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How to Eat Your Way through Austin City Limits

By: Veronica Meewes

Welcome to the Local Palate’s newsletter, Snapshot: Austin! (Subscribe here!) About every two weeks, local contributor Veronica Meewes highlights food-focused stories, tastes, and trends that are popping up in and around the capital of Texas. Up this week is the launch of Austin City Limits.

It’s finally feeling like fall in Austin, and we locals couldn’t be happier! Another sign of the start of fall is also the coming of Austin City Limits, the massive three-day music festival that has been taking over Zilker Park each year since 2002 (and grew to two weekends in 2013).

These days, good food can be found at most homegrown festivals. After all, we are in Austin. But Austin City Limits was the first in Austin, at least that I can remember, to eschew the carnival fare normally sold in festival settings for an astounding selection of food from local restaurants, including plenty of vegan and vegetarian options.

As we gear up for ACL Weekend One, I’ve put together some food and music pairings to get you salivating and inspired!

What to Eat and Hear at Austin City Limits

ACL Eats Blenders Bowls by Jackie Lee Young for ACL Fest DSC

Kevin Morby + Blenders and Bowls

I plan on starting my weekend with a dose of Lubbock native Kevin Morby’s signature storytelling on Friday afternoon. I can’t think of a better way to nourish the body before this jam-packed weekend than with one of Blenders and Bowls’ delicious acai bowls.

SZA + Sno-Beach

When sultry SZA heats up the Honda stage on Friday night with her indie R&B, you’ll be glad Sno-Beach is there to cool you off with their shaved ice. I’d say opt for the strawberry and peach hues of her Kiss Me More video and cross your fingers Doja Cat appears on stage, too.

ACL Eats GoodPop by Gaby Deimeke for ACL Fest A

Genesis Owusu + Good Pop

This Ghanaian-Australian artist’s music combines elements of hip hop, funk, and pop, perfect for grooving to in the late afternoon sunshine. Pair his infectious beats with a hydrating watermelon-agave Good Pop.

Arlo Parks + Bananarchy

When this soulful British singer croons, “Let’s go to the corner store and buy some fruit,” you’ll want a prop to hold up, won’t you? Get yourself a chocolate-dipped banana from Bananarchy and all will be right in the world.

ACL Eats Mighty Cone by Jackie Lee Young for ACL Fest DSC

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats + Nacho Dady & Wings

This Denver-based singer-songer masterfully weaves together elements of Americana, blues, soul and gospel with his band the Night Sweats. You’ll be stomping, clapping and dancing in no time, so opt for some easy, tasty handhelds from Nacho Dady & Wings, San Antonio chef Jason Dady’s newest concept.

James Blake + The Mighty Cone

This London-based singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer is known for his wide range of artist collaborations and experimental layering of vocals, beats, synth and guitar lines. You’ll need a snack with just as many flavors working together—like the Mighty Cone’s Monster Cone, a flour tortilla filled with crunchy chicken, shrimp and avocado, topped with mango-jalapeno slaw and ancho-chili aïoli.

ACL Eats Skull Cakebones by Gaby Deimeke for ACL Fest A

Lido Pimienta + Four Brothers Venezuelan Kitchen

This Afro-indigenous Colombian-Canadian pop-folk experimentalist is sure to light up the Barton Springs Stage on Saturday with colorful costumes and a wonder of multi-textural sounds. The flavorful and many-layered arepa from Four Brothers is the perfect accompaniment.

Lil Nas X + Skull and Cakebones

We can’t wait to see what this genre-spanning pop-country-rapper and fashion icon is wearing when he takes the American Express stage on Saturday night. But we can only hope it’ll be as colorful as the birthday ice cream cakewich from Skull and Cakebones, the Dripping Springs-based vegan bakery and cafe that will be representing at the Austin City Limits food court again this year.

ACL Eats East Side King by Jackie Lee Young for ACL Fest DSC

Japanese Breakfast + East Side King

If you read her bestseller Crying in H Mart, you know that lead singer Michelle Zauner grew up eating Korean cuisine, but East Side King’s Japanese-inspired fare is the perfect homage to the band’s name. Plus, I never really need an excuse to nosh on their herb-heavy brussels sprout salad over garlicky ginger Liberty rice.

The Chicks + Happy Chicks

I mean, is there even a question here? Happy Chicks’ gluten-free chicken tenders are the obvious pairing with this Dallas-born country trio.

ACL Eats Tiny Pies by Jackie Lee Young for ACL Fest DSC

Kacey Musgraves + Tiny Pies

When country cutie Spacey Kacey takes the stage on Sunday night, you’ll want to enjoy something that matches the Nashville-based singer’s sugar-sweet voice. A delicate little fried apple pie from Tiny Pies might be just the ticket!

Big Boi + Mama Fried

Something tells me this Atlanta-based Southern hustler would approve of Mama Fried’s decadent fare, from smoked and fried chicken wings to loaded “outlaw fries.” Now I dare you to down them while dancing to Shutterbugg.

ACL Eats Taco Bronco by Jackie Lee Young for ACL Fest DSC

Red Hot Chili Peppers + Taco Bronco

When this infamously shirtless rock quartet takes the stage to close out the fest on Sunday night, you don’t want to be caught without chili peppers! Stock up on barbecue tacos from Tom Micklethwait’s Taco Bronco, which come on homemade tortillas and sprinkled with pickled jalapeños.

Other Happenings around Town

EAT: RR 12 Supper Club

Whole fish and cauliflower at RR 12 Supper Club in Austin.

The elegant RR 12 Supper Club opened on Wimberley Square this August, featuring exquisite steaks and seafood plus high-end highlights like escargot and caviar. The restaurant also just launched a Sunday brunch with live jazz on the back patio and offerings like crab and spinach benedict, steak and grits, lobster rolls and more. Reservations can be made on Tock.

DRINK: Room 725

Group gathered for drinks at Room 725 in Austin

The Fairmont Austin Hotel recently celebrated the grand opening of Room 725, an upscale speakeasy concept on the seventh floor of the hotel. The space offers a selection of Champagne by the glass, bottle or flight, classic and signature cocktails, caviar and a menu of pre-embargo cigars. Guests are invited to indulge to the tune of live music on Friday and Saturdays between 6 and 11 pm. Reservations can be made here.

DO: The State Fair of Texas

Slice of pickle pizza at the Texas State Fair
Photo Credit State Fair of Texas

The State Fair of Texas kicked off its annual run on September 30 in Dallas, which is will call home through October 23, 2022. In addition to amusement park rides, concerts, rodeo competitions, shows and entertainment for the whole family, the State Fair of Texas is known to have some of the most over-the-top foods of any state fair. Picture Cajun lobster bisque croquettes, deep fried strawberry shortcakes, crispy dill pickle corndogs, deep-fried praline cheesecake egg rolls, and more. Snag a ticket, or go all in for a season pass here.

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