FRESH DISHES, OLD FLORIDA STYLE
By Robert Waldner
Photos by Tammy Harrow
299 DONDANVILLE ROAD • 904-471-2332 • SALTWATERCOWBOYS DOT COM
Anastasia Island’s Dondanville Road is adorned with the riches of paradise from end to end. On its eastern base are the golden sands of St. Augustine Beach, embraced by the tides of the Atlantic Ocean. On its western end lies St. Augustine’s oldest continuously operated eatery, picturesquely placed in the midst of the quaint, grassy tributaries of the Intracoastal Waterway. First opened in 1963 by the namesakes of the road that it so serenely crowns, Saltwater Cowboys is an establishment that has weathered the wear of time, as well as some of Mother Nature’s fiercest elements.
Owned and operated by partners Scott Singleton, Judy Adams-Smith, Terry Richardson, Peter Lawlor, and Bill White since 1978, the roots of the Old Florida style eatery’s iconic title took hold long before they took the reins. “The restaurant was named ‘Cowboys,’ after Howard Dondanville’s nickname, when we bought it from him and his wife, Ruth,” says Singleton.
The restaurant’s origins speak of a simpler time in Northeast Florida. Howard and Ruth Dondanville embraced that simplicity with their menu, and maintained a reputation for consistently good food. The new owners wanted to honor the Dondanvilles’ legacy of simplicity and consistency, while adding their own personal touch.
“When we took over, we added Saltwater to the name,” says Adams- Smith. “We thought it would be fitting, since we are best known for our fresh seafood.” Through several menu expansions and building renovations, Saltwater Cowboys has been able to provide locals and tourists with an unforgettable dining experience. Having bounced back from extensive damage after both Hurricanes Matthew, and Irma, the team believes Cowboy’s is stronger than ever. “Cowboy’s is an institution in St. Augustine,” says Singleton. “We strive to provide everything on the same level. The inviting atmosphere is nothing if we don’t provide top-notch food and excellent service.” Designed to replicate a turn-of-the-century fish camp, Saltwater Cowboys is equipped with large windows that are perfect for viewing the setting sun as it splashes tones of pink and orange over the deep green grasses of the Intracoastal marshland. Complement the view with a plate of steamed oysters, a juicy steak, or a fresh Floridian salad and a signature beverage from the bar, and there’s a good chance nothing will stop you from coming back.
To get some tasty oysters or a signature cocktail at Saltwater Cowboys, head over to 299 Dondanville Road. For more information, visit the Saltwater Cowboys website. Call ahead seating is available, 904-471-2332.