival! And the fries were delicious too.
It gave us this face.
18. Caribbean Jerk
I lovely Caribbean food, but I was slightly disappointed that they were not burgers. However, this food really made us jump and skip, the smell was amazing, and there was a lot of jerk. If you’re a Turtle Bay fan, you’ll like this.
These noodles are definitely on par with wagamamas’. I couldn’t quite believe that they had been cooked at a festival and not in a professional kitchen when I was eating them, so so tasty.
20. Chunky Chips and Wicked Dips
Classic festival chips – double fried, and apparently award winning. The chips themselves weren’t amazing (although not bad at all), but the handmade dips were amazing. They had about 500 options and I wanted them all about 10 times.
21. Churro Bros
The Churros were great value for money, a healthy portion combined with great tasting chocolate, these were definitely the sweet treat to buy, and you could have them with or without cinnamon (although, only an idiot would opt for no cinnamon). A really nice late night sweet treat.
22. Souhsea Pie & Vinyl
Bridie Pearson-Jones for Wessex Scene
Pie is pie, but this pie was overpriced and not as good as Barnaby Sykes. They also had no option not to have the mushy peas, yet I was amazed that the cardboard box could hold all the gravy without leaking. This stall was very hipster and very coachella.
23. The Travelling Tearoom
Actual sit-down sausage and mash – deceptively not a tea-room, but they did make a good cuppa. They offered pork, lamb, veggie, and gluten free sausages, and then options to add mash, onion, cheese, and peas – think of it like subway but for bangers and mash. Personally, this was a little too messy for festival food – but none the less heavenly delectable.
24. Fruity Geezer
Really cute stall, with lovely staff. Great nutrients afters an hours of partying. All locally sourced and tasted great (especially if you’re all about that Nurtibullet life – this is for you).
25. Coconut King
For £3.50 you could have a lovely, refreshing coconut. The staff were full of life, very vibrant and chatty.
The chicken and chorizo paella was incredible. I’m not a fan of anything too spicy but even though the dish had a kick to it, I still polished it all off. The tomato sauce that they added on top added so much flavour too!
Thank you to Farirah Choudhary, Michael Oliver, Alex Smith, Xaveir Voight-Hill, Katie Duke and Dan Linstead who helped me eat all of this food.