Forgotten Tonic - St. Augustine
Photograph: Courtesy Forgotten Tonic

The best restaurants in St. Augustine

The best restaurants in St. Augustine are where young chefs now reign over America’s oldest city

Eric Barton
Contributor: Sara Ventiera
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America’s oldest city serves as the antidote to the typical Florida vacation. With no mouse-themed parks, the draw here is the charming streets of historic downtown. There, you’ll find not only an ancient Spanish fort made literally out of coral but also inns and restaurants where young chefs have begun reinventing the city. St. Augustine is no longer defined by fudge shops and touristy fish sandwiches but by spots where farm-to-table menus highlight what’s fresh from the sea and nearby farms. But don’t think you can head to St. George Street and stumble into any old spot. You’ll need this, our list of the best St. Augustine restaurants.

At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.

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Best restaurants in St Augustine

1. Lotus

Chef Barry Honan worked at some of the country’s best restaurants before returning home and running a ramen pop-up in St. Augustine. That morphed into Lotus, where Honan employs the advanced techniques he picked up at Le Bernardin in New York City and Alinea in Chicago to create Asian-influenced dishes, and of course ramen, that would shine in any big city.

2. Ice Plant Bar

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As the name suggests, this spot is located in a historic ice plant that dates back to 1927. Meticulous when it comes to presentation, the drinks here are made with three different types of custom cubes crafted from 300-pound blocks of ice. On the food menu, you’ll find Southern staples like pimento cheese and skillet fried chicken with hoecakes.

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3. Llama Restaurant

Llama is a fine dining spot serving up some seriously elevated Peruvian cuisine. Here, you eat with your eyes and your stomach, as the presentation is almost (as well as the venue) as beautiful as the taste of the food itself. Try the ceviche lima with Key limes, the octopus carpaccio with olive aioli and the arroz con mariscos, a creamy risotto with Andean peppers.

4. Prohibition Kitchen

Right in the middle of the historic district of St. Augustine, Prohibition Kitchen is known for its farm-to-table menu and hand-spun milkshakes. The dimly lit eatery looks to the Prohibition era for visual decor–even the menu looks like an old newspaper. On the weekend, local bands play live music to keep up the old-timey vibes.

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5. Old City House

A charming 19th-century inn serves as a romantic backdrop for one of St. Augustine's finest of fine dining restaurants. Chef-owner Juan Solano's menu hits Latin and Mediterranean dishes in a cozy dining room or a courtyard lit by twinkly lights.

6. Forgotten Tonic

A lengthy drink menu sets the stage for a night at Forgotten Tonic, a charming downtown spot where small plates reign. Start with the fried green tomato and baked brie, and continue on to the mussels with chorizo and a brown butter cake with lemon curd.

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7. Catch 27

Catch 27 is a seafood restaurant that serves locally caught fish, shellfish and seafood to patrons with big appetites. Expect Southern-inspired items like deviled eggs with crispy fried oysters and bacon, delicate crab cakes and salmon with crawfish-andouille creole sauce.

8. The Floridian

The Floridian offers a tropical vibe that can put most tiki bars to shame. Local producers and growers are all spotlighted throughout the seasonal menu with items. Bonus points: most of the menu can be modified to be gluten-free.

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9. Collage Restaurant

This quaint restaurant in St Augustine’s historic district offers local ingredients prepared with an international flavor. Collage is touted for dishes including house-made burrata cheese that’s hand-stretched and stuffed with goat cheese mousse and lobster ravioli in pesto cream sauce.

10. St. Augustine Fish Camp

St. Augustine Fish Camp has plenty of outdoor seating to take in the shimmering water mere steps away from the patio. The menu leans into the owner's Southern roots with dishes like fried gator tail, pimento cheese spread and low-country boils. For dessert, a white chocolate bread pudding is the star of the show.

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11. Raintree Restaurant

Raintree Restaurant has been open in St Augustine since 1981, but the historic home has been a landmark since 1879 (the building is one of the only original Victorian structures in St. Augustine). The menu is approachable, with items like shrimp and house-made sausage, Kobe beef burgers and steamed mussels. When Sunday brunch rolls around, the menu indulges classic items like eggs Benedict and croque madame.

12. Conch House Marina Resort

Conch House is a Caribbean-influenced restaurant nestled along the shore of Salt Run. Fresh-caught fish is the special here, done up with an herbed compound butter, panko crusted or Minorcan style with goat cheese and datil jelly. Keen to soak in the view? Sit outside on the deck to enjoy the warm Florida sunshine and watch the boats and fishermen as they drift past the inlet.

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14. Burrito Works Taco Shop

With two locations, Burrito Works serves up tacos and burritos however you like them. The beach-side dive uses local produce and hormone-free meat to ensure everything is full of flavor. Looking for the most popular item? The carne asada-loaded fries and Baja-style fish tacos are two of the stand’s biggest crowd-pleasers.

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15. Brisky's BBQ

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Real southern BBQ is plentiful in the Sunshine State. In St. Augustine, that means going to Brisky's BBQ. As the name suggests, the restaurant is known for its brisket, but you should also try the smoked turkey and pulled pork to get a good taste of everything this joint offers. For starters, the BBQ nachos are always a hit when dining with friends and family; the plate of nachos is piled high with freshly fried chips, queso, chopped brisket, tomatoes, jalapenos, and a final drizzle of sweet BBQ sauce.

16. Gas Full Service

Gas Full Service is a hotspot for sandwiches and burgers. The restaurant makes all of its buns and bread in-house and forms every burger patty by hand. Spice-seekers will love the jalapeño popper burger, a half-pound burger stuffed with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and fresh jalapeños before it’s battered, fried, and piled high with traditional toppings.

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17. Meehan’s Irish Pub

There are actually two restaurants in one at Meehan’s, where there’s a traditional Irish pub with fish and chips and corned beef and cabbage on the lower level. Head upstairs and you’ll find Johnny’s Oyster Bar, where freshly caught seafood and a bar that overlooks the Matanzas River offers an altogether different vibe. But no matter where you dine, the atmosphere is as relaxed as the Irish beer is cold.

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