ACL Fest 2013: Austin EATS

From menus curated by rock star quality chefs to local cult favorites, the Austin EATS food vendor lineup makes planning one’s eating schedule almost as difficult as deciding between music on the main stage. In order to help navigate through the multitude of mouthwatering offerings, I’ve put together a few tips and tricks to ensure you eat like a king at this year’s Austin City Limits Festival! Be sure to check out the full list of Austin EATS vendors here.


Go Big on a Budget

Though ‘fine dining’ and ‘music festivals’ are two things rarely linked together, Austin EATS is far from the typical festival food court. One of my favorite ways to tackle all of the delicious offerings is try out dishes from those restaurants where it’s usually tough to snag a table.

La Condesa Mexican Corn

La Condesa Mexican Corn

As the Austin Food and Wine Festival’s Grill Master of Ceremonies and Official Austin City Limits Chef, Tim Love is pulling double duty with festival versions of his Fort Worth restaurants, Woodshed Smokehouse and Love Burger Shack. With options such as elk & beehive sausage and truffle mac ‘n cheese, the Woodshed Smokehouse’s menu might just turn city slickers into Texas cowboys by the close of the fest. Meanwhile, Love Shack’s menu promises a decidedly more casual range of Tex-Mex offerings such as crave-worthy jalapeno-cheese tamales and stacks of ‘Kick Ass’ nachos.

Chef David Bull’s menu of well-executed, seasonally inspired interpretations of classic American cuisine has made his restaurant Second Bar + Kitchen a fixture of Austin’s downtown dining scene. With dishes such as Bahn Mis and Pomme Frites, Second Bar + Kitchen promises to bring an upscale flair to causal comforts at this year’s fest.

From margaritas to ceviches, there may be many reasons to visit the James Beard nominated restaurant La Condesa, but for me there’s just one: Mexican Street Corn ($5). A prominent feature on La Condesa’s festival menu, be sure to pencil in at least one visit to the modern Mexican restaurant’s Austin EATS booth.

(Re)Discover a Tried and True Local Favorite



Image via Mighty Cone

Image via Mighty Cone


After trekking from stage to stage, its possible you’ve worked up a craving that only a visit to a tried and true favorite can cure. There are a number Austin EATS vendors to fit this bill, but for my money, I recommend digging into crave-worthy dishes such as Chi’lantro BBQ’s kimchi fries or Torchy Tacos’ green chili pork tacos. For something a bit heartier, you can’t go wrong with a pulled pork sandwich with extra sauce from Salt Lick BBQ or a chili cheese dog from haute dog purveyor Frank.

Dubbed one of the Best Sandwiches in America by Adam Richman, Noble Sandwich Co. is known for using high-quality ingredients and housemade components to make magic happen between two slices of bread. Picnic perfect sandwich options such as the Thai Chicken or Italian Pork Roast put Noble Sandwich Co. at the top of my Austin EATS list.

Of course, no ACL festival is complete without venturing to the Mighty Cone booth for the dish that’s synonymous with Austin EATS: the Hot ‘N Crunchy Cone. This festival staple features a choice of shrimp, chicken or avocado fried in a spicy, crispy batter and topped with a mango-jalapeno coleslaw and special sauce.

Go off the beaten path

Take the road less traveled to discover a new under the radar favorite at the HOPE Farmer’s Market. Anchored by an eclectic array of local food artisans, the HOPE Market’s ACL popup is one of the best places to grab a bite throughout the fest.

Wake up for early sets with a Flour Bakery pastry and cup of Third Coast Coffee from the HOPE Coffee House. Later in the day, I recommend checking out The Seedling Truck’s menu of gourmet comfort dishes like the short rib and Gruyere grilled cheese sandwich. For a quick grab and go bite between sets, stop by market darling Tamale Addiction (formerly Gardner’s Feast) to pick up a pair of tamales overstuffed with fillings such as chicken with mole or black bean and goat cheese.

And finally, always save room for dessert

Image via Coolhaus

Image via Coolhaus

If you’re into warm, chewy cookies (and really, who isn’t?), I recommend indulging in at least a half dozen Tiff’s Treats. Or, better yet, turn those cookies into a gourmet custom ice cream sammy at Coolhaus. For a lighter treat, pick up one of Goodpop’s all-natural, small batch popsicles in refreshing flavors such as watermelon agave or hibiscus mint.

Happy Eating!

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