Winebelly is true to its name. It invites the purple-tongued, the cheek-flushed, the loud-laughers, and you are unlikely to leave without a satisfied stomach.
A comfortable wine bar on Oltorf and South 1st St, Winebelly’s dark paneled bartop wood and golden booths invite guests to relax. At the same time, the venue maintains the class and food quality demanded of any successful wine joint.
The tapas bar was opened in 2013 by the same family who owns the Hai Ky Vietnamese restaurants in Austin. The Winebelly tapas and vino bar is vastly different from the Vietnamese go-to, but its local Austin roots are unmistakable.
Local ingredients are used in many of their plates and local beer, including the potent Devil’s Backbone, is served on tap and in bottles or cans at decent prices.
Flavors of Summer
This is the wine bar where you should choose to spend your summer nights. Even the food has a southern twist that suits a warm Texas evening. Fried green tomatoes top the tapas menu, and the grilled lamb ribs are coupled with spiced okra – unmistakable southern influences that are perhaps unusual for a bar named after Spanish-style meals.
Wine cocktails named after mid-20th century musical legends are a cool, refreshing alternative to a cab. The Billie Holiday, made with A to Z chardonnay, ginger, mint and agave nectar, is akin to a mojito and best enjoyed sitting at the fenced-in patio out back.
A wine bar is not complete without the cheese plate, and this one is an Austin special. The cheese is bought from Antonelli’s Cheese Shop on Duval and paired with bread from Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden on Sixth Street. Small containers of pickled cubed watermelon, rich local honey, and a chunk of quince – a type of jam the server described as “apricot meets peach” – complete the delectable spread of cheeses.
The cheeses are bought locally, but tend to be a mixture of American, Italian, Spanish, and French origin. Each of the three usually represents a goat, cow, and sheep milk cheese.
Did I mention how knowledgeable the servers are? They can describe in detail every element of the unique food here.
Cheese features in many of Winebelly’s bar snacks, my favorite of which is the goat cheese bruschetta: goat cheese, fig, and balsamic reduction on pieces of bread, each topped with a fresh green piece of microbasil. The result is a delightful, slightly sweet small plate of surprising and complementary flavors.
This neighborhood needed a nice wine bar to break up the disjoint between South Congress and South Lamar. This need is made apparent by its awkward positioning in the same parking lot as Pizza Patron and a convenience store.
Despite the odd neighbors, it’s a refreshing location for nearby residents to catch happy hour and serves as a calmer alternative to hectic South Congress parking and long waits.
Take the next opportunity to ease your way back into the week with a foreign wine you haven’t heard of (their list is extensive) by taking advantage of the “half off selective bottles” special on Sundays and Mondays.
An eager consumer of ideas and a talented taco eater, Erin spends her free time rambling around the Greenbelt, Blunn Creek, or anywhere in Austin with trees, really. Besides mulling over the nature of happiness and the meaning of life, her thoughts are primarily concerned with what she’s going to eat next. To find out what she’s thinking about now, follow her on Twitter.
What is your favorite wine bar in Austin?