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Happy Hour at Fino

Anchovy-Stuffed Olives
Fino is a hidden gem nestled in a small shopping center near 30th and Lamar. Their fried olives are legendary, and their happy hour makes the short drive from downtown almost worth it.

Muhammara

The appetizers are reduced by a couple of bucks, and sparkling/rose wines are half off. If cocktails and beer are more your thing, those are going to be about $2 off each. Keep in mind that happy hour is only Monday-Thursday from 4-6. 
The muhammara (above) was an interesting mix of red pepper and walnuts. I’m pretty confident that it also was one of the few vegan options on the menu.

Tortilla Espanola and Potato Chips
The potato chips were served with a house made tomato aioli, and were more than alright. The “tortilla” dish however, was a disappointment.



The smoked salmon dish above doesn’t seem to be on the menu currently, but scouring their menus tonight I see one that look pretty similar (only now it involves vanilla, yogurt, and roe). I’d definitely go for that, because the dish above was my favorite at the table.
Overall, the food at Fino was interesting, but not mind-blowing. It was a great break from typical happy hour appetizer fare, and the location was beautiful. We had good service, and the enormous windows, comfortable patio, and knowledgeable staff were excellent bonuses.



Lunch at Franklin Barbecue

Moist Brisket, Sausage, and Peppers

I’d be hard pressed to find someone that has never heard of Franklin Barbecue, the place that Anthony Bourdain claims has the best barbecue in America. If you live in Austin, chances are that you’ve been before, or at least seen the lines of hungry would-be patrons wrapped around the block in hopes of getting in before Franklin runs out.
Moist Brisket
 I don’t eat red meat, but my partner and his friends are pretty much anti-vegetarians. I think cookies are the only non-meat thing they’ll consume. We woke up early, stocked up on booze, and set up camp in line hours before Franklin opened. I recommend getting there as early as 9 a.m. and bringing a chair. Bringing your own alcohol helps make the time pass rather quickly.

Once inside, the seating gets competitive. Expect to have to sit outside for the most part, and to see Aaron Franklin himself serving you from behind the counter. He complimented my partner’s glasses and I’ve never heard the end of it. “Aaron Franklin likes my glasses!”

Out of the ribs, sausage, and brisket that was had, it appears that brisket was the star (and most photogenic). I admit to taking a tiny piece of the meat just to say I did, and despite what everyone on Twitter said, which was mostly, “You’re going to be a carnivore after trying Franklin!” I must confess that I am still not into meat, but could see how people who enjoyed meat would especially enjoy Franklin’s creations.
Was it the best barbecue my partner and his friends ever had? Yes.
Will they wait in line for it again any time soon? Probably not. The hassle of getting in makes it more of a special occasion sort of thing, and not a weekly excursion.

Brunch at Takoba

I know it’s not French, but my partner’s queso fundido  seemed to stretch in the shape of The Eiffel Tower. Did I mention we recently had brunch at Takoba?


Mimosas were $1.50 per glass, and $7 for a pitcher. I saw extra large micheladas for $6, bloody marys for $5, and a string of people stuck with a 20 minute wait to get tables. 

It didn’t bother us, we just killed time at the bar. 



This wasn’t my first time at Takoba. I previously had the ceviche, and was promptly reminded by my partner that I hated it. I figured I’d give it a second chance, perhaps I was just in a bad mood last time around? 

Nope. Still hated it. I can’t quite place why, but it’s not my favorite. The salad was small, but decent for the price.


A lot of the brunch menu focused on eggs, but clearly we preferred exploring the other items.  My partner chose the menudo, which he always gets, and loved it. 

The takeaway? Brunch has cheap mimosas (win!), menudo (carnivorous people’s win!), and less than stellar healthy options (not so much win?). I’d gladly go back, sit on the patio, and enjoy the fall weather with a pitcher or two, while my partner, in his love for their soup, had a bowl or three. 

By the way, we could’ve stopped at the queso fundido. That dish was filling!