The Indian Wells Tennis Garden is no longer just about the sport. The newly renovated facility has stepped up its seating, accessibility, and most importantly it’s food selections.
Over the past few years, Indian Wells has gone out of its way to upgrade almost every aspect of the fan experience. The tennis garden has added more restrooms, installed larger seats, and lowered the courts to create better sightlines for viewers. This year the nation’s second-largest tennis facility reopened with an offering of over 20 restaurants ranging from high-end dining to casual eateries that put new spins on stadium classics.
For this year’s BNP Paribas Open, being held from March 6-19, the tennis garden is expecting close to half a million attendees over the next two weeks. So Indian Wells, BNP Paribas Open, and Levy Restaurants have partnered to serve up special dishes for their guests. We checked out a few of the delicacies tennis fans will be eating at the 2017 tournament.
Wolfgang Puck’s Spago
Undoubtedly the most famous chef on Indian Wells’ roster is celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck who is making his debut at the stadium. BNP Paribas Open marks the opening of Puck’s Spago, a 100-seat restaurant that will overlook center court from the 300 level. To celebrate the occasion, Puck made a signature dessert designed to look like a tennis ball. Above the chef shows off the white chocolate shell filled with sorbet and christened with a hot raspberry sauce along with tennis stars Svetlana Kuznetsova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Tournament Director Tommy Haas.
Cassell’s Burgers is most famous for its Los Angeles location inside the historic Hotel Normandie, but the burger stand founded in 1948 has made its way to the improved tennis stadium. Cassell’s is known for its house ground patties and served on a Parker House bun.
“I think everybody knows Southern California is the hamburger capital of the world and we like to think we have the big kahuna from Southern California. We hand-grind all of our meats every day and hand-make the patties all from whole chucks and briskets, the highest quality meats we can get,” said Chef Christian Page.
Shown above are the specialty burgers Cassel’s has prepared for the tournament.
“Our Indian Wells burger is inspired by the tennis balls,” said Page. “We have these green roasted hatch chiles and a beautiful aged-white cheddar, served with our made-from-scratch ranch.”
Los Angeles and Staples Center’s very own Ray Garcia has brought his unique B.S. Taqueria to the tennis stadium. Garcia displayed just a few of the tacos his restaurant will be serving that all include guacamole, pico de gallo, and salsa roja or verde that are all made in-house. B.S. gets its corn from Mexico and presses fresh tortillas on site. Their signature carnitas take two full days to prepare and marinate with an additional two hours to cook to perfection. The taco stand will also feature their house-made churros that can be dipped in a warm chocolate sauce for dessert.
“I heard that Serena (Williams) is a big taco fan. I think of that as an opportunity to make tacos for her. I read that she is big on ground turkey, so we’ll do a little turkey chorizo for her with some cumin and a little spice since she’s a bold figure,” said Garcia. Unfortunately, on Tuesday Serena had to exit the tournament due to a knee injury, but the turkey chorizo will remain.
James Beard Award-winning chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa made his Indian Wells debut in 2014. Along with Chop House, Nobu was one of the first fine-dining restaurants to open at the newly renovated Indian Wells. It is due to the success of the Nobu and Chop House that the tennis garden expanded its high-end eating options. The Nobu at Indian Wells has a smaller menu than its other California predecessors, but offers its most popular dishes at the stadium, including Black Cod with Miso, Tiradito, and Yellowtail Jalapeño. The master of New Style Japanese cuisine will also offer his Rock Shrimp Tempura presented above in a lettuce cup. The large shrimp battered in a light and crispy tempura is tossed in a creamy spicy sauce of yuzu, shiitake, and sweet Kewpie mayonnaise.
The tennis garden has also brought the award-winning Sherman’s Deli to the stadium. The New York-style delicatessen and bakery is a desert staple with locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. The family-owned restaurant will be serving their hot brisket and reuben with New York pastrami sandwiches at their Indian Wells location. Sherman’s uses kosher meats and serves their sandwiches with home-made sauerkraut and freshly baked bread.
“It’s all about the bread, baked fresh every day. Our Reuben is made with New York pastrami, fresh sauerkraut and fresh rye bread. You can’t beat it. Once you’ve had our Reuben, it’s the only place you’ll have a Reuben,” said Owner of Sherman’s Deli Sam Harris
For those looking for lighter, more customizable food, Indian Wells has brought in Melissa’s Produce. The Los Angeles-based company provides fresh fruits and vegetables just a few hours drive from the stadium to ensure quality for tennis fans. The company will bring healthier options for attendees throughout the stadium including fruit cups, salads, and sandwiches. While the provider will be supplying all the other stands and restaurants with fresh ingredients, they will also open Melissa’s Fresh, which is a salad bar where fans can put together their own nutritious meal.
KoGui is a brand-new edition to Indian Wells. The Korean BBQ stand experiments with international flavors to create one-of-a-kind fusion dishes.
“We look at a lot of global flavors, things that are fresh and trending now,” said LevyRestaurants’ Chef Gilbert Verdugo who was representing the restaurant.
One of the dishes available at their stadium location will be their various rice bowls shown above.
“We serve freshly-shaved beef, marinated with soy with ginger sesame that’s been flash fried and our kale slaw. You get the salty, sweet, crunchy-all the flavors you like,” Gilbert explained.