AC Date Night: Three Little Pigs & East End Wines

Wine 'em and swine 'em in East Austin

Photo by John Anderson

There's no shortage of great drinking and dining spots in Austin, but choosing the right one for a first Tinder date can carry a lot of weight. Five courses with pairings is too much commitment for an initial meet-and-greet, but hitting up a neighborhood dive for cheap drinks is unoriginal. And what if dinner goes well? You'll want a plan for continuing the good times. That's why we're here to offer delicious ideas that won't break the bank and will earn you plenty of style points.

On a recent date, I tried two Eastside businesses – a pork-focused food trailer saddled up to a wine shop, conjoined by a shared dining space with picnic tables and shady awnings. The trailer – Three Little Pigs – is from renowned chef Raymond Tatum, a 12-year veteran of Jeffrey's. That training shines in the menu, half of which is dedicated to changing daily specials. It doesn't have a liquor license, of course, but its close proximity to East End Wines takes care of that.

The Queen Anne home-turned-wine-emporium houses nearly a thousand hand-picked wines. And the gentleman at the counter was more than happy to help with pairings. After the knowledgeable clerk and my date – a sommelier-in-training – nerded out on southern France varietals, we settled on a 2013 Cote 125 Corbieres Rouge ($13.57). After the $7 corkage fee, it still came in well under what we'd pay at most restaurants in town. In fact, about 90% of East End Wines' offerings (including an extensive cider selection) sell for $35 or less.

Back at the table, the pork belly slider ($7) arrived as a nearly two-inch-thick slab slathered with a salty-sweet soy-maple glaze – balanced by cool slices of crisp green apple and crunchy fried onions. The sesame coleslaw side would bring me back here all on its own. Pig cheek ($9), cooked in lime juice and fish sauce, was tender and tangy. Garnished with a generous portion of fresh mint, it was the perfect accompaniment for white rice. We ordered a third dish, which was more than enough food, but we couldn't help but want one of everything. Tatum recommended a special of twice-cooked pork belly ($10) with Chinese broccoli and hon shimeji mushrooms. The texture – crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside – had me and my date locking eyes and nodding in silent approval. Who knew pork could be so varied?

The casual setting (and the wine) takes all the edge off a first date. And if things go well, you can take a post-dinner stroll down East 11th to catch some live music at Kenny Dorham's Backyard. Whether your OkCupid date actually turns out to be an 89% match remains to be seen, but Three Little Pigs and East End Wines are one couple we think will make it.

Three Little Pigs

1209 Rosewood, 512/653-5088
Tue.-Sat., 5-10pm

East End Wines

1209 Rosewood, 512/904-9056
Mon., 10am-7pm; Tue.-Sat., 10am-10pm

"Date Night" is a recurring column featuring drinking and dining options for a fun night on the town. Got an idea for a great "Date Night"? Email us at

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Raymond Tatum

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