Festival Fare: Austin City Limits Festival

In advance of ACL Fest, the live music extravaganza in the heart of Austin’s Zilker Park, local digital magazine Citygram caught up with Chef Tim Love and previewed a few of the delicious dishes being prepared for the weekend.


Austin takes its food as seriously as its music. That’s precisely why Austin City Limits Music Festival features more than your averages festival fare; it has Austin EATS – an official assembly of top restaurateurs and popular local restaurants that the area has come to know and love. Speaking of love, one of Texas’ most prominent chefs and personalities is again bringing attitude and flair to the festival as the point-man behind the backstage eats for musicians, as well as The Woodshed Smokehouse and Love Shack. We sat down with Chef Tim Love to find out what’s cooking for this year’s festival.

Q: You’re becoming a bit of an ACL veteran now. How many years have you been showing festival-goers how we do things here in Texas?

Tim Love: Yeah, this is going to be my fifth year now.

Q: Tell us a little bit about how this all got started, and what it has evolved into for you.

TL: One of the producers of the festival was in Ft. Worth and supposedly came in and ate at my restaurant three times in a row. He cold called me and said, “Hey we want a celebrity chef to come in and ramp up our backstage area and take care of our headlining bands and curate the food court.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
Each year we try and do something bigger and better. So this year we’re going to roast a whole 1,200-pound steer, which I’ve never done before. I was actually just talking to my chef that I’m designing the system with, and we’re bringing in about 3,000 pounds of steel to hold the steer above the fire.  Everything we do is always cooked over live fire and wood. It’s going to be great visuals, great food, and great fun.

Q: What can we expect this year from The Woodshed and The Love Shack booths?

TL: We got some new stuff we’re doing in our booth. We’re doing crazy good tamales, with 12-hour smoked pork, fresh masa, and they’ll all be handmade. We’re also going to be doing a vegetarian version with smoked jalapeno and manchego cheese. Then of course, we’ll have our rabbit and rattlesnake sausage on a stick with fresh mustard. Truffle mac and cheese is another big hit for us, and this year we’re also bringing in our pork sandwich from The Woodshed with spicy bread and butter slaw.

Q: Austin seems to have a special place in most people’s hearts, and I hear you make it out here quite often yourself. What does the city mean to you?

TL: Yeah, I’m there at least once a month minimum, business-wise. And it’s funny… I was just speaking with my wife and we’re probably going to end up buying a condo (in Austin). Great town, great people, and the city has always been really embracing towards me…and I just really appreciate it. 

Q: When you’re here in Austin where do you like to go for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

TL: Depends on the kind of day. If I get down there early enough I go to Jo’s and get their fried egg breakfast sandwich. Which is awesome. For lunch, I like Perla’s a lot with their patio. For dinner, I love Uchi and Uchiko, of course, but I like Justine’s on the East side a lot too…as well as La Condesa and Sway.

Q: Are there any particular live music venues you frequent in Austin?

TL: I love the Continental Club a lot — it reminds me of the White Elephant night club here. Of course, I love Stubb’s too. I go there a lot and the music is always great. And then when we go to Austin for SXSW we always hang out at The Hotel San Jose. I love the talent they always get in the parking lot they set up, and I always bring my kids and introduce them to new music there.

Q: You now have 5 restaurants in the metroplex… is Austin next?

TL: We really want to do a Lonesome Dove in Austin. I always have said I want to slowly get into Austin because I want the city to embrace me. I want to do the right things. I think Austin will like us.

Something for Everyone @ ACL Fest

Austin EATS at ACL Fest truly has something for everyone, even those with restrictive diets! We’ve rounded up some of the top vegetarian and gluten-free options at this year’s fest:
• Love Shack – Pork Tamales (GF) • Woodshed Smokehouse – Rabbit & Rattlesnake Sausage (GF) • Love Shack – Kick Ass Nachos (VGT) (GF) • La Condesa – Mexican Street Corn (V) (GF) • The Seedling Truck – Sweet Potato & Sriracha Soup (V) (GF) • The Seedling Truck – Pickled Carrot & Arugula Salad (VGT) (GF)

Check out the recent issue of Citygram Austin for even more great coverage of all the eats around town and at the ACL Festival. And that’s not it! Follow along with Austin FOOD & WINE Festival on Facebook and Twitter for exclusive dispatches all weekend long!