April was a rough month for me personally and I strongly felt the need to get out. I always try to go somewhere frequently but due to the circumstances with work + adult responsibilities, It’s gotten difficult to travel whenever I want to like I used to. However, I still make every effort to make even the smallest getaways happen. Austin has always been kind of a go-to during these moments because it’s still getting away from home yet not too far and within my safety zone. My last visit to Austin was for a work trip back in February, so I found myself due for a non-work trip and decided to take my friend Jessica for a quick girl’s getaway! Below are my documents from the stops we made in Austin’s vibrant South Congress District, aka SoCo 🙂
Stop One: High-Quality Seafood at Perla’s Seafood and Oyster Bar
Pictured from top to bottom: 1) Grilled Octopus & Papas Bravas with Capers, Parsley and Saffron Aioli, 2) Half dozen half shell (there are 8+ types of oysters, so we just asked the server to mix & match the best for us), and 3) Crispy Texas Gulf Snapper with Lemon Spinach and Spicy Sofrito.
Perla’s is one of the most ‘grammed restaurants in Austin. In the middle of SoCo, my local Austinites always told me to visit this restaurant and I never did…until last weekend! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to dine out on the patio but I strongly recommend whoever decides to make a stop to do so. (I have a fetish for patios but I also couldn’t handle another 30 minutes of starvation, so there’s that. #priorities). The food is definitely on the pricier side with not a whole lot coming on your plate but it’s worth checking it out at least once if your’e in the city. Also, I’m picky about my seafood and it’s always hard to find high-quality, fresh seafood in Texas, but I found the food yummy!
Stop Two: Wake up and Brunch at Café No Sé
Pictured from top to bottom: 1) Poached eggs, tepita-style migas, house-made chorizo, epazote, avocado, croutons, serrano chile (details below), and 2) The bagel plate with beet & horseradish cured gravalax, hard-boiled egg, pickled onion, caper scallion cream cheese. Oh, and the drinks are fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice!
This all-day café is pretty small (has a patio. Once again, I have that patio fetish), but well-lit, kind of has that rustic-modern vibe with such a cute interior that’s completely photo-worthy. We headed over for brunch, and as you can see in the picture above, we got a pretty light meal. The poached eggs meal was pretty spicy for me! Jessica’s good with spicy, but even she thought it was spicy.. so keep that in mind if you ever decide to get that. As far as my bagel plate, I was satisfied! The smoked salmon was extra yummy. Click here to see their full brunch menu! This gem is also connected to the South Congress Hotel – so this is a perfect brunch/lunch spot with your girlfriends or family if you’re spending the night there. For my next visit, I’m definitely planning on spending the night at this hotel. If you’re visiting Austin anytime soon, book your stay here!
Stop Three: A Cup of Morning Coffee at Jo’s Coffee
If you’ve never heard of Jo’s Coffee, you’ve definitely seen this green “I love you so much” wall before, right? This has become an iconic wall in Austin, and this is actually a part of Jo’s Coffee! With three locations in Austin, the South Congress location has been open since 1999. You can grab some caffeine and baked goods before frolicking around South Congress like we did. Oh! BTW. The drinks pictured above are Belgian Bomber (left) and Iced Turbo (right).
Stop Four: California Dreaming at Hotel San José – Book your stay here!
Right next to Jo’s Coffee is Hotel San José, a bungalow-style, boutique hotel in the SoCo neighborhood. The name always gets me because I’m forever representing San Jose, California in my heart 🙂 I’d say this is another great location if you’re planning on staying in SoCo! It’s a great spot that makes you feel like you’re not in Austin… if you know what I mean. Also, Eater Austin ranked Hotel San Jose as one of the 33 happy hour spots for cheap eats and drinks in Austin (as of April 2017), so if not spending the night, happy hour is another option!
Stop Five: The Cathedral of Junk – Literally in the middle of a backyard in a quiet neighborhood
I’ve seen this place pop up on so many of my Pinterest posts when I search Austin, and it’s a cool place just to check out if you’re in the area. I’ve seen some reviews where people thought it was smaller than they expected, but I’ll say the complete opposite. It was a lot more GRAND than I had imagined. Originally imagined a pile of junk (and I mean, it is) but it’s very unique and the owner piled things in a strategic manner (by colors, objects, staircases, etc.).The owner started his collection in 1989 and now it’s become a tourist attraction! They don’t allow parking in front of the house anymore, so make sure to find parking elsewhere and walk over.
Stop Six: and perhaps unnecessary: San Marcos Outlet
And finally, yes, we made the unnecessary yet necessary stop to the San Marcos Outlet. This is nowhere near SoCo by any means, but I always like to squeeze this stop in during my visits to Austin so I decided to include this in my post. 8/10 times I visited Austin, I made sure to make the 30-minute drive to this huge outlet. This is probably my favorite outlet in Texas because there’s such a wide range of stores – they literally have everything I need! I managed to get my Mother’s Day gift and a little gift for myself 🙂 In cases where weather is not cooperating, this is a great alternative to add onto your itinerary in Austin. We honestly decided to make this trip because it was SO HOT and we were not prepared to go swim/do any water activities (we were expecting rainy + fall weather, but it was the complete opposite). We also did not have the clothes to be walking around everywhere in the heat, so this was the best option for us towards the end of the day and I’m glad we chose to!
– Call ahead to visit the Cathedral of Junk: We got lucky but most people apparently have to wait in long lines + they may get rejected if they show up without reservations. Be sure to call ahead! They also accept a “suggested cash donation” before you enter so bring some cash with you as well.
– Didn’t mention this in my post because I’ve been to these spots so many times during my past visits, but be sure to enjoy all the free fun along South Congress Avenue such as Uncommon Objects, Off The Wall, Big Top Candy Shop, the Gibson Street Artisan Market just to name a few!
– SoCo and Austin in general also have plenty of food trucks to choose from. Grabbing small bites here and there also adds to the fun while roaming around the streets. Maybe I’ll do a food truck post next time?
And that’s a wrap! Every single one of my trips to Austin have always been memorable, and this was another one for the books. If you end up going to any of the places I mentioned in this post, I’d love to hear about it. Thank you for reading and thank you Austin for always giving me a good time!