Austin

The Ultimate 2021 Austin City Limits Dining Guide

From parkside tacos and wings to nearby pre- and post-fest eats.

Photo by Charles Reagan Hackleman
Photo by Charles Reagan Hackleman
Photo by Charles Reagan Hackleman

Things have been rather stop-and-go lately down in Austin, but as far as we know, ACL is still going ahead unencumbered. For two long weekends (Oct 1 – 3 and Oct 8 – 10), Zilker Park will be transformed into an international music stage. Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Duran Duran, Tyler The Creator, Erykah Badu, Doja Cat, and Modest Mouse are all on the bill, and the city couldn’t be more stoked. Now, with Texas-sized energy to burn, where to fuel up?

Here are the best places to eat and drink both on and off-site, so you can plan ahead and focus on the party when time comes.

Inside the gates:

Photo courtesy of Torchy's Tacos
Photo courtesy of Torchy’s Tacos
Photo courtesy of Torchy’s Tacos

Torchy’s Tacos

ACL would never mess around with sub-par tacos, which is why they’ve roped in city-wide fave Torchy’s. Serving salads, burritos, chips and queso, and of course, damn good tacos, the most important aspect is that you can score a coveted Breakfast Taco any time of day. Why should cheese and eggs be limited to the mornings, eh?

Flyrite Chicken
Flyrite Chicken
Flyrite Chicken

Flyrite Chicken

Using all-natural meat raised without antibiotics and free from artificial ingredients, MSG, trans fats, and high fructose corn syrup, Flyrite whips up delicious fried chicken without a drop of belly ache-inducing nonsense.

Austin’s Pizza

The topping-generous pizza delivery service will be setting up shop on the grass. Come feast on the super meaty Bacon Pizzaburger, a sturdy pie topped with hamburger meat, bacon, red onions, and cheddar cheese, or the meatless Vegetated, crowned with tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions, and mushrooms.

Black's BBQ Austin
Black’s BBQ Austin
Black’s BBQ Austin

The Original Blacks Barbecue

The Lockhart family-run business has been a huge success within the campus district, and if you haven’t yet made it up north, now’s your chance to experience them in all their beefy glory. Expect Brisket, Chopped Beef Sandwich, and Giant Beef Rib, all slow-smoked to perfection.

Photo courtesy of Happy Chicks
Photo courtesy of Happy Chicks
Photo courtesy of Happy Chicks

Happy Chicks

While the Zilker Park-adjacent location closed down months ago, there’s no need to travel far for your fill of Chicken Tenders, Happy Sauce and Fries throughout the festival. And if you’re keeping things plant-based, swap in vegan chicken on any of the menu items.

Wing Dady

A new concert from celebrated chef Jason Dady of San Antonio’s Tre Trattoria, Alamo BBQ Co., and Jardin, Wing Dady will make its grand debut at ACL, dishing up crispy Chicken Wings, crispy Beef Tacos, Hummus, and Buffalo Cauliflower.

Burro Cheese Kitchen
Burro Cheese Kitchen
Burro Cheese Kitchen

Burro Cheese Kitchen

There’s nothing like a grilled cheese sandwich after a long day of raging. Try the gooey Long Tall Texan-aged cheddar, brisket, and pineapple sauce on sourdough. Available sides include Kettle Chips (for crunch) and Tomato Basil Soup (a nice dip for any excess bread).

Juiceland

Festivals needn’t be all booze and greasy foods, and you’re more than welcome to follow your bliss down the wellness route thanks to Juiceland. The team will be offering cold-pressed juices, fruit and veggie smoothies, and plant-based meals like Quinoa Salad and Jackfruit Carnitas.

Four Brothers
Four Brothers “Venezuelan Kitchen”
Four Brothers “Venezuelan Kitchen”

Four Brothers Venezuelan Kitchen

Four Brothers Venezuelan Kitchen is best known for their crunchy deep fried Empanadas, stuffed-to-the-brim Pulled Pork Sandwiches, and Sweet Plantains with Queso de Mano on the side. You know what to do.

Photo by Annie Ray
Photo by Annie Ray
Photo by Annie Ray

Lick Honest Ice Cream

Dessert is covered, ice cream-lovers. This local brand uses natural, ethical ingredients to produce the happiest desserts from scratch, including vegan options that taste just as good as the creamy stuff. The Honey SunButter is their latest dairy-free creation, made with sunflower seed SunButter and honey.

Outside the gates:

Photo by Inked Fingers
Photo by Inked Fingers
Photo by Inked Fingers

Bar Peached

Downtown
Founder and culinary genius, Eric Silverstein, began with a single food truck in 2010, which has now morphed into hit restaurants (most notably, The Peached Tortilla), a fleet of trucks, and this cheeky sibling, Bar Peached. One for the younger crowd in search of frolics up on dirty Sixth, Bar Peached serves cocktails, tacos, and Asian-inspired comfort food in a casual indoor-outdoor environment (so there’s no need to change after the gig). Start with the Pork Buns, go in on the Pesto Udon and Bahn Mi Tacos with a pal, and toast with some choice sake. You know ACL-themed karaoke is on deck.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable

Photo courtesy of Juliet Italian Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Juliet Italian Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Juliet Italian Kitchen

Juliet Italian Kitchen

Barton Springs
Italian food is a sure-fire way to line a festival-bound stomach. Juliet’s menu features housemade pastas, meatballs, hand-tossed pizzas, and a mighty 12-layer Lasagne. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday, if you’re planning to gear up for the opening acts, and latecomers are catered to, too-there’s a 3 pm to 6 pm happy hour featuring $6 cocktails, draft beers, and wine, plus deals on antipasti and pizzas. That’s a win-win any way you slice it.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

Photo courtesy of TLC
Photo courtesy of TLC
Photo courtesy of TLC

TLC

South Lamar
Need a little Texas-style R&R? Stroll over to South Lamar and take a load off at TLC. The restaurant has a large indoor-outdoor space with over 30 beers on tap and a meaty regional menu spanning Chicken Fried Steak, Cowboy Ribeye, and a variety of thick, juicy sandwiches. Sure, there are lighter items on the menu, but, hey, you’re in Texas-go big or go home.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar
Hopdoddy Burger Bar
Hopdoddy Burger Bar

Hopdoddy Burger Bar

Multiple Locations
Out-of-staters take note: You absolutely must try a Hopdoddy burger, Texas’ best-dressed answer to Shake Shack. Founded in 2010, the Austin-based chain is a major tourist attraction but equally a beloved local go-to. You can’t go wrong with The Classic, laden with lettuce, tomato, onion, and Doddy Mayo, but repeat customers should definitely experiment with the limited edition Burger of the Month.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Austin Eastciders
Austin Eastciders
Austin Eastciders

Austin Eastciders

Barton Springs
To stay in festive spirit, stroll ten minutes up to Austin Eastciders. This all-day destination serves coffee and pastries, brunch, lunch, happy hour, late-night bites, and, what they’re most famous for-lots and lots of cider. The selection is varied and delicious. There’s the Brut (dry, light, effervescent), the Sangria (fruity and pitcher-ready) and limited-edition seasonals fermented onsite. Standouts from the food menu include the Zilker Pizza and Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich, among other ingenious bites.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Codependent Cocktails and Coffee

Downtown
Standing around all day is tiring stuff, so consider the Codependent your sit down, chill out, and camera-roll review zone. The bar is inspired by Italian luxury aperitivo culture, with gorgeous European furniture to admire with your hot or cold beverage in hand. Can’t decide between coffee or booze? Combine the two with via three fabulous caffeinated options: a classic Espresso Martini, the chocolate-whiskey infused One Night Stand, and the tequila-spiked Codependent. All are a delicious pick-me-up day or night.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Photo courtesy of Fairmount Austin
Photo courtesy of Fairmount Austin
Photo courtesy of Fairmount Austin

Rules and Regs

Downtown
Looking to add some out-of-towners to the party? Chances are they’re staying at the Fairmont Austin (a popular host for ACL-goers). Rules & Regs is the hotel’s seventh floor rooftop bar, specializing in Latin flavors with a taste of the tropics, if you like your Salmon Ceviche complemented by a rum cocktail. The views overlooking Austin’s cityscape make for a holiday souvenir, and it’s within spitting distance of Rainey Street in case you want to ramp the weekend up a notch.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Analog

Downtown
Love food trucks but can’t take the Texas heat? Analog is a (fully air conditioned) downtown newbie that’s inspired by Austin’s food on wheels. The menu is bursting with delights like Pork Nachos with jalapeño and pico and Our Fried Chicken, paired with golden sweet Cornbread and Fried Collard Greens. Wash them down with local beers on tap, wine, or cocktails with a Texan twist (the Prosecco with Peach is divine).
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

La Condesa Austin
La Condesa Austin
La Condesa Austin

La Condesa

2ND Street District
The 2ND Street District sits pretty on the other side of the river-the ideal location for a romantic wander and dinner date post-Miley serenade. La Condesa is a California-chic Mexican restaurant using fresh local ingredients for staples like Quesadilla De Short Rib and Carnitas Tacos. The patio is primed for post-dinner cocktails, complete with Austin’s largest collection of 100% blue agave tequila and mezcal fueling signatures like the Margarita La Condesa (tequila, pineapple, lime, agave).
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Photo by Dillon Burke
Photo by Dillon Burke
Photo by Dillon Burke

Fareground

Downtown
With a group of pals and none of you can decide on one cuisine? Fareground to the rescue. Austin’s first food hall has reopened, welcoming new local vendors, two bar programs, all-day coffee service, and happy hours. There are currently six eateries onsite, including TLV (Israeli favorites), Little Wu (Chinese cuisine from the team behind Wu Chow), Austin Rotisserie, and, of course, top tacos by Taco Pegaso. Retail outlets like a locally curated flower market, Tiny House Coffee Roasters, and Dude, Sweet Chocolate provide ample post-gig treats.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Uchi Austin
Uchi Austin
Uchi Austin

Uchi

South Lamar
Sake your thing? Then get your pre- or post-show fix at Uchi, stationed just five minutes from the festivities. Not only is October 1 the start of ACL, but it also happens to be World Sake Day-double the reason to drink. Uchi (and sister restaurant Uchiko) will be offering a special Brooklyn Kura pairing menu throughout ACL’s first weekend to mark the occaision.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

James Wong is a Libra who spends his time pretending to be a vegan, watching wildlife clips, and booking plane tickets. Born in London, lived in Tokyo, and now residing in Austin, his greatest achievement is giving Posh Spice a hug in 2016.

Austin

Get Lucky at These Irish Bars in Austin

Drink a green pint on St Patrick's Day at these Irish bars in Austin.

Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel

In the midst of all the SXSW chaos, it helps to remember that there’s a rainbow at the festival’s end-that is, the hangover-blessing we’ve been granted of having St. Patrick’s Day 2023 fall on a Friday. Whether you attribute this small win to the Gregorian calendar or the luck of the Irish, it’s sure to amp up the already liver-damaging activities associated with this cultural celebration. However, √Čire is more than just leprechauns and Colin Farrell-it’s a breathtaking land full of warm, welcoming, and good-hearted people. Fortunately, there’s a way you can get a taste of the Republic’s spirit, and a dark stout, at the same time by hitting up one of Austin’s various Irish pubs. From cozy, intimate spaces decked out like small taverns in Cobh, to modern dives with all the party energy of Temple Bar, our list has the best spots in the city to “erin go bragh” all out on March 17.

Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys
Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys
Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys

B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub at Mueller

Mueller
With a giant model of a beer tap literally decorating their front door, you can’t miss B.D Riley’s, nor doubt that this East Austin hang is a spot to down some serious brewskis. And its name, and perfect pours of Guinness, aren’t the only aspects they draw from the Emerald Isle-the entire pub itself was actually designed and built in Dundalk, Ireland, and shipped over for assembly in Bat City. Such authentic decor calls for equally authentic sounds, therefore, on St. Patrick’s Day, B.D. Riley’s will feature an all-day, four-artist bill of live, trad-inspired music. So, while you may not start the day knowing all the words to “The Galway Girl,” you are bound to sing along by last call.

Kelly’s Irish Pub

Bouldin Creek
Having only opened this past December, Kelly’s is the new kid with a brogue on the block. Occupying the space which formerly housed tapas restaurant Winebelly, this pub had big shoes to fill for South Austin barflies, but quickly won them over with an impressive whiskey selection and friendly atmosphere. A big reason behind the real deal √Čire vibes can, most likely, be chalked up to the fact that one of Kelly’s owners was actually born and bred in Ireland-and the dedication to delivering a true-to-life experience is evident in everything from the shepherd’s pie to the witty bartenders. For St. Patrick’s Day, they are getting the party started early with live music and an opening time of 8 am.

Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger's
Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger’s
Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger’s

Jack & Ginger’s

The Domain
While The Domain may boast more bars than you can shake a shamrock at, there’s only one spot in the North Austin entertainment behemoth that can be properly called an Irish pub: Jack & Ginger’s. Start off the night with selecting a tasting flight from their over 82 beers on tap, then, move onto shots poured straight from their Irish Whiskey Tours-after loosening up with a round or two, you might just find yourself with the gift of gab. And, before snapping a selfie over Jack & Ginger’s see-through glass floor, balance out that buzz with food offerings like a giant soft pretzel or a round of fried pickles.

Photo courtesy of Foxy's Proper Pub
Photo courtesy of Foxy’s Proper Pub
Photo courtesy of Foxy’s Proper Pub

Foxy’s Proper Pub

Downtown
Here’s a spot that visibly radiates with Irish pride-at Foxy’s, the glow of green beams out from the bar’s lighted panels, and across their chandelier made of Jameson bottles. When it comes to cups and chow, their commitment to the theme continues-the use of the word,”proper,” in the pub’s name alone indicates you’re in for a heavy pour of the standards. Consequently, the taps are abundant with essential Irish sips, including Guinness, Magners, and Smithwick’s. With Lone Star on draft, there’s also a nod to Texas tradition as well. But don’t fear if you’re bored of beer-Foxy’s variety of whiskey-based cocktails will let you switch it up (and still keep it Celtic). March 17 will find them celebrating with live music, whiskey tastings, and swag giveaways.

Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel

Cork & Barrel Craft Kitchen + Microbrewery

Round Rock
Compared to a flight to Dublin, the 30-minute drive to Round Rock’s Cork & Barrel is much more convenient-not to mention, won’t require waiting in a TSA line. A mix between a modern Austin beer garden and a historical Irish pub, this spot’s spacious interior and expansive outdoor patio guarantees there will be enough room for the whole crew to cheer “sl√°inte.” And, their microbrewery’s signature beers are the ideal drinks to do such a toast with. The menu of specially crafted drafts includes a blueberry wheat, an Irish red ale, and a vanilla stout. This St. Patrick’s Day also marks Cork & Barrel’s two-year anniversary, and they are throwing down for the double-celebration with live music, yard games, Irish food specials, and plentiful amounts of green beer and Irish Car Bombs.

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Molly Moltzen is a Thrillist contributor.

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