St. Augustine, Fla., has a strong and well-deserved reputation for its history. Everywhere there are references to historical figures such as Pedro Menendez de Aviles, who founded the city in 1565, and Henry Flagler, who transformed the area from an alligator-infested swamp into a playground for the rich during the late 1800s.
Today the beaches, museums and architecture that range from quaint to stunning are all part of the fabric of this city that welcomes everyone regardless of the size of their wallet.
However, what might not be immediately apparent is that St. Augustine is a phenomenal food city by the sea.
I can personally attest to the diversity of St. Augustine’s eateries—both in what they serve and the décor and ambience. Restaurants here are unique and charming. Another plus is that the vast majority are locally owned with hardly any chain eateries located in the heart of this 447-year-old city.
I had one palate-satisfying meal after another while I strolled the streets on my own and was guided on an arranged food tour.
I stumbled upon Pizzalley’s at 117 St. George St. on my first morning in St. Augustine while looking for a place to grab some light breakfast. The free sample offered outside the small shop was pizza perfection and lured me in to place an order. The dough was light but with a crispy bottom. A single slice of pizza topped with onions and pepperoni made for a surprisingly great breakfast.
On a Savory Faire Food walking tour, I sampled food and drink from five restaurants and one wine shop one afternoon. Among my favorites: La Herencia Café, a Cuban café on Aviles Street where I noshed on a delectable ropa vieja sandwich with shredded brisket and melted swiss cheese; Meehan’s Irish Pub and Seafood House on Avenida Menendez with its great views of Matanzas Bay and where their reuben roll (corned beef and sauerkraut in a spring roll) and Irish clam chowder received two thumbs up. At Gourmet Hut on 17 Cuna St. (where the chefs create a new menu each day), even though I was full I couldn’t get enough of she-crab soup, tenderloin/potato stack and key lime pie. My party of nine dined outside in a lovely garden space between the “hut” and its sister business, a coffee and dessert shop.
Along the way, our guide shared tales about the city’s history, architecture and colorful characters.
The two-and-a-half-hour food tour through Tour Saint Augustine (www.stauustinetours.com) costs $49 per person.
Although they were not part of the walking tour, I also had three other culinary experiences worth noting. The Tasting Room at 25 Cuna St., features contemporary Spanish food in yet another warm and cozy setting. Two free taste-and-see experiences can be had at Whetstone Chocolate Factory (three locations) and San Sebastian Winery at 157 King St., where one can learn about their history, production process and, yes, sample the artisan chocolates and fine wines.
For more information on visiting St. Augustine, go to www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com.