from-ponte-vedra-to-st.-augustine:-7-best-restaurants

From Ponte Vedra To St. Augustine: 7 Best Restaurants

If you’re traveling to the area between Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine, Florida, you’re in for a treat. You will find many delicious restaurants to choose from, no matter what type of food you’re craving.

I visited Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine a few months ago while participating in a group press trip with six other food, wine, and travel writers. I was blown away by the food scene. From high-end restaurants to breakfast brunch bars, the food was phenomenal. You don’t have to take my word for it, though. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite places so you can try them out yourself!

Note: FloridasHistoricCoast.com hosted my trip to Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine. All opinions are my own.

Bronzed Snapper with Roasted Root Vegetables (Photo Credit: Robin Smith)

1. Seahorse Grill

We enjoyed a special dinner in the Coral Room at the Seahorse Grill located on the second floor in the Surf Club at Ponte Vedra’s Inn & Club

A high-end restaurant, the Seahorse Grill overlooks the ocean on one side, with a large aquarium on the other side. 

The Coral Room was the perfect size for our group for dinner. The room overlooked the ocean with a patio. We enjoyed a champagne toast on the patio with appetizers before our meal. 

Classic Beet Salad (Photo Credit: Robin Smith)

Our five-course meal began with butternut squash bisque with smoky rock shrimp. A classic beet salad followed the bisque. The third course included bronzed snapper with roasted root vegetables followed by braised short rib gnocchi with mushrooms, ricotta, and gouda.

Apple Cheesecake (Photo Credit: Robin Smith)

Dessert was a choice of apple cheesecake or fruit.

While the food was scrumptious, I was totally blown away by the service we enjoyed. They seemed to know our every desire and took care of everything before asking. The meal was a great kickoff to several days of fine dining.

Pork Belly Bao Buns at Nineteen (Photo Credit: Robin Smith)

2. NINETEEN At TPC Sawgrass

When visiting Ponte Vedra, you have to see TPC Sawgrass. Even if you are not a golfer, you won’t want to miss the experience of a Stadium Clubhouse Tour and lunch at NINETEEN. You will enjoy award-winning food along with panoramic views of the 18th hole. Their menu features a creative lineup of freshly prepared American and continental cuisine, which changes seasonally to take advantage of fresh local ingredients.

NINETEEN features a large indoor dining room and a wraparound veranda overlooking the golf course for outdoor dining. We were there during the lunch hour, and most guests were enjoying the outdoor porch.

Even though this was casual dining outside, there were no paper plates. Each table had a linen tablecloth and dishes.

Our group of seven enjoyed several appetizers to share. We started with their Pork Belly Bao Buns. The bao bun was soft and tender, filled with scrumptious juicy pork belly and topped with a sesame barbecue sauce. The tangy purple cabbage and carrot slaw added color, texture, and taste.

Fried Brussel Sprouts at Nineteen (Photo Credit: Robin Smith)

Our second appetizer was fried brussels sprouts served with an Asian dressing and bonito flakes. I was never a brussels sprout fan, but these converted me. They were perfectly cooked, a little crunchy with lots of flavor. 

Pretzel at Nineteen (Photo Credit: Robin Smith)

The TPC Soft Pretzel was a huge hit. Never in our wildest dreams did we expect a soft pretzel to be so large. The skin of the soft pretzel was sprinkled with butter and showered with crunchy salt crystals, while the inside was soft. The pretzel was served with queso, red wine mustard, and whole grain mustard. 

Any one of the appetizers was large enough for a meal. Thankfully, I had ordered a salad for my entree. Everyone at our table raved about the food. NINETEEN is certainly an excellent choice for lunch or dinner in Ponte Vedra.

Pro Tip: Be sure to take the tour of the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse. It is open to the public seven days a week from 7 a.m. till 9 p.m. Volunteer storytellers are available to provide complimentary tours. 

Grilled Octopus & White Bean Salad at Palm Fish Camp (Photo Credit: Robin Smith)

3. Palm Valley Fish Camp

Plan to visit the Palm Valley Fish Camp if you desire a neighborhood feel, amazing views, the freshest seafood, and old favorite entrees with new and creative twists. Located on the Intracoastal Waterway, the Fish Camp is where locals eat when they want the freshest seafood. 

Palm Valley Fish Camp has an inviting interior, but their outdoor dining is exceptional since it is right on the water. We enjoyed watching the boats go by and a gorgeous sunset as we ate our meal. 

We ordered several appetizers to share. This is where I tried grilled octopus and alligator tail. Their grilled octopus and white bean salad were a tasty start to our meal. The octopus was tender, succulent, with a slightly smoky flavor. Combined with the black beans and salad, it was a delicious appetizer. 

As appetizers, we also enjoyed fried green tomatoes and fried gator tail with Cowgill’s Datil Pepper Aioli.

I selected the grilled salmon as my entree. The salmon was served over pickled zucchini. Crunchy bacon pieces and crisp lettuce topped the salmon, with red cherry tomatoes on the side. It was scrumptious. 

Dessert was their decadent Sweet & Salty Chocolate Torte. 

Pro Tip: If dining by the water, use the bug spray they provide on your table when you arrive. You will regret it if you don’t!

Aunt Kates’ St. Augustine Style Shrimp (Photo Credit: Robin Smith)

4. Aunt Kate’s 

Aunt Kate’s provides sensational treats for your tastebuds by serving delicious local seafood and Menorcan family recipes for over one hundred years. 

Situated along the bank of the Tolomato River in a grove of oak trees, you can enjoy your meal on the deck under the trees or in the main dining room or bar area.

We enjoyed our tasty lunch on the deck with a slight breeze and shade from the trees. 

Aunt Kate’s has fresh salads, steamed oysters, great soups, steaks, shrimp, Menorcan dishes, and so much more. 

Aunt Kates’ PILAU (Perlo) of the Day (Photo Credit: Robin Smith)

When we visited, I tried a new dish, pilau. It is a traditional Menorcan rice dish with datil pepper, onions, tomatoes, and spices. I loved the spices in the dish and could have made pilau my meal.

I highly recommend the St. Augustine–style shrimp. You can enjoy them fried, grilled, broiled, or blackened. I enjoyed the fried version with black beans and rice as my entree. I was not disappointed. 

Pro Tip: Try Aunt Kate’s Menorcan clam chowder. The spices make this chowder exceptional.

Biscuits and Belly (Photo Credit: Robin Smith)

5. The Floridian

During our time in St. Augustine, we had the good fortune to participate in a food tour. One of the most delicious stops on the tour was at The Floridian. Their food is regionally inspired Southern fare and often arrives straight from the farm or the sea.

We sampled a variety of cocktails, their Biscuits and Belly, roasted tomato and black bean bisque, and Pickle Pepper Shrimps.

Biscuits and Belly are on their “small(ish) plates” menu, but it could easily be your meal. The soft, flaky buttermilk biscuits (gluten-free) with tender braised pork belly served with fancy mustard, bourbon-apple butter, Lil’ Moo cheese, and hot sauce honey was scrumptious. 

The most surprising item for me was the Pickled Peppered Shrimps with pan Pugliese. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I loved the Florida shrimp mixed with sweet onions, capers, pickled poblano, and rainbow bell peppers in a zesty lemon brine with a touch of lemon zest. The toasted pan Pugliese was a perfect match.

Their soups are made from scratch, and they have many vegetarian dishes, such as citrus beet salad and Tofu ‘N Grits, plus a large selection of gluten-free dishes.

The Floridian Swamp Pony (Photo Credit: Robin Smith)

The most unique drink enjoyed at our table was the “Swamp Pony.” It included rum, muddled mint, ginger syrup, lime, and a few other things. 

Pro Tip: Their menu changes with the seasons, so you might want to check out the options online before you go. 

[2021-10-20 15.35.16 Forgotten Tonic – Cajun Egg Rolls – Robin Smith.jpg]

Cajun Egg Rolls at Forgotten Tonic (Photo Credit: Robin Smith)

6. Forgotten Tonic

Our food tour with Alex from St. Augustine Experiences was terrific. He certainly knew the best restaurants. We were able to try so many new and interesting drinks and dishes. 

The Forgotten Tonic, situated in the heart of the historic art district, is a hidden neighborhood gem. Featuring dishes with modern twists to freshly prepared comfort food along with hand-crafted cocktails, wine, and welcoming Southern hospitality, Forgotten Tonic is one restaurant you won’t want to miss.

Raising Cane Beverage at Forgotten Tonic (Photo Credit: Robin Smith)

Everyone at our table ordered a different drink. I tried Raising Cane, created with vodka, elderflower liqueur, blackberry shrub, honey, and lemon. 

We sampled Cajun egg rolls, fried green tomatoes, pesto flatbread, and lima bean hummus.

The crispy Cajun egg rolls were stuffed with black beans, blackened chicken, bell peppers, cabbage, and a spicy ranch dressing. I especially liked the fried green tomatoes, served with tangy citrus slaw and remoulade. (Fried green tomatoes is one of my new favorite dishes!)  Cucumbers, peppers, arugula, feta, and balsamic dressing topped the pesto flatbread. The lima bean hummus was made with with lemon, garlic, sesame tahini, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. It was served with celery and carrot sticks. 

Ancient Brunch Bar (Photo Credit: Robin Smith)

7. Ancient City Brunch Bar

For a quick but delicious breakfast, brunch, or takeout meal, Ancient City Brunch Bar in St. Augustine, Florida, has you covered. They offer bagels, pastries, and delicious meals served on charcuterie boards.

Our group visited for brunch, and wow, what mouthwatering delights we enjoyed. 

The restaurant’s concept was a school project for twin sisters who created the business plan and brought the restaurant featuring charcuterie board meals to life. Their mom runs the restaurant while they attend college.

The girls grew up picking and choosing foods, and they felt the idea of families dining around charcuterie boards would be a hit. I think they were right.

We enjoyed three different boards. The first had some pastries, muffins on when we arrived. The next charcuterie board was the Good Morning board, which included quiche, french toast sticks, waffles, oodles of fresh berries, syrups, and spreads. A protein board followed with sausage patties, crispy bacon, croissants with chicken salad, and curry turkey empanadas. 

Everyone got to taste what they wanted and enjoy a delightful meal in a casual atmosphere. 

You will find dozens of taste-tempting restaurants as you travel from Ponte Vedra to St. Augustine. I hope you will try some of my favorites so they can become your favorites too.

Oh, and delicious restaurants are only one reason to visit this mesmerizing area:

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