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All of the Free Food Around SXSW

Plant-based protein nuggets, an open shabbat, and more food for the taking at the SXSW festivities

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Mimosas at Austin Film Festiva’s Hair of the Dog party at SXSW 2016
Mimosas at Austin Film Festiva’s Hair of the Dog party at SXSW 2016
Jack Plunkett/Austin Film Festival/Facebook

Over the years, Austin’s food scene and its place in American cuisine has become a key component in South by Southwest (SXSW) festivities, and 2020 is no exception. Panels, educational events, films, and music aside, SXSW is all about the food and drinks — especially of the free kind — and the bizarre and extravagant events, which usually involve food.

Eater pored over many listings to pick out the best of the food and drink-related events going on. For more dining and drinking ideas, check out the rest of Eater’s SXSW coverage.

Everything below is free, otherwise noted, and it's all listed chronologically. If there’s anything missing in the list, let Eater know through the tipline or in the comments below.

Friday, March 13 through Saturday, March 14

Open Shabbat
Expect a lot of kosher food and drink at the Jewish SXSW event.
Where: TBD
When: TBD
Access: RSVP with a donation

Friday, March 13 through Sunday, March 15

University of Arizona’s Wonder House
The Tucson-based college’s multi-day SXSW event includes a daily food spread of Sonoran hot dogs, fry bread, cactus, and more, as well as rooftop cocktails during the daytime.
Where: Fogo de Chao, 309 East Third Street, Downtown
When: 11 a.m. to midnight daily
Access: RSVP required

Friday, March 13 through Monday, March 16

Fast Company Grill
The publication is bringing back its annual SXSW event with daily lunch and happy hours.
Where: TBD, but most likely the Cedar Door, 201 Brazos Street, Downtown
When: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily
Access: Request an invitation

Energizing Health
The health-focused foundation is offering a daily free breakfast and coffee bar, as well as evening happy hours.
Where: 111 Congress Avenue, Downtown
When: The breakfast is available from 8 to 10 a.m. and happy hour is from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Access: RSVP required

Friday, March 14 through Monday, March 16

Michigan House
The Great Lakes state’s SXSW will feature several opportunities for food and drink, from Saturday brunch to a beer tasting with Detroit brewery Founders Brewing Company to a trail mix bar
Where: Wanderlust Yoga, 206 East Fourth Street, Downtown
When: Times vary per day
Access: Most are open to any sort of SXSW badge, though certain events require RSVPs

Saturday, March 14 through Saturday, March 21

Brush Square Park
Several rotating food and drink vendors will set up shop at the park with free samples, from dairy-free ice cream So Delicious to Dutch stroopwafel snacks Rip Van Wafels to vegan milk and cold-brew company Califia Farms to charcuterie company Creminelli Fine Meats to local coffee shop chain Austin Java.
Where: Brush Square Park, 409 West Fifth Street, Downtown
When: Varies per day and vendor
Access: Any sort of SXSW badge

Sunday, March 15 through Monday, March 16; Wednesday, March 18

The Boy Who Sold the World Nuggs
In conjunction with screenings of documentary The Boy Who Sold the World, subject Ben Pasternak will offer complimentary samples of plant-based protein nuggets (not made with chicken) from his company Nuggs.
Where: Varies per screening
When: Varies per screening
Access: Any sort of SXSW badge, but priority given to platinum and film badges

Sunday, March 15 through Monday, March 16

Shell House
The gas company is hosting programming and a lounge with free food and drinks.
Where: Trinity Hall, 311 East Fifth Street, Downtown
When: Sunday: noon to 8:30 p.m.; Monday: 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Access: While tickets are sold out, the event is open to the public with priority given to badge-holders

Saturday, March 15

SmartAC.com Launch Party
The smart thermostat company is hosting a party in the Iron Works parking lot, which means barbecue will be at hand, along with beer.
Where: Iron Works BBQ, 100 Red River Street, Downtown
When: 4 to 10 p.m.
Access: Any sort of SXSW badge

Hair of the Dog Brunch
The Austin Film Festival’s annual brunch is taking place again this SXSW with bloody marys.
Where: Star Bar, 600 West Sixth Street, Downtown
When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Access: RSVP

Create + Cultivate
The women-centered day-long SXSW-adjacent conference features breakfast, lunch from Snap Kitchen, drinks, a happy hour, and Michelle Pfeiffer
Where: Allan House, 1104 San Antonio Street, Downtown
When: 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Access: RSVP required

Monday, March 16 through Wednesday, March 18

Campfire Gathering
The glamping unofficial SXSW event will feature a whole ton of food and drinks, like a charcuterie grazing table, s’mores, brunch bars, customizable burgers, wine, and more. Overnight guests can partake in the four-course dinner and a gospel brunch. Plus there’s live music (Margo Price, Orville Peck, Shakey Graves, etc.) and camping activities like archery, hikes, and yoga.
Where: Camp Lucy, 3509 Creek Road, Dripping Springs
When: Monday: 5 to 11 p.m.; Tuesday: 9 a.m. to midnight; Wednesday: 9 to 10:30 a.m.
Access: Basic tickets are $600; camping tickets start at $850

Wednesday, March 18

Sounds from Spain Paella Day Party
The organization, which supports music in Spain, is hosting its annual music showcase accompanied with paella, tapas, and sangria.
Where: Half Step, 75 1/2 Rainey Street, Downtown
When: 12:30 to 5 p.m.
Access: Any sort of SXSW badge

Focus Wales
The Welsh music showcase includes free drinks from 7 to 8 p.m.
Where: Swan Dive, 615 Red River Street, Downtown
When: 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Access: Any sort of SXSW badge

Luck Reunion Potluck
Ahead of Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion (see below), there’s another potluck dinner benefitting the Austin Food and Wine Alliance and FarmAid, led by chefs Bruce Kalman (James Beard Award nominated-chef of Los Angeles restaurant Knead & Co.) and Ben Runkle (Austin’s Salt & Time). The menu theme is Mediterranean live fire. Participating chefs include Austin names like Sarah Heard (Foreign & Domestic), Evan LeRoy (LeRoy & Lewis), as well as others like Keris Kuwana of Las Vegas restaurant Slanted Door and John Tesar of Dallas.
Where: Willie Nelson’s Ranch, 1100 Bee Creek Road, Spicewood
When: It begins at 5 p.m.
Access: Tickets are $500

Thursday, March 19

Luck Reunion
As the website states, “If you don’t know how this works, ask around.” For one day during SX, Willie Nelson’s ranch plays host to a lineup of notable folk and Americana artists, with complimentary beverages (even the adult ones) and a dedicated food area featuring Austin trucks.
Where: Willie Nelson’s Ranch, 1100 Bee Creek Road, Spicewood
When: 11 a.m. to late
Access: Tickets required

Friday, March 20

Music From Ireland Full Irish Breakfast
While free food vouchers are no longer available, attendees will be able to purchase Irish breakfast items and beer during the Irish music showcase
Where: B.D. Riley’s, 204 East Sixth Street, Downtown
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Access: Any sort of SXSW badge

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