St. Augustine has become a real food lovers’ town. There are so many choices that you will be hard-pressed to decide where you want to dine! Here are our top picks for the ten best restaurants in St. Augustine.
We adore St. Augustine, America’s Oldest City! Steeped in history, you cannot walk far without running into the past. But for those who are self-proclaimed foodies, St. Augustine has elevated their food offerings. As frequent visitors to this historic city, we are amazed by new food choices on each visit. Here are our favorite St. Augustine restaurants.
>>>Betsi was hosted by Florida’s Historical Coast for some of the meals listed below.
Best Restaurants For Outdoor Dining
One trend from the COVID 19 pandemic is outdoor dining. We have been fans of outdoor dining for a long time, as we often take our four-legged pup Zach with us. Here are our top choices for St. Augustine’s best restaurants for outdoor dining.
The Raintree Restaurant
To really know the Raintree, you must know the story of the McDonald family. In the early spring of 1979, the MacDonald family decided to leave England and sail to the United States on their 45-foot boat with their two children, Gaere and Lorna. They sold all of their possessions, home, business, cars, and most of their furniture.
On November 7, 1979, the family left the Canaries for the sometimes tumultuous Atlantic ocean heading for the United States. On the 17th day at sea, the MacDonalds reached Barbados, and then it was on to the United States. Their final destination was St. Augustine, Florida.
One year after arriving in Barbados, the MacDonalds purchased an old Victorian house located at 102 San Marco Avenue. After ten months of restoring and renovating the house, it became the Raintree Restaurant. Today, the Raintree is still welcoming guests, many of whom came to the Raintree when they were young and are now continuing the tradition with their families.
Each time we dine at the Raintree, we fall more in love with the food. It is evident that creating the dishes on the menu is a passion of the MacDonald family, and it shows in every delicious bite! The service is on point, the atmosphere casual, making for a relaxed and enjoyable dining experience.
The beef wellington is divine and one of our favorites if we are not choosing the fish of the day. Don’t miss out on dessert – it is the sweetest ending you can imagine. The bread pudding, creme brulee, and key lime pie are our top choices; however, the crepes are excellent as well! If you prefer to drink your dessert, the ice cream cocktails are fantastic.
The cocktails include The Bees Knees, a delightful sip of honey, lemon, lavender, and Ford’s gin; Moscow Mule is crafted with New Amsterdam vodka, ginger, and citrus seltzer and is the perfect refresher for a sweltering summer day. The Ramos Gin Fizz uses gin, orange liqueur, citrus, turbinado, cream, egg white, and seltzer. For those on the adventurous side, challenge the bartender to craft a custom cocktail. I love a citrusy cocktail, and the bartender crafted a lavender lemon drop martini for me that was divine!
For wine lovers, the offerings are extensive from across the globe. Located on Aviles, this gem is in the heart of the art district. Forgotten Tonic offers a menu of delicious comfort food created with a modern twist; each dish is tasty and fresh.
The menu encompasses burgers, pasta, fresh seafood, and steaks. Our top favorites at Forgotten Tonic include the Bruschetta, crab cakes, baked brie, and the cajun eggrolls (you really cannot eat just one!).
You can choose outdoor seating on the sidewalk, perfect for people watching, inside, ideal for a romantic evening for two, or take a seat at the bar.
Constructed in 1790 by a prominent citizen of St. Augustine, Don Miguel Ysnardy, it served as one of the first hotels in St. Augustine. In 1904 the mansion was bought by a local cigar maker and then by George L. Potter.
The outdoor dining space has lots of shade provided by umbrellas, pergolas, and trees, making it a comfortable place to dine, even on steamy hot days. At night, strings of lights adorn the garden for a fun and festive atmosphere.
OC White’s is serving up fresh local seafood, burgers, and sandwiches. The drinks are well balanced, and their wine selection is good. Nothing is better on a hot day than a glass of their sangria and a lite bite. Our menu favorites are the shrimp and grits and the coconut shrimp.
The Floridian offers a fresh twist on cuisine for all types of food lovers. Their fusion of healthy Southern comfort food creatively presented will have you coming back again and again. Walking up to The Floridian, you are greeted by twinkling lights in a delightful garden setting – perfect for dining outdoors.
The Floridian embraces sustainable food and sources most of its fruits, vegetables, seafood, and meats from local farmers who practice sustainability. The menu is seasonal, which again plays into their philosophy of supporting local growers and producers. Thomas Jefferson taught that “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens,” and which embraces the philosophy of food at The Floridian.
Among our favorites at The Floridian is the cheeseboard, filled with a selection of cheeses from Sweetgrass Dairy, Thomasville, Georgia (we adore Sweetgrass Dairy!), and served with bread, seasonal fruits, apple butter, and Florida honey. We opted for the addition of summer sausage, which genuinely elevated this charcuterie platter. The Datil pepper tuna poke bowl was incredible with a melding of flavors and fresh-caught tuna. This dish explodes with flavor in your mouth!
The Best St. Augustine Food Tours
Food tours are an excellent way to get an overview of a destination and the foods that are unique to the place, so whenever possible, we try to take in a food tour or two. Food tours also allow you to find St. Augustine’s best restaurants.
St. Augustine Experiences
One of the best food tours we’ve taken is with St. Augustine Experiences. The tour is a walking tour that combines food and the history of America’s Oldest City. St. Augustine Experiences is a great choice for walking history and food tours!
I took the “Perfect Pairings” tour, and let me share that I LOVE this tour! We were not rushed at all at the venues. It was not a huge group experience, which made it personalized and fun and gave everyone a chance to get to know each other and laugh and share stories. Each tour is capped at eight people, which is the perfect number.
The “Perfect Pairings Tour” is only one of their offerings. You can choose from the Ale Trail Craft Beer tour, Not Just a Chocolate tour (I cannot wait to try this one!), or the Land and Sea tour. All tours are walking tours, and last anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours, and include multiple venue stops.
The Tasting Tours
The Tasting Tours “Wine and Dine” chauffeured tour is a wonderful alternative for those who would rather roll than stroll on a food tour.
Each tour includes three hours of fantastic food and wine pairings at five fantastic venues. You will have a knowledgeable tour host who will provide some history of St. Augustine during your time together. This tour includes all food and wine.
Best St. Augustine Restaurants For Casual Dining
We were hooked the second we walked into Boat Drinks. The vibe is very Caribbean, the drinks are refreshing, and the food is tasty. For us, Boat Drinks is a combination of all of our favorite destinations put into a glass to be leisurely sipped and enjoyed.
Let’s begin with the cocktails. They are an escape to your favorite tropical island. They start with fresh juices and house-made syrups. The Goombay Smash, which originated in Green Turtle Cay at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar, was refreshingly delightful and a bit dangerous if you drank more than one.
The Scuttlebutt Swizzle is a trip through the spice islands of the Caribbean, and a balanced flavor palate with allspice, hibiscus, Jamaican rum, lime, and soda. The Scuttlebutt Swizzle is a go-to cocktail on a steamy day. Of course, there are many more choices at Boat Drinks, including beer and wine.
The food is fresh and inspired by the tastes and flavors of the Caribbean. The plantain chips and dips were an immediate hit served with Cuban pimento cheese and jerk ranch; this dish is fantastic! The Cuban pimento cheese is seriously amazing! The jerk chicken skewers were a surprise fusion of Southern inspiration meets island flavors and is a must-taste.
The Columbia restaurant, one of Florida’s iconic restaurants, was opened in 1905 in Ybor City, located in Tampa. Today, the restaurant is still owned and operated by the same family and has expanded to six additional locations across the state, including St. Augustine’s Historic District. The Columbia has the distinction of being Florida’s oldest restaurant. So when you visit Columbia, one of the best restaurants in St. Augustine, you are dining in history, Florida’s oldest restaurant in America’s oldest city.
For cocktails, I love Columbia’s sangria, which is offered in red and white. I opt for the white sangria on hot steamy days, and for sultry nights, nothing is better than their red sangria.
For dishes, you must try Columbia’s 1905 salad, it is amazing! Created with iceberg lettuce, baked ham sliced julienne style, swiss cheese, tomatoes, olives, grated Romano cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and the Columbia’s oh-so-good garlic dressing. Trust me; it is enough for a meal! For entrees, the paella is fabulous and worth the wait. I also love the cannelloni de langosta, which is rich and delicious!
St. Augustine Fish Camp
The word fish camp conjures up an image of a rustic, almost dilapidated building where short-order cooks are slinging fried fish and other seafood. Not St. Augustine Fish Camp!
This elevated dining experience with the relaxed and casual, come as you are vibe is the creation of renowned restauranteurs Ben and Liza Groshell. The restaurant is perched on the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway and was designed to take full advantage of the outrageously beautiful sunsets over the waterway. The restaurant’s back wall is filled with expansive windows to bring the outside in, allowing the amazing waterfront views to be seen from almost anywhere in the restaurant.
The food is fresh, and perfectly crafted, and balanced, and the portions are generous. Take the Blue Crab Cakes with Caper Dill Aioli for example. Now I am a crab cake snob, having grown up on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. I don’t like a lot of filler in my crab cakes; I prefer a lot of crab meat. St. Augustine Fish Camp’s crab cakes rival some of the best I have eaten. They are a large size, and the aioli is the perfect accompaniment.
The Abaco conch fritters with lemon aioli are light and delicious and filled with tender conch. As I was eating them, I could almost imagine I was back in the Bahamas! When they are available, you must try their clam bellies! I had never had these delightful bites before, and I just could not get enough of them. They are delicious!
Carrera Wine Cellar
Carrera Wine Cellar offers far more than just wine, though they stock one of the largest selections of wine we’ve seen. Carrerra is instead a destination to meet friends, sit awhile, nosh on a charcuterie platter, and sip some fantastic wine.
It’s a place to relax and unwind after a hectic day or week, a place to while away a rainy afternoon. We took an afternoon to visit, nosh on their charcuterie platter, and sip a bottle of wine. We thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon, and the charcuterie was a delightful addition.
Carrera also offers a wine club, and if you are visiting St. Augustine with friends, it’s the perfect locale to plan an event like their Boujie Brunch, with a bubbles and juice bar and a fruit, cheese, and muffin board.
With so many diverse food choices in St. Augustine, you’ll find yourself coming back to visit again and again. We visit St. Augustine any chance we get, and we’ve still only begun to uncover only a tiny portion of St. Augustine’s best restaurants.
Article written by Betsi Hill of Betsi’s World.
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