All’s fair in love and war — and maybe the pandemic. But temporary defeats make for triumphant returns, and that’s what’s in store for Austin’s first-ever food hall this summer.
After faring against the global calamity that led to its temporary shutdown March 17, 2020, Fareground, the community-focused restaurant hub in downtown Austin, is finally reopening, with some new eateries, a retail marketplace, a new bar and coffee program, and the addition of an internationally recognized hospitality partner.
Reopening Tuesday, September 7, Fareground will be under the management of Richard Sandoval Hospitality, a contemporary Latin restaurant group founded by renowned Mexican-born chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval that owns and operates 45 restaurant concepts around the world, including Ciclo at the Four Season Austin.
The more than 25,000-square-foot Fareground, owned by Cousins Properties and located at 111 Congress Ave., will feature six eateries spanning an array of global cuisine. New Fareground offerings include:
- Austin Rôtisserie. Led by husband-and-wife duo Eric and Sophie Nathal, Austin Rôtisserie will include a menu of rotisserie chicken, salads, soups, sides and bowls, baguette sandwiches, and individual and family-style meals.
- Little Wu. Led by chef Ji Peng Chen and The Chameleon Group (Wu Chow, Swift’s Attic, Rosedale Kitchen & Bar), Little Wu will feature dumplings, pot stickers, shumai, and a variety of noodle and la mian dishes like Sichuan red braised beef, spicy pork wontons, and shrimp and crab cake.
- The Market. Led by James Beard-nominated chef Richard Sandoval, The Market will highlight salads, pizzas, and sandwiches, including paninis.
- Taco Pegaso. Also helmed by Sandoval, along with executive chef Albert Gonzalez, this taco spot will feature small bites (chips and guacamole, salsa, queso), as well as a variety of tacos and burritos (carne asada, pescado, al pastor, chicken tinga, picadillo). Taco Pegaso will also serve quesadillas, Mexican ice pops, and aguas frescas.
“We are so pleased to be joining Cousins and Fareground alongside an incredibly talented group of local chefs and restaurateurs,” Sandoval says of Fareground’s reopening. “We are excited to open Taco Pegaso and hope to showcase our deep passion for Latin cuisine through our reinterpretation of traditional dishes, culinary experience, and our cultural roots. One of the core missions of Fareground is to provide an incubator space to allow restaurant concepts to grow and flourish. We are looking forward to making Fareground a vibrant destination for exquisite cuisine, stellar drinks, and one-of-a-kind experiences.”
Though Austin favorite Dai Due Taqueria permanently shuttered its Fareground eatery in November 2020 because of the pandemic, several other well-loved local concepts remain, including chef Kevin Fink and pastry chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph’s Henbit, and Israeli street-food concept TLV, led by chef Berty Richter.
Fareground’s new beverage program, which includes craft cocktails, all-day coffee offerings, and happy hours, will feature cocktail menus at two bars, the Ellis bar and Drink.
Bar and beverage manager Mat Costello will head Drink, with menu highlights including drinks to get visitors through their full day, from coffee and kombucha to cocktails and mocktails. The menu highlights a variety of wines and beers, as well as de rigueur frozen and draft cocktails, and handcrafted concoctions.
At Ellis, also led by Costello, cocktails abound, including the gin-forward San Martin and the Ellis Old Fashioned with Still Austin bourbon.
Aiming to showcase the work of Austin-based artisans and vendors, Fareground’s new specialty retail marketplace will include a locally curated flower market with single stems and bouquets by House of Margot Blair, along with other local brands like Austin Jam; Tiny House Coffee Roasters; Texas Hill Country Olive Oil; Tea Sip; Mixy Craft Mixology; and Dude, Sweet Chocolate.
Fareground also got an overall makeover in terms of design and layout, relying less on its previous communal-gathering style in favor of more pandemic-friendly, intimate tables for two to four diners — a move that gives the food hall a more modern, upscale lounge-type vibe while aiding in social distancing.
And speaking of pandemic-friendly upgrades, Fareground is also instituting some COVID-related health and safety measures, including performing daily temperature checks on all teams and sanitizing surfaces regularly. Management is also reviewing local guidelines regarding mask mandates and other COVID safety requirements prior to Fareground’s reopening. And the food hall will offer contactless order-ahead service, as well as online ordering and delivery.
“We want our guests to feel that Fareground is a dining and shopping destination in the heart of downtown where they can grab a bite to go, enjoy an elevated experience, and find new local restaurants and vendors, not just a transient eatery,” says Aneesh Sharma, director of operations at Fareground. “Our goal is to create a fun atmosphere that feels safe for our customers, with guidance from local authorities and health officials. Fareground is changing with [the] times and adapting with Austin as it evolves into a global hub.”
Once it reopens, Fareground will operate seven days a week from 11 am-9 pm. Ellis will be open 3 pm-midnight Sunday through Thursday and 3 pm-1 am Friday and Saturday. Follow Fareground on Instagram for updates.