ACL 2013: The Compleat Food Guide
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 10.03.13
UPDATED SUNDAY 10/13: Sunday's ACL Festival have been canceled because of flooding rains. A note from ACL: "Due to current weather conditions with flash flood warnings, The Austin City Limits Music Festival organizers have canceled the festival for Sunday, October 13. Our first priority is always the safety of our fans, staff and artists,” said Shelby Meade, communications director for C3 Presents, the promoter behind Austin City Limits Music Festival. “We regret having to cancel the show today, but safety always comes first.” Refunds will be issued automatically by check from Front Gate Tickets within three weeks. One-third of ticket price will be refunded to all ticket buyers based on original ticket price paid, and will be mailed to the billing address on the original order. For questions, please visit http://support.frontgatetickets.com."
Imagine looking up from a table at the Austin City Limits Festival to see a line stretching a thousand people deep. All of them waiting on you. For food. Patrick Terry has lived through it, slinging as many as 2,000 P. Terry’s burgers an hour during the rush at ACL, a rush he said starts at 3 o’clock and lasts for five unrelenting hours. He calls that feeling vertigo, a teetering swoon that makes him grab the table to keep steady, remembering what the rock climbers already know: Never look down. Or in this case, up.
There’ll be enough vertigo to go around for the festival’s 37 food vendors once an estimated 75,000 people pile into Zilker Park for the the second of two sold-out weekends this Friday-Sunday (Oct. 11-13).
Here’s a look at dishes from two restaurants facing the full ACL storm for the first time — Mighty Bird and La Condesa — and another from a veteran food trailer with enough muscle to meet the challenge, the Seedling Truck. Below them is a full list of vendors and the food they’re bringing, a list I pulled from the festival’s well-designed Austin Eats page.
Know these things about food and drink at the festival: You can bring in up to two 1-liter factory sealed bottles of water. Or an empty water bottle or Camelbak of your own. Small soft-sided coolers are allowed; ice is not. And no glass, alcohol or food. Also: In the interests of speed, all the food is cash-only, with ATMs on-site.
ACL FOOD FIGHTS
Mighty Bird Street Taco ($5)
► Mighty Bird is wholly new to Austin, but the team behind works and plays here. Brendan Puthoff already has four Third Base sports bars, the restaurant Hickory Street and the nightclub Barcelona. Mighty Bird co-owner Kaleb Smith runs the Austin-based Expert Relocation Systems. The fast-casual restaurant is built around a menu of tacos, wraps and salads using rotisserie chicken, handmade tortillas, fresh sauces and roasted chiles. The architect of that menu is chef Camden Steurzenberger, who worked at Bess and is chef-partner at Hickory Street. He was joined this week by Janelle Reynolds, a former colleague at Bess and the winner of last week’s episode of the Food Network show “Chopped.”
► Mighty Bird will christen its ACL experience with 8,000 pounds of chicken, 13,000 tortillas and 500 pounds of cheese to serve as many as 4,000 people a day, Puthoff said. Much of that will go into the Mighty Bird Street Taco, which starts with a fresh, 7-inch flour tortilla. The star is chorizo made from ground Mighty Bird chicken, a chorizo Puthoff describes as “light, almost fluffy,” with the same hardy spice profile of chorizo without the heaviness, topped with grated white cheese and the option of adding your own tomatillo or habanero sauces.
► Also serving: Road Trip Street Taco with rotisserie chicken, avocado and cheese ($5). Monterrey Wrap with chicken, rice, beans, avocado, cheese and pico ($8). Hangover Wrap with egg, sausage, chicken, beans, jalapeños and cheese ($8).
► Which ACL band best fits your food? “I think the country acts are going to love the Hangover (a breakfast wrap). I grew up in Texas eating Mexican food for breakfast. After a long night watching music and having a bunch of beers on the lawn, I think it’s one of those things that’s absolutely going to hit the spot for a lot of the guys out there.”
► Outside the festival: Mighty Bird will open the first of two Austin locations at 7 a.m. Monday (Oct. 7) at 12200 Research Blvd., Suite 100. The second is scheduled to open later this year at 2900 W. Anderson Lane.
► Side note: Hickory Street — the Congress Avenue restaurant also owned by Brendan Puthoff — closed this week for renovation. It will not be moving to Anderson Lane and Shoal Creek as some have reported, but rather is scheduled to reopen at its current location in January as the beer-and-wine anchor of a food court featuring five or six local trailers. Puthoff and Stuerzenberger will use the site at Anderson and Shoal Creek to open another restaurant with a “fresh twist on American cuisine,” a 1,000-plus bottle wine program and design by Dick Clark & Associates. Construction is scheduled to begin in January working toward a March opening.
Mexican Street Corn ($5)
► After working the ACL’s VIP Lounge in past years, La Condesa is moving to the public arena this year. The move comes just as the urban-influenced Mexican restaurant says goodbye to celebrated chefs Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki, but owner Jesse Herman said that with five years and a veteran staff on its side, the restaurant is keeping stride with longtime chef de cuisine Rick Lopez leading the kitchen.
► La Condesa will have its work cut out for it, as 21 staffers sell through an estimated 10,000 units a day. One of those units will be Mexican Street Corn, half an ear steamed and grilled over oak, coated with mayonnaise and cotija cheese and dusted with ancho chile powder. On a stick. “You want something you can eat with your hands,” Herman said. “Preferrably without a utensil.” Other selling points: The size is right for a snack, and the fresh corn helps balance out heavier festival options, Herman said.
► Also serving: Spicy sausage roll ($7). Avocado torta ($6).
► What ACL band best fits your food? “Potentially, Atoms for Peace,” Herman said. “Because when Radiohead was in town during South By a couple of years ago, Thom Yorke ate here in the private dining room and ended up eating here a lot of nights in a row, because we do an off-the-menu vegan tasting.”
► Outside the festival: La Condesa (400 W. Second St.) will be open normal hours during ACL.
► Side note: Jesse Herman is also a partner in the Austin Food & Wine Festival with ACL producer C3 Presents. Another of his restaurants, Sway Thai, will be working the VIP Lounge at ACL this year.
The Seedling Truck
Short rib and gruyere grilled cheese with peperonata jam ($9)
► The coterie of ACL vendors from Hope Farmers Market is a kind of food court within a food court, with boutique Austin operations like Lamba’s Royal Indian Foods, CoolHaus and the Seedling Truck, part of Dan Stacy’s Royal Fig Catering. In this case, “boutique” hardly means small. Stacy figures he’ll serve as many as 18,000 people over the two weekends, split between Seedling and the Hope Coffee House he’ll also be running, selling Third Coast Coffee for $2 a cup.
► This is the second ACL appearance for the Seedling Truck, but the first time Stacy will be bringing this fortified grilled cheese. It’s built on sturdy Pullman brioche bread from Simon Perez of Baked in Austin, toasted on a flat-top grill. It’s layered with gruyere and cheddar chesses and slow-braised shortrib, a commodity through which they’ll burn 600 pounds, by Stacy’s estimate. The sandwich is finished with a peperonata jam of sweet peppers, capers and onions, jars of which the crew started canning months ago, the minute they knew they’d be part of ACL.
► Also serving: Pickled carrot and arugula salad with candied walnuts and goat cheese ($7). Roasted goat tostada with pickled red onions ($8). Sweet potato and sriracha soup with pickled beets ($5).
► What ACL band best fits your food? “I’m from the South, and our food does tend to go more toward the Southern tradition. So I’d say the Kings of Leon. They’re Southern boys.”
► Outside the festival: Austinites can find the Seedling Truck on Monday-Saturday at the Midway Food Park, 1905 S. Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360) and on Sundays at the Hope Farmers Market. The menu changes “almost every day,” Stacy said. Open normal hours during ACL.
► Side note: This will be the last of the bread from Baked in Austin, which has closed its operations inside the Salt & Time butcher shop on East Seventh.
(ABOVE, from left: P. Terry's veggie burger, Hot & Crunchy Chicken from Mighty Cone and truffled pommes frites from Second Bar + Kitchen.)
ACL food vendors and menus
► Amy’s Ice Creams: Super premium ice cream $4; shakes $6; frosteds (v, gf) $5; toppings $1
► Austin’s Pizza: Cheese or pepperoni personal pizza $7; cheese or pepperoni rolls $5; gluten-free cheese or pepperoni pizza $10
► Best Wurst: Grilled bratwurst sandwich $7; smoked pork Italian sausage sandwich $7; jalapeño sausage sandwich $7; buttered salt-potatoes with green onion garnish (vgt) $5
► Boomerang’s Pies: Guinness steak and potato pie $8; Southwest chicken pie $8; green curry Thai (v) $8; crawfish and shrimp etouffee pie $8
► Chi’Lantro: Original kimchi fries, beef, chicken or vegetarian $10; spicy magic fries $7; Korean BBQ tacos, beef, chicken or vegetarian 2 for $8
► Children of the Kettle Corn: Kettle corn (vgt, v, gf) $5/$7; small “Texas Heat” (vgt, v, gf) $6
► CoolHaus: Ice cream sandwich $6; single scoop $4; double scoop $6; 2 cookies $4
► Daily Juice: Watermelon agua fresca $6; hibiscus lemonade $6; mint maté $6
► Frank: Chili cheese Vienna beef hot dog $7; Southern slaw sausage sandwich $8; Jackalope (rabbit and antelope sausage) sandwich $9; chili cheese frito pie (gf) $7; Sub a veggie dog on any item.
► Freebirds World Burrito: Chicken burrito $8; steak burrito $8; veggie burrito $8; vegan burrito $8
► Fresh-Squeezed Best Lemonade: Lemonade $5/$6; strawberry lemonade $5/$6; limeade $5/$6; strawberry limeade $5/$6
► GoodPop frozen pops: Watermelon agave $4; hibiscus mint $4; cold-brew coffee $4; strawberry lemonade $4
► Hat Creek Burger Co.: 7 piece chicken flashers (gf) $7; chicken sandwich $7; Hot Dang grain burger (vgt) $8; sweet potato fries (vgt, gf) $3
► Hope Coffee House: Hot coffee $2; Frios Mio cold brew $3; pastries $3; cold prosciutto sandwich with dandelion greens $7
► La Condesa: Mexican street corn $5; spicy sausage dog $7; avocado torta $6
► Lamba’s Royal Indian Foods: Chicken tikka wrap $8; channa masala wrap (vgt) $7; spinach pakora (v, gf) $7; chicken curry with rice (gf) $8
► Live Soda Kombucha: Culture Cola (gf) $5; Pure Doctor (gf) $5; Living Limon $5; Revive Root Beer $5 (all organic and gluten-free)
► Love Shack: Kick Ass Nachos (vgt, gf) $8; pork tamales (gf) 2 for $7; jalapeño and cheese tamales (vgt, gf) 2 for $7
► Maine Root: Texas pink lemonade (v, gf) $4; root beer (v, gf) $4; ginger brew (v, gf) $4; Mex-Cane cola (v, gf) $4
► Mighty Bird: Mighty Bird Street Taco $5; Road Trip Street Taco $5; Monterrey wrap $8; Hangover wrap $8
► Mighty Cone: Hot & crunchy chicken $7; hot & crunchy shrimp $7; hot & crunchy avocado $7; hot & crunchy chick/avo $9; hot & crunchy shrimp/avo $9; venison sausage wrap $7; Death by Chocolate $5
► Mmmpanadas: Green chile chicken $8; Argentinean beef $8; spinach mushroom (vgt) $7; spicy black bean (v) $7
► Noble Sandwich Co.: Italian pork roast sandwich $8; Thai chicken sandwich $8; Sweet chile hummus sandwich (vgt) $8; whole spicy garlic pickles (v) $2
► P. Terry’s Burger Stand: Hamburger/cheeseburger $4; veggie burger (vgt) $5; fries (v, gf) $4
► The Peached Tortilla: BBQ brisket tacos 2 for $8; banh mi pork belly tacos 2 for $8; Thai summer salad (vgt, v, gf) $6; Thai summer beef salad (gf) $8
► The Salt Lick: Sloppy Nachos $8; sausage wrap $7; chopped beef sandwich $8; pork rib boat $9; all meat is gluten-free, nachos can be ordered vegetarian
► Second Bar+Kitchen: Jalapeño chicken banh mi $8; pork belly banh mi $8; avocado veggie banh mi (v) $7; truffled pommes frites (vgt) $6
► The Seedling Truck: Pickled carrot, arugula salad, candied walnuts and goat cheese $7; roasted goat tostada with pickled red onions, sour cream and cilantro $8; sweet potato and sriracha soup with pickled beets $5; short rib and gruyere grilled cheese with peperonata jam $9
► Snowie: Shaved ice ($5); beignets ($7)
► Southside Flying Pizza: 5-cheese pizza slice (vgt) $6; pepperoni slice $7; specialty/gluten-free slice $7; meatball sub $7; brownies from heaven (vgt) $4
► Stubb’s Bar-B-Q: Jalapeño brisket tacos (2) with chips $10; pulled pork sandwich with chips $9; chopped beef sandwich with chips $8; sausage sandwich with chips $8; all sauces gluten-free
► Tamale Addiction: Pork and tomatillo tamales (gf) 2 for $8; chicken with mole tamales (gf) 2 for $8; black beans and goat cheese tamales (vgt, gf) 2 for $8; spinach with caramelized onion tamales (v, gf) 2 for $8; mix and match any two tamales (all made with organic masa)
► Tiff’s Treats: Warm cookies 2 for $3 or 6 for $6; brownies $3 each ($5 with ice cream scoop); Tiffwich ice cream cookie sandwich $5; Tiffblitz blend of cookies, brownies and ice cream $5
► Tino’s Greek Cafe: Gyro wrap $7; vegetarian plate $7; falafel wrap $7
► Torchy’s Tacos: Green chile pork $5; Trailer Park $5; Magic Shroom $5
► Wahoo’s Fish Taco: Tacos $6; nachos $7; burritos $7; taquitos $6
► Woodshed Smokehouse: Rabbit & rattlesnake sausage (gf) $8; elk & beehive cheddar sausage (gf) $8; truffled mac and cheese $6; pulled pork sandwich $8
At the bar
Craft beer at ACL’s Barton Springs Beer Hall
► All these beers are $8
► Ace Pear Cider
► Alaskan Amber
► Alaskan White
► Breckenridge Agave Wheat
► Brooklyn Lager
► Founders All Day IPA
► Harpoon UFO White
► Lagunitas IPA
► Left Hand Milk Stout
► Real Ale Firemans #4
► Real Ale Four Squared
► Real Ale Hans Pils
► Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
► Stone IPA
► Woodchuck Amber Cider
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)