My favorite type of casual eatery down here in Florida is the kind that serves up heaps of fried gator tail, conch fritters, and a relaxed, beachy vibe. The Oasis, a place I wrote about here, is one of those places. With its tiki huts and waterfront location, the Conch House also qualifies.Their Reggae Sunday is legendary in the area, and the food is a perfect match for the chilled-out tunes. You of course can’t go wrong with the meaty gator tail…Or the conch frittersEntrees are also good, like the nut-crusted grouper salad…Or the blackened wahoo sandwich (Phil’s favorite). Don’t miss Reggae Sunday from 3-7pm; also perfect for a lazing away the afternoon with a margarita or a cold one, any day of the week. http://www.conch-house.com 57 Comares Ave, St Augustine, FL 32080 (904) 829-8646 Le Café is an often overlooked diner just outside of the historic district on US1. Lunches of French melts with au jus or quiche are served up by the French owner’s daughter. Don’t miss the beignets and coffee. 415 S Ponce De Leon Blvd, St Augustine, FL 32084 (904) 826-1034Another diner just behind Flagler, Georgie’s Diner offers all the classic diner staples with a Greek twist in one of the coolest buildings in town.I tried the enormous Greek sampler with moussaka, grape leaves, spanokopita, and Greek salad. There was enough left over for two more lunches!The chicken fried steak with brown gravy, a fried egg, hash browns, and a biscuit was equally belly-busting, but oh-so-Southern.The classic corned beef hash was also, of course, huge and delish.Lighter fare is also available – my dad ordered a chicken wrap with sautéed Greek potatoes. But it couldn’t compare to the rest of our calorie bombs. Always busy and bumpin’ for weekend brunch. http://www.georgiesdiner.com/ 100 Malaga St, St Augustine, FL 32084 (904) 819-9006
Gypsy Cab Co. is a local favorite. I found it didn’t quite live up to all the hype. The menu lacks focus, portions were ridiculously sized, and everything seemed smothered in cheese or cream yet lacked proper seasoning. Chicken and chorizo with black beans and rice was a jumbled, soupy mess.The chicken enchiladas were exactly what you would expect.And, the four-nut crusted chicken was nice and crisp before they smothered it in under-seasoned cream sauce. And, hey, what about the sauce for the pasta? It was literally boiled pasta tossed with some chopped parsley.My dining companions were very happy, for what it’s worth. Next time I’ll order a sandwich. Or go when I have a hangover and want melted cheese smothering my food beyond recognition. http://www.gypsycab.com/ 828 Anastasia Blvd, St Augustine, FL 32080 (904) 824-8244
I’ve been to Madre’s on picture-perfect Aviles Street more than any other place in St. Augustine, and would definitely consider it my local haunt. They offer California cuisine in a festive surfer atmosphere.It’s the perfect feel-good place for happy hour drinks Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, when Miller High Life drafts are only $1! Warm housemade chips, salsa, and pickled carrots are complimentary whether you only come for drinks or plan to stay for a meal.The specialty is Baja fish tacos, and along with the chips and salsa, one portion of tacos is enough to share. If you ask nicely, the chef will even split one order into two plates. 8 Aviles St, St Augustine, FL 32084 (904) 823-1371 The Spanish Galleon Café wins awards for their freshly-brewed coffee. Nathan’s hot dogs are on the menu, you can get breakfast all day, and their special is a steak sandwich. Stop in for a coffee and a snack in the hours between lunch and dinner. 210 Saint George St, Saint Augustine, FL 32084 (904) 824-1610 ** I'VE REMOVED THE SECTION ABOUT O'STEENS BUT HERE ARE SOME PHOTOS: **
205 Anastasia Blvd, St Augustine - (904) 829-6974
On a much more upbeat note, Florida Cracker Café is another one of those places offering fried gator tail and conch fritters in a fun, unpretentious setting right on pedestrian St. George Street. During happy hour, I’ve enjoyed 6 Amber Bocks for $12, including tip. There’s live music in the courtyard – I especially like the Skinny Lizards who play every Wednesday. Stop in for a beer and a bite and take a break from all that sightseeing under the hot Florida sun. http://www.floridacrackercafe.com/ 81 Saint George St, St Augustine, FL 32084 (904) 829-0397 And don’t forget about Stir it Up on St. Augustine Beach, which I wrote about here!
Later this week: St. Augustine Round-up Pt 3: Casual Upscale Dining.