Thursday, October 19, 2017

First Look: El Chipirón

Editor's Note: closed Summer 2019
El Chipiron logo

New Spanish restaurant El Chipirón (meaning little squid...yeah, I had to look that one up) opened at 2717 South Lamar at Manchaca at the end of June, after what seemed like a very lengthy process. Looking back at their Facebook page, the exterior sign went up in May 2016, a full 15 months before they actually opened. While I haven't spoken to anyone with the restaurant about the delays, I would guess it has to do with the City of Austin and various delays in being able to get permits issued and certificates of occupancies authorized. I can only imagine how maddening and expensive it is for new restaurants to get started. Anyhow....

While the exterior is your standard and somewhat blah new-build apartment building with street-level retail (it's seems that's all there is on South Lamar these days), El Chipirón's interior is a beautiful light-filled space. Big windows facing north and west and a modern design, anchored by a huge white (limestone?) bar. Though the use of vertical elements as space dividers did remind me of South Lamar's other Spanish restaurant, Barlata, I also wonder why El Chipirón would open so close by, just 1.2 miles south per Google Maps. But apart from a few tapas dishes, their menus appear to be quite different.
El Chipiron interior
El Chipirón's interior
El Chipiron bar
The bar (restaurant entrance is in the back right in this photo)
We arrived a little before 7 pm on Monday night, which turns out to be all-night food specials (aka Pincho Mondays) at the bar. Here's a look at our evening.
El Chipiron bar menu

El Chipiron tempranillo, sangria, gypsy flower gin cocktail
Tempranillo, red sangria, and the Gypsy Flower. They are becoming quite well-known for their gin drinks.
El Chipiron olives + manchego cheese
Each diner was given a little plate of olives and manchego cheese as a starter.

El Chipiron padron peppers
Padron peppers (also known as shishitos) with a light mustard aioli sauce.
El Chipiron patatas bravas
Patatas bravas; these were ok, but unexciting; I couldn't tell you what the sauce was.

El Chipiron oxtail empanadas
Oxtail empanadas, while small, had a wonderfully flaky pastry and very tender meat inside, served with garlic aioli.
Would definitely get these again!

El Chipiron mussels
Mejillones (mussels) + chorizo, with a broth made from an Albariño wine and garlic,
that definitely called for more bread. Great flavors!

El Chipiron  churros
Churros with a nice thick bittersweet chocolate sauce (there was a fifth churro that got snatched before I could get a photo!). There was a density to the churros which I liked, and a lack of grease which I loved!
All in all, a nice experience. Both the gentlemen tending bar were personable, but it was my dining companions that really made it a fun evening!  And not that it really matters, but I am curious about the El Chipirón logo up top, is the stylized "ó" a squid ink stain or a drippy wine glass? Clearly I need more sangria!

El Chipiron Dali
Dali spies on you as you head to the restrooms.


  1. I’ve never seen oxtail empanadas before, that’s very interesting. I like the decor of this place.

    1. It's a beautiful interior! No, I hadn't seen oxtail as a filling before either, but I definitely liked them. They have a decent amount of vegetarian items too. :)

  2. All the dishes sound and look good! I'm looking forward to trying this place!

    1. I definitely want to try some of the other dishes. You'll love the interior!