Courtesy of Merrick Ales

From a queso showcase to a 'Westworld'-themed bar, these are the must-see food experiences at South by Southwest this year. (UPDATED)

Elisabeth Sherman
February 23, 2018

On March 9, South by Southwest, one of the country’s biggest film, music, and yes, food, festivals kicks off. Mark Hamill will be there, celebrating the release of a documentary about The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson. So will Christina Tosi, the founder of Milk Bar. Maryellis Bunn, who created the Museum of Ice Cream, will share her story, and many other experts will be giving presentations on every aspect of the food world, from the future of food delivery, and the science of barbecue, to plant-based meat and food waste.

The Southbites Trailer Park is also returning for its sixth year in a row and will feature a slew of food trucks, serving nearly every cuisine imaginable, like lobster, kebabs, tamales, and waffles.

If you’re attending the festivities this year, there are a few events that you should make it a priority to check out. Here are five of the most exciting food-themed experiences at South by Southwest this year.

Westworld Saloon

Just outside of Austin (the location has not yet been disclosed), you’ll be able to drink whiskey in your cowboy hat at the Mariposa Saloon of HBO’s Westworld.

The experience is immersive: Participants will meet at Eastside Tavern, where they will board a shuttle that will take them to a recreated version of Sweetwater, the location of the show's fictional theme park. From there, guests will be able to participate in narratives from the actual show, according to Eater, that take place at the Mariposa Saloon and the town’s hotel, the Coronado.

Advanced registration has already filled up, but more spots will open once the festival begins.

Roasters Village

As Food & Wine reported earlier this year, Roasters Village will be the go-to destination for coffee aficionados. The village will feature ten different stalls, each one focusing on technology in the coffee and tea realm, as well as showcasing varieties of coffee that will soon hit the market.

A German micro-brewery will be making an appearance at the event, as will Briggo Coffee Haus, an “automated coffee kiosk,” that relies entirely on robotics to serve your drinks.

The village will open from March 10 through 12, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.


On March 13, cheese lovers are getting a special treat: Austin restaurants will be bringing their queso A-game to the Southbites Trailer Park. Nine restaurants will compete to find out which one has the best liquid cheese in Austin—and don’t worry, you won’t find the likes of Chipotle anywhere among these queso experts.

Communal dining art installation

A new art installation, called “Feast,” by Caitlin Pickall will be on display during the festival, at the JW Marriot.

Visitors will be asked to sit a large dining room table, which activates a video recording that is projected on to the table. Each seat will feature a different animated experience “related to the cultivation, preparation and consumption of food,” according to a statement from SXSW.

José Andrés panel

This year’s James Beard humanitarian of the year, José Andrés will be stopping by SXSW to join a panel featuring Andrew Zimmern and former Food &Wine editor Dana Cowin. No word yet on what the trio will be discussing, but given Andrés recent mission to Puetro Rico and his outspoken criticism of the Trump Administration, the conversation is bound to get political.

Update, 3/9: The panel will be called "Changing the World Through the Power of Food."

Roseanne's Living Room

Fans of this classic 90s sit-com will have to chance lounge on Roseanne's couch ahead of the show's reboot. The Volcom Garden will be home to a recreation of the show's set, including that famous living room, on March 10 and 11. The pop up will also include a resurrected version of the The Lanford Lunch Box, the restaurant that Roseanne co-owns with her mother, serving pie and sandwiches, according to Time Out

Noma Pop-Up

The co-founder Copenhagen's Noma, Mads Refslund, will "cook a series of five pop-up dinners," during SXSW, according to Eater. His pop-up restaurant will use local ingredients from the Austin area, cooked with his signature Nordic techniques. The pre-fix menu has two options, one that costs $75 and another for $110. It will run from March 9 to March 14, skipping a Tuesday in the middle.