If you’re over the age of 22, you’ve probably already realized there is a Sixth Street beyond Congress Avenue. In fact, it extends west of Guadalupe, even beyond Lamar. This is Old West Austin, where historic charm and fresh modernity seamlessly blend together to create a different kind of Sixth Street.
Between Mopac and Lamar, the cracked sidewalks of West Sixth are lined with restaurants brimming with laid-back coolness. Among them are seasoned (pun intended) favorites like Z’Tejas (1110 W 6th), Cafe Josie (1200B W 6th), and Sweetish Hill Bakery (1120 W 6th). Newer additions to Old West Austin include Clark’s Oyster Bar (1200 W 6th), Blake’s On Sixth (1221 W 6th), and my favorite, Winflo Osteria (1315 W 6th).
Winflo, if you ask me, takes the cake when it comes to West Sixth eateries. Its hip-yet-approachable vibe is perfectly accented by the twinkling lights covering the beautiful 300-year-old oak tree situated in front of the funky, lime green 1920s bungalow. The porch is slightly recessed below street level, lit by the glowing oak and giant torch heaters. Nestled below the main room is the Listening Room, an intimate space suited for private events, as well as acoustic performances (perhaps, say, during SXSW).
Thanks to the free valet, you can walk into Winflo without the lingering hatred left over from circling block after block, trying to find an available downtown parking space (just don’t forget to tip!). Once inside, settle into a chic, upholstered chair at a cozy corner table, or hang out at the copper-topped bar under one of Austin’s coolest interpretations of a chandelier. The wood plank floor, walls, and ceiling create an almost cabin-like feel, while the crisp white trim, delicate wall hangings, and cheeky upside-down lamps keep things feeling light.
After a little Italian research, I learned that an osteria is typically geared toward a less formal, more simplistic dining experience than you may find at a ristorante or trattoria. In the case of Winflo Osteria, “simplicity” translates to fresh, local-when-possible offerings such as cozze en bianco (Prince Edward Island mussels in a white wine broth), porchetta (herbed pork belly with red chard and fries), and cavatelli con salsiccia (a sausage and crimini mushroom pasta with carmelized onions, arugula, and gorgonzola cream sauce).
The Italian-style brick oven is responsible for my biggest Winflo weakness: the carbonara pizza Napoletana. This delightful creation combines Pecorino Romano cream sauce, pancetta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and an over-easy farm egg to create a pasta-inspired pizza that should definitely top your list of must-try foods in Austin.
Don’t forget to complement your meal with a selection from their list of classic craft cocktails (some with an Italian twist), or choose from their list of around 50 Italian wines. For the wine enthusiast, Winflo discloses the classification of each wine, should you wish to make a fully informed decision. For the more typical wine drinker, you can’t go wrong with a Dolcetto or Montepulciano.
Under no circumstances should you decide that you are “just too stuffed” for dessert. While the full list of sweet selections is not available online, the homemade gelato is completely unforgettable. I sampled three different flavors (strictly for research purposes), including white chocolate cherry, vanilla, and should-be-illegal-it’s-so-good pistachio (which must be ordered by its full name, of course). If you’re feeling really Italian, get it affogato-style, served in a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee.
Lucky for you, Winflo Osteria is open for dinner seven days a week, lunch Monday through Friday, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Happy hour lasts all day Monday and Tuesday and from 4:00-7:00 PM, Wednesday through Friday. For more information or to make a reservation at this Old West Austin gem, visit www.winfloosteria.com.
What’s your favorite Austin Italian eatery?
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