Fresh Fish, Legendary Wine and Fun Festivals Enhance St. Augustine's Dining Scene

By Hollie Deese on May 4, 2011 at 8:56 pm EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Young

When it comes to dining out, St. Augustine residents don’t have to rely on chain restaurants. Fresh ingredients and fine wine combine to make eating out nothing less than a truly toothsome experience.

As one would expect in a city this close to the ocean, seafood is a main attraction. At Raintree, housed in a century-old Victorian building and owned by British expatriates, they use the fresh fish to wonderful effect, such as the satisfying seafood au gratin, shrimp and fish baked in a creamy alfredo sauce and adorned with breadcrumbs.

If you are looking for something a little lighter, The Tasting Room plays upon the area’s Spanish heritage with some truly tempting tapas. With some ingredients imported from Spain, the extensive menu changes with the season, offering an array of intriguing, palate-pleasing items accompanied by fresh herbs, vegetables and delectable sauces.

Another historic area is represented at Athena Café and its sister restaurant, Georgie’s Diner, where owner George Chryssaidis has brought his family’s famous olive oil – known as “liquid gold” – all the way from Frixa, Greece.

When it comes to pairing the perfect pour with your meal, head over to the wine room at Opus 39 (with the same chefs as The Tasting Room). Diners are invited to sample a variety of wines after presentation of the menu, which features both local organic produce and exotics from abroad. With more than 400 selections by the glass, the knowledgeable staff can suggest some innovative pairings to accompany each meal, or break it down by individual course.

Speaking of wine, San Sebastian Winery is located in the heart of St. Augustine, the “birthplace of American wine.” San Sebastian features table, sparkling and dessert wines from hybrid and muscadine grapes. The winery is also the guilty party behind some of the area’s fabulous food festivals, from a fine art and jazz show to the harvest festival and grape stomp. Just try and beat your mate in a stomping competition after a few glasses of port.

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