St. Augustine, America’s oldest city, exudes charm and genteel Southern grace. It’s almost as if this magnificent city-by-the-sea, with its brick-paved walkways and coquina-shelled buildings, has been untouched by time. Everything here seems to reflect its fascinating Spanish heritage and Old-World allure.
While history definitely attracts visitors to this cultural treasure, its amazing culinary scene delights all who come here. No visit to the Castillo de San Marcos, the Pirate and Old Jail Museums, or the Colonial Quarter would be complete without savoring some of the best seafood on the East Coast.
Blessed with its seaside location and abundant waters, St. Augustine sports numerous top-notch restaurants offering fresh and innovative seafood. Make no mistake about it, while other mouthwatering Southern specialties can be found here, seafood reigns supreme in St. Augustine. Here are some of our favorite seafood restaurants in St. Augustine.
5 Best Seafood Restaurants in St. Augustine, FL
118 Avenida Menendez // 904-824-0808
Our very first dining experience in St. Augustine a few years back was at O.C. White’s. When we returned several years later, we were just as pleased with this quintessential laid-back St. Augustine restaurant as we were the first time.
This legendary eatery, located on the picturesque bayfront overlooking the city yacht marina and the historic Bridge of Lions, is housed in what was once known as the 18th-century Worth Mansion.
Lunch and dinner are served daily along with a weekly Sunday brunch.
Entering through the front doors is like walking through the portals of history.
The first-floor dining room and lounge are a restored replica of O.C. White’s mid-19th century interior with its stone-covered walls and period decor.
Not surprisingly, a life-size replica of a swashbuckling pirate appears to be carefully eyeing diners, waiting for a chance to grab some booty.
The historic restaurant is rumored to be haunted. Even owners and staff confirm unusual sightings they’ve encountered on the restaurant’s second floor. Of no surprise, diners often request to be seated here.
Outdoor dining areas including a romantically lit tropical garden courtyard accompanied by soft ocean breezes – the perfect place to enjoy one of the restaurant’s renowned signature cocktails.
Libations like Mermaid Margarita and Bimini Breeze fit the environment to a tee.
An upstairs balcony is also an immensely popular dining spot for guests. But the main reason patrons come here and return again is for the seafood.
Fresh catches of the day are one of the most popular menu items for the variety of ways diners can have them prepared – blackened, grilled or fried, and are served with rice and vegetables.
For a real chef treat, my fresh catch, a local snapper, was done “crabby” style topped with blue crab, sherry and sun-dried tomato cream sauce. It was a real winner.
Despite the hearty portion, I had no problem finishing this savory seafood delight.
My friend’s Bronzed Salmon, a fresh Atlantic variety dusted with Cajun spices and brown sugar and then seared to a golden brown, was magnificent.
102 San Marco Ave. // (904) 824-7211
It’s fine dining and service at its very best each evening in the elegant yet casual atmosphere of Raintree Restaurant.
The stately Raintree resides in a beautifully restored yellow and white 1879 Colonial Victorian abode in uptown St. Augustine. While the city and the building may be old, the St. Augustine seafood cuisine featured here is innovative, fresh, and created.
In 1979, owner Lorna MacDonald and her family sold everything they owned and sailed from England to the U.S. on their 45-foot yacht to make St. Augustine their new home.
They found the historic Victorian structure in 1980, and after ten months of renovation, the newly-renovated St. Augustine seafood restaurant was opened, much to the delight of locals and visitors alike.
A replica of the MacDonald’s yacht is located inside the restaurant.
Outdoor dining features a brick courtyard surrounded by white gazebos.
Raintree’s intercontinental menu artfully blends Mediterranean, American and Asian cuisine. The result is decidedly delectable.
Because we were with a group on our visit, we shared a few seafood starters before our main entrees. Top favorites? Ahi Tuna Carpaccio and the amazing Bang, Bang Shrimp Castillo, lightly fried and topped with a Buffalo Sweet Sauce.
Fresh catches of the day here are absolute winners. My sea bass was perfectly topped with a lobster butter champagne sauce.
A non-seafood house favorite is an exquisitely tender Beef Wellington with filet and truffle pate baked in a light and flaky puff pastry.
It’s further proof that the best restaurants in St. Augustine can excel at much more than just seafood. This was one of the best preparations of this dish that we’ve ever tasted.
But save room for one of Raintree’s amazing in-house made desserts. Our favorite hands-down was the Bourbon Street Bread Pudding, bringing a New Orleans classic to a restaurant in St. Augustine.
40 Charlotte St. // 904-217-3542
When locals recommend a place where to eat in St. Augustine, it’s usually a good sign. And even the name of this fresh catch restaurant is “catchy.”
Located in the heart of the historic city, Catch 27 derives its moniker from the fresh local catches that highlight its menu. And of course, Florida is the nation’s 27th state. Hence the name.
Owner Stephen Hutson’s passion is serving only local, sustainable fish.
The dining room mural pays homage to the many different types of fish found in these coastal waters – Mahi-Mahi, flounder, triggerfish, pompano, sheepshead and vermillion snapper.
Every dish at this charming seafood restaurant is made from scratch, using only local sustainable produce and seasonal ingredients. Daily fish selections vary according to what’s seasonably available and caught by its local fishermen.
Lunch and dinner menus aren’t extensive but they’re a perfect mix of appetizers like Deviled Egg BLT with Southern Fried Oysters (yes, it’s all one dish) to spicy chowder and healthy salads.
We’ve never tasted anything like the Minorcan clam chowder, a tomato-based version that gets its spicy kick from the datil pepper, a potent vegetable indigenous to the region.
Main entrees feature St. Augustine shrimp, blue crab, a blackened fish sandwich and shrimp or fish tacos.
A local favorite here, other than the daily catches, is the Grits & Shrimp – a white cheddar and bacon Canewater Farm grit cake and collards, topped with sherry cream sauce and a five-pepper relish. It’s unbelievably good, and really locks in Catch 27 as one of the best places to eat in St. Augustine!
Though the eatery features a selection beer, wine, and specialty cocktails, the restaurant allows patrons to bring their own wine and just pay a $10 corkage fee.
108 Anastasia Blvd. // 904-201-6300
When Blackfly opened its doors in 2012, it became one of St. Augustine’s best new dining adventures.
Co-partners Mike Hyatt and Cindy Stangby had already established the very successful Collage, a first-class dining establishment in the city.
This time, however, the pair teamed up with restaurateurs Vaughn and Jean Cochran and Doug and Charlene Brummell to bring their expertise to the heavily seafood-focused Blackfly.
The eclectic restaurant, with vintage fishing rods hanging from the ceiling and Vaughn’s internationally recognized artwork adorning the walls, specializes in locally caught fish.
Its offerings like Wahoo and Hog Snapper are ones not usually seen on most other St. Augustine seafood menus.
By infusing unique flavors of places they’ve lived and visited like the Bahamas, Mexican Caribbean, and Latin America, they’ve managed to come up with an amazing and winning combination of foods.
Blackfly prides itself in being a “scratch kitchen” using local and sustainable seafood and farm-fresh veggies. Partnering with local farms in the neighboring community makes all the difference in the quality of its entrees.
A perfect starter before the main course was the Florida Peach Salad, a tantalizing mix of field greens, fresh Florida peaches, prosciutto, pistachios, and a macerated peach vinaigrette.
Note to self: sharing was a mistake. Next time we’ll each order our own. It’s that good.
Being a scallop lover, I couldn’t resist the Sugar Cane Skewered Scallops, diver caught sea scallops coated in Florida sugar cane, then pan-seared. Served with a cauliflower puree and spicy Shishito pepper succotash, this creative combination worked beautifully.
My spouse, the salmon lover, was thrilled with the Dynamite Salmon. This Togarashi-spiced Nori wrapped salmon mignon was topped with a spicy crab aioli, tempura fried sushi cake, and wilted spinach and avocado-wasabi mousse.
On a final word, BlackFly is definitely one of those restaurants you won’t soon forget. It’s that innovative and incredible, certainly among the best seafood in St. Augustine. It just doesn’t get better than this.
46 Avenida Menendez // 904-824-7765
A distinctively different menu from other St. Augustine eateries, Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille captures the essence of the birthplace of jazz in its New-Orleans inspired restaurant.
Open for lunch and dinner, this iconic eatery has been serving the finest authentic New Orleans-style seafood, grilled steaks, chicken and pasta in St. Augustine for more than 30 years.
If you are looking for a St. Augustine restaurant on the water, this could be your place – just across the A1A from the waterfront.
While Harry’s does have four other restaurants located throughout Florida, their St. Augustine dining is consistently top-notch. This is why patrons come back again and again.
Cajun, Creole, and Southern flavors are perfectly infused with a modern twist and the results are fun and impressive.
We loved Harry’s Signature Crab Cakes, available as a starter, lunch or dinner entrée. Pan-seared and served with a roasted red pepper aioli, these are mouthwatering and there’s definitely no shorting on the lump crab meat.
Blue Crab-Crusted Blackened Redfish (a New Orleans original) is another big winner here. So is the Shrimp and Scallop Orleans lightly blackened over a crispy grit cake with a Tasso ham cream sauce.
Honestly, though, we’ve never had anything here we didn’t love.
Hit any of these on your next visit to St. Augustine and it’s guaranteed they’ll be at the top of your list when you return again for the best seafood in St. Augustine.
Which of these St. Augustine seafood restaurants do you most want to try? Let me know in the comments section below!
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Noreen Kompanik is a Registered Nurse and San Diego-based travel writer and photographer. Over 400 of her published articles have appeared in 38 different digital and print publications. She especially loves writing about family travel, luxury travel, food, wine, coffee, history and travel writing and shares these articles on her travel website What’s In Your Suitcase.