Not gonna lie . . . I am STILL exhausted from two weekends of ACL. Of course a nail biter Austin FC playoff game plus trips to Denver and NYC don’t make things easier. But that’s the price one pays when you’re living your best life. And while the sun has set on the 2022 Austin City Limits Music Festival, I happen to have a new slew of Austin restaurant finds to dig into until next year’s ACL Fest. Oh and about those new finds . . .
the spot: Nervous Charlie’s 5501 N. Lamar Blvd ste B101 Austin TX 78722 // @ACL Eats Main Food Court
the eats: Willie’s Hot Pastrami on an Everything Bagel
the bucks: $16
the full nelson: Bagels ain’t just for breakfast anymore
Not only are bagels not just for breakfast anymore but when you add on a solid pile of pastrami, you just might have all the food you need to get through a few hours of ACL. I’ve been eyeing Nervous Charlie’s meaty collabs with places like Stiles Switch BBQ for a minute or two. So when I popped into ACL this year, I knew I was going to try it.
I’ll get this out of the way: Austin may not be a haven for Jewish staples like pastrami and bagels, but we have some options that can do more than scratch the itch. There is solid pastrami at Otherside Deli, and the folks at Nervous Charlie’s know enough about bagels to serve them nice and chewy in a challenging environment like a music festival. They forgo the toast to maintain the texture of the bagel and everything bagel seasoning + pastrami= deliciousness. Pro Tip: get the mustard.
the spot: Black’s BBQ 3110 Guadalupe St. Austin TX 78705 // @ACL Eats BBQ Area
the eats: Smoked Beef Shank Tacos
the bucks: $15
the full nelson: Smoked Beef Shanks . . . let that sink in
As an unabashed Texas transplant I’m always happy to call out chips and queso being a totally overrated food. But queso in tacos filled with uber unctuousness like smoked beef shank? I’m here all day for that.
Black’s BBQ is an OG in the meat sweats game. Their original location in Lockhart TX has been going strong since 1932. A favorite among old schoolers, Black’s surprised me with this new school nose to tail taco plate that was utterly delicious.
The sides included coleslaw basted in beef tallow and popcorn spiked with smoked beef. To be honest, I kinda ignored that for the beef shank tacos. The combo of the creamy queso, the bright hit of pico de gallo and smoked beef shank could be all I would ever want from a Tex Mex meal. I hope it becomes a regular item on their traditional meats by the pound menu.
the spot: Mama Fried 101016 Menchaca Rd. Austin TX 78748 // @ACL Eats main area
the eats: Chopped Beef Nacho Fries
the bucks: $16
the full nelson: This is what cheat days are for
Mama Fried is a food trailer parked by a bar in South Austin that touts their fare as Outlaw fries. I’m inclined to agree. It takes someone who would take the law into their own hands to combine fries, nachos, chopped beef and just roll like that. Look, I know I said queso is overrated but I guess I just really like it with smoked beef.
Speaking of smoked beef . . . Mama Fried is part of the LeRoy and Lewis universe so expect top shelf smoked meats here. I didn’t have the guts to finish this dish of outlaw fries but that’s because I’m working on my gut. Cheat Day Eats at it’s finest my friends.
Hendrick’s Gin set up a little cocktail Shangri-La and yours truly got to slip into the VIP tent. During my Cinderella moment(it literally lasted 30 minutes) I pounded three gin cocktails. Did I say that outloud? Oh well, it is ACL after all.
It turns out there’s more to a good Gin drink besides Gin and Tonic. One drink, called the Raspberry Regatta, mixes lime juice, raspberry syrup and a splash of club soda topped with a thyme garnish. So yeah, way beyond just tonic and lime here. Did I mention I had three?
the spot: Lamba Royal Indian 80 Rainey St. Austin TX 78701 // @ACL Eats main area
the eats: Spicy Lamb Curry
the bucks: $15
the full nelson: I’m obsessed with this lamb curry
Brown food is delicious. At the same time, being in the visually focuses food media business, brown food can be a challenge. Why? Well it looks brown. So I was torn about my last meal to feature in 2022 Austin City Limits Music Festival experience. Still, I mustered up the strength to try a bowl of lamb curry at Lamba’s Royal Indian.
Holy Sh**. Guys, I was BLOWN away at how good this lamb curry was. Fork tender lamb, rice soaked in rich sauce . . . it even didn’t look that brown but it tasted as delicious as the brownest of browns, because brown food is delicious. The head scratcher isn’t that it was a great curry from Austin, which is not known for a remarkable Indian food scene but that the place is a food trailer on beer soaked Rainey Street, a bar drag more than a food Mecca. Yeah, I’m still scratching my head.
Man oh man was I blown away by that lamb. I know it wasn’t a fluke because I full on offered bites to a couple that went to London just to eat Indian food and they signed off on it. Still, I need to go down to Rainey Street aka party town to try Lamba Royal Indian on site to see if it holds up.
Lamba, like all the restaurants featured here are open for business in Austin year round so check them out. And I’ll check you out at next year’s ACL Eats. And I suppose that means Austin City Limits Music Festival too, because that’s the other reason why I go to Zilker Park in the fall.