Now Serving ...

New faces and tastes at ACL's Austin Eats

Now Serving ...
Photo by John Anderson

Every year there's an ebb and flow of new vendors at Austin Eats. To replace vendors that chose not to return (we are really bummed out, Olivia), Chef Jeff Blank has recruited others who will bring variety (and lots of vegetarian and gluten-free items) to this year's festival's food lineup.

We're thrilled to see Second Bar + Kitchen debuting with Vietnamese bánh mì in three flavors: pork belly, jalapeño chicken, and avocado – dressed with traditional toppings enhanced by Chef David Bull's signature twists. "We're very excited to be a part of the Austin Eats ACL Festival this year," he says. "We're trying to offer people something new and different with the fresh bánh mì sandwiches, and we're also serving our truffle pommes frites. We're pretty sure this is going to be the craziest weekend we've ever had – the amount of prep and people it takes to pull off serving food at ACL is insane. But we're ready for it."

We're equally keen to try Mansion at Judges' Hill's Wild Game Hog Dogs, made with venison and wild boar, topped with house-made chow-chow, bootlegger mustard, and crispy onions (with a side of homemade salt and vinegar kettle chips). They'll also serve pulled puerco pibil sandwiches with jicama coleslaw and house-made pickles and vegetarian arepas.

Also making its ACL debut is mobile vendor Chi'lantro. All the spicy Korean taco goodness that we've come to love will be represented – including the kimchi fries, an Austin must-try dish. There's also a new name, but with a familiar face and fare, as Fort Worth's Chef Tim Love is bringing Woodshed Smokehouse instead of Lonesome Dove. Last of the completely new vendors, GoodPop will be on hand with ice pops in three variations of the color red: strawberry, hibiscus mint, and watermelon agave.

We are happy to see two veteran vendors return under new names. Chef Luke Bibby will be serving items from his acclaimed Luke's Inside Out trailer: Asian-style hot pot steamed buns, Luke's famous cheese fries, and watermelon slices served plain or decked with goat cheese and Pop Rocks. Aquarelle's Chef Teresa Wilson is back as Between Your Buns to serve ACL's favorite steak frit sandwich, plus Moroccan meatballs served in a fresh Phoenicia Bakery pita, a refreshing Mexican shrimp cocktail, and addictive Parmesan fries with smoked paprika mayo.

An aspect of the ACL food scene that keeps growing in popularity and size is the HOPE Farmers Market area. "Since 2010, ACL has partnered with HOPE Farmers Market to feature farm-to-festival fare in the food lineup," says Emily Stengel, C3's event services manager. "What began as a way to support small food businesses has become a staple in the Austin Eats food court, particularly for locavores and those who favor gluten-free or vegetarian foods made with ingredients sourced from local farmers, and prepared by the market's regular vendors." Returning after last year's success are Lamba's Royal Indian Foods, SOURCE Catering with Pâté Letelier, and the Gardener's Feast, who is ready to serve 6,000 of the best tamales in Austin after six weeks of preparation. But that's not all. We're thrilled that organizers chose to invite my favorite purveyor of African fare, Cazamance, for something really new and different. Another popular street staple, the Seedling Truck will serve farm-to-table fare. "We have talked about being a part of ACL for years now, and this year we have the opportunity to partner with HOPE Farmers Market, so the timing was right," says Chef Dan Stacy, who also co-owns Royal Fig Catering. "We are excited about the exposure, meeting new people and getting them interested in what we do at HOPE Farmers Market." Lizzy Garrett of SOURCE Catering agrees. "We've found that the best way to spread the word about what we're doing at HOPE Farmers Market is to talk to people, and actually put the food in front of them at the same time. Through SOURCE, we present local food in a way that is beautiful, approachable, and educational." Last, but certainly not least, Coolhaus will offer their incredible ice cream sandwiches, customized to order from a wide selection of their most popular ice cream and cookie flavors. How will we make up our minds?

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