Though many come to explore the history of St. Augustine, the food scene attracts repeat visitors all year long. The country’s oldest city’s food scene is constantly evolving, with new restaurants popping up. From Peruvian to Argentinian to seafood and coastal favorites, there is always something new to sip and sink your teeth into in St. Augustine.
St. Augustine is one of our favorite coastal Florida cities, and as frequent visitors, we feel like locals and enjoy discovering the many diverse culinary options in St. Augustine. It’s pretty difficult to narrow down our choices, but after eating our way through St. Augustine, we’ve compiled our standout favorites to share with you, though they are in no particular order.
Florida’s Historic Coast and The Tasting Tours hosted portions of our visits. All opinions are my own.
1. Urban Asado
Asado is both the technique and social event of having a barbeque and originated across countries in South America. According to Nick Carrera of Urban Asado, the Asado is a community gathering centered around food.
The concept is modeled after Carrera’s childhood experiences of “having family and friends over to share a meal in the backyard. Everyone brought something to share on the grill.” At the very heart of it, is the experience at Urban Asado you will come away with — time spent with friends and family as you savor the food and the company in a relaxed atmosphere.
You’ll find Urban Asad located on the San Sebastian River banks in a restored warehouse on Riberia Street. During the week, the warehouse is home to the design and building of Asado grills. On the weekends, there are two seatings for the Asado dinner.
Nick and his wife Christie have created an immersive culinary dining experience that you will never forget! Two massive outdoor brick grilling areas take center stage. Tables are scattered across the sandy ground, and white Edison-style lights transform the area into a beautiful dining space.
Our meal consisted of five rustic, delightful culinary creations complemented by a bottle of wine (you are encouraged to bring your own). A fresh and delightful ceviche kicked off our meal, followed by, grilled bread and cheese, salad, a grilled meat platter with chicken thighs, chorizo, picanha steak, and grilled vegetables. The final dish of the evening was a literal slice of Florida — pineapple flambé, featuring roasted pineapple.
Pro Tips: 1. Bring an appetite! You will not leave hungry! 2. If you are visiting in the late fall into winter, St. Augustine can get a bit chilly. Be sure to check the weather and dress appropriately. The weekend Asados are held rain or shine.
2. Ancient City Brunch Bar
Charcuterie board meets brunch deliciously at Ancient City Brunch Bar! One of St. Augustine’s newest eateries is a true family endeavor and was the brainchild of twin sisters Sophia and Emily, encouraged by their mother, Melissa. Sophia and Emily are college students, so Melissa is hands-on daily in the shop.
Grazing, à la charcuterie board, is not a new concept to this brunch family. One of the girls is a vegetarian, while the other has a health condition, making meals challenging for mom as they were growing up. According to Melissa, the kids have always been in the kitchen, starting when they were babies.
At that age, laying food out and letting them pick and choose their favorites was how she fed them. Sophie and Emily bring a foundational family dining concept to locals and visitors alike at Ancient City Brunch Bar.
3. Cafe Alcazar
Located in the Lightner Museum in the former indoor swimming pool of Henry Flagler’s Hotel Alcazar, the cafe is a unique chic eatery immersed in a storied history. Vintage photos adorn the walls depicting women and men in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You can almost picture the swimmers and the laughter and fun of playing in Florida’s first indoor pool.
The atmosphere is casually upscale. Crisp white linens dress the elegant tables. A baby grand piano dominates one corner of the cafe as a pianist softly accompanies the conversations eddying throughout the room.
The food at Cafe Alcazar is savory and delicious. Our favorites are the escargot, delicate and classically prepared and flavorful with just the right amount of garlic. The sesame shrimp did not disappoint with 8-10 medium shrimp artfully presented and served with sesame soy sauce for dipping. Another fabulous choice is the crepes. These culinary delights are light and savory, filled with ricotta, cream cheese, spinach, mushrooms, and onions topped with a bechamel sauce.
Pro Tip: Make reservations at Cafe Alcazar.
4. Drunken Horse
The Drunken Horse is one of those rare and surprising finds. Tucked away behind a walled courtyard on Charlotte Street, you’ll find an ideal stop after a full day of exploring St. Augustine. Entering the gates of the courtyard are scattered tables for those who prefer alfresco dining. From the courtyard, as you peer inside, you’re treated to a massive selection of wine. The Drunken Horse quickly became a favorite of ours as we spent an extended period of time in the old city.
In addition to its wonderful wine selection, it has a fabulous Mediterranean-inspired menu, including charcuterie and cheese boards. We were taken by the charcuterie selections, and the fabulous French onion soup (prepared the traditional French way, without a large amount of cheese or bread baked into the soup).
All of its dishes are freshly prepared and artfully presented. The wait staff is not intrusive, allowing ample time for you to savor your meal and linger over a last glass of wine. The Drunken Horse is a fantastic choice for a romantic dinner.
5. The Gifted Cork
The Gifted Cork is one of those unique places for us that as soon as we entered the door it felt like home. Perhaps it is the eclectic collection of gift items coupled with the extensive wine selection that will please even the most discriminating palate; perhaps it is the helpfulness of the owner and her staff, or the location in the heart of St. Augustine’s historic downtown. Maybe it is a combination of all of these and a bit of St. Augustine’s magical charm. It’s a place to enter as a stranger and linger over tasting fabulous wines and perusing the gifts, and leaving as a treasured friend.
You’re sure to expand your wine palate during an afternoon tasting, or just stop in for an
afternoon glass of wine or three. Each afternoon there is a wine tasting, and you’ll receive a tasting of five of its monthly featured wines. For those who need a respite from all of the exploring and shopping that St. Augustine offers, stop in Monday through Thursday from 4-6 p.m. for Happy Hour, and wines by the glass. It’s a great way to begin the evening fun in St. Augustine!
The owner of the Gifted Cork, Jeanne Maron, is a self-described wine geek, and first-level sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Her love of wine shows in the extensive selection of wines she offers.
No matter where you choose to dine in downtown St. Augustine, you’ll be immersed in history. The city is an ideal destination for food and drink lovers, history buffs, and golfers. There is something for the entire family in St. Augustine!
The Tasting Tours
The Tasting Tours opened for business in 2011. Created by two female entrepreneurs, Andrea Jones and Joanne Engel, the Tasting Tours prides itself on curating the best culinary experiences through the historic downtown. Keeping its fingers on the pulse of St. Augustine’s food scene is critical to the company. No tour is ever the same, making it the perfect unique experience for visitors and locals alike.
The Tasting Tours is an excellent way to kick off your visit to St. Augustine. The tour lasts about 3 hours and includes a selection of restaurants, wine bars, and other venues. Our tour included eight people, five stops, and a narrated history of St. Augustine.
It offers a selection of food, cocktail, wine & charcuterie tours. During the Christmas season, there are five additional tours. These tours coincide with St. Augustine’s annual Nights of Lights Celebration. The tour choices include carriage rides, tours with the Grinch, Santa, and Scrooge.
Pro Tip: When planning your visit, keep in mind that many of the choices include strolling through the historic downtown area. Many of the streets are uneven, and during both Christmas and summer seasons, the sidewalks can become clogged with people.
St. Augustine is a diverse city with a wealth of attractions for visitors: