Thursday, October 7, 2010

ACL Off-Site Noms

This post is aimed at the tourists but I welcome my fellow Austin residents to chime in. I thought some of you out of towners might be looking for some thoughts on our food offerings here in Austin. I don't claim to be any sort of expert on this subject and I won't attempt to cover the entire city, in fact I'm going to focus on the zip code in which I live and the zip code in which the festival occurs. If you're one of my Twitter followers then you already know I'm talking about #78704Life.

Austin has so many amazing places to eat it's going to be tough to narrow it down so I'll give you some categories. Let's start with an essential during a festival, 24-hr food. Austin has lots of choices for 24hr dining and I'll start with the place that pays my bills. Kerbey Lane Cafe has 5 locations including one on S. Lamar a short jaunt from the festival grounds. The menu is 6 pages and offers everything from enchiladas, sandwiches, fancy salads and apps to breakfast food. They are known for their frisbee-sized pancakes, which are offered in at least 5 varieties including a vegan option. They are also one of the best places in the city to get Chips and Queso. If you don't know what I mean my Chips and Queso then you haven't lived yet.

Kerbey Lane Cafe

Along the same lines you can find Magnolia Cafe over on S. Congress their menu offerings are almost identical to Kerbey's but the atmosphere is a bit more punk-rock. You can find a wide spectrum of patrons and employees at both restaurants. You can also expect to have to wait for a table as both restaurants are quite small and quite popular.

Magnolia Cafe

If you want some 24hr fast food, boy have we got you covered. Almost every fast-food chain in Austin has AT LEAST a 24hr drive thru but if you want the true Texas experience you have to get to the closest Whataburger. The location nearest to the festival is on S. 1st street where it meets Barton Springs Dr.


Taco Cabana's food pretty much sucks but it's 24hrs and when you're drunk it's like a little slice of heaven. I usually get quesadillas and I would avoid the enchiladas at all costs.

Taco Cabana


You could dedicate an entire website to Austin cart food, it's extremely trendy right now and there are more of them popping up all over the place all the time. You'll find a lot of Austin's best food cart vendors inside the fest itself so I won't focus on them too much. HOWEVER, one of the most overlooked carts in the city is called, Lulu B's and it effing rules. They do Vietnamese-style sandwiches served on French bagettes. If you've seen the Great Food-Truck Race on the Food Network it's the same kind of food the Nom Noms truck was serving.

One of the most popular food trucks in the city is within walking distance of the festival on S. Lamar. It's called Gordoughs and they do giant, pricey, gourmet donuts. Yes, you read that correctly. Think bearclaws with bacon and you're getting close. I know it sounds odd but it is scrumptious.


On the taco cart front, how can I not mention Torchy's Tacos? You should try to find their "original" (Moved half a block) location on S. 1st st. but they have non-cart locations throughout the city as well. This is a taqueria for gringos and they have some amazing chips and queso as well, but be prepared it's spicy yo.

Torchy's Tacos

Mexican Food:

Austin has roughly a hundred billion amazing Mexican restaurants and everyone has their favorites for various reasons. My personal favorite is Curra's Grill on Oltorf. This place is so good, I used to work there and was fired but I STILL eat there. They are known for their Tacos Al Pastor as well as the Conchinita Pibil. They DO charge for chips and salsa BUT if you ask for the salsa sampler you get to try their 14-16 salsa for free! A lot of people love their avocado margarita but I am not one of those people.

Curra's Grill

Guero's Taco Bar on S. Congress also has some great Mexican food but they have a higher cool quotient after being featured in a Quentin Tarrantino movie (Death Proof). It's located in the uber-hip South Congress shopping district, which you should check out even if you don't eat here.

Guero's Taco Bar

I generally do more drinking than eating at Polvos on S. 1st st but they have some excellent food as well.



This category is kind of tricky since I'm focusing, exclusively on 78704. Firstly you should know Austin's best BBQ joint isn't really in Austin proper it's Southwest of the city and it's called Salt Lick BBQ. Luckily, they'll be on-site for ACL Fest and they also have an airport location. However, Green Mesquite BBQ also does some great BBQ and they're spitting distance from the fest. They were featured on the Food Network and I was actually in that episode. All of my friends wait tables there so mention Bloggy if you want, but it won't really get you special treatment.

Green Mesquite


My, personal, favorite burger in Austin is not located in the '04 but that doesn't mean the '04 doesn't have some fantastic burgers. I'm a big fan of Fran's Burgers on S. Congress but you MUST order your burger on the jalapeno sourdough bread or else the trip is pointless. This place has been featured on the tv show Friday Night Lights, which really has nothing to do with anything I just thought you should know. Oh yeah, Fran's also has some great fried mushrooms.

Fran's Hamburgers

Not too far from the festival grounds on S. Lamar you'll find a bar in a strip mall called, Black Sheep Lodge. They have one of the best burgers in all of Texas, according to Texas monthly magazine, but they don't have a lot of parking so I'd take the bus if I were you.

Black Sheep Lodge


You'll have to wait for a table but Homeslice Pizza on S. Congress is my favorite pizza in the city. The pies are huge, New York-style and the dining room is ridiculously clever. The sign on the Men's room is a pizza slice while the Ladie's room is a whole pizza with a slice missing. Get it? They also do pizza by the slice until very late at night, I want to say 3am but it might only be until 2am.

Homeslice Pizza

Just a bit further on S. Congress you'll find Southside Flying Pizza, they do a slightly more gourmet pizza with funkier toppings and such. They also deliver anywhere in the '04 (but it takes forever(shhhh)).

Southside Flying Pizza

The last pizza I'll recommend is in one of the most unlikely places. It's called Giovanni's Pizza and it used to be a food cart. However, it has since moved into a gas station. That's right, a Valero at the corner of S. Lamar and Barton Skyway has some of my favorite pizza in the city. Crazy right?

So Fancy I'll Never Afford It:

You could walk from the festival to Uchi on S. Lamar. It's the top-rated restaurant in the city and their chef was on Iron Chef! Whoa! In case you couldn't tell from the name it's a Japanese restaurant and it's the kind of place you go for an experience, not just a meal. Expect to spend around $100/person though.


A bit further south on S. Lamar you'll find Olivia. They have a freakin' garden out back and the menu changes daily based on what they acquire for the freshest ingredients. Luckily they'll have a more wallet-friendly selection on the festival grounds as well.



We all know cupcakes are ridiculously trendy but don't deny yourselves the pleasure of a dessert from Hey Cupcake!. This place is also in the trendy S. Congress shopping district and it's hard to miss with a giant, pink-frosted cupcake on the roof of an airstream trailer.

Hey Cupcake!

A bit further south on S. Congress, there's an Amy's Ice Cream location. Think Coldestone creamery except funky with more local flavors. Make sure the person who is serving you does something fancy like throwing the ice cream, if they don't tell them you expect some sort of a show and they will oblige. Also, look for the trivia question on the menu the questions are google-able and earn you a free crush-in!

Amy's Ice Cream

So there's a few food suggestion from Bloggy, feel free to chime in Austinites. That's what the comments section is for!