When I covered SXSW last year, I felt super prepared. Comfortable shoes, sunscreen, plenty of water. Ear protection for when I found myself inches from a subwoofer in a tiny venue. Everything I needed to survive the five-day event. There was one exception: I kept forgetting to eat.
By the time my stomach started rumbling, restaurants were packed to the gills. Food truck lines stretched 30 minutes long. Finding sustenance was an utter disaster.
Austin City Limits Music Festival 2016 wants to solve this issue with ACL Eats, a dedicated home for over 30 of Austin’s finest food trucks and eateries. From burgers to Pan-Asian, burritos to popsicles, there’s a flavor for everybody at ACL Fest. Below are some of the foods I’m looking forward to most.
NOTE: When food trucks serve festivals, they often offer limited menus to account for the higher volume. Some of the dishes mentioned below may not be available during ACL Eats.
Burgers, Fries and Sandwiches…OH MY
The meat and potatoes (literally) of festival food stuffs, these hand-held meals are as satisfying as they are practical.
Hat Creek Burger Company – ACL Eats has no shortage of burgers to choose from, but Hat Creek is one of my underdog favorites. The recipe for success is simple, yet timeless: quality burgers plus hand-cut fries equals a flavor everyone can enjoy. Their signature burger, a double with American cheese, sauce and sauerkraut, is more than worth giving a try.
Way South Philly – Finely sliced steak on a fresh sub roll slathered with peppers, onions and Cheese Whiz? A slice of my East Coast childhood! While you may line up for the traditional South Philly-style cheesesteak (with Cheese Whiz), don’t look past the other offerings. Try the sausage and peppers sandwich with a side of tots. Just like mom used to make.
Burro Cheese Kitchen – The food truck that inspired my first Austinot article, Burro is one of my favorite spots in Austin. From the subtly delicious Coppola (gouda, almond pesto aioli, basil, tomatoes) to the sensational Waylon & Willie (cheddar, gouda, caramelized onions, pepperoncini, spicy maple bacon sauce), this food truck will redefine what you think a grilled cheese sandwich can be.
International Fare at ACL Eats
Need to go outside our borders for your festival foodie fix? ACL Eats has you covered with tantalizing international options.
Mmmpanadas – If you think about it logically, empanadas may be the perfect festival food. They’re hearty and edible on the go, so you won’t miss a minute of music when dining on these Latin American delights. With styles like the classic Argentinian (ground beef, olives, hard boiled egg), to samosas and tofu chorizo, these masters of all things empanada have a flavor for every palate.
Lambas Indian Kitchen –Shocked you can get chicken vindaloo and tikka masala at a music festival? ACL Eats is full of surprises! Normally located on Rainey Street, this North Indian eatery is known for rock solid pakora and their pumpkin, potato and lentil paratha bread.
Tinos Greek Cafe – Since 2003, this small local chain has been serving traditional Greek fare to hungry Austinites all over town. Their most popular dish, the classic gyro, should be your ACL go-to. Fresh, homemade and–most importantly–easy to eat on the go.
BBQ for You
It wouldn’t be an Austin party without chicken, ribs and brisket. Some of Austin’s finest meat-eries will be smoking up perfection during ACL Eats.
Micklethwait Craft Meats – One of my top five BBQ joints in Austin, Micklethwait has become the indie darling of the Austin smoked meat scene. While their standard brisket/chicken/ribs are off the chain, the off-shoots are equally awesome. Try the Brisket Frito Pie and your life will never be the same.
The Salt Lick – World famous for a reason, this Austin institution is bringing their nationally-renowned BBQ to one of our city’s most famous festivals. The brisket and turkey are outstanding, and I highly recommend the German-style potato salad.
Chi’Lantro – Proving quality BBQ doesn’t have to come from a smoker, Chi’Lantro’s Korean-style meat with a Tex Mex twist is a local favorite. While their soy-glazed chicken and spicy pork are spot-on no matter how you eat it, their Kimchi Fries are nothing short of perfection.
For Your Sweet Tooth
Providing a combination of sugar rush and satisfaction, ACL East is offering sweet treats a-plenty. You’ll be walking non-stop for three days straight. You deserve something sweet!
Bananarchy – The concept is ingenious: freeze a banana, dip it into something sweet and coat it with a blanket of toppings. Concoction’s like the Afternoon Delight (chocolate and peanut butter dip swirled together and coated with nuts and graham crackers) and the Hippy Dippy (choice of dip with granola, crasins and cinnamon) are destined to change your opinion of what dessert can be.
GoodPop Popsicles – Originally found at ATX farmers’ markets back in 2009, GoodPop takes icy treats to a whole new level. Flavors like Hibiscus Mint, Coldbrew Coffee and Coconut Lime deliciously co-mingle with more traditional strawberry and watermelon agave pops.
Drink It Up
While the water stands will be your best friend in the scorching Zilker heat, you’ll occasionally want a drink that’s a bit more flavorful.
Shade Tree Organic Lemonade – Most food vendors come to ACL, but Shade Tree Lemonade was born here. They’ve been serving Original and Strawberry lemonade to thirsty festival-goers since 2002, and 2016 will be no different.
JuiceLand – This Austin-based company has been serving naturally delicious juices and smoothies for 15 years. With ACL’s opening weekend weather projected to be bright and sunny, doing the juice will not only taste great, but replace precious nutrients lost in the hot sun. If they have it, try the Valley Girl. Pure refreshment.
Snowdie – While not a drink in the purest sense, if the weather becomes steamy, you’ll be craving what Snowdie offers. Whether it’s classic flavors like cherry and strawberry or tastes like Hill County peach and root beer, shaved ice will make ACL feel like a genuine festival.
Barton Spring Beer Hall – Think you’ll find nothing but Miller Lite and Bud at ACL? Think again! The Barton Springs Beer Hall will house 16 different craft beers. Local choices include the Oasis Metamodern Session IPA, Real Ale Devils Backbone and Oktoberfest, and Adelbert’s Hibiscus Saison (which I will be knocking back). A style for every taste.
ACL Eats is located at the northern end of Zilker Park between Barton Springs Beer Hall and the Tito’s Stage. For the full vendor lineup, go to the official ACL Eats web page.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
What will be your food truck of choice at ACL Eats?