By Daniel Ramirez
So you’re going to spend three full days under the early fall Texas sun, dancing and singing with a few thousand of your closest friends at the 2013 Austin City Limits Music Festival? Odds are, somewhere in the hustle and bustle of a three-day tour of the best in new and classic (not classical) music, you’re going to need fuel to keep the party going. With the bevy of vendors that are on-site at Zilker Park for this coming weekend, we thought we’d recommend a few things to make your festival survivable, enjoyable and downright delicious.
PRELUDE: Eat breakfast.
Our friends have stressed this point over and again, and we’ve decided to listen this year. ACL Fest is a marathon, and as any marathoner will tell you, the body needs fuel to manage the long distances. This begins with the “most important meal of the day.” With Zilker’s proximity to Magnolia Cafe (Lake Austin), El Arroyo, Flipnotics, Chuy’s and even relatively close to La Patisserie and Whole Foods Market, there are countless places to grab breakfast tacos or other morning far, before hitting the park. But this is just the appetizer. The day’s main courses are inside the gates.
RULE NUMBER ONE: Do not skip the Mighty Cone.
They’re harder to find now that the development monster has taken over their former spot on South Congress. It only means you’ve forgotten just how good Hudson’s on the Bend’s genius creation really is. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, we’re downright clingy with the thought of a hot and crispy chicken cone. The interplay of crunch to spice, all in an easy to handle, if a bit messy, tortilla-cone that just hits the absolute right note, much like the artists on stage. And, just in case you are with pescetarians or vegetarians, Mighty Cone has shrimp cones or avocado cones to help them silence their hunger. We suggest heading to their booth as soon as you can, as the line gets positively unbearable, come the midday.
RULE NUMBER TWO: La Condesa is amazing.
It is no secret that Austin treasures its quality Mexican food. Whether original interior or the much-heralded Tex-Mex, we need the spice and the savor to fend off the heat, while making us come back for more and more and more. Now, while chips and salsa don’t travel well around the festival, the chefs at La Condesa have tailored their craft to the venue, providing their twist on a border town staple, the Mexican street corn – helots. Part sweet, part spice and all refreshing, this is the unique food to cart around from stage to stage and won’t have you looking like a state fair fried food devotee.
RULE NUMBER THREE: Give the new guys a try.
This year, there are (as far as we can tell) two new residents in the Austin Eats area during ACL Fest. Noble Sandwiches, a product of the undisputed sandwich haven in north Austin, will be serving up an Italian Pork Roast Sandwich that won’t ever be mistaken for a simple ham and cheese. Combined with spicy garlic pickles that are the pride and joy of their brick and mortar establishment, the mobile unit of the shop formerly known as the Noble Pig sounds like an ideal lunch.
The other newcomer isn’t specifically all that new, considering its sister booth has become a mainstay of the ACL Austin Eats court. The Woodshed Smokehouse, a very southern arm of Tim Love’s Fort Worth restaurant, which has received much acclaim over the past few years, is now on site. Serving sausages made of wild game meats and a truffled mac & cheese, this has “hearty dinner” written all over the menu. Tim Love has found continued success with his Love Shack Burger that’s called ACL Fest home for years, and if that accomplishment isn’t enough to inspire one to order there, the smoky smell from Love’s booth should be more than enough to persuade.
RULE NUMBER FOUR: Have a craft or local brew.
For the first time in ACL Fest history, a local and a few other microbreweries have taken on provision of beer to the thirsty festival-goers. Austin’s own Real Ale Brewery will be one of a handful of cra
ft breweries that are making sure that the big box breweries steer clear of Austin, even at festival time. Real Ale will be joined by Stone, Lagunitas, Brooklyn and many more as they provide craft favorites like Fireman’s #4, Stone IPA, Left Hand Milk Stout and Breckenridge Agave Wheat. We’re most enthusiastic about the presence of Fireman’s #4 Squared, which is going to go down extremely easy during the hottest part of the day.