Navigating Austin City Limits Music Festival can be daunting, especially when it comes to choosing what to eat and when. At Austin Eats, ACL’s food court, organizers keep variety in mind so that there is always something for everyone, from classic Texas barbecue to falafel, long-time Austin favorites and fine dining establishments. To avoid the longer lines, I recommend eating something hearty early and trying a snack between lunch and dinner hours. You can choose to stay and enjoy on a picnic table under the awning or take your meal to go so you can catch the next act.
Expect long lines at Austin Eats food court during peak hours.
When it comes to paying, the cashless option is super handy; otherwise exact change will keep things moving quickly. Keep in mind that vendors work incredibly hard to feed the thousands of hungry and thirsty festivalgoers that line up all day long, so please be patient and throw a buck in their tip jar.
Here is a quick guide to your food and beverage options so you can plan.
All American Favorites
Our visitors from other countries must think that Americans only eat hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza. Well, we do eat them alright, especially when they are locally made and fresh. After all, this is a music festival. But it is also Austin, so while you will be able to enjoy typical festival fare, it will be anything but run-of-the-mill.
Austin’s Pizza and Southside Flying Pizza will be baking individual pies with a variety of toppings, and if you are bringing the kids, you can’t go wrong with the superb grilled cheese sandwiches from Burro Grilled Cheese. If burgers are your thing, some of Austin’s best are represented at ACL via Dean’s One Trick Pony, Shake Shack and Wholly Cow Burgers – South Austin’s best kept secret gourmet burgers inside a convenience store. Rounding out the offerings are chicken sandwiches from Flyrite Chicken and fried chicken tenders from Happy Chicks.
If you are in Texas for the first time – or even the tenth – you can’t leave without trying our BBQ. Lucky for you, Austin Eats features two iconic local purveyors in Salt Lick BBQ
and Micklethwait Craft Meats to fulfill your meat-centric needs. But there’s a lot more to Texas cuisine than just amazing ‘cue. You can try eclectic and traditional tacos from Torchy’s Tacos, local favorite Tacodeli or Austin newcomer Chispas Tacos & Margs from San Antonio chef Jason Dady.
Chispas, a new Austin restaurant from San Antonio’s chef Jason Dady, purveys gourmet tacos that are … [+] not to be missed.
For something completely different – and the biggest ACL tradition – try a chicken, shrimp or avocado hot-and-crunchy cone from Mighty Cone, but be prepared to wait in line for these popular items. And if you’re looking for Texas haute cuisine, celebrity chef Tim Love of Lonesome Dove Western Bistro has served things like rabbit and rattlesnake sausage in years past. Another Austin icon, Scholz Garten will be on hand dishing Texas-German fare like house-made sausages served with the works.
We love that the ACL folks make the effort to bring a variety of ethnic cuisines to Austin Eats. Whether you fancy a heaping plate of kimchi fries from Korean-Mexican fusion king Chi’Lantro BBQ, or some spicy chicken tikka from Lambas Indian Kitchen, your international food needs will be covered. East Side King will be on board with everyone’s favorite Brussels sprouts salad and chicken karage, Middle Eastern will be represented by Shawarma Point and Kababeque brings an interesting fusion of Mediterranean and Indian – think chicken tikka shawarma wraps. Make sure to try the authentic Mexican tamales from Tamale Addiction and the Argentine empanadas from mmmpanadas.
For a healthy option, check out the fresh bowls from Ranch Hand, a local food truck.
If you are ready for something healthier, hit Blenders & Bowls for a smoothie or an açai bowl in the morning, and enjoy a fresh salad or bowl from Ranch Hand, a local food truck that is all the rage these days. Speaking of food trucks, The Peached Tortilla started out as a mobile vendor and is now one of Austin’s most beloved purveyors of fresh fusion fare. If you don’t catch it at ACL, be sure to check out the outpost at the airport.
Get you a scoop of Amy’s Ice Creams with toppings that range from fresh-cut strawberries to gummy bears. Refresh yourself with a paleta from GoodPop or an all-natural sno-cone from Sno-Beach, one of the first food trailers in Austin, or try a chocolate-covered frozen banana Bananarchy. If you prefer something warm go for a cookie from Tiff’s Treats, or an adorable seasonal treat from Tiny Pies. Skull & Cakebones offers vegan, all-natural, non-GMO cupcakes and cakes.
As always, there will be lots of refreshment, both boozy and non-alcoholic. For a healthy, fresh pick-me-up, try the fresh pressed juices and smoothies from perennial favorite JuiceLand. ShadeTree Beverage Co. started out at ACL in 2002 as The Best Lemonade squeezing fresh lemons and limes, non-stop, to keep up with the demand. They are now bottling their great tasting organic lemonades for everyone to enjoy faster.
Be sure to visit the Barton Springs Beer Hall and the Campo Viejo Wine Lounge for all your adult beverage and lounging needs, from frozés to IPAs.