This was my very first year attending Austin Food & Wine festival, and to say that I didn’t have a preconceived notion of what to expect would be an understatement. Let’s be real, my life is an Austin food and wine experience. The food scene in Austin is so alive, we’re fortunate there are galas, garden parties, backyard BBQ’s and pop-ups nearly every weekend. And not to mention we have some of the nations most acclaimed restaurants in our backyard.
But if I had to designate the king of all food events in this southern, hip, and eclectic city, it would be Austin Food & Wine.
Austin Food & Wine is a weekend event that brings together local and world renowned chefs to curate a food experience like no other. It hands down was the absolute best time of my life, and I’m going to try to articulate that for you now with my top 5 reasons and some damn appetizing photos. If that doesn’t convince you, you’re simply not human then.
1. Hello, you get an opportunity to day drink all weekend, and hell night drink too!
I know the ticket price can seem steep at $250 a person for the two-day weekend access, and if you want to continue the party and participate in the official after parties you’re looking at $650 for the all in ticket per person. But you are literally buying yourself a pass to party, and any pass that takes you to a party is a worthy investment. The event opens at 11am, goes until roughly 4pm both days, and then there are two supplemental night events that go from 7-9p that are included in those all in passes. That’s basically 6 solid drinking and eating hours per day, times 2. You can’t pass that up, ever, just take care of yourself and do it.
2. You’re gonna get up close and personal with your favorite chefs
You might even muster up the courage to talk to them! It’s crazy, I mean obviously I knew chefs would be there, it’s a food festival, but to see the likes of Aaron Sanchez, and Christina Tosi standing at their booth was mind exploding. And while I’ve eaten their food before on my various food adventures, I had never met them, looked them in the eye, and thanked them for making me something amazing that I would soon be eating. It was not only extremely cool, but it was gratifying. They’re really talented people with whom I wouldn’t get to have the pleasure of eating food without. So shoutout to all the chefs whose names I know and to the ones I don’t. You make eating food the best adventure of them all!
3. It’s like a music festival with an open bar and 5-star quality food in every direction
I remember walking in and seeing this tent in the center of the whole fest, someone I was with was a multi-year AF&W attendee and said “you just wait, 3pm rolls around and this turns into a dance party”. I scoffed, it’s 11am, on a Saturday, who is going to be dancing at 3? Me. That’s who was dancing, and if I’m being really honest, I was dancing by noon because friends, there was a lot of Tito’s, Hendricks, and Cruzan flowing through my bones that day. In fact, I’d like to amend the title to be Austin Food & Booze fest. I prefer liquor, and liquor I had, in every direction, I could have shots, cocktails, refills, ice, no ice, the list went on. And the food, it was all so delicious, there was hardly any lines, and everything I wanted, I had ten times over. Lucky me, could be lucky you next time!
4. Literally, go crazy and do whatever you want, want to eat 5 mini burgers, DO IT!
I’ve never felt as free as I did at Austin Food and Wine festival, the weather was perfect, the location was priceless, the company was friendly and the food was everywhere. There are no right and wrong ways to do the festival. You can sign up for demos, get in line for curated tastings, or you could wander through the open tents and snack, and sip at your leisure throughout the day. Or you could be like me and try to do all of it, not leaving any dish untasted. I am pretty positive I ate everything once, and then there were at least a dozen dishes that I had seconds, thirds, and I’m pretty sure I ate a whole tray of tiny burgers.
5. Party all day and be in bed by 5pm!
The beauty of this type of festival over a live music festival is that it’s the perfect amount of time. I feel like when I go to music festivals (which are equallly fun in a different way), that theres a lot of time in between where I’m either waiting for a band I like to play or walking across to the other stage to see a band I want to see. At AF&W, because it was all about food, wine, and booze, when I would walk from one side of the event to the other side, I wasn’t doing it in vein, or empty handed. I was picking up a taco, or taking a shot, and the reality is, when you’re at that type of event, it can be overwhelming. But it was the right amount of time to enjoy everything, feel like I got my experience, AND make it home and in bed by 5pm so I could either take a nap and get back up and go out again, or call it a night and take it easy because I just had the time of my life.
It’s clear to see why Austin Food and Wine is such a crowd favorite and now that I’ve shared a bit about why I love it so much, maybe I’ll see you there next year!
Be sure to also follow along with my daily adventures on Instagram @DineWithShayda. And watch my insta stories for behind the scenes scoops on what goes on at these food events!
Big shoutout to Do512 for making this a possibility this year for me, I took some photos for them and you can find them here!