8 Can’t-Miss Things to Eat, Drink & Do at Austin City Limits This Year

Free inspiration for making the most of your time between shows... and lunchtime.

Courtesy of Austin City Limits

Austin City Limits, the destination music festival that spans two separate weekends in October, is nearly upon us—whether you’re physically and emotionally ready to worship Carly Rae Jepsen or not (you are). Attendees in the tens of thousands will descend on Zilker Park for more than 100 performances over the course of October 7-9 and October 14-16, and, hey, if you’re reading this, then you’re probably one of them (see you at CRJ on Friday night!).

So, you’ve chosen your weekend, and you’ve got your tickets. And you’ve got your schedule figured out with all of your favorite artists’ set times and stages. But do you know what you’re going to eat? Do you have a plan for what you’ll be up to between shows? We’ve got you covered with some experiences you shouldn’t miss throughout the fest.

Courtesy of Austin City Limits

If you’re not already familiar with The Mighty Cone, you can probably see the appeal just from this food truck's name, especially at a sprawling music festival. It’s walking-friendly food that you can easily eat as you push through the crowds. Get the Avocado Cone, which is made with hot and crispy crusted avocado, mango-jalapeño slaw, and ancho chili aioli—all in a warm flour tortilla cone. We look forward to eating them at ACL every year.

Once you’ve made it into the festival, finding cold beer—and fast—is mission critical. Thankfully, there are bars located throughout the festival with all of the basics. If you’re looking for additional options to choose from, head over to the Craft Beer Hall, which is hosted by Texas’ Karbach Brewing Co. According to the fest’s official site, you’ll find “a wide variety of beers to choose from,” along with big screen TVs and other ways to help you chill out.

Oktoberfest is headed to ACL this year, thanks to this East Austin beer garden and German restaurant’s timely debut on the vendor lineup. Koko’s, which is named after restaurant partner and actual Prince of Bavaria (no joke!), Konstantin Prinz von Bayern, has all of the fare to help you celebrate, such as giant pretzels, classic German schnitzel, a long list of sausages, and, of course, plenty of its brewery’s “haus” beer. We haven’t seen the menu for its location at ACL yet, but how could it be anything short of excellent?

It’s no secret that we love this East Austin barbecue truck. Its Central Texas-style meats—including fatty brisket, Tex-Czech sausage, and smoky pork ribs—and its elevated, scratch-made sides—like lemon poppy slaw, citrus beet salad, and jalapeño cheese grits—have earned it a permanent spot on our list of the best places to eat barbecue in Austin. So, as soon as our inevitable craving for barbecue hits at ACL, you know where we’re headed. As if that weren’t great enough, Micklethwait is bringing its taco truck off-shoot, Taco Bronco, along for the ride.

Photo Courtesy of Jason Doroski-Merevick

American Express is back at ACL 2022 with cool perks and hangout spots for both its cardholders and everyone else at its two-level Experience destination near—you guessed it—the festival’s American Express Stage. Everyone’s welcome to visit the first floor of the building, where you can score free ice cream from Bésame, make DIY phone charms, and take photos in front of a mural by a local artist. Meanwhile, Amex cardholders (plus one guest!) can head upstairs to the Card Member Lounge for an exclusive bar with comfy seating and a clear view of the aforementioned stage, which will host top acts like The Chicks, Lil Nas X, PINK, Paramore, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Card members can also take part in other activities like checking out the lounge’s glam station, featuring face gems by Half Magic Beauty.

By the way, if you register your ACL Fast Cashless Payments wristband with your American Express Card, you’ll get a $5 Cashless spend credit that can be used at the festival. Heck yeah.

Leroy and Lewis, another of our favorite Austin barbecue spots, is on the menu at ACL—in the form of its decadent loaded fries truck, Mama Fried. We’re looking forward to fortifying ourselves with big servings of fries topped with cheese, barbacoa, and all sorts of other savory goods from this new addition to the lineup.

Another exciting addition to this year’s food roster is here to help with dessert or any other sudden urges for sweets, and it’s a major one. The iconic Portland-based donut chain known for its delightful and inventive flavors deserves a spot on your festival eats itinerary. Just look at some of the donuts on the menu at its 6th Street location here in Austin. Maybe they’ll have the Ring of Fire flavor on hand to pair with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ performance, if that’s your speed.

Put the words “wine” and “lounge” together and you’ll have our attention. That’s especially the case when a bit of day drinking at a music festival is going down. This year, BRŸT (Texas owned) and Nomadica—both purveyors of canned wines—are supplying the lounge’s beverage offerings.

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Tony Merevick is the Managing Editor at Thrillist. Follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick and Instagram @tonymerevick.