Skip to main content

America’s Oldest City Has a Super-Modern Dining and Drinking Scene

Founded in 1565, the seaside city of St. Augustine, Florida bears distinction as the oldest European-founded settlement in the continental United States.  Evidence of St. Augustine’s longevity can be seen in the city’s many examples of classic Spanish architecture and in its many historical landmarks (including the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, which supposedly served as the Floridian landing spot of legendary Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon). But St. Augustine also counts among the small Southern cities making distinct names for themselves in the American culinary landscape. Like Birmingham, Alabama, Asheville, North Carolina, and Lexington, Kentucky, St. Augustine enjoys under-the-radar foodie status, although its reputation continues to grow as more and more restauranteurs and bar owners stake out their claim in this scenic waterfront town. Read on for eight examples of contemporary and inventive bars and restaurants in this venerable Florida destination.

The Ice Plant

St. Augustine Distillery, a liquor-making operation producing bourbon, gin, rum, and vodka, locates its operation inside a former ice plant building … which is where the distillery’s on-site cocktail bar found its name. The Ice Plant uses fresh-pressed juices and top-quality spirits (including plenty sourced from St. Augustine Distillery) to craft flavorful cocktails like The Rising Sun (Japanese whiskey, shochu, toasted sesame, lemon, seltzer) and The Edge and Back (tequila blanco, Campari, St. Augustine-grown datil pepper, cucumber, grapefruit, lemon).  The bar also specializes in ice, offering fresh-cut versions from a large master block and custom cubes. Should you work up an appetite while sampling The Ice Plant’s beverages, the bar also serves a full dinner menu, featuring items like local shrimp & okra beignets, the Ice Plant Burger made from Wagyu beef, and duck leg confit with roasted peaches.

San Sebastian Winery

Introduction to San Sebastian Winery

Just a few blocks from The Ice Plant, you’ll find San Sebastian Winery, a full-scale winemaking operation using grapes grown in northern and central Florida. In addition to classic varietals like Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Cabernet Sauvignon, San Sebastian’s partner vineyards grow sizable crops of Muscadine grapes, a style native to the southeastern United States and used to make the full-bodied and fruit-forward Vintners blends available at San Sebastian. In addition to tours and tastings, San Sebastian also operates an on-site wine bar and jazz club called The Cellar Upstairs, where guests can enjoy glasses of vino and small bites like cheese and charcuterie boards, street tacos, soft pretzels, and chicken wings. 

A1A Ale Works

A1A Ale Works

Prefer a frosty beer to a glass of wine or a snifter of spirits? Luckily for you, St. Augustine has its own waterfront beer bar: A1A Ale Works. With a spacious outdoor balcony and wide windows overlooking the ocean, A1A is an ideal place to kick back, order some pub grub (like crab cakes, beer cheese soup, or Minorcan clam chowder with local datil peppers) and sample local Florida brews like a Honey Pilsner from Orange Blossom Brewing in Orlando, a Nonchalant Session IPA from Nonchalant in Jacksonville, or a Floridian Hefeweizen from Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park. 


Preserved Restaurant
Preserved Restaurant

Although Florida often finds itself excluded from discussions of Southern regional cuisine, the northern areas of the state feel particular kinship with the South and its culinary traditions. In St. Augustine, residents and visitors alike can get their fill of Southern fare with a chef-driven twist at Preserved. Headed up by James Beard nominee Chef Brian Whittington, Preserve focuses its menu on locally-grown produce and locally-raised proteins, all used to prepare hearty dishes like shrimp and grits, mussels frites, bouillabaisse, and braised beef short rib with roasted mushrooms and brussels sprouts. 

The Village Garden Food Truck Park

Thanks to its mild annual temperatures, St. Augustine is a prime locale for outdoor dining. Therefore, it makes sense that St. Augustine would join other warm-weather food cities like Austin and Los Angeles in developing a vibrant food-truck scene. The Village Garden Food Truck Park serves the valuable purpose of bringing some of the city’s most beloved food trucks together onto a single property plot, which also includes umbrella-ed tables, corn hole courts, board games, and plenty of space for visitors to spread out and get comfortable. The regular truck vendors at The Village Garden range from Big Island Bowls Hawaiian-inspired smoothies and poké to smoky ribs and pulled pork at Riptide BBQ to wood-fired pizzas at Pele’s Kitchen. 

The Floridian

The Floridian
The Floridian

A charmingly retro space packed with reclaimed wood, rattan accents, and succulents, The Floridian offers down-home, Southern-influenced eats with equal priority given to indulgent comfort foods and lighter, more health-conscious options. Menu highlights include a House Fish Dip with local lemon and caper-seasoned fish, cream cheese, bell pepper, and red onion, a Cornbread Panzanella salad with toasted cornbread croutons, arugula, heirloom tomatoes, and pickled onions, and a Shrimp & Sausage Maque Choux with Creole risotto, fresh shrimp, and locally made sausage. 

Hurricane Patty’s

Of course, a coastal city like St. Augustine will take enormous pride in its fresh-caught seafood, and restaurants like Hurricane Patty’s build their menus around the daily catches. This laidback seafood shack is a local favorite, with St. Augustine residents flocking to the outdoor deck to nosh on Hurricane Crab Dip, fresh steamed crawfish and clams, blackened grouper and mahi-mahi, and even blackened or fried Florida gator tail. 

The Hyppo Coffee Bar

A St. Augustine institution since 2010, The Hyppo became famous for its artisanal popsicles, which come in flavors like Apricot IPA, Avocado Mint, Datil Pepper Cheesecake, Key Lime, and Peach Ginger Bourbon. Recently, The Hyppo opened a new location in St. Augustine, offering its suite of popsicle flavors, espresso beverages, and a selection of local beers and wines. The Hyppo Coffee Bar is already a major hit with St. Augustine residents, and it provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to relax with some caffeine and a unique icy treat. 

Editors' Recommendations

Taylor Tobin
Taylor Tobin is a freelance food, drink, and lifestyle writer based in Brooklyn. She's contributed content to publications…
Dogfish Head and Northern Monk are collabing for a trans-Atlantic rye IPA
dogfish head northern monk collab screenshot 2024 06 10 184512

Iconic U.S. craft brewery Dogfish Head is collaborating with hip British brewery Northern Monk to create a rye session IPA that brings together the best of each brewery. The collaboration is the first in a series from Northern Monk, working with a group of friends called Endless Hum, aiming to celebrate bands and artists beloved by the brewers and to create the perfect beer for watching your favorite musicians live.

The rye session IPA is citrusy with orange and resin, plus juniper, sage, and other spices and features a hint of tropical fruit.  "Monk and Dogfish Head came up with the concept over two shared ideas; firstly, we both have enjoyed playing with small percentages of rye in the grist of session beers for that extra depth of flavor and mouthfeel it can bring, and secondly, we both enjoyed the white sage twist we added to last year's Hop City collaborative release," Northern Monk writes.

Read more
These new whiskies from Chivas Brothers can only be found in duty free
Pick up a bottle the next time you travel
Scotch drams

Two new whisky collections from Chivas Brothers are on their way to release, but if you want to pick up a bottle from either, then you'll need to check your airport next time you're flying. The new releases are exclusive to "global travel retail" -- or duty-free to you and me.
Royal Salute Small Batch Collection
The first of the pair comes from Royal Salute, which is debuting its Small Batch collection. The idea is to showcase rare and unusual whiskies that have been aged for several decades in various casks. Eight whiskies are in the collection, all presented in distinctive purple packaging and each aged between 25 and 28 years. Some of the casks used include rye, French oak, and Pedro Ximénez sherry, and the bottles will sell for between $450 and $750.

“Each of the eight whiskies available in this Small Batch collection were matured in special casks which I have personally selected on my travels around the world," said Sandy Hyslop, master blender at Chivas Brothers. "This is a truly unique collection, with each individual whisky having a unique flavor profile, providing an array of choice to suit different preferences and open up new tasting experiences.”
Ballantine's Golden Hour
The second release is from Ballantine's, which is introducing a 23-year-old Golden Hour series. The series features blended Scotches aged for 23 years, with the first release aged in Cognac casks. This 40% abv bottle will be released first in travel retail in the Asia Pacific region, selling for $279.

Read more
Grab some pastis and try a Mauresque cocktail
The Mauresque cocktail is perfect for a hot summer day
pastis mauresque cocktail stephan coudassot fbzljy8kmpy unsplash

One of the great delights of being a cocktail enthusiast is trying new flavors and drinks from around the world that you might be not exposed to otherwise. One drink that's popular in its home country of France but rarely seen outside it is pastis -- an anise-flavored spirit that's commonly enjoyed as an aperetif (and occasionally used in cooking as well). Flavor-wise, pastis is similar to its better-known cousin, absinthe, but it doesn't have such pronounced bitterness and uses milder star anise for flavoring rather than the brash green anise.

That makes pastis a more sippable, mellow alternative to absinthe. On hot days, it's commonly mixed with water and ice for a pre-dinner drink. This preparation is also responsible for the drink's most distinctive feature: when water is added, it turns from clear yellow to soft, milky white.

Read more