If you’re going to spend as many as 11 hours in Zilker Park every day this weekend, you have to figure out where you’re going to eat. ACL Fest offers a massive assortment of food and drink vendors as diverse as the musical lineup. With more than three dozen options, you could eat three meals a day in the park, plus snacks, and still not try everything.
The food booths line the northern side of the park, and it helps to have a plan. Don’t wait until you’re starving to decide where to eat. Buzz the tower a few times. Get the lay of the land. And make sure you bring cash. You don’t want to stand in line at the ATM in the park.
I’ll be back next week to give you a few culinary highlights from my first weekend at ACL Fest, but for now, here are a few suggestions:
The biggest newcomer is Noble Sandwiches. The sandwich wizards will sell their Italian roast pork, Thai chicken and sweet chile hummus sandwiches ($8). Depending on where you live, getting to Noble Sandwiches inside the park can be less of an adventure than making the trip all the way out to FM 620, so take advantage of the proximity.
Downtown’s Second Bar + Kitchen returns with their jalapeno chicken banh mi ($8), which I enjoyed last year. P. Terry’s looks to have the market cornered on cheeseburgers ($5), but Hat Creek will be there with their veggie burger ($8).
If you’re looking for other vegetarian options, the Seedling Truck, long a fixture at the H.O.P.E. Farmers Market, has a pickled carrot and arugula salad with candied walnuts and goat cheese ($7). That’s restaurant-level fancy. Boomerangs is selling a green curry Thai pie ($8), for those looking for a one-handed vegetarian treat. And if you’re a vegetarian or gluten-free eater jealous of the omnivores getting to eat all the snack food, Children of the Kettle Corn’s sweet and salty snack is both vegan and gluten free ($5-$7).
If you want to go off the beaten path, check out the channa masala wrap from Lamba’s Royal Indian ($7) or ACL-favorite Fort Worth chef Tim Love’s rabbit and rattlesnake sausage or his elk and beehive cheddar sausage ($8).
Traditionalists can choose pizza from Austin’s Pizza and Southside Flying, and barbecue will be sold by the usual suspects: Stubb’s and Salt Lick. And, of course, there’s always the king of the ACL Food Court, the hot and crunchy chicken cone from Mighty Cone in several variations, including vegetarian.
And somewhere in there, you’re going to need to work in room for dessert, because, why not? Check out the imaginative flavors – watermelon agave and hibiscus mint – from Goodpop ($4) or dig into some Amy’s Ice Cream, $4 for a cup, but that $6 shake makes it easier to manage.
For a full list of food and drink vendors at ACL, go to aclfestival.com.
New at ACL: Barton Springs Beer Hall
Dear local craft beer lovers: You asked, and they’ve finally listened.
After enduring years of heckling from the local craft scene, producers of the Austin City Limits Music Festival have heeded the call for better beer.
Heineken was once the official beer of the festival, and some people cheered when Shiner did everything they could to wiggle their way onto the scene in 2011. Last year, the best one could score was a Shock Top from the “craft” beer tent.
Now, Real Ale will represent for the local crew, which makes sense because they might be one of the only ones with the capacity to produce enough beer for such an event. Other breweries include Stone, Lagunitas, Brooklyn and Founders. They seem to have covered a spectrum of styles (Stout, yay!), and even included a few ciders for good measure.
Below is a list of the beers that will be sold in the new Barton Springs Beer Hall, which will have more than 100 feet of bar, 16 beers on tap, TVs airing sports (including the Texas/OU game on weekend two), yard games, picnic tables and more.
— Emma Janzen
Real Ale Fireman’s
4 Real Ale Four Squared
Real Ale Hans Pils
Left Hand Milk Stout
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Founders All Day IPA
Harpoon UFO White
Breckenridge Agave Wheat
Ace Pear Cider
Woodchuck Amber Cider