Hey there, loves! How was your weekend?
I was at the Austin Mac & Cheese Festival yesterday and had sooo much fun! This is the third year it’s happened in Austin, and it keeps getting bigger and better.
What Is The Austin Mac and Cheese Festival?
It’s an epic outdoor Sunday afternoon event in which a bunch a Austin restaurants hand out mini-sized portions of their mac and cheese and compete for two prizes: Judge’s choice, and the crowd’s vote.
Where is it?
In Austin, Texas (duh) at the Auguste Escoffier Culinary School of Culinary Arts in north Austin.
While this isn’t a particularly beautiful location, like Zilker Park (where Austin City Limits is held) or The Long Center (where the barbecue festival took place last week), it’s a perfectly practical place for thousands of people to gather together and eat this ooey-gooey treat. And let’s be honest…mac and cheese looks beautiful anywhere.
How much does it cost?
This year, it was $45 for GA and $90 for VIP.
Your GA ticket gets you unlimited mac and cheese tastings and 3 drink tickets., The event has gotten so popular that it had to be broken into two sessions: morning and afternoon.
VIP members were allowed to attend both sessions, and had unlimited drink tickets and access to the VIP lounge and VIP express entry.
Which Austin restaurants participate?
It’s different every year, but they typically get some big ones to show up! This year I saw Leroy & Lewis, Geraldine’s, Stella San Jac, Punch Bowl Social, Hideaway Kitchen & Bar, TLC, Emojis Grilled Cheese, Uncle Billy’s Smokehouse, among many others .
I got there bright and early and made my way over to the drink tent to grab a beer. I had literally just finished drinking my morning coffee while I was driving to the festival, and the next thing I consumed was a Mosaic IPA and a fried mac n cheese ball…
Only at the Mac and Cheese Festival!
I made my way to the VIP lounge to meet up with my friend Nicole and her husband, then we made our way around the festival trying as many servings of mac and cheese as we could! This mac and cheese (below) from Silver Whisk had pretzel crumbs, popcorn, and apples slices on top, and it was only available in the VIP lounge.
^ Leroy and Lewis paired mac and cheese with their barbacoa (from local 44 farms). Everything they do rocks my world. If you haven’t been to this exceptional Austin BBQ food truck yet, I urge you to check it out sometime soon.
^ Some restaurants give teeny servings, but The Knotty Deck handed out these massive tins full of mac and cheese! This was my 10th or 15th serving, so I couldn’t even finish it.
^ The lines are typically 5-10 minutes for each stand. I got there super early with a VIP ticket so I could avoid some of the lines. If you opt for a GA ticket, there’s still plenty of time to taste as much mac and cheese as you can handle.
^ I LOVED this little bite! It’s from the new Irish Pub on Barton Springs Rd called Darcy’s Donkey. They wrapped their mac and cheese in a homemade banger’s sausage, and deep fried the whole thing. I wish I remembered to take a picture of the inside, because this picture isn’t doing it justice.
Happy. Full. Very, very sleepy from eating all that cheese.
Each guest gets a “golden macaroni” to vote for the best dish. I voted for LeRoy and Lewis, but there was a smoked gouda mac and cheese from Slab BBQ that was a close second…
As always, it’s such a fun event! I’m sure I’ll be back next year for year 4!