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Gastronomy in St. Augustine, Florida: discover the city’s culinary specialties and restaurants

Thanks to its rich and varied culinary scene, the city of St. Augustine is the perfect place to enjoy a wide range of culinary delights. St. Augustine is a true gourmet’s paradise.

This small northeast Florida town, the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States, boasts over 450 years of culinary heritage.

Throughout history, the Spanish, British, French, Africans and Caribbeans have all influenced the region’s cuisine

Piment datil, Minorcan chowder, pilau, freshly caught shrimp and fish, grits and Cajun cuisine… the food scene in St Augustine skilfully blends the delights of the sea and the influences of Southern U.S. cuisine with it’s Caribbean and European roots.

In this article:

  • Culinary specialities to discover in St. Augustine
  • Our restaurant suggestions
  • A food tour to try

Diverse and marked influences

Pilau served at The Floridian - St. Augustine, Florida
Pilau served at The Floridian restaurant

Through occupation and immigration, each group has left a legacy in the city. Among these are the Minorquans, a name you’ll hear regularly when presented with some of the region’s typical dishes.

The term refers to the indentured servants who came to Florida, mainly from the island of Menorca, but also from all over the Mediterranean basin, to work on the indigo plantations. Their dishes include Minorcan chowder and pilau (pronounced per-low).

Here are just a few of the region’s specialties to try on your next visit:

  • Pilau, a dish based on rice, tomatoes, meat and fish.
  • Minorcan chowder: a unique variation on the classic clam chowder where tomatoes replace the cream, with onions, vegetables and the region’s must-have pepper, datil.
  • Datil pepper, originally from Florida, varies in spiciness.
  • fromjadas: cheese turnovers.
Minorcan Chowder served at Catch 27 - St.Augustine, Florida
Minorcan chowder served at Catch 27

Of course, the influence of southern cuisine is never far away, and fried green tomatoes or grits with the catch of the day are very present on menus. The proximity of the sea can also be felt in the dishes, so expect to fill up on freshly caught fish, shrimp and other seafood.

Poke bowl with tuna - Salt Life, St. Augustine St. Augustine, Florida
Tuna Poke Bowl at Salt Life Food Shack

Restaurants to discover in St. Augustine

Restaurants to discover in Saint Augustine

This culinary diversity is also reflected in the choice of local restaurants in St. Augustine. Fancy Italian or Greek cuisine, seafood or the atmosphere of an Irish pub? You’ll have a wide array of options amongst all the great restaurants in America’s oldest city, from casual eatery to fine dining.

A lot of them are located in St. Augustine’s historic district.  Here are a few restaurant suggestions we tried out while in the city:

The Floridian: Located in the heart of St. Augustine, this friendly restaurant with outdoor seating is a local favorite. It serves cuisine that celebrates the southern US dishes, but with a Floridian twist and local ingredients.

The menu offers a nice mix of more robust dishes (such as pulled pork served with waffles or fried chicken) and lighter versions of classics such as fresh-caught seafood or fish of the day served with grits or the reinvented Nicoise salad. Not-to-be-missed dishes include fried green tomatoes, sausage and shrimp pilau and braised pork belly with biscuit.

Courtyard of The Floridian restaurant, St. St. Augustine, Florida
Courtyard of The Floridian restaurant

Chez L’Amour: Just a few minutes’ walk from the historic city, Chez L’Amour is also well worth a visit. To the sound of a jazz band (check the website for live entertainment hours), you can enjoy a variety of dishes to share and fresh entrees.

Chef Ellie draws inspiration from her many travels for her seasonal menu, featuring incredible popcorn chicken with curry mayo, crispy maitake mushrooms and black garlic confit, a refreshing citrus salad, salmon carpaccio and jumbo shrimp.

Citrus salad - Chez L'Amour - St. Augustine, Florida
Citrus salad served at Chez L’Amour

Catch 27: Also in the old city, this restaurant’s inner courtyard is the place to go for fresh seafood and fish, shrimp and seafood. In addition to fish, it serves an excellent minorcan chowder. It’s a very nice setting for a romantic dinner.

Meehan’s Irish Pub: The Irish community is well represented with this pub, which serves Irish classics (chowder, stew, corned beef and cabbage, as well as a very good Guinness), several seafood dishes and excellent burgers.

We loved the terrace with the waterfront views, the oyster bar upstairs and the more intimate courtyard at the back.

Burger served at Meehan's - St. St. Augustine, Florida
Burger served at Meehan’s

Café Alcazar: CIn the historic downtown, Café Alcazar is unique in that it is housed in a former indoor swimming pool. In the late 1800s, St. Augustine was a popular resort destination for high society, thanks to the opening of the Hotel Ponce de Leon and the Hotel Alcazar by Henry Flagler. Built in 1887 in the Spanish Renaissance style, the Hotel Alcazar housed the world’s largest indoor swimming pool at the time. Today, the hotel has become the Lightner Museum, but the swimming pool has been transformed into a restaurant serving Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.

Café Alcazar restaurant, visited during our food tour of St. Augustine
Café Alcazar restaurant, visited during our food tour of St. Augustine

Salt Life Food Shack: Before or after visiting the lighthouse, the St. Augustine Maritime Museum and explored Anastasia Island, take a gourmet break at this restaurant. Featuring a large rooftop terrace and an interior that evokes the beach and surf, you can enjoy an excellent tuna poké bowl as well as tasty breaded shrimp.

Salt Life - St. Augustine, Florida
Salt Life Food Shack – St. Augustine

Harry’s seafood bar: Another great place, on Avenida Menendez is Harry’s seafood bar. They serve fresh local seafood and cajun and creole dishes, to the sound of live music. 

Take a food tour

If you want to discover several restaurants without breaking your bank, or if you don’t know where to start, opt for a food tour. Several such tours are available, and we had the opportunity to try out the one offered by Tour St. Augustine’s City Walks.

Created over 16 years ago, it’s the quickest and most convenient way to try out different places.

In small groups, we visited 3 restaurants, including Café Alcazar, as well as a number of small shop and coffee place, all accompanied by glasses of wine. The tour was also an opportunity to walk around the historic center with a guide who not only told us about the origins of many dishes, but also gave us lots of information about the history of the city and the buildings we came across on our tour.

What and where to eat in St. Augustine


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