You can find nearly any cuisine you could have a hankering for at Fareground — Israeli street food from TLV, for example, or rustic Italian food from Italic, to name two of the local vendors there. The modern food hall on Congress Avenue, in downtown Austin, also has an on-site bar.
Nonetheless, the operators of Faregound are rounding out what's available with the imminent opening of Ellis, a new cocktail bar designed by the Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. It's not located within the food hall; at the entrance to 111 Congress Ave., the location of the Fareground site, it's in a pavilion at the top of a flight of stairs leading to the main hall and its outdoor plaza. Ellis includes an outdoor lounge under a stately oak tree.
"As our name implies, Ellis is the front door to Fareground and an introduction to everything that makes us distinct: from satisfying foodie cravings in the hall, to the best in live music, to outdoor fitness experiences on the plaza and more,“ Brian Donnelly, founder of Donnelly Partners LLC, an investor in the project, said in an email.
The name is a reference to Ellis Island, the former gateway to the U.S. — that what awaits at both the bar and the nearby food hall is a coming-together of cuisines from around the world.
When Ellis opens, there will be a full range of alcoholic beverages you can order: a mix of both classic and original cocktails, eight rotating Texas beers, and a small but diverse list of wines. The opening menu — curated in part by bar manager Sarah Rahl, formerly of the Four Seasons Austin a few blocks from Fareground — includes these drinks:
Southern Charm: bourbon, lemon, honey rosemary simple syrup and peach bitters
Devil in a Blue Dress: bourbon, maraschino liqueur, lemon and simple syrup
Freyr's Negroni: Jubileum Akvavit, Cocchi Americano and Suze
Bramble: gin, lemon, simple syrup and muddled berries
Rahl's time at the Four Seasons, where she served as head of the hotel's well-rounded bar program for the past two years, means she knows how to deliver craft-level cocktails in a high-volume environment. At Ellis, she wants visitors to "embrace craft cocktails that are also made quickly and efficiently," she said.
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Want to make sure you're downing the drinks with food in your belly? You won't have to go down to Fareground to make that happen. Each of Fareground's six local vendors will provide dishes that you'll order and have served to you either at your table or at the bar, in contrast to the food hall's more casual counter service.
But Ellis will be like Fareground in another way: The bar's design lets in lots of natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The indoor bar is made of local limestone and accented with ceramic tiles.
Ellis, expected to debut early this month, will be open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily at 111 Congress Ave. For more information, visit faregroundaustin.com.