Soak up the Sun

One day, four essential Austin patios

As winter thaws and scorching summer temperatures await, one thing gives Austinites the hope they need to get through it all: patio season. Since the window of opportunity wherein one can sit outside and not suffer is narrow, it’s important to literally soak up the sun before being outside becomes unbearable.

But which of Austin’s al fresco offerings should you enjoy first? The list is long, and with new spots opening left and right, it’s hard to narrow down the options. Thankfully, we’ve mapped out four go-to locales to ensure you make the most of your outdoor enjoyment, from brunch to shopping to a delightful nightcap — and all within biking distance of one another.


12PM / Perla's

Perla’s is the first stop on this perfect patio hop. Sit amongst the hustle and bustle of the South Congress weekend crowd while savoring a crab cake Benedict or a housemade Pop-Tart. Feeling fancy? Start things off with a few dozen oysters on the half shell sourced from the Northeast and Canada, or enjoy one of the restaurant’s infamous lobster rolls. Since brunch is the meal of a thousand beverages, there should be no fewer than three drinks per person on the table at all times – a cup of Stumptown Coffee, an ice cold Topo Chico, and one of Perla’s signature cocktails, like the passion fruit-filled Sea Turtle. And, of course, plenty of people watching is always on the menu.


2PM / Hotel San Jose

Keep the afternoon festivities flowing with a visit to the Hotel San Jose’s courtyard lounge – no room key required. Mix and mingle with both guests and locals as you settle in poolside at a secluded corner table, or opt for a more out-in-the-open spot on the patio. Unwind with one of their house specialties, like the oddly delicious Tinto de Verano, a sunset-inspired cocktail of red wine and orange soda that’s a tasty throwback to the fruit punch flavored juice boxes of childhood. Or sip on the always-refreshing Rosso Amaro – a bubbly citrus combination of Prosecco and grapefruit juice. If you’re feeling peckish, partake in some wasabi peas while you scan the crowd for visiting celebrities. If you happen to get lucky, you might even get to enjoy some live entertainment, courtesy of one of their weekly-featured DJs or bands.

4PM / Shop Stops

Before you’ve had your SoCo fill, do a quick stroll by Big Top Candy Shop for some sweet sustenance, or wander through Uncommon Objects and browse their collection of odd curios and hilarious note cards. If you’re in the mood for some midday shopping, head over to Allens Boots to find your new summer pair.


5PM / Stay Gold

Grab a B-cycle outside of Jo’s Coffee and head over to the east side to the new Cesar Chavez hotspot Stay Gold. (The bike ride will help work off all the hollandaise sauce you had at brunch.) Hopefully, one of your friends packed Cards Against Humanity in their bag so you can start a casual table game with fellow patiophiles. After an afternoon of mimosas and micheladas, switch things up with one of their signature spring cocktails like the refreshing Black Bee, a combination of gin, lemon, and blackberries. Or keep things simple and channel your inner Don Draper with their take on a classic Old Fashioned, made with High West Double Rye. Soak up some of that fun with a scrumptious sandwich from the Toaster trailer, now parked there daily. Chef Hannah Love, formerly of Jeffrey’s, Perla’s, and Clark’s, serves dishes like crunchy pulled pork tacos, mac ‘n’ cheese, and buffalo chicken sandwiches. If you time things just right, you can catch the sunset amongst the expansive oak trees.


7PM / Justine's

While you could very easily call it a night, there’s one more patio worth perusing, and that’s the romantic and dimly lit garden at Justine’s Brasserie. Wrangle as many friends as possible to join you and Uber your way on over to this French establishment, which offers both ambiance and vintage vibes. Sip on a Sidecar or a French 75 while noshing on something from the impeccably curated dessert menu. If Champagne is more your game, order a classic Kir Royale. No good nightcap would be complete without a slinky soundtrack, which is housed on vinyl records behind the bar and ranges from ‘70s glam rock to clarinet-filled French jazz, and is accompanied by the crackle and pop of a vintage Hi-Fi.

Alas, all perfect days must come to an end, and this patio pilgrimage too must reach its final destination – and that’s your house. So as you drift off into a sound slumber, remember that spring hasn’t left us yet, and there’s still time to bounce around Austin’s abundant outdoor spaces. Until July hits, of course.


Photography by Jessica Attie

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