Austin’s first food hall, full of some of the most popular chefs in town, is the best thing to hit downtown all year! I find there is a major shortage of really great, fast-casual, to-go food with quality ingredients and care, and Fareground really solves that problem. With a full bar curated by ELM restaurant group and Master Sommelier Craig Collins, you can actually order affordable wine that pairs perfectly with tacos or a grilled cheese or just an after work drink in an easy-going setting. The line up includes Dai Due Taqueria, Ni-Kome sushi and ramen, Contigo, Henbit (a new concept from the Emmer & Rye family), Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, and Easy Tiger breads & pastries.
While it can get wild during lunch hours, the late evening is a great time to go and unwind and grab some food when you don’t want to cook or if you are heading to a show downtown and don’t want to eat street food. Every time I try a different restaurant stall it’s better than the last. The best way to get a taste of Fareground is to go with a couple friends and divide and conquer. Here is the low down:
- Lemongrass Shrimp Bowl with Crispy Rice Salad, Radish, Cilanto, Benne and Lemongrass Dressing. — The vibrant flavors are intoxicating and the keffir lime is dreamy.
- Peanut Chicken & Lime Leaf Rice with Chicken Laap, Pickled Carrots and Cabbage– If you don’t eat shrimp, go for this bowl!
- Monster Cookie- This is my new favorite cookie in town. While it’s definitely a play on Levain Bakery’s giant marathon cookies, I couldn’t be more excited to welcome this melty chocolate, and finely chopped pecan cookie as my neighbor.
- Matcha Lavender Latte – I don’t drink coffee, so this iced drink is a fun alternative to water and goes well with the cookie!
DAI DUE TAQUERIA:
With the care and complexity of the blue corn tortillas and his sparkle with masa Chef Gabe Erales food physically transported me right back to Mexico City.
- Tortas: Grilled Cauliflower with Sweet Potato Mole, Pickled Sweet Potato, Avocado, Salsa Macha, Greens & Chile Morita Mayo.
- Taco: Pollo Pipian with Grapefruit, Greens & Cilantro
If you are a fan of the popular sushi spot on Airport, Kome, you’ll love this grab and go version where you won’t have to wait for a table and can even get ramen.
- Nigiri + Roll Combo ($15) equals 4 pieces of nigiri and 8 roll pieces. The tuna and hamachi are everything I have been looking for in the sushi scene in Austin: fatty, fresh, flavorful, and tender.
They also offer chicken karaage, miso soup, shumai, shio ramen, miso ramen, vegan ramen, and mochi ice cream.
Rotisserie chickens, burgers, and fried green beans. I’ll have to go in early for the Breakfast Sandwich only served from 7 a.m. – 11 a.m.. It’s on Challah with egg white and bacon.
- Grab a Quarter Chicken ($7) which is much better than any grocery store rotisserie or you can add two sides for $15; however, I think getting dishes from some of the other restaurants or sides at Henbit are a little better.
- Crispy Green Beans – you know these guys, it’s what Contigo on the East Side is known for!
ANTONELLI’S CHEESE SHOP:
This is the best cheese in Austin and maybe all of Texas. They have signature cheese boards with crackers and meats and a rotating, buttery grilled cheese of the day. I prefer the grilled cheese over the macaroni and cheese here. Also, when the weather is nice out, grabbing a ready to eat cheese board and hitting the grassy lawn outside is a pretty dreamy activity.
EASY TIGER BAKESHOP:
- Go for the giant face-sized pretzel no matter what. You don’t have to eat it all obviously because you have to save room for the Monster Cookie.
- Housemade Chex Mix
- They also have artisan sandwiches and a standard chocolate chip cookie if you are looking for something a little more basic