I recently visited the St. Augustine historic district, and ate at a restaurant—the first time in over a year.
But eating in the historic district is a little tricky. Many restaurants don’t post their hours, and some aren’t open on Mondays.
I planned to eat at Delish Kebabs Brazilian Street Food (12 Cathedral Pl). A few weeks previously, I’d placed a take-out order of the Veggie Kabab Salad Combo. The veggies were nicely grilled and the serving was plentiful. The kebab was laid over a bed of salad. The meal came with a small container of balsamic dressing and two small containers of homemade cilantro sauce. The cilantro sauce could be jarred and marketed separately—it was so good that I’d have bought a jar to take home.
However, I forgot that Delish Kebabs doesn’t open until 11:30 AM, and I was hungry. I decided to start walking, and eat at the first place that looked open and had a relatively healthy menu.
From Cathedral Basilica (corner of Cathedral Place and St. George Street), I walked north on St. George Street. I passed the Columbia Restaurant (corner of Hypolita Street and St. George), hands-down the best restaurant in the district—and it opens at 11:00 AM! The food is of the highest quality and is typically cooked to perfection. I can personally recommend the Grilled Grouper and Scallops Casimiro. I also enjoyed the flavorful yellow rice. (Desserts are the restaurant’s weak point.)
I’ve been to the Columbia several times and the service is typically exceptional (only once average). Natural light floods the restaurant’s interior, and a fountain in the middle of the dining room makes it feel as though one is eating outside.
However, the Columbia is also one of the most expensive restaurants, and today I was seeking something more budget-friendly.
I continued walking and passed MiMi’s Famous Crepes. Although it was after 11:00 AM, it still wasn’t open—counterintuitive for a place selling breakfast fare.
I finally reached the end of St. George Street, and now I was starving. I decided to have a snack to satisfy my stomach until I could fill it properly. Across the street form the Old City Gate, I saw a sign that said Auggie’s Mini Donuts (2 St George Street). I cringed just a bit, since I normally avoid sweets. But just this once…
Just inside the door of Auggie’s is a counter, and behind the counter a river of hot oil, which is clear to light-amber in color. A machine flips little donuts into the oil, which then float downstream. The treats are then flipped again onto a tray.
The donuts are then prepared to the customer’s preference. There are a number of toppings one can choose, some of which require a surcharge. I ordered the cinnamon sugar, which was included in the price.
OMG! They were indescribably good, and the warm dough melted in my mouth. Auggie’s Mini Donuts have become my new secret indulgence!
Six mini donuts run $4.00. It looks like a small serving, but it left me feeling satisfied.
I walked back up St. George Street to a restaurant that always looks intriguing, and yet I usually skip. I usually skip it because I often can’t tell whether it’s open, but today two young women were sitting near the door, rolling silverware into napkins.
The St. Augustine Seafood Company (33 St. George Street) has an outdoor eating area, which looks small from the street. But the patio wraps around the back of the restaurant, and there are a number of tables. Some of the tables can handle larger groups.
I ordered the Fresh Catch fish sandwich, blackened. The sandwich itself is topped with tortilla chips (sounds odd, but it works), cilantro coleslaw, and a creamy cilantro sauce ($15). For the side, I chose the watermelon and cucumber salad. The watermelon and cucumbers were mixed with a bit of onion, lime juice, and a smattering of blueberries. The lime juice gave the salad a pleasant tang. The entire meal was delicious, and the server was cheerful.
From previous visits to the historic district, I can also recommend these restaurants:
The Floridian (closed on Tuesdays; 72 Spanish Street)
This restaurant offers some vegan and vegetarian options. I can personally recommend the Dixie Burger (choice of beef or a black-been and sweet-potato patty). I’ve had the black-bean/sweet-potato burger and it was large and full of flavor.
I’ve also had one of their salads, but it looks as though this particular salad is no longer offered (I suspect the drizzled honey was attracting too many yellow jackets).
At the Floridian, one can eat outdoors or indoors. The service has always been good at this restaurant, and prices are moderate.
The Kookaburra (24 Cathedral Place)
This is a good place for a quick cup of coffee in cooler months. The service is quick, and the coffee price is reasonable. I had one of the savory veggie pies, but it wasn’t very good.
The Café Hidalgo (35 Hypolita Street)
This restaurant is very small, and the service was a bit slow. But the prices were reasonable and the Greek salad I had was fresh and delicious. I’d definitely visit again.