Despite its location in another generic mixed-use box on South Lamar, El Chipirón had the promise of something different. When Spanish chef Pablo Gomez’s restaurant arrived in the summer, it had been two years since a Spanish eatery had opened in Austin. A new restaurant with Spanish roots felt downright exotic, a welcome breeze from across the Atlantic.

But sometimes reality does not live up to expectations. Go to to find out why dining critic Matthew Odam says that El Chipirón "feels more like a harried text from Spain than a thoughtful, handwritten love letter."