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Where to Eat During ACL: Mid-fest, Downtown

Posted by on October 5, 2015
Charred edamame with chili oil and pop rocks. Yes, you need to try this.

Swift Attic’s charred edamame with chili oil and pop rocks. You know you want it.

Many visitors and music industry members in for ACL Fest will be staying through week 2, and most will be in the downtown corridor. They’ll be hitting the “hot, new spot,” so it’s time for you to revisit restaurants that have a few years (or more) under their belt. Here’s a few suggestions:

It’s always refreshing to visit 2nd Street for breakfast at Jo’s Coffee. Breakfast service begins at 7am, and we’re having perfect patio weather. Jo’s has breakfast tacos made to order, or “grab & go” pre-made ones, but Austinites know when you have time, always order fresh. I prefer to skip the tacos in favor of the Spicy bacon Sandwich ($8.50). The mildly spicy bacon, fried egg, avocado and hot sauce on a sweet roll is satisfying and flavorful.

Halcyon delivers up comfort food with its steel cut oatmeal ($6.00), served with raisins, brown sugar and toasted walnuts. Add a side of bacon ($1.50), and you’re set for hours. Breakfast service from 7am – 11am Monday-Friday, and until 2pm on weekends.

The Business Lunch deal at Swift’s Attic is a sweet one, with a half sandwich, and your choice of soup, salad or fries ($9.00). Don’t pass up the Charred Edamame appetizer (pictured above, $7.00), though. The smokiness of the edamame with the heat of the chili oil is surprising and addictive; adding the pop rocks makes this flavor explosion delicious fun. Swift’s serves lunch Monday through Friday, from 11am-2pm.

I’m still not sure why B. D. Riley’s is still such a hidden gem for lunch, but their fish & chips with housemade cole slaw is always satisfying ($10.99). Their fish boasts Firemans #4 blonde ale batter, with a crisp yet delicate crust. Pair this with a (512) Brewing Pecan Porter, and you have a lunch that will carry you through the evening hours. Be warned, the pub is open for lunch Wednesday-Sunday only, beginning at 11am.

Easy Tiger always satisfies, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend their Easy Lunch: your choice of a Muffuletta, Avocado & Radish, half turkey or half roast beef sandwich with one side, and coffee or iced tea ($9.00). Up your game by adding a half pint of local craft beer for $3.00 more. The selection of sides are sauerkraut, potato salad or cucumber and tomato salad. I’ve had all three, and can vouch for their tastiness. The sour cream horseradish slathered on the roast beef draws me in, time after time. Lunch service starts at 11am every day.

Dinner time may find you wandering around downtown, in search of something to fortify you while not breaking the bank. Casino El Camino is your place, even if the dungeon-esque atmosphere is not your normally chosen atmosphere. Mama always says you won’t learn new things if you never venture outside your comfort zone. Vegetarians, the Blackjack sandwich ($7.55) with grilled eggplant, roasted tomato, provolone, crisp romaine lettuce, shallot mayo and an olive tapenade on a foccacia bun is hearty enough to withstand an evening of drinking. Carnivores, although Casino is famous for their burgers, I implore you to try the Chili Cheese Dog ($7.25), made with Niman Ranch hot dogs. Bonus: happy hour is all day on Sundays and Mondays, and from 11:30am-7pm Tuesday through Saturday.

The Driskill Grill, with its Cornbread Stuffed Bandera Quail, fingerling potatoes, fava beans, shaved beets, maple bacon and sauteed lambs quarters ($42.00) is the height of Texas cowboy fine dining. The elegance of the dining room, and ample selection of fine wines and classic cocktails are as perfect for a romantic dinner as they are for a supper time business deal-making session. Open 5:30pm-10:00pm Tuesday through Saturday.

There’s countless restaurants downtown that were left off this list. We’re overly blessed in the great food department in Austin. If you’d like, leave me a comment with your picks for this mid-ACL season’s eatings.

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