One of the most enchanting features of St. Augustine is the prolific waterfront. From the banks of the Matanzas to the beaches on the island, the serenity of the water is omnipresent. However, when it comes to the desire to enjoy an evening of waterfront wining and dining, the choices are not that obvious. Don’t despair, there are some amazing selections for those with guests to entertain or a special occasion to celebrate. Spring is on the way and soon these waterfront restaurants will start buzzing with excitement. So, read on as you imagine yourself drinking a fine glass of wine or enjoying a groovy cocktail while a cool breeze ripples the water’s surface just beyond your table’s edge.
Funky Caribbean Fun On the Intracoastal
Beaches at Vilano
254 Vilano Road – St. Augustine
Beaches at Vilano is a family-oriented waterfront restaurant complete with a beach and marina dockage. Conveniently located on the Intracoastal Waterway, Beaches is the perfect choice for a family outing. Jump on your boat with a beach towel and prepare to relax while enjoying a Caribbean style menu and some tropical cocktails. The white sand beach and the Tiki bar will make you feel like you’re on vacation.
Friendly Face: Look for Diane at the bar and ask her to serve you up one of her favorite signature cocktails. She said, “I love working here as it is a super-fun atmosphere with a great view.”
Signature Drink: Try a Goombay Smash or go wild with a Naked Turtle Rum Bucket.
Favorite Dish: General manager, Holly Maloney suggests trying the Sunset Tacos or Shrimp & Grits. The shrimp tacos have just the right amount of crispiness, along with a sweet chili blend of perfection. If you are in the mood for heartier fare, the shrimp atop a grit block crowned with shrimp, bacon, chopped tomatoes and covered with a luscious cream sauce will satiate any appetite.
Laid-Back Beachfront on the Island
2 A Street – St. Augustine Beach
Have you been to Beachcomber lately? This beachside eatery was purchased over a year ago by Steve & Danielle LeClair and Don & Ashley Samora. Steve, a food truck wizard from Syracuse, along with his wife Danielle have made some big changes. The interior was redesigned with bar and tabletops being salvaged from a 200-year-old Syracuse tree. Those plastic cups have been replaced with real wine glasses and beer mugs. And every day offers delicious specials from Steve’s vast vault of culinary secrets.
Friendly Face: Patty is behind the bar with a charming smile, a friendly attitude and an amazing collection of craft beers.
Signature Drink: Danielle doesn’t let a beer and wine only license stop her from designing some amazing cocktails. Try her Sake Mule, which blends ginger infused sake, lime juice, ginger beer, and fresh mint or the Pink Moscato Lemonade, which is a combination of moscato, strawberry, lemon, and mint.
Favorite Dish: Every evening Steve puts the pork on to slow roast overnight, which he uses to prepare an amazing Cuban sandwich loved by all. Other favorites are the brie burger and the fish tacos.
Understated Elegance on the Matanzas
Cap’s on the Water
4325 Myrtle Street – St. Augustine
Any special occasion should be rewarded by a riverside table at Cap’s on the Water. Restaurateur Bernard de Raad purchased the restaurant in 1999. He said, “I love this place so much. I love being a host and having a great time in a classy place with a laid-back atmosphere.” The sunsets are amazing here and the menu selections are eclectic and unique. Imagine a pan seared catch served on wilted spinach over orzo and topped with roasted tomato jam. Another favorite is the fried green tomato burrata.
Friendly Face: BT and Tim have both been behind the bar for years. Look to them for tips on choosing a fine wine. The extensive wine collection offers over 40 selections by the glass as well as more than 500 labels, which will certainly include your favorite white or red.
Signature Drink: Enjoy a classic old fashioned with any selection of top shelf bourbons.
Favorite Dish: Owner Bernard de Raad chose the mushroom croquettes as his personal favorite. The croquettes feature mushroom aioli, truffle oil, and shaved parmesan.
Get Crazy with Locals on the Creek
160 Nix Boat Yard Road – St. Augustine
This rustic southern style plantation house, which sits adjacent to Gonzales Creek is a hidden local favorite. The building is charming with a tin roof and rustic river décor. The outside deck is massive with an impressive open fire-pit. After dinner, kick up your heels and listen to some local musicians.
Friendly Face: Nick is super friendly – so ask him to make you one of the drink menu’s Creekside Creations!
Signature Drink: The signature creations include Creekside Lemonade and Sunburn.
Favorite Dish: Sloan is the manager, and she suggests trying one of their specialty plank dishes. Choose from fish, chicken, or steak baked on a one-inch thick oak plank. Or, if oysters turn you on, this is one of the best places in town to indulge your palette with a bucket of steamed local oysters.
Have a favorite waterfront restaurant that didn’t make our list? Sound off in the comment section below!