Over the last sixteen years, thousands of Texans and people from all over the United States and the world have made the annual pilgrimage to attend the Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) at Zilker Park. And of course, our dear readers, that group of people has included and continues to include us. While we dearly love our Rio Grande Valley, it is also therapeutic to leave the 956 and recharge oneself by discovering good eats and music elsewhere.
While every year there is something new and exciting at ACL, this first weekend marked one of the most significant changes to the festival. By moving the Main Box Office south of the bridge crossing Barton Creek (right before Robert E. Lee Road) and the Barton Springs East Entrance closer to said bridge, ACL expanded its grounds Southwest of Barton Springs Road. The extension brought with it a new stage, a festival “merch” store and additional food vendors.
For those of you who might become parched, we recommend relaxing in the newly added ACL Fest Wine Lounge while sipping on some bubbly (or reds, whites, or rosés). If you’re more of a hophead, you can cheer on your favorite NCAA and NFL teams on the giant screens inside the Barton Springs Beer Hall . Throw back some of your favorite brewskies from Austin Eastciders, Bell’s, Independence, Karbach and Twisted X, just to name a few.
Please keep in mind that making your way around the park grounds requires a certain amount of stamina, dedication, and a fully charged phone to attempt to stay in contact with your live music-loving posse. Chances are you may not all want to watch the same acts on the same stage at the same time. Have those external battery packs handy.
Gaby: I’m at the Barton Springs stage. Where are you? Trisha: ( 30 minutes later ) Head over to the American Express stage for Ice Cube. Gaby: Already here below the TCU flag.
Trisha: Push your way up to the weird thing in a purple shirt with glasses, on a stick, and the TCU space man, also on a stick (lol)
Gaby: No te veo!
After descriptions on one another’s “Vodka Soda” cap and “Now is Now” T-shirt, along with the “I’m on the Ice Cube side” and “Party over here!” text messages, we eventually reunited and later, finally found our way over to the craft beer tent for a couple of cold ones.
Another significant addition to the event were the ACL Fest Bodegas . While we are a bit hesitant on the name and the slight appropriation, the Bodegas are scattered throughout the festival and provide guests with a “one-stop shop” to buy fresh fruit, snacks, and basic festival necessities.
In talking about food, we must mention there are over 30 food vendors at A CL Eats . Besides being known for its fantastic live music scene the 512 has an immense array of food trucks and restaurants that cater to everyone’s palate. ACL Eats showcases some of the city’s staples like Amy’s Ice Cream, Austin’s Pizza, P. Terry’s Burger Stand, Torchy’s Tacos, and while not directly within city limits, one of the area’s well known bbq joints, The Salt Lick.
If you've gotten all these treats under your belly (so to speak), we recommend these Top 3 food picks at ACL:
Original Kimchi Fries by Chi’lantro BBQ Price: $10 Founder Jae Kim’s festival classic features a stack of fries, caramelized kimchi, choice of protein (we recommend the bulgogi beef), Cheddar and Monterrey Jack, onions, Chi’lantro’s m agic sauce, sesame seeds and Sriracha. These bad boys will definitely get you fired up for Ice Cube’s throwback performance on Saturday.
Fried Mac and Cheese Bites by Peli Peli Kitchen Price : 5 for $10 Slated to open a brick and mortar in Downtown Austin in the Spring of 2018, Houston’s Peli Peli is marking its Austin debut at ACL. Master Chef Paul Friedman dishes draw inspiration from American, French, Dutch, African, Malay and Indian cuisine. The Fried Mac and Cheese Bites are the perfect snack between sets, they include 5 per order and are drizzled with truffle ranch.
Bánh Mì Tacos by The Peached Tortilla Price: Two for $9 Recognized as one of the new “Stars of Street Food”, Owner and Executive Chef Eric Silverstein uses Asian and Southern Hospitality influences to create these must-have tacos. The magic behind these pork belly tacos is their 5-spice and brown sugar rubber. Their topped off with a daikon-carrot salad and Sriracha mayo. Start your ACL day off right with this scrumptiousness before it sells out.
When watching your pockets, or if “magic juice” is simply just not your cup of tea, not to worry! There are plenty of other options throughout the park. Quench that thirst with some refreshing Topo Chico, lemonade or a variety of soft drinks. Also, remember that CamelBak water stations are located throughout the festival. You can fill up your CamelBak with free filtered water.
INSIDER’S TIP: CamelBaks must be empty before entering the festival. Also, make sure to get there with plenty of time since new security measures have been added and it might take some additional time to get inside the actual festival grounds.
ACL Weekend 2 kicks off this Friday, October 13 and runs through Sunday, October 15. Tickets are available for purchase via www.aclfestival.com/tickets/ or you can always check out the ACL’s official ticket exchange via TicketMaster. For more information visit their website or any of their multi-social media platforms.
Gaby Jones and Trisha Watts work hand-in-hand with the service industry. Jones is in charge of craft and imported beer for L&F Distributors and Watts is the communications director for Visit McAllen. Each week they will have a new adventure and provide an opinion on various locations throughout the Rio Grande Valley.