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Crispy avocado, soggy ground: Talking to Mighty Cone, the king of ACL Fest food

Eric Webb
ewebb@statesman.com

The lines in front of Mighty Cone’s food stands (there are more than one) are usually some of the longest at Austin Eats, Austin City Limits Music Festival’s version of a food court. At 12:30 p.m. Saturday — the day the fest delayed opening the gates by an hour, until noon — there’s not much of a line anywhere. But there’s a giant puddle.

Instead of stale popcorn and fake nacho “cheese” you might find at any number of other major attractions, Austin Eats is populated by some of the city’s most well-known food vendors. There’s fast food like P. Terry’s, food trailer fare like Mighty Cone, and scaled down but still adventurous offerings from fine establishments like Max’s Wine Dive.

Sara Courington, owner and general manager of Mighty Cone, says she’s been serving up tortilla-swaddled fried goodness at the fest for about 12 years. (ACL Fest itself has been around 13 years.) On Friday, muddied rain boots and muddier bare feet split off from their paths at the giant puddle in front of Mighty Cone.

Rain isn’t necessarily bad for business, Courington says. The infamous ‘Dillon Dirt slog of 2009 was one of the stand’s best years, she says.

The wet weather doesn’t always have the effect you would expect. When there’s a downpour at the festival, “the lines don’t change,” Mighty Cone employee Spencer Collins says. “(Customers) just stay there getting soaked.” This is Collins’ ninth ACL Fest with Mighty Cone, according to Courington, who calls the bearded food server her “security blanket.” (There was some debate between the two on the matter.)

Collins says that the early hours of the fest are usually steady, but the lunch rush typically starts around 3 p.m. He wasn’t convinced the low-key Austin Eats scene would stay that way for long.

“That can last from 3:30 to 8,” Collins says. Lunch rush, dinner rush: At ACL Fest, who can tell the difference?