How to dominate SXSW, Part 3: Eat, Drink, and Be Thrifty.

Hello friends. It’s Sunday! The Lord’s day.

But get ready because we’re about to talk debauchery. And gluttony.  Praises!

Alright so during SXSW, you can eat and drink a LOT of things for free. And I’m not just talking about the errant Doritos Fun Pack you found on the sidewalk of Red River, I mean delightful meals and cocktails that would normally require your hard-earned green. What’s that stomach? You are empty and need noms?  Free food it is!

I’m going to break this post down into three sections: Rad parties with free eats/drinks, How to DIY your food situation, and online resources for free SXSW food.

how to dominate SXSW, part 3:
eat, drink, and be thrifty.

The Parties

We are now less than a week away until SXSW officially starts (EEK!) with the film portion first.  There are new parties being announced daily, but currently, here are my six favorite free eat/drink soirees. I picked events that were fairly spread out.

The Big Ass Twitter happy hour is happening on Thursday March 11, 6:00pm at Frank’s while the very first few SXSW attendees roll in. Anyone is welcome, but it would be wise to arrive early since drink tickets are first come, first serve. I’m not sure what they’re serving, but I know Frank’s cocktails are pretty killer!

Also, this graphic is awesome.

The Do512 / Demand Media / CLEAR Party, featuring Mike Relm. This party will be held on Monday, March 15 at 6:00 at The Phoenix, and includes both “heavy hors d’ouevres” (intriguing) and an open bar. Wowza! RSVP here.

On the following Tuesday, March 16 at 5:30pm, Daily Juice is sponsoring a boat party. How rad is that?  Free beer, free cupcakes, AND free healthy drinks from Daily Juice. No RSVP required.

Soundcheck Magazine’s 4th Birthday Party is happening at Emo’s on Thursday, March 18 beginning at noon, right in the middle of all the SXSW music action. In addition to a WONDERFUL band (the Rural Alberta Advantage), they will have free tacos from El Arroyo! (Note that they will also be accepting donations, suggested $2, to raise money for The Children’s Miracle Network.) RSVP here.

The France Rocks Austin Party is happening at the exact same time as the Soundcheck party – Thursday, March 18 starting at noon – but I included it because they have free champagne! (In addition to free food and beer.) We have that country to thank for Phoenix, Austinites’ collective music obsession, so do not underestimate the power of the French. RSVP here.

In terms of free noms, the MPRESS Records party is freaking serious. Check out the menu!:

  • Turkey with gruyere and poppyseed-mustard butter
  • Tarragon Chicken Salad with field greens
  • Roasted Portobello Mushrooms with goat cheese and roasted tomatoes
  • Bite size pinwheels of carne asada, grilled vegetables and roasted turkey with fig spread
  • Selection of crisp, ultra-fresh vegetables with red pepper ranch dressing
  • Assorted fresh fruits and berries served with vanilla dip
  • Feta, dolmas, olives, red pepper hummus, baba ghanoush, marinated artichokes and gigande beans with lemon and garlic, served with pita and flatbread
  • Greek garden salad with creamy feta dressing 
  • Chips and salsa
  • Assorted cookies

Holy Jebus, that’s some eats. RSVP by sending an email to, and for more info on the artists playing, head here.

DIY your food situation

As you can see, it is exceedingly easy to subsist on free yums and free drank are during SXSW.  But if you prefer to do your own food/drink thing (while still doing it cheaply), here are some ideas.

Hobo Cooking: Budget-friendly recipes to make it through the recession! This cookbook was designed by local Austinite Stephen Gose, brother of my friend Marianna. And in accordance with these leaner times, it is only $7.00.

The Cheap Eats List on Austin Yelp

Out-of-towners, you will LOVE this Yelp list. If you didn’t know already, Austinites are a little bit obsessed with food trailers, and the dishes that come out of them are phenomenal. Case in point: Kebabalicious – menu above – which is located on 6th Street in the thick of the SXSW music action.

GoTime! Happy Hours iPhone App

Pardon the corny promo video above, but this (free) app is genius. Simply tell it where you’re located, and it finds the nearby happy hours for you. I KNOW, right?  So cool. The only way to possibly improve this service would be if a unicorn popped out of your phone and personally delivered you to said happy hour.

Online Resources for free SXSW goodies

We included these guys our Twitter follow list for useful SXSW resources: Check out SXSW Free Noms. I included six free food events above, but y’all, SXSW Free noms includes 30+ and the list is growing daily.  If you plan on putting free edibles in your mouth during SXSW, this blog is a must.

Showlist Austin is a regularly updated calendar of Austin music, and we show-goers use it quite frequently. To find the free eats/drinks accompanying SXSW parties, open up the website, and rather than doing a search for “free” (which will yield mostly free cover entries), perform a search for “beer,” “food,” “pizza” etc.  If the listing points those items out, it is most likely because they are free. VoilĂ !

Any other free food / drink tips you’d like to see added to this list? Feel free to leave a comment below or email me. Nom nom nom!