Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix 2021 (F1) begins this week in Austin, taking over the Circuit of the Americans (CoTA) tracks for three days from Friday, October 22 through Sunday, October 24. People flock from all over the country to the raceway destination to witness top-of-the-line cars race each other. For those who don’t necessarily care about cars, the track is also hosting major musical performances from Billy Joel and Twenty One Pilots, plus a Spam-eating contest (though it’s unclear if it’s related to the legendary Austin one).
As for COVID measures, CoTA is only requiring negative rapid test results taken after October 20 for people attending select indoor areas. Luckily, there are plenty of outdoor spaces as well.
CoTA offers a ton of food vendors during the car races, and this year’s lineup features a really stellar group of Austin-area restaurants. Eater is here to help guide you to the best of the best restaurant and food trucks, plus other general Austin suggestions.
The Best Food Vendors at F1
Rodeo Driveway at the Main Grandstand
Brasserie Mon Chou Chou: The San Antonio French restaurant’s sticking to overloaded baked potatoes for races. Of the three options, the combination gratinée raclette cheese sauce-Bayonne ham-cornichon sounds like the best one (there’s also a version sans meat).
Commerce Cafe: The chefs behind one of Austin’s best restaurants — Sarah Heard and Nathan Lemley of Foreign & Domestic — are dishing out food from their Lockhart restaurant. This means a pork belly BLT.
Fluff Meringues: Sweet tooths should head to the Austin bakery, which will offer both a pavlova with maple pastry cream, a cinnamon-apple compote, and espresso dark chocolate; and an open-face eclair with caramel mascarpone, toasted pecans, and that same drizzle.
The Rest of the Section: Cookie Rich, LeJon, Little Trouble
Asador Tacos: Perhaps the best taco choice throughout the race track is from chef Joe Becerra. The two-plate taco is the move, coming with juicy grilled chicken and/or vegan grilled squash.
Culinary Cowgirls Queso: Queso is a must, so look no further than the H-E-B-approved, Lockhart-based company. The menu features one meat option (brisket) and one vegetarian.
The Rest of the Section: Eldorado Cafe, Taco Flats, Wing Dady
Lone Star Land
Micklethwait Craft Meats: Austin Pitmaster Tom Micklethwait — fresh off his inclusion on the unranked portion of the Texas Monthly barbecue list — knows his way around large-scale events (see: Austin City Limits Music Festival). The short menu combines classics from the Austin truck, plus its truck offshoot Taco Bronco. From the former, get the chopped brisket sandwich; from the latter, the smoked chicken tinga tacos are quite great.
Guess Family Barbecue: Another unranked entrant in Texas Monthly’s barbecue list, the Waco restaurant is heading south to cook in Austin. It’s best to go with the sliced brisket sandwich.
Smokin’ Beauty: The Austin Vietnamese barbecue restaurant is whipping up brisket banh mi for the event.
The Rest of the Section: Jag’s BBQ
Taste of Texas
Bao’d Up: The Austin fast-casual mini-chain’s steamed buns make for a handy roaming dish. There are two options, the teriyaki chicken or the spicy brisket, both paired with Sichuan fries.
Four Brothers: While the Austin Venezuelan truck is offering bowls for F1, the tequeños (cheese sticks), pork arepa, and chicken empanada aren’t to be missed.
Shawarma Point: The Austin Mediterranean restaurant’s whipping up wraps, rice plates, and loaded fries topped with shawarma. Go for the lamb wrap and add a side of the falafel bites.
The Cavalier: Sandwiches are fun and easy, especially from the Austin bar. There’s a sweet and spicy chicken sandwich or the vegetarian version made with vegan chicken.
Amy’s Ice Creams: The beloved Austin ice cream chain is going all out with its F1 menu. There are scoops in staple flavors such as Mexican vanilla and butter-pecan, optional waffle cones, floats, and even vegan fruit ices.
The Rest of the Section: Always Hungry, Bohemian BBQ, Chivita Goat Cheese Lovers, Good Times Burgers, J’s Hibachi, Kababque, Nervous Charlie’s, Sazan Ramen, Tiny Pies, Wing Dady, Wings ‘N More
Easy Tiger: The Austin bakery and beer garden mini-chain is dishing out two sausages for F1. There’s the seasonably appropriate hatch green chili pork sausage and then a vegetarian one made with Beyond Meats’s sausage bratwurst.
The Rest of the Section: Central Machine Works
Outside of CoTA
Downtown Austin will be bustling during F1 weekend, for entertaining outside of CoTA, hotels, and the pick-up/drop-off point for the shuttles. Here are some maps and guides to the neighborhood.
For other such needs, from fine dining to coffee to late-night bites, the following Eater maps should be able to help out.
- An Eater’s Guide to Austin
- Where to Eat at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
- The 38 Best Restaurants in Austin
- The Hottest Restaurants in Austin Right Now
- The Essential Barbecue Spots
- Essential Food Trucks
- Must-Eat Tacos in Austin
- Austin’s Amazing Queso Spots
- 12 Restaurants to Splurge On an Upscale Dinner in Austin
Breakfast & Brunch
- Austin’s Essential Brunches
- Vital Breakfast Spots To Know in Austin
- Essential Austin Breakfast Tacos
- Austin’s Outstanding Bakeries: Where to Pick Up Baked Goods
- Excellent Coffee Shops in Austin
- Where to Find Enjoyable Breakfast Sandwiches in Austin