Clearing the air

Mi Madre's owners Rosa (l) and Aurelio Torres
Mi Madre's owners Rosa (l) and Aurelio Torres (Photo by Allison Davis)

Fino finale. Emmett and Lisa Fox are making sure their Fino Restaurant & Patio Bar (2905 San Gabriel) goes out with a bang. On April Fools' Day, former bar manager Bill Norris did a nostalgic guest shift, welcoming old friends and reminiscences with classy cocktails. On both of the next two weekends, menu specials at Fino will preview some of the dishes from Cantine, the Foxes' eagerly awaited new eatery set to open in the Lamar Union development later this spring, and then paella and sangria will be half-off on Tue., April 14. Say goodbye to Fino in style by attending the final brunch on Sun., April 19, when they'll be raising money for the Sustainable Food Center. And since Cantine will have a completely different focus & decor, David Runte will auction off everything at Fino – interior and patio furnishings, art, fixtures, and kitchen equipment – at 10am, Wed., April 22. For complete details and photos, go to

Barbecue smoke clears. Now that the proposed barbecue smoke ordinance has been discussed before the City Council, it's clear the problems that generated the original complaints are related to very specific situations at Terry Black's Barbecue (1003 Barton Springs Rd.) and la Barbecue (902 E. Cesar Chavez). Multiple speakers, including barbecue restaurant owners and some City Council persons, warned against crafting a one-size-fits-all city smoke ordinance that could have an adverse effect on long-established neighborhood barbecue restaurants that have never generated complaints. Attorney Guy Watts, who is providing pro bono representation to his Daniel Drive neighbors in their quest to solve the ongoing smoke problems with the owners of Terry Black's, advocates a city-sponsored mediation process to address the specific details of individual grievances rather than a blanket smoke ordinance. Several longtime residents on the bluff directly above the restaurant have legitimate complaints about the emissions from the five smokers that are going 22 hours a day, seven days a week, at the restaurant that opened there last year. It's a very individual problem directly related to the physical geography of the situation and the daily need for fires. Although the owners of Terry Black's refused to discuss the smoke issue with us, LeAnn Mueller and John Lewis of la Barbecue have told us they intend to move their smokers to another position on the GoodLife Food Park lot on Mon., April 13. They hope the different position will ameliorate the smoke complaints of their Second Street neighbor, Bruce Hughes, until they can move their entire operation to a brick-and-mortar location at 1722 S. Congress with rooftop smokers later this year. Meanwhile, the proposed city ordinance will be studied and return to the Council agenda in late July.

The Torres family opened Mi Madre's (2201 Manor Rd.) 25 years ago, but they had no notion of being one of the anchor tenants of an emerging restaurant row or pioneering the positive transformation of a neighborhood. They simply wanted to share their family recipes for tacos and salsa, and their delicious food has earned them a fiercely loyal clientele. They're hosting a "Customer Appreciation Fiesta" on their back parking lot this weekend with a live music lineup, mini piñatas, taco and salsa eating contests, and a performance by Del Valle's Ballet Folklórico. Sat., April 11, 1-8pm-ish.

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Austin food news, Fino, Emmett Fox, Lisa Fox, Mi Madre's, Terry Black's Barbecue, la Barbecue, LeAnn Mueller, John Lewis

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