Karen’s Pick: Fareground
Austin’s first food hall brings together a delicious, and all-local, lineup
by Karen Spezia
Photographs by Leah Muse
Here’s my food fantasy: some of Austin’s tastiest, coolest restaurants are all in one spot, no longer requiring me to shuttle around town in search of our city’s best eats. Well, dreams do come true. Say hello to Fareground, a terrific new food hall hosting outposts of local favorites under a single roof.
Located at the nexus of downtown, Fareground is not your soulless, mall-variety food court. Instead, this stylish space showcases Austin-only eateries with nary a fast-food chain in sight. Plus, there’s a full-service bar — a bonus not found at most malls. The beauty of a food hall is that there’s something for everyone, and Fareground ticks all the boxes. There are seven delicious options, spawned by local darlings Dai Due, Easy Tiger, Emmer & Rye, Contigo, Komé Sushi/Daruma Ramen, and Antonelli’s Cheese Shop. Most are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and all stay open until 10 p.m.
If you’re in the mood for Mexican, head to DAI DUE TAQUERIA. Like its hyperlocal East Side sibling, it showcases Texas game and Gulf seafood. But here the flavors skew south of the border with tacos and torta sandwiches. To wake up your palate, try the breakfast taco with wild-boar chorizo on a homemade blue-corn tortilla.
If Asian is your thing, there’s NI-KOMÉ, the love child of Komé Sushi Kitchen and Daruma Ramen. The sushi bar crafts made-to-order nigiri and rolls, plus steaming bowls of ramen, including Daruma’s beloved whole-chicken broth version.
Looking for some Texas classics? CONTIGO FAREGROUND features ranch-inspired favorites like juicy burgers and locally sourced rotisserie chicken. Check out creative sides like the crispy green beans and knockout pastries like the Fried Hand Pie.
Not sure what you want? HENBIT fits the bill. This new concept from the team behind Emmer & Rye has a bit of everything — and it’s all delicious. For breakfast, the kolache — stuffed with ham, cheese, and chiles — is one of the best in town. For lunch or dinner, offerings include crispy short ribs and a lemongrass shrimp bowl.
EASY TIGER, the outpost of the popular Sixth Street bakery and beer garden, overflows with fresh-baked artisanal breads, tempting pastries, and house-cured meats folded into hearty sandwiches. Don’t miss the German-style pretzel with addictive beer cheese.
Like its acclaimed Hyde Park store, ANTONELLI’S CHEESE SHOP offers a dazzling selection of cut-to-order cheese, charcuterie, and accoutrements, but also entrées that showcase its wares, like cheese plates, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches, and creamy mac and cheese.
Need something to wash down all this great local food? The full-service FAREGROUND BAR has everything from soft drinks to craft beers, wines, and creative cocktails. Later this year, a second, street-level bar will offer beverages and small plates from the market vendors.
Designed by world-class Michael Hsu architects, Fareground is a stylish space that makes you want to linger. A variety of comfortable seating areas are illuminated by soaring two-story windows framing a shaded urban plaza. High-quality finishes like marble, brass, polished wood, and leather upholstery are featured throughout. This ain’t your teenager’s food court. Instead, it’s a civilized, convenient way to sample the best of what Austin has to offer. Live the dream!