The charming coastal city of St. Augustine, Florida can feel like a slice of Spain right here in North America. Walking down the cobblestone streets of America’s oldest city yields colourful buildings set against romantic beach views, ancient war forts, and countless odes to the city’s founder, Spanish settler Ponce de León. A popular escape for wedding weekends, family trips, and golf getaways (TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship, is just minutes away), St. Augustine has a little something for everyone—including gastronomes. Here, the best places to wine and dine in St. Augustine.
For special occasions.
Led by chef-owner Michael Lugo, Michael’s Tasting Room is one of the coastal city’s true buried treasures. A man passionate about Mediterranean-Spanish cuisine, chef Lugo serves a creative twist on unbelievable Spanish food and drink in this casual-chic hideaway. Our recommendations: the local shrimp sautéed with chorizo, braised beef short ribs with yucca mofongo, sangria, and goat cheese terrine with olives, pesto, and a Pedro Ximenez wine reduction.
If you’re craving a Southern breakfast, Maple Street Biscuit Company is your spot. Known for its sweet and savoury chicken biscuits, this laid-back spot spares no expense when it comes to indulgence. For a hearty way to start your day, get the the Sticky Maple—it tops a flaky, homemade buttermilk biscuit with fried chicken breast, pecan-wood-smoked bacon, and maple syrup, and is every bit as delicious as it sounds.
For lunch on the green.
With the world-renowned TPC Sawgrass just minutes away, golfing is a popular local activity in St. Augustine and after 18 holes, you’ll need some food. For a tasty lunch break, head to Nineteen, a casual-elegant spot in the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse with bacon and blue cheese Saratoga chips, Carolina pulled pork sandwiches, and fried green tomato po’ boys.
Opened in 1905, Columbia Restaurant is both the oldest restaurant in Florida and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. When you’re done gawking at its bright Cuban and Spanish decor, take some time to peruse the menu. The crab croquettes, paella “a la Valencia”, the Cuban sandwich, and award-winning 1905 Salad are not to be missed.
For a local speciality.
Another example of Spain’s influence is found in the Minorcan datil pepper. This St. Augustine specialty is best eaten on a stick, covered in chocolate. While many bakeries sell it, no one does it better than Hot Shot Bakery & Café—there’s even a Wall of Flame to prove it.
For everything chocolate.
Opened in 1966, Whetstone Chocolates’ chocolate shop-turned-factory handcrafts dark, milk, and white chocolate, cocoa nibs, gator-shaped chocolate bars, Valencia orange-tinged chocolate shells, and flavoured fudges (like key lime, for one) that chocolate lovers have come to crave. Whetstone also invites you to whet your appetite with its daily Original Chocolate Tour—tastings included.
For New York-style pies.
You’ll know you’ve come to the right place when you spot the eager line line winding down St. George Street. A favourite to travellers and locals alike, Pizza Time satiates craving for New York-style pies with a variety of flavours such as ricotta, Romano, mozzarella, and garlic Bianca, as well as the Brooklyn Special (sausage, meatball, bacon, and mozzarella cheese).
For when you just can’t decide.
Feeling overwhelmed by all the choices? Try it all. Considered the original foodie tour, City Walks Savory Faire Food & Wine Tasting Tour promises stops at several of St. Augustine’s most popular eateries—Polish bakeries, wine bars, cafés, tapas spots—peppering the tour with historical trivia. St. Augustine is proud of its heritage, and what better way to celebrate it than through food.
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