She’s Got It All: Fareground Food Hall in Downtown Austin Reopens
If you’re like me, the concept of a food hall – a standalone space with several restaurants to choose from – seems a little too close to a food court to be met without skepticism. However, as soon as I pulled up to Fareground, I realized this wasn’t the case at all. Fareground features a beautifully landscaped outdoor eating area below the trendy Ellis bar on the corner of Congress and E 2nd, alongside sleekly modern, wonderfully clean indoor seating. Apart from Ellis, all the restaurants, as well as some boutique goods, are located in the main One Eleven building. Currently, Fareground is home to DRINK, The Market, Henbit, Austin Rôtisserie, Little Wu, Taco Pegaso, and TLV. Upon Fareground’s reopening, only Ellis and Little Wu were still preparing for business.
Front and center when entering Fareground, DRINK takes first impressions seriously. The specialty drinks are precise in representing Fareground’s unifying aesthetic of chic fun. The frozen Mango Punch, draft Hibiscus Margarita, and craft Watermelon Mezcal Margarita are refreshing enough to banish the Texas heat from your mind, yet all in different ways. The Mango Punch is lively with an energizing crunch from the ice. The Hibiscus and Watermelon Mezcal margaritas are more rejuvenating than energetic. The former provides a simple, crisp sip and the latter an intriguing, complex experience.
Henbit’s farm-to-table approach means you can feel yourself get healthier as you eat. The Salmon Bowl is a delightful marriage of various strong flavors which somehow don’t impede each other. The Crispy Sweet Potatoes are to die for and much more satisfying than sweet potato fries are, which is quite a feat. Afterwards, you can reward yourself for a well-picked meal with a massive Monster Cookie that begs to be eaten all in one sitting.
The Market and Austin Rôtisserie focus on perfectly executed classics. The Market’s Caprese panini and Austin Rôtisserie’s Poulet Roti Baguette are reminders that sometimes, simple is best. Both impressed through their gorgeously balanced flavors, with all elements carefully calculated to be just present enough to do their job without taking over the sandwich. Austin Rôtisserie also managed to make baguette bread friendly and enjoyable. The outside is toasty enough to crunch endearingly but not to attack the roof of your mouth. The inside remains fluffy and chewy.
Taco Pegaso and TLV embrace the street food so popular in Mexico and Israel. At Taco Pegaso, I enjoyed the vegetarian Champis burrito and the hearty Al Pastor taco on corn. The Champis’ summery flavor gets better with each bite, while the Al Pastor hits you straight away with the sharpness of pineapple and substance of achiote pork. Hilariously, both actually filled me up equally despite their difference in size. TLV’s Kofta Be-Pita had a similar vigor to the Al Pastor, as the red cabbage salad paves the way for generously seasoned, melt-in-the-mouth lamb and beef. And, despite being closed, Little Wu’s menu should be mentioned. I’ll be going back to try the cold sesame noodles and tricolor dumplings the first chance I get!
Overall, Fareground is exactly what Austin needs. Everything is delicious, though Austin Rôtisserie’s Poulet Roti Baguette and DRINK’s Mango Punch are the stars of an already star-studded show. The option to stay both indoors and outdoors when visiting makes it a perfect shelter from Texas’ notoriously changeable weather, and the variety of menus means nobody has to settle for less when eating out. The spacious, mixed seating layouts and inviting décor allow it to host quick drop-ins, dates, and hangouts alike, and offer great casual photography opportunities for you and yours. If you haven’t yet, give Fareground a go – you won’t be disappointed.