There are so many reasons why Austin is such a great city, but one reason that doesn’t receive enough recognition is the food. The food here is seriously amazing. And it’s not just Mexican food, although there are a lot of delicious food trucks and restaurants with authentic tacos. Surprisingly I have had some of the best sushi, Italian food, and even seafood of my life here in Austin. I hope to give you guys some recommendations of fun restaurants to hit if you’re visiting from out of town, or even if you’re a local but haven’t been to some of these places yet. First up… Perla’s on South Congress.
The first thing you should know about Perla’s is that it isn’t cheap. Unless you’re ready to splurge on your meal, I would suggest going here for happy hour to get a taste of their drinks, apps, oysters if you’re into them, and of course the amazing ambiance. Plus it’s located on South Congress Ave, so you can hit some of the funky stores lining the street before or after. Or even head over to another spot for your main meal and experience two restaurants on the most popular tourist strip in Austin.
Right when you lay eyes on Perla’s, you’ll notice their flawless patio, adorned in nautical decor from the umbrellas to their wait staff’s attire. They have a wide variety of outdoor seating, from lounge-style booths for happy hour, to long picnic tables for larger groups, and even bar seating in the shade. Their indoor area is cute, as well, but to get the full experience I would recommend patio seating. If you’re here during the 100-degree summers, Perla’s patio has misting fans (such a great invention), which is a must-have if you’re sitting outside for a meal in the Austin heat.
We hit Perla’s for happy hour and it did not disappoint. Drinks were the first order of business and all cocktails, wine & draft beer are $2 off. Perla’s offers a daily frozen cocktail and it happened to be a Prickly Pear Margarita. I ended up getting two because they were so delish, and I’m not even a huge fan of frozen drinks. Dominick got the Siren Sipper (1876 Vodka, Dolin Blanc, St. Germain, Grapefruit, Lemon) and both of us found it refreshing. He followed his cocktail with a Schooner of Modelo – for those of you who are clueless like I was, a schooner is a size in between a pint and a pitcher (pictured below).
We couldn’t go to Perla’s without ordering oysters (their claim to fame), so we got a half-dozen oysters. They have a long list of their featured oysters from various places across the U.S. and we asked our waitress to put together a sampling of different kinds, which I would totally recommend. The oysters were top notch and good quality. Plus they’re fun to eat right out of the shell!
After two rounds of cocktails and a half-dozen oysters we were still hungry, so we ordered the Fried Calamari, which was the only disappointment at Perla’s. I’ve tried a wide variety of Calamari from countless restaurants, so I definitely have more of a mature palate for this appetizer than many people would, but I was simply not impressed. Since Perla’s is a seafood restaurant, I expected their calamari to be better than the average, but unfortunately I would just say it was O.K. Not the best, not the worst – we still ate it, but we wished we had just ordered more oysters instead.
Overall, our experience at Perla’s was great. We will definitely be dining there again soon, and maybe next time for a full meal. But I would say this is a go-to spot for visitors in Austin, if you’ve had your sufficient amount of Mexican food and want to hit a fun restaurant with great ambiance, delicious drinks, and oyster shooters (because why not?!).
Perla’s Happy Hour runs from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. on weekdays only (M-F). Happy Hour features 50¢ off oysters, $1.00 off beer bottles & cans, and $2.00 off wine, cocktails & draft beer.