Food Fest Time

Top Texas food festival reveals 2016 lineup, guaranteed to rock your tastebuds

Top Texas food festival reveals 2016 lineup and tasty new additions

Rock Your Taco Austin Food & Wine Festival Underbelly
You can now buy tickets to the Austin Food & Wine Festival, which released its 2016 lineup Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Austin Food & Wine Festival

The biggest event for foodies all year is so close we can almost taste it. Austin Food & Wine Festival returns to Auditorium Shores April 22 through 24 for its fifth year. The festival has become a favorite, winning over locals with improved planning over the years. Organizers have outdone themselves once again with a heavy hitting lineup that features celebrity chefs, local favorites, and some exciting new additions.

Presented by C3 Presents and Food & Wine, the annual fest includes over 40 events such as interactive food and wine demos, tastings, live music, book signings, and more. New this year are three exciting additions. 

The Driskill Hotel and Trefethen Family Vineyards celebrate 130 years with an intimate multi-course dinner paired with award-winning wines on Wednesday. At Friday night's Social Hour at The Madison, guests will sip inventive cocktails crafted by Roosevelt Room mixologists Justin Lavenue and Dennis Gobis and savor bites from Peached Tortilla chef Eric Silverstein. The Sunday Gospel Brunch at Auditorium Shores will showcase music by the award-winning Robert Randolph and the Voices of Greater Calvary Gospel Choir.

Beyond these tasty new additions, festivalgoers can expect the same popular Austin Food & Wine Fest programming. On Thursday, April 21, the pre-festival Feast Under the Stars offers a five-course menu from chefs David Bull (Second Bar + Kitchen), Tyson Cole (Uchi), Omar Flores (Driftwood), Ford Fry (State of Grace), Tim Love (Lonesome Dove), and Janina O’Leary.

Friday night’s Taste of Texas, held at Republic Square Park, will highlight delicious samplings from the best Lone Star State chefs including Austin’s Tatsu Aikawa (Ramen Tatsu-ya), Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas (Olamaie), Susana Querejazu (Barley Swine), and many more.

During the day on Saturday and Sunday, Auditorium Shores transforms into a foodie’s paradise. The Tasting Tent is a must-visit for obvious reasons. With rows upon rows of gourmet offerings from top restaurants, wineries, and distilleries, you’ll need to come with a big appetite (and tolerance) and pace yourself so you can get through it all.

The most attended, can’t-miss demo of the two days is the hands-on grilling session from Tim Love where grills heat up and tequila shots go down. (You’ve been warned.) Additional highlights include celebrity chef and sommelier seminars, as well as fire pit stations where chefs cook their meat of choice right in front of your eyes.

The most talked about event of the entire festival is Rock Your Taco, where chefs go head to head to compete for title of taco champion. With music by Anderson East, attendees will get to sample tacos from 2015 Rock Your Taco winner Tim Love, Hugh Acheson (Empire State South), Tyson Cole, Paul Qui (Qui), Kent Rathbun (Jasper’s), and many more. The winner will be selected by a panel of judges including Andrew Zimmern (Bizarre Foods), Christina Grdovic (Food & Wine), and Graham Elliott (Graham Elliott Bistro).

Tickets go on sale Wednesday, January 20 at 10 am, with additional programming announcements to come. The all-in ticket option is $625 and grants access to all events (excluding Wednesday and Thursday's dinners and Friday’s Social Hour) and guarantees a spot at Love's grilling demo. The weekender pass is $250 and includes access to the daytime events on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets to Cheers to 130 Years, Feast Under the Stars, Taste of Texas, Social Hour, and Rock Your Taco can be purchased individually. For more information, visit the Austin Food & Wine Festival website.

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