4119 Guadalupe Street
Austin, TX 78751
It has been a very long time since I posted, so it is time to make note of our new favorite hang-out: Vino Vino at 41st and Guadalupe. I am surprised, nay shocked, that it took me two years of living in Austin before I visited this place! Vino Vino has everything you want in a wine bar. Plenty of space, great atmosphere and service, arguably the spiffiest wine list in town, and great food. Read on to find out more about it!
Of course, we have to start this conversation with the wine! Along two of the four walls in the room (the whole place is one room) sit floor-to-ceiling racks full of wine. Simply pick a bottle of wine off the rack, bring it to the table, and your server opens and pours the wine for you. Even though you have to get up to do it, it is a fun game that sure beats staring at a wine list! The selection is heavily biased toward Europe (some from other places, but no US wine) and is carefully selected by the expert oenophile owner and his team. Every bottle here seems to have a little extra flavor in it. High quality stemware helps, but we think it is simply the case that they have the best wine here. The staff also seems to have a special talent for finding great stuff at good prices that you’ve never heard of. If you don’t come by yourself, then you have to get a bottle. For sure.
Cocktails and Wine by the Glass
No visuals for these items since they are ordered off the menu, but they are just as tasty as the bottles of wine. Either as a pre-bottle primer, a nightcap, or an option when you don’t like the bottle that the group selects, you won’t be disappointed here. The wines by the glass come from some high quality bottles and are priced accordingly, running from $10-15 and up, unlike many places that simply serve their simplest and cheapest wine by the glass. The cocktails run from the unusual, including liquors like Chartreuse and absinthe, to the simply tasty, such as a traditional Negroni. An excellent choice before or after your bottle of wine.
Since Vino Vino is a wine first place, the menu is short and sweet, with an emphasis on small plates and cheese. That being said, everything is tasty and not your usual fare! The cheese plates are fantastic, and one plate for $8 will be plenty for a group of four people. The small plates include items such as mussels, watermelon salad, and a charcuterie. The large plates, ranging from scallops to rabbit, leave nothing to be desired. And don’t forget about a chocolate semifreddo for dessert!
Sunday paella has become an awesome tradition at Vino Vino. First of all, you absolutely need a reservation in order to get a table. You should arrive at about 6:30-6:45 to place your order, and at 7 PM sharp, the staff brings out two enormous paella pans that are each about 3 feet in diameter. One pan has seafood paella and the other has meat, and each order feeds about two people (half orders are encouraged). The best thing to do is to bring three friends and get an order of each. With some solid Spanish wine, this meal is a real treat!
Service and Atmosphere
Like most good wine bars, the atmosphere definitely emphasizes low lighting and dark wood tones, but the place seems to have a pep to it every time you walk in. Just noisy enough to give you some energy but not so loud that you can’t carry on a soft conversation. The service is as friendly and helpful as anywhere in Austin, and the staff knows their wine! Any mistake is always corrected by a free glass. Perhaps the best part of the restaurant is the patio out back, which has a handful of tables and a slick kiva fireplace. Great place to hang out on a nice weather evening.
The combination of great food and great wine always satisfies, and the fact that Vino Vino has both, with an emphasis on the latter, makes it a great place either to eat or to just hang out. They do have a happy hour from 5:30-7 PM – $2 off wine glasses, 1/2 off beer and appetizers – so be sure to hit that up. All around, these guys have it figured out. For many years now, Vino Vino is consistently been the best wine bar in town, and it is another place that makes Austin the great city that it is!