Headed to ACL this weekend? I personally cannot wait. Sure the lineup is going to be awesome, and I of course can't wait to see all our Houston friends coming in town, but my personal favorite is the ACL food court. The Austin Eats food courst at ACL features many of the local Austin favorites and is a great chance to try out several at the same time. Han and I went to both ACL and Lollapalooza last year, and believe me, Chicago ain't got nutthin on us.
I've taken the liberty of re-posting the entire menu of the Austin Eats Food Court, with our own commentary of our past experiences, to help you all make decisions once you're at the festival.
Salt Lick Bar-B-Que: Sausage Wrap, Sloppy Nachos, Chopped Brisket Sandwich
You must believe me when I say this will be the very first thing I eat at ACL. In fact... Salt Lick... Vampire Weekend... eh... we'll have to see. In all seriousness, the Salt Lick is widely known as being one of the best, if not THE best, BBQ spots in Texas. Their meats are incredibly tender and covered in their famous BBQ sauce (which, recently, we learned contains unholy amounts of calories and saturated fat, but is delicious nonetheless). I'm probably going with the Chopped Brisket Sandwich.
Hudson's on the Bend: Hot & Crunchy Fish Cone, Hot & Crunchy Chicken Cone, Hot & Crunchy Avocado Cone, Death by Chocolate
These cones are amazing and ACL is a great chance to try of one of Austin's best (and most expensive) restaurants for an affordable price. We had a fish cone and a chicken cone (think pita wraps, not ice cream), and even though they are still a bit pricey for ACL standards, they're pretty much a must-have.
Boomerang's Pies: Guinness Steak & Potato, Southwest Chicken, Spinach & Mushroom
Han and I became fans when we first moved to Austin, so much so that at our first visit we bought an additional 5 frozen pies to take home. Essentially these Australian-influenced meat pies are similar to the chicken pot pies that mom used to make (ok maybe not my mom), with buttery and flaky crusts but filled with flavors of various cultures. I'd definitely give them a try, but it's too bad they're not offering the Curry pies at the festival, because those were definitely my favorite. You can pick some up at their restaurant on Guadalupe and 30th.
Austin's Pizza: Pepperoni Pizza, Cheese Pizza
I've heard it said that pizza is like sex. There's good pizza and there's bad pizza but even bad pizza is still pretty good. Austin's Pizza is definitely the former. Originally located on the drag, there's no surprises with this pizza but it's definitely a good thing.
Doc Green's Gourmet Salads: Chicken Caesar Salad, Dr. Fruity Salad, Grilled Veggie Wrap
There's one of these kind of near where we live. Han liked it a lot but I wasn't blown away. But if you're anything like me, you're probably going to want to take a break from fried foods at some point during the 3 day festival, and this is a pretty good bet.
The Original Hoffbrau Steaks: Steak Sandwich, Cheeseburger, Jumbo Hot Dog
I'd avoid this. Even though Hoffbrau is a local legend, the charm of the place doesn't carry over to a festival setting. I had the steak sandwich last year, and it was literally a steak between two pieces of bread. And not a particularly good steak either. I just think there's too many options here to settle for something you could easily make at home.
The Best Wurst: Grilled Sausage Sandwich with Bratwurst, Smoked Pork Italian, or All Beef Country, New York Buttered Salt-Potatoes
A Sixth street favorite, the Best Wurst definitely lives up to its name. I'd go with the smoked pork italian.
Amy's Ice Cream: Ice Cream with assorted toppings
Chances are, if you are reading this, you already know about Amy's, but they will be at ACL too, and deservedly so. I'm hoping they're bringing the Shiner flavor.
Vespaio Ristorante & Enoteca Vespaio: Housemade Mozzarella, Tomatoes & Basil Pesto, Crispy Calamari with Lemon Aioli, Pork Meatball-Parmesan Hoagie with Melted Mozzarella
We haven't been here yet but we've heard a lot of good things. I'm a big fan of things with mozzarella and/or calamari in general so you can probably bet we'll have something to report after the festival.
Here are the rest of the offerings:
Aquarelle Restaurant: Steak N Frit Sandwich, Crawfish Poor boy, Blackpepper French Fries
El Chilito Tacos: Chochinita Pibil Taco, Tinga de Pollo Taco, Bean and Cheese Taco
Austin's Best Burgers: Cheeseburger, Veggie Burger, Cheese Fries, Sliced Watermelon
P. Terry's Burger Stand: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Chicken Burger, Veggie Burger
Pureheart: Beef and Lamb Gyros, Mediterranean Veggie Gordita, Greek Salad, Turkey Panini
Restaurant Jezebel: Falafel Pita Sandwich, Cold Pasta with black olive pesto, Big'ol Curried potato, Cabbage and Pea Burrito
Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant: Hawaiian Style Smoked Turkey Leg, Pulled Kahlua Pork Nachos, Grilled Sausage on a Stick
Saba Blue Water Café: Mahi Mahi Fish Taco (chipotle aoli slaw), Pulled Pork Taco, Chicken & Cheese Flautas, Coconut Plantain Shrimp
Solar Natural Wraps: Falafel Wrap, Hummus Wrap, Chicken Wrap
Stubb's BBQ: Chopped Beef Sandwich with Fritos, Pulled Pork Sandwich with Fritos, Sliced Brisket Sandwich with Fritos
Thistle Café: Chicken Chipotle Wrap, Smoked Turkey Wrap, Veggie Wrap
Wahoo's Fish Taco: Blackened Fish or Grilled Chicken Tacos, Fish or Chicken Burrito, Vegetarian Burrito.
Best Lemonade: Fresh Squeezed Lemonade, Fresh Squeezed Strawberry Lemonade, Fresh Squeezed Blueberry Lemonade
Flipnotics Chilled Beverages: Strawberry Smoothie, Mocha Frappe, Iced Coffee
Maine Root Hand Crafted Beverages: Root Beer, Ginger Brew, Prickly Pear Agave Lemonade
Sambazon Acai-Organic Smoothies: Organic Acai Smoothie, Organic Acai Juice, Rio Bowl, Rasta Bowl
Desserts/Snacks:Ben & Jerry's/Lifeworks: Cherry Garcia ice cream bar, Half Baked ice cream bar, Vanilla ice cream bar
Children of the Kettle Corn: Organic Kettle Corn
nICE CONEz: Shaved Block ice Snow Cones, Snow Cones stuffed with ice cream
Snowie: Regular and All Natural Snow Cones
Also don't forget that there are plenty of great restaurants outside the festival near by too, including Shady Grove, Baby A's, Chuy's, Flipnotics, and Austin Java. If you've got an hour or two between shows, why not take a break from the crowds and enjoy some air conditioning?