From hog tacos to smelly cheese: Downtown Austin food hall Fareground opens with something new for culinary scene

Austin’s downtown dining scene has flourished in recent years but even among all the hubbub, the brand new Fareground stands out.

Fareground is a food hall, meaning it brings multiple restaurant concepts together under one roof. Imagine a mall food court with upscale touches and some of the best chefs in the city driving the menus, and you start to get an idea of the collaborative nature of this development.

It opened Thursday with the six following restaurants:

  • Dai Due Taqueria, a taco-focused spinoff from Dai Due’s Jesse Griffiths and Gabe Erales
  • Henbit, from Emmer & Rye’s Kevin Fink and Tavel Bristol-Joseph
  • Contigo, a fast-casual version of the popular East Austin spot run by Andrew WiseheartKendall Melton and PJ Edwards
  • Ni-Kome, from Kayo and Take Asazu, who also run sushi eatery Kome and Daruma Ramen
  • Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden, the third location of the Austin-based chain (a fourth is also in the works)
  • Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, an extension of the Hyde Park cheese shop started by husband and wife John Antonelli and Kendall Antonelli in 2010.

There is also a bar on site and another coming soon, both of which will be overseen by master sommelier Craig Collins, ELM’s beverage director. The individual restaurants at Fareground don’t serve alcohol.

Fareground is also notable for its design, which was handled by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. It is built into the below-ground atrium of One Eleven Congress, the downtown skyscraper owned by Cousins Properties Inc. at 111 Congress Ave. — on the northeast corner of Congress and Cesar Chavez Street.

ELM Restaurant Group — the Austin-based team behind local eateries such as 24 Diner, Easy Tiger and Irene’s — is the coordinator of Fareground. Fareground represents a new level of sophistication ELM — it managed to unite a disparate group of successful chefs and business owners behind a common purpose.

“We knew from the get-go that in order to pull off a project of this magnitude, everyone involved had to be in it for the greater good from the start. We approached best-in-class chefs/operators representing diverse cuisines with a collaborative deal, emphasizing that symbiosis would be both a requirement and paramount to our success,” ELM founder Bob Gillett wrote in an email. “In all my years in the restaurant industry, I have never experienced such synergy and cooperation among partners, from sharing resources to brainstorming solutions.”

Gillett added: “It’s been amazing seeing what each vendor has chosen to showcase at Fareground, in terms of both food and design.”

Source: Austin Business Journal
Will Anderson, Digital Editor

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