If you’re an Austin City Limits Music Festival veteran like me, you might already know what to expect of your ACL experience by now. The weather will be hot, there will be thousands upon thousands of people everywhere, your feet will hurt, and you will get ravenously hungry after hours of dancing and walking from stage to stage.
There’s never been an excuse to walk around and starve yourself at ACL. Fortunately, ACL Eats has set the pace for what every other music festival should aspire to become when establishing an effective food experience.
ACL Eats is the festival’s base of operations to 32 eateries all based in Austin with food to serve just about any kind of diet or craving. You’ll find burgers, kimchi fries and tacos, to gluten-free pastries, vegan desserts and fresh squeezed juices. So you have no excuse to starve yourself no matter how selective you are about your diet.
New to the festival this year, there will be more ACL Eats locations around the park with 2nd locations of Amy’s Ice Cream, Chi’Lantro, mmmpanadas, Southside Flying Pizza, Tino’s Greek Café, and Wholly Cow Burgers addition to the ACL Eats Food Court, toward the south end of the park.
Jump Ahead To
Austin’s legendary food trailer pioneer, the Mighty Cone, celebrates its 15 year anniversary, sharing an anniversary with Austin City Limits (ACL). Mighty Cone became “the official food of live music” in 2002 when it began food trailer service for the inaugural ACL, also making it one of the first food trucks to pioneer Austin’s now nationally-recognized food trailer scene. As part of its 15-year anniversary, Mighty Cone is launching a light and healthy cone, which fans have named the “Lighty Cone” in a social media naming contest. The cone is gluten free and is 430 calories with ingredients: grilled chicken tender in citrus marinade, lettuce, tomato, onion, and avocado hummus.
When the hunger pains hit you after a several hours of screaming and dancing from your favorite bands, Austin’s own Chi’lantro will be returning to ACL to fill your bellies with their famous homemade kimchi fries and tacos. Owner Jae Kim has become a local legend in Austin with his award-winning restaurant, food truck and catering service with his approach to diverse, Korean BBQ-inspired cuisine.
Peached Tortilla is back with their iconic Asian cuisine with a Southern flair twist. A classic favorite has always been the Brussels sprouts salad, mixed together with cabbage, basil, cilantro, mint, onion, and jalapeños or their signature fried chicken. If crave something more hearty, try crushing the fried chicken sandwich which made it’s debut at the festival last year!
P. Terry’s Burgers
P. Terry’s Burger Stand was founded in 2005 and is perhaps the very definition of an Austin original. ACL would feel like an empty vessel without them. There’s nothing fancy about them, they just make good all-natural black angus burgers, all-natural chicken burgers, our veggie burgers with fresh cut french fries and homemade cookies. They’re always a solid option.
Burro Grilled Cheeese
If there was ever a life changing food to experience at ACL, Burro Grilled Cheese would be that game changer. You might possibly live out your grilled cheese fantasies with Burro’s classic Balkan sandwiches. Go for the Coppola or the Waylon & Willie sandwiches to set your expectations of how you think a grilled cheese sandwich should made from now on.
Don’t let me tell you how to eat all weekend, but for Pete’s sake, try to eat something healthy at least once during the festival. Any ACL veteran will tell you how tired and exhausted you will be only after one full day at the festival and eating all the junk food will only make you feel worse.
East Side King
Yes you can eat a salad, but it doesn’t have to be boring as hell. Do your arteries a favor and go for the brussels sprouts salad with sweet-spicy sauce, shredded cabbage, basil, cilantro, mint, onion, and jalapeños. You should also go for the fried Chicken Karaage but don’t try sharing it with someone to save a few calories. GF/VG
Lambas Royal Indian Kitchen
Lambas specializes in traditional north indian cuisine mostly selling to over 18 different farmers markets as well as two food trailers in Austin. Each of their meals are prepared with exotic and healthy Indian spices offering vegan, gluten free and meat options. GF/VG
Peli Peli features a melting pot of South African delicacies including American steak, chicken and seafood favorites, and ACL goers will get a first look both weekends of the festival. The menu includes tasty kebabs, cheese balls and a Cucumber Salad for a healthy alternative. GF/VG
Tino’s Greek Cafe
Tinos Greek Cafe has been one of Austin’s favorite Greek restaurants with multiple locations around the city. You’ll find a tasty variety of authentic Greek bites made from fresh ingredients good enough to satisfy both the meat eaters and the healthy conscious vegetarian alike. GF/VG (photo by @TheHungryGirlChronicles)
Kababeque has grown into a staple in Austin by combining the popular flavors of the Mediterranean region and South Asia. Honestly, Kababeque’s wraps are probably one of my favorite items in of the entire festival. True story! GF/VG
Amy’s Ice Cream
There’s no such thing as a festival in Austin unless Amy’s Ice Cream is involved. When your sweet tooth strikes a nerve, get your scoops in and don’t you dare share it with anyone, unless you have children.
Ice cream is a good treat but shove a scoop between a couple of warm cookies from Tiff’s Treats your dessert game will get ridiculous. Just make sure you have a few napkins on hand because things will get a little messy. Consider the mess a badge of honor.
Bananarchy has been fighting against the strongholds of ice creams, cakes, and cupcakeism in Austin for several years, all the while patiently imparting to the good citizens of ACL to the sublime vision of frozen banana freedom. Bananarchy is probably one of the funnest treats you’ll enjoy at the festival!
GoodPop will be serving their super fresh, local, non-GMO, Fair Trade and organic ingredient popsicles at ACL once again. If you find yourself in need of an easy cool down, Goodpop is an easy and refreshing treat.
Skull and Cakebones
Skull and Cakebones specializes in artisanal sweet and savory treats made with locally sourced and never artificial ingredients. They feature an all vegan menu, proving you can make a tasty treat without using any animal products.
ACL may possibly test your hydration limits. You can easily get water anywhere on festival grounds, but at some point you’ll want to splurge a little. If you’re looking for solid refreshments to quench your thirst instead of indulging multiple cans of cold beer, here’s a few of our favorites.
Juiceland is real, I’ve seen it! Since the summer of 2001 they’ve been serving fresh juices and smoothies from their stone cottage on Barton Springs Rd in Austin. Juiceland makes some of the freshest juices in town and it will easily keep you hydrated throughout the duration of the festival.
At some point you’ll need a pick-me-up and High Brew provides several fun flavors of cold brew coffee that should keep you wide awake long enough to enjoy the final show of the night.
Maine Root Sodas
In 2005 Maine Root Beverages first sold ICE COLD fair trade certified organically sweetened beverages to hot and thirsty ACL Fest super freaks.
Shade Tree Lemonade
Shade Tree Beverage Co. will once again offer their low-calorie lemonades at ACL. Enjoy the staple flavors of Original, Strawberry, and Blueberry.
Mighty Swell Sparkling cocktails
Mighty Swell is introducing new recipes of lighter and easy-drinking sparkling cocktails as an official sponsor of the ACL. Now with only 120 calories and 4 grams of sugar (no added sugar), Mighty Swell is still all-natural and uses only real fruit juice and nothing artificial.