Fried food, fresh juice, and ice-cold beer. Who goes to ACL for the music anymore?
With over 30 vendors at the ACL Eats food court and 18 different brews to try in the Barton Springs Beer Hall, we had our work cut out for us as we munched and sipped on the best the fest had to offer. Below you will find CultureMap's picks for favorite festival offerings.
You always want to start off strong on day one of ACL. We opted for slightly lighter food and beer selections to help keep us on track for the full three days.
East Side King’s Brussels sprout salad
A lighter option in a court full of heavy meats, the Brussels sprout salad with sweet and spicy sauce, cabbage, basil, cilantro, mint, onion, and jalapeño was filling and flavorful.
Children of the Kettle Corn
The perfect snack to be shared among a group, this was a sweet and salty, healthy treat to chomp on throughout the day.
Founders Brewing Company’s Mosaic Promise
Hailing from the Midwest came Michigan’s Founders Mosaic Promise: A spicy, sessionable, and hoppy accompaniment to great tunes.
Chi'Lantro’s Korean tofu tacos
Even though we love our brisket and pork belly, meaty plates tend to weigh us down. With a killer lineup for day one, we opted for this delicious vegetarian dish to keep our endurance till 10 pm.
The Mighty Cone’s Hot & Crunchy chicken and avocado
You can’t go to ACL, let alone Austin, without trying these famous cones. The Mighty Cone got its start at ACL and, because of the Hot & Crunchy dish’s popularity, has become a popular year-round trailer as well. The chicken and avocado cone is an eruption of flavor and the go-to Texas indulgence for a day full of music, sun, and boozing.
By day two, you might be experiencing a little bit of a hangover. While Pedialyte was passed out to thousands of ACL-goers, we reverted to the park and its endless possibilities to help get through ACL's hump day.
JuiceLand’s watermelon agua fresca
A refreshing alternative to beer, the watermelon agua fresca from JuiceLand was a tasty hydration essential, resurrecting us from the damage of day one.
High Brew Coffee’s double espresso
A necessity during marathon days, one of these caffeine-filled cans at 3 pm was a great boost to the finish line.
The Peached Tortilla’s banh mi pork belly tacos
Dripping with flavor, we’re still dreaming about the rich banh mi pork belly tacos. Slow roasted, this evening delight was like velvet on the tongue.
Mmmpanadas’ green chili chicken empanada
Something has to soak up all that beer. The gourmet green chili chicken empanada was hearty and savory with supreme seasoning and moist chicken in a flaky pastry pocket.
Skull & Cakebones’ salted caramel cupcake
It’s hard to believe these sweet babies are vegan. Skull & Cakebones makes a mean cupcake — the salted caramel was an excellent pick-me-up from this Austin craft bakery.
By day three, the diet’s thrown out the window. Besides, ACL comes but once a year, so now is the time to treat yourself to anything and everything.
Frank’s queso waffle fries
For the most gluttonous of snacks, which may as well be considered a meal, we can’t say enough about Frank's queso waffle fries. Golden fried on a bed of melted cheese, share this dish with a friend so you can make it through the last show of the fest.
The Woodshed Smokehouse’s chili-spiked watermelon
Put a little pep in your step with The Woodshed Smokehouse’s chili-spiked watermelon, a thirst-quenching snack with a kick from ACL food curator Tim Love.
Deep Ellum Brewing Company’s Easy Peasy IPA
Released by Dallas’ Deep Ellum in June, the Easy Peasy IPA has notes of tangerine and lemon peel for a citrusy, juicy, and hoppy brew to be enjoyed on the sunny grounds of Zilker.
Chi’lantro’s Korean barbecue kimchi fries
That’s right, Chi’Lantro made it on our list — twice. Yes, it’s that good. And the barbecue beef kimchi fries had foodies lining up to get their hands on one of the best festival dishes around — a mound of caramelized kimchi, crispy fries, beef, cilantro, cheese, “magic sauce,” and sriracha.
Burro Cheese Kitchen’s Waylon & Willie
It’s hard to wrap your head around a $9 grilled cheese, but one bite will make you a believer. With toasted sourdough, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, pepperoncinis, and spicy maple bacon sauce, the Waylon & Willie is a sandwich for the record books.