Austin City Limits Music Festival is my most favorite thing about Austin. It could be why I deal with the never ending summers and frankly, the state of Texas. The festival makes you feel like your 21 again, whether you have sailed beyond that mark or are eager to get there. Oh and the food? It is lit up. Here’s where I ate for weekend one:
the spot: Taco Bronco 1309 Rosewood Ave Austin TX 78702 // @ACL Eats Main Food Court
the eats: Smoked Carnitas + Chicken Tinga tacos
the bucks: $6 a taco
the full nelson: a top choice Austin BBQ joint does tacos RIGHT
If you told me you came to Austin and went to Taco Bronco, I would tell you that you are doing it RIGHT. Taco Bronco opened up just before the pandemic and they blew me away with their offerings. Nowadays they pop up along side Micklethwait Barbecue, their sibling and source for smokey meat goodness. I went with the smoked carnitas and the chicken tinga. It is remarkable how much smoke you can taste off the carnitas but the overall quality of the Tinga really surprised me. This is a must stop at ACL 2021.
the spot: Chilantro multiple locations in Austin // @ACL Eats Main Food Court
the eats: Sliders and Kimchi fries
the bucks: $9 for two sliders, $11 for the fries
the full nelson: always bet on Kimchi fries
Here is a little secret when it comes down to eating at a festival: meaty, spicy and fried works very very well. This bodes well for Korean food concept Chilatro, an Austin fav and Shark Tank winner. For the record this meal was a comp and the folks at Chilantro are always inviting me to try their goods.
I’ll be a straight shooter and tell you to go with the fries. It’s a dish that netted founder Jae Kim $600k on Shark Tank and it is prepared well, even under festival conditions. The sliders are a good recipe but my chicken was way overcooked. For what it’s worth, they have a done a fried chicken in the sandwich at their restaurant that did me right. Check it out here on my YouTube Channel: Ali Khan Eats Chilantro chicken sandwich.
And yes, if you look carefully, that’s me and my better half in the pic. Dude came up to me and said “were you wearing a blue suit at ACL two years ago?”. Yes, ACL is that epic. Now back to the food.
the spot: Lonesome Dove Bistro 419 Colorado St. Austin TX 78701 // @ACL Eats Main Food Court
the eats: Double Cheeseburger
the bucks: $13
the full nelson: in case of emergency burger cravings go here
I tried this burger back in 2019 and the results were about the same: dry but ooey gooey good. Frankly this is one of two burger options at ACL and I chose this for a reason: it holds enough promise to warrant the $13 price tag. If you have to have a burger, go here. The solid char and well melted cheese does its best to offset the off tasting burger patty.
the spot: Shawarma Point multiple locations in Austin // @ACL Eats Main Food Court
the eats: Gyro
the bucks: $13
the full nelson: one of my fave ACL Eats
Earlier I said that something meaty, spicy and fried will do you right for festival eating. While gyro isn’t fried, the buttery rich pita and gyro meat comes close. Shawarma Point takes its inspiration from NYC halal carts where Middle Eastern flavors are served fast and cheap and oh so good.
Yes this is a $13 gyro but it is a big meal. And the red sauce is truly glorious, so make sure you grab the bottle and use with caution. Years ago I stumbled towards the Shawarma Point truck and saw they had a spice level called “brown people spicy” to which I promptly stepped up to. Turns out I’m a pale mocha. Again, use with caution.
I love me some Taco Bronco but when it comes to bang for your buck, Shawarma Point is so on point. Check these spots out either at ACL or in Austin. They are Ali Khan Eats approved!!