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Good eats in St. Augustine/Jacksonville?

My husband and I and our 2 kids are headed to the area for 8 days for the first time. Just curious about the best local places to eat (where locals go). We'll eat anything but we love seafood and ethnic food. Thanks!!

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  1. Salt water Cowboys for seafood and cheese rolls or O'Steen's for their minorcan chowder both along the shore. In downtown St. Augustine, there's the Spanish Bakery with great, cheap empanadas. And on Aviles Street across from the square is La Harencia with good Cuban food and great breakfasts. Lots of folks swear by the Columbia, a Spanish restaurant family owned hain. I think its a bit overrated but their 1905 salad and their paellas are very good. Locals tend to crowd into Ned's on the southside down Dixie Hwy. Small diner with good food, and a bit of "character" in decor. For a bit of upper scale dining try Black Molly's a locally owned restaurant with excellent seafood on Geoffrey Street off Rte 312.

    1 Reply
    1. re: crewsweeper

      It has been a few years since we got up to Salt Water Cowboys- too long! Gotta get back there. Just throwing in my 2 cents to say we have always had great food there- its all good.

    2. Osteen's across the Bridge of Lions for Minorcan stew/soup and great shrimp. Worth the long lines. Coat and tie not required. The shrimp arrive in a plastic basket.

      1. I would consider giving up a major internal organ if someone would give me an idea how to replicate O'Steen's shrimp. I've got a major jones going, and no trips planned in the foreseeable future.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sunshine842

          I'm in that minority that was underwhelmed by O'Steen's shrimp. To me, fried shrimp should have a very crunchy crunchy coating which these do not have. They taste more like they were sauteed & not deep fried. I was more impressed by their fried chicken & Minorcan chowder. Having dined there once, there's no way that I would wait an hour or more to have this meal again. FYI: it cash only!

          1. re: cavandre

            I'm in that minority too. Shrimp is super fresh but I prefer different style than this.

            That said, I routinely detour from I-95 (NC to Tampa area drive) just for the Minorcan chowder and to buy a bottle of their datil sauce. Their vegetables are quite good. It is getting harder and harder to find a nice array of vegetable sides so I take advantage.

            I lived in St. Augustine for a bit in the early '80's and fell in love with Minorcan chowder.

        2. Jacksonville is a goldmine for ethnic food. I don't know where you are staying, but Jax is amazingly diverse culturally, and there are many great ethnic places in strip malls, etc. If you post what part of Jax I can be more specific.

          1 Reply
          1. re: karenfinan

            I just moved to Jax from Toronto and would love suggestions for great ethnic food. I love it all: Persian, Ethiopian, Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, etc. My favorites are family owned spots where I can chat with the owners and learn more about their food and stories. Thank You.

            1. Traveling through St. Augustine a few months ago, my wife and I had a fun/relaxed meal at Mango Mangos on the beach. Food was very tasty with a focus on Caribbean flavors and seafood.

              1. Another idea, with pros and cons: A lot of people talk about Clarks Fish Camp, 12903 Hood Landing Rd, Jacksonville. Not sure if it meets your "where locals go" criteria. Ok, more touristy, but the kids would love it. It is filled- I mean crammed- with huge taxidermys. You can feel like you are in Africa. You can be sitting across the table from your kid and have a stuffed tiger directly over his head, ready to share the Coca Cola with him. So the atmosphere is very unique. The down side is that the food is just average. I can't think of anything that stands out in a positive way about the food. I've been there twice, and thoroughly enjoyed the eye-popping surroundings.

                1. What's your best in St. Augustine...be there next week and it's been years since I've graced that lovely town..seafood lover.
                  Thanks so much!

                  1. A great place for seafood that is strictly locals only is Checker- not Checkers with an s, that is chain fast food. Checker is in a slightly dodgy part of Jacksonville, but has absolutely amazing fresh seafood. On the weekends they have one seating only, must have reservations because they fill up quickly. It is Buffett style, but since one seating, nothing sits for very long. It is byob or they have sodas there. Not much ambience, just great seafood for a very reasonable price. The owner/chef always comes around with beautifully fried shrimp mid meal. I always leave with a large leftover box.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: karenfinan

                      We will be in St Augustine next week. Cherker sounds great. Can you tell me where it is located?

                        1. re: Bumstead

                          Checkers sucks. And if you're sending people from St Aug to Checkers you need to check your map....Smokin D's is the best BBQ in the entire area, and it actually has a St Aug address on Phillips Hwy.