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[Austin] Austin City Limits Music Festival


Zeb A
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We are thinking about heading to this event in a few weeks, and I have a few questions (we live in NC and have never been to Austin):

1. It looks like the food tents / vendors are better than alot of festivals and draw from local restaurants. Is this true? Here is the link to the food vendors: food court What do you think?

2. Is there any upscale must-eat-at restaurant in Austin? I am sure there are tons of good places, but is there any one place that is the sort of place where you'd be making a mistake if you were in Austin and didn't go there.

3. With one stage being the Heineken stage, I assume beer is served. True?

4. I know most of the bands and know we will like the music. But, I am unfamiliar with the venue and wonder whether it will be so crowded that you won't really be able to get very close to the stages. Has anyone been to past this even in past years? Here is the festival link

5. Any other ideas or thoughts?

Thx

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You will love Austin! I'm a former resident and still miss it.

My vote for up-scale restaurant you must try is Jeffrey's. I am also partial to Louie's 106.

Don't leave without trying Round Rock Donuts. Trust me.

As for the festival food vendors, it looks like a pretty good mix. My favorites would be:

Cook's Spicy Special pizza from Brick Oven

Cheesesteak from Texadelphia

Amy's Ice Cream

Solar Falafels (the spiciest one was my favorite; used to buy them at Whole Foods)

BBQ sandwich from Salt Lick or Stubb's

If you have fun at this festival, go back in March for South By Southwest--it is a blast.

“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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There are a lot of excellent restaurants, but I can only think of one unique upscale restaurant in Austin, HUDSON'S ON THE BEND. If you like game, then it is a must go to place. They do great things with all sorts of game in an upscale"Texas" setting. If menu items such as Rattlesnake cakes with a pistachio crust, Wild Boar Schnitzel, and Elk do not excite you, then you might want to pass on the restaurant.

The Grill in the Driskill Hotel is doing good things under David Bull, who was recently named one of the 10 best new chefs by Food & Wine. Driskill Grill

I think dining experiences that are unique to Austin are great barbecue, Tex-Mex and Mexican.

Fonda San Miguel has a wonderful menu featuring interior Mexican cuisine, but I would not call it "upscale". I guess it really depends on your definition of "upscale".

I am sure you will have a great time at the ACL Festival

Edited by NewYorkTexan (log)
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Last year beer was $4-6 a can depending on what you wanted to drink. Water was also $4. You can bring in sealed water bottles of your own.

Bring a light lawn chair to sit in. You can usually get close for all the lesser known bands. You can also get up front for many if you plan ahead and work your way through the crowd. In between stages there's plenty of room. Plan ahead so you know where you want to go.

I highly recommend seeing the "Rebirth Brass Band" band on the gospel stage. They rock and always get a big crowd.

The food is good, just be prepared to stand in line. Last year the lines moved fairly quick but it still takes time. I recommend the TEO gelato and plan to try out the Tofu, tomato, chipotle chili from Primizie. The tamales are also tasty.

Edited by LonghornGal (log)
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Yes, and whatever you do, set aside one day to hop into your rental car and make the drive down to Lockhart to sample some true Texas 'cue. Actually, flying in from the East Coast, you should be able to arrive into Austin around lunchtime. Lockhart is just a short (20 minute) drive south from Austin's airport, and that'd be a great way to kick off your visit. Go to Smitty's and Black's. Sample the food there, and take a little to go to snack on later. At Smitty's, be sure to walk through the whole building. It's a holy temple of BBQ.

On your last day, you can go back down there and have them freezer pack some for you to take home and share with those nice folks that were watering your plants and feeding your dog and picking up your mail and newspaper.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I'd second the above recommendation for Hudson's on the Bend. It's not quite the best restaurant in town, but it's certainly the most distinctively local of the real fine-dining venues. Also, if you're around for Sunday brunch, the buffet [don't let that word fool you; this is really serious cooking] at Fonda San Miguel is not to be missed.

Andrew Riggsby

ariggsby@mail.utexas.edu

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we traveled to the festival from California last year and loved it so much we'll be back with several friends. I'll let the locals tell us where to eat, but wanted to share tons of advice from my one-time experience:

Stay downtown. Use the convention bureau info and maps linked on the ACL site. Ride the special bus.

Last year they had beer: lone star, heineken and amstel light, all in cans. amstel light tastes bad in cans. The beers were $4 or $5. We're going to see Dave Matthews at "coors amphitheater" here tomorrow night, where they will happily charge us $8 for a Coors light draft, so we didn't find it upsetting.

More from last year: the ATM line got really long--bring cash, you go through a lot. The food stands were much better than we've ever seen at a festival. Many people noted that the selstion and lines were much improved over 2002. No reason not to expect another improvement. It's really dark near some of the bathrooms, be sure to find some with lights as the sun goes down rather than waiting. The water was Fiji, my favorite, and i think it was $2. bring some, but don't weigh yourself down too much. The soda was some foul kind we don't have out here, and the security people gave me a hard time about carrying in a diet coke, I begged and they let it slide.

Do bring something to sit on. A blanket if a chair is more than you like to carry. the grass has prickly things in it, so go for a tight weave. bring hats. There will invariably be a downpour or bright sun at some point. Everyone bought hats there last year. We got really close to the stages; it's the same as anything--always a hard choice between seeing everything and staking out a spot for your favorite. The blanket helps here too. Over three days you find a balance. Unless it hits big this year, I'd say it's much easier than Bonaroo.

if you want to go see the bands in bars after the shows at the festival, get tickets on line now and have them mailed to you. La Zona Rosa has the least organized will-call line ever and it will make you miss the show. Stubbs is a beautiful venue.

Also, a dear e-gulleteer last year named Jaymes taught me not to avoid touristy-looking places like 6th street. Camino el Casino has very nice spicy blue cheese burgers. I know she has moved, but in case she's looking, thanks again!

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Also, a dear e-gulleteer last year named Jaymes taught me not to avoid touristy-looking places like 6th street.  Camino el Casino has very nice spicy blue cheese burgers.  I know she has moved, but in case she's looking, thanks again!

Hey, you're welcome! :biggrin:

It's always been my theory that when visiting a new area, the first thing I want to do is to plop myself right down in the big middle of wherever is the local "touristy" spot. That doesn't mean it's all I see. That doesn't mean I EVER have to go back. But I DO want to see (and have an opinion regarding) whatever the fuss is all about. After all, there's got to be a reason why the touristy area got touristy in the first place. There very well may be something there to see.

I have a friend that thinks it's the mark of a sophisticate to NEVER go to those areas...."So touristy," she sniffs, with her sophisticated nose in the air. As a result, she's been to New Orleans at least four times and never been to Bourbon Street. So la ti da, bully for her, but I'd rather at least know what it is I'm looking down my nose at. :cool:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Threadgill's on N Lamar (original) is worth a visit if you're in the area. A piece of Austin history. Their fried (or sauteed) chicken livers are the best -- a pile you won't forget. And once you start ordering a veg it doesn't stop. So go hungry. I don't know what their Monday night special is now. They change it up once in a blue moon. Tastes vary on which veg to order which to not, but their jalapeno salad dressing is just right. Don't know for sure if either location will be having music on this Monday night (tonight) or not. Check out the above link for more info on both locations if you're interested.

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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Threadgill's  on N Lamar (original) is worth a visit if you're in the area. A piece of Austin history.

It's always "worth a visit" to me.

It began life as a gas station back in the 30's, selling that ol' good Gulf Gasoline. In those days, it was out of town, north, on the Dallas Highway.

In the late 30's, my daddy used to drive that highway, from Austin up to Dallas to court my mother. And his first stop was always Threadgill's gas station to fill up his '39 Fiat.

In 1933, with the repeal of prohibition, Kenneth Threadgill decided to add a small diner to his gas station. He stood in line all night long to be the first in Travis County to get a liquor license, and you can still see it nailed to the wall -- Travis County Liquor License #1. The food was good and he liked to warble a few country tunes to the folks that stopped by. Threadgill's became a favorite hangout for the college kids at UT, and Wednesday's "Open Mike Night" became legend. Janis Joplin got her start here.

It has been said that other folks in Austin (like Tony's Soul Food, and Hoover's) now serve better home style cookin', and maybe they do, but I still like Threadgills. The chicken livers are fabulous, just like Lovebenton said.

And it's pretty hard to beat that kind of history. At least for me, sitting there and thinking about my daddy as a young man, full of love and hope in his heart, just wishing and praying that sweet Ann would love him back.

Happily for young Bill, it turned out that she did. And to this day, she still does.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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:biggrin::wub:

Thanks Jaymes.

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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My 2 cents...

Jeffrey's and Hudson's are good. My personal favorite is Aquarelle, just off 6th St. downtown. A small old house, converted into a fine restaurant. Continental/french cuisine, that changes with whatever is fresh, local and in season. The Tasting menu is a great value. Rob and Theresa in the kitchen are wonderful and will probably come out to say hello.

For Barbeque, the Salt Lick is the best, but is about a 40 min drive (and worth the effort) but you have to bring your own alcohol.

I like Guero's for local funky Mexican food. Threadgill's is good for "down home" style food. If Fried Green Tomatos are on the menu, order them....

For a sheer Foodie experience, visit Central Market at 40th and Lamar (dont' eat there, the cafe is mediocre). Imagine Balducci's on steroids...There is not an upscale, gourmet grocery store like it anywhere in the country.

Another fun experience for me is Alamo Draft House downtown. Fun, off beat movies, and a full bar and food menu delivered right to your seat, so you don't have to get up!

Malaga downtown is a fun Tapas bar, with a great wine list and amazing bar, Cedar Street next door has good music and a good bar.

You will love Austin, it is unlike anything else in Texas. Am a transplanted Calfornian myself...

Cheers,

Rob

"When I lived in Paris, and champagne was relatively cheap, I always enjoyed a half-bottle in the middle of the morning and another half-bottle at six or so in the evening. It did me a tremendous amount of good." - Gerald Hamilton.
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  • 3 weeks later...

I just found out that I will have Thur and Fri off so I am buying a ticket for Friday.

It will be my first visit to ACL. I have been having jonesing since Icould not go to Jazzfest. But from looking at the website, this could be a VERY acceptable substitute for this year.

I will drive in Thursday sometime late, get a hotel on the north side and then ride the shuttle. Play all day, I am bringing a hat and cash and sunscreen, and finish with Sheryl Crow.

I will finish the trip with dinner on Saturday night in Ft Worth at Lanny's Alta Cucina Mexicana with other egulleters.

If someone would like to meet and check out the foods, name the place and the time to meet. We could get a little gathering if anyone else is going to be there Friday.

Thank goodness for Austin, I need this little recreational exercise in fun.

So see ya friday guys. :cool::biggrin::laugh:

Larry in Tulsa

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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For Barbeque, the Salt Lick is the best, but is about a 40 min drive (and worth the effort) but you have to bring your own alcohol.

You will love Austin, it is unlike anything else in Texas. Am a transplanted Calfornian myself...

Sorry, but I felt compelled to add something about that very definite BBQ statement.

BBQ in Central Texas is a VERY personal thing, and everyone has their favorites. But very few folks would agree that Salt Lick is the "best." It can be fun, especially for a group, but it is rarely, if EVER, mentioned as being in the same category as the Lockhart joints like Smitty's, Black's, Kreuz, among others; City Market in Luling; John Mueller's; Cooper's in LLano.

Salt Lick used to be much better, back before the original owner and founder died. The new folks seem to be far more interested in selling tee shirts and koozies and hauling in large busloads of tourists from up north and catering weddings than they are in the quality of their food. They even have opened a new spot in the most chi-chi part of town. They call it an "upscale BBQ Bistro." :laugh: That's three words I never thought I'd see in the same sentence.

I'd suggest that you skip it. And head for Smitty's in Lockhart, instead.

Get your festive Salt Lick Holiday Wardrobe now!

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Jaymes,

I agree that all the places you mentioned are surely better than Salt Lick, and the "upscale" outlet in Westlake is to be avoided. HOWEVER, Lockhart, Llano, Luling are all much farther out of town, and I only advised Salt Lick because I was fairly certain that people attending the ACL event would probably NOT want to drive several hours just for BBQ and that Salt Lick would be the best choice for experiencing Austin, more especially since to Austin's shame, there is no better BBQ actually IN town, that I have found yet. If someone knows some, let me know.

Sorry, but I felt compelled to add something about that very definite BBQ statement.

BBQ in Central Texas is a VERY personal thing, and everyone has their favorites.  But very few folks would agree that Salt Lick is the "best."  It can be fun, especially for a group, but it is rarely, if EVER, mentioned as being in the same category as the Lockhart joints like Smitty's, Black's, Kreuz, among others; City Market in Luling; John Mueller's; Cooper's in LLano.

Salt Lick used to be much better, back before the original owner and founder died.  The new folks seem to be far more interested in selling tee shirts and koozies and hauling in large busloads of tourists from up north and catering weddings than they are in the quality of their food.  They even have opened a new spot in the most chi-chi part of town.  They call it an "upscale BBQ Bistro."   :laugh:  That's three words I never thought I'd see in the same sentence.

I'd suggest that you skip it.  And head for Smitty's in Lockhart, instead.

Get your festive Salt Lick Holiday Wardrobe now!

Edited by RobInAustin (log)
"When I lived in Paris, and champagne was relatively cheap, I always enjoyed a half-bottle in the middle of the morning and another half-bottle at six or so in the evening. It did me a tremendous amount of good." - Gerald Hamilton.
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I have come to know that Sheryl Crow is Austin's favorite girlfriend. She was awesome after a few sound glitches. The guys on the boards got that fixed pronto.

The food I ate. The Gumbo from Prejeans was excellent, good balanced flavor and lots of meat in the bowl.

The hot and crunchy chicken cone from Hudson's on the bend had a good flavor

The BBQ sandwich from Salt Lick was aweful, it was mostly fat and had NO flavor

The steak taco from Curra's was good, nice spiced flavor

The Iced Americano from TEO was the coldest drink of the day, and brewed to order good.

The Budda Bowl from Kenchi was good, just did not rock my boat

I drank probably 3 gallons of water, it was one HOT mother of a day.

I was suprised to not see Shiner being sold, just Heineken, Amstel and Lone Star.

even if it is not going to rain, take an umbrella. The best location was to the right of the SBC stage between the SBC hospitality tent with the misters and the beer tent.

music, Asleep at the wheel rocked

Willy Mason had a great voice, very folksy

Henry Butler was good as always (i have never heard him have a bad set)

John Butler was burning it up

Rosanne Cash was very sentimental

Solomon Burke had the crowd moving

Particle was weird, I just did not get it. reminded me of some bands I heard in the late 70s

Ryan Adams was a pretty much straight up rocker

And then there was Sheryl with a quick appearance by Lance

Definitely fun. Not Jazzfest, but they have a good start.

edit - saturday i am in Ft Worth for dinner at Lanny's with the DFW team

Edited by joiei (log)

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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Jaymes,

I agree that all the places you mentioned are surely better than Salt Lick, and the "upscale" outlet in Westlake is to be avoided. HOWEVER, Lockhart, Llano, Luling are all much farther out of town, and I only advised Salt Lick because I was fairly certain that people attending the ACL event would probably NOT want to drive several hours just for BBQ.

"Several hours" to Lockhart? Huh? Lockhart is about 25 miles south of Austin. From the airport (where most of these visitors are arriving and departing from), it's a straight shot and you can get there in 15 minutes on a good day.

And I wouldn't call the Salt Lick "in town." Depending on where you are in Austin, of course, it seems to me that it takes about the same amount of time to get to either one.

And the BBQ at Smitty's is MUCH more worth the short drive. As it appears that Joiei discovered.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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The Festival Food I had:

Shrimp & Mango Spring Roll w/Mango Passion Fruit Sauce(Kenichi)-great! I had this twice, and for $4, it's the best bargain. It's cold too.

Pork Taco(Berryhill's)-Nice big, fat taco with lots of tender pork, and piled w/lettuce & cabbage-good & filling-$6

I'll have more today and post my comments, but so far, they have done a really good job on foo dselection. Now if they only had good beer.... :blink:

Frank in Austin

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Just had to pile on. we had the shrimp and mango roll at the festival. it was too hot for most of the other choices. Yummy.

Tea Leaf Green, North Misssissipi Allstars, Drive by Truckers (who the Austin paper said had "outgrown their name") and Wilco were fabulous. Henry Butler was indeed amazing again, even though I was very far back at that one. Antones had almost as much trouble with will-call as La Zona Rosa did last year. We have never been to Stubbs without meeting someone famous: last year Steve Winwood and Randall Bramblett, this year Trey Anastasio. The intimate venue and star-proximity are outshined only by the delicious creamed spinach, which everyone from our group is still talking about. I noticed that all of the after-shows were sold out, so if anyone searches and finds this list next year, I believe i already have beaten to death the "don't do will-call" advice, but now i'm adding "don't wait and see."

We found half-price appetizers Sunday night at somebody's Edgewater Grill, between convention center and 6th street on San Jacinto (visible from hotel and very air-conditioned). The waitress was kind enough to warn us up-front that only the 12.50 and under apps were on that special, not the $36 apps (sigh!). The food was pretty good for a total gamble for us. The lounge music was very cheesy. Also had half-price apps at a nice place at Congress and third on Thursday afternoon. And we hit Guerro's (my husband is a sucker for queso) and Dona Emilia's as well. Our friends went to Threadgills close to the fest (armadillo, not original) and one liked the gospel brunch a lot, the other was very unhappy with an afternoon meal. Perhaps the original is much better or mid-afternoon is not the right time to go. We didn't make it up to Central Market, but your Whole Foods is better than ours, especially with large independent bookstores and record stores all on the same intersection. Very cool. Casino el Camino was not as fun as I thought it was last year. Avery IPA on tap at the Draughthouse and the Gingerman was delightful.

Monday afternoon, not hungry, tired, and tired of being hot we made the trek to Lockhart on the good advice that it's not far out of the way if you're headed to the airport. It was 20 miles, speed limit 65, no traffic except getting out of downtown. Totally fun to see how rural it got so fast. We chose Blacks as our destination based on a jumble of notes I'd taken from here and chowhound on a post-it note. I was delighted to see that there are billboards on the main road pointing you in the right direction. Usually I would think that's a bad sign, but we had limited time and no directions, so i was open-minded. we LOVED it. We had a pound of brisket, sliced, and a hot ring of sausage. We got diet coke, but beer was available. We grew up in Memphis and take BBQ pretty personally as well, so we didn't risk our limited appetites on pork. We've never understood why people liked brisket or thought it was acceptable to make BBQ out of cow, but now we understand. I think I'll go home and stick my nose in my carry-on bag again. Smitty's is tops on the list for next year.

Thank you Austinites. There truly is no better place than a city that has live music in the airport.

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thanks for dropping in, you can always trust Jaymes for food and tourism advice, come again, and do be sure to visit Central Market for a grocery experience - there's even live music there on the deck at least Fridays through Sundays, and perhaps other evenings as well

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Thank you Austinites.  There truly is no better place than a city that has live music in the airport.
... and do be sure to visit Central Market for a grocery experience - there's even live music there...

Now THAT'S what I love about Austin. Live music at the airport AND the grocery store. :cool:

(And thanks for the compliment, Memesuze :rolleyes: )

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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