Valentine’s Day is on Sunday this year, and Sunday in St. Augustine means BRUNCH!
Granted…the hub and I don’t get to eat brunch very often in St. Augustine (it’s what they call #innkeeperproblems–and it’s hard when you have the best breakfast in St. Augustine). That being said, I LOVE brunch–it is one of the best ways to spend a Sunday morning.
There aren’t a ton of brunch spots in St. Augustine–and with social distancing in effect there is less seating than ever–so if you’d like to enjoy Valentine’s Day brunch with your sweetie, make your plans now.
Here are some suggestions for the best brunch in St. Augustine:
Easiest Walk: OC White’s
So…my first brunch choice is absolutely OC White’s. It is only about a block and a half from the inn–so a super easy walk. If you’re only comfortable eating with outdoor dining, you’re in luck: they have an outdoor patio, and there is usually great air circulation thanks to the breeze, They have a GREAT brunch. It’s not a huge menu (just a section on their regular menu), but everything I’ve had there has been great. Omelets are my favorite. Brunch is every week on Sunday from 9:30- 1:00. www.ocwhitesrestaurant.com. Easily walkable–even in heels.
Best Outdoor Dining: Gourmet Hut/Crucial Coffee (shown below)
I’ve always loved outdoor dining in our Florida sunshine, but Covid has made it a must. Crucial Coffee has almost all outdoor dining (they have 2 tables inside), and a beautiful garden setting. Great for a casual brunch; since Gourmet Hut and Crucial Coffee share the garden space, you’ll see people sometimes just getting coffee). They sometimes have daily specials written on the blackboard when you walk into their outdoor space, so always check before grabbing a table. Breakfast bowl, eggs benedict, French toast, and good omelets. The Gourmet Hut (wordpress.com) Walkable (not quite as far as the fort).
Most Traditional: The Reef
A more traditional brunch is available at the Reef Restaurant in Vilano Beach (about a 15 minute drive from the inn, and lots of parking). They have several kinds of egg benedict, a multitude of omelets, waffles (including chicken and waffles), sausage and biscuits, and salmon and cream cheese. If you are traveling with someone who doesn’t want breakfast food, they have soup, as well as what they call “lunch appetizers”, including crab cakes, spinach and artichoke dip, and seared tuna. They have a deck that was just enlarged a few months ago, so they have nice outdoor seating right on the ocean. Served 10:30 – 3pm. www.thereefstaugustine.com (Note: The Reef is traditional in that people seem to dress up for it a little more. It is definitely not “fancy”, but it is more traditional in that way, because I believe it’s usually a slightly older crowd. Probably not on Valentine’s Day…but every other Sunday). Drive.
Best Crazy Drink: Chatsworth Pub
Here’s one that’s not traditional at all. Chatsworth Pub is right across from OC White’s, and they are owned by the same family. I am mentioning them for one reason: the Queen Spritzer. It is a mixed drink they serve on weekends…and it is topped with a donut!! They open at 10am on Sundays, and have a regular menu, but if you’re not completely into a traditional brunch, try the Queen Spritzer and Chatworth’s charcuterie board. www.thechatsworthpub.com. Easily walkable.
Best Farm-to-Table: Preserved Restaurant
Preserved Restaurant is a farm-to-table restaurant with an emphasis on southern cooking. They are in Lincolnville, which is a decent walk, maybe about 15 minutes (they have a small parking lot, but it can fill up). The walk is easy–you just walk down Bridge Street which is right next to the inn until you bump into the restaurant. It’s a beautifully restored old Victorian. They have limited outside seating, both in a pergola next to the restaurant, and on the wrap around porch. They have quiche, French toast, chicken and biscuit, and a bunch of omelets. Preserved is a little more formal–if you wanted to dress up a little, you would blend right in. Brunch is served 10-2pm on Sundays. www.preservedrestaurant.com Walkable in comfy shoes.
Best Grab-n-Go: Maple Street Biscuit Company
If you don’t want to dress us, Maple Street Biscuit Company, on Cordova Street is super casual. It’s just north of Flagler Colelge, so it attracts lots of students. Maple Street is a small chain, so you may have heard of them. They have limited outdoor seating on their front patio, but it’s also just as easy to grab a sandwich to-go and eat it in one of the parks. As expected, lots of biscuits–great biscuits–made into sandwiches, a lot with chicken. Walkable–down the street from Flagler College. Open every day from 7am – 2pm (perfect if you want brunch during the week!) www.maplestreetbiscuits.com/old-city
Most Unique: Ice Plant
The Ice Plant, next to the distillery, also has a brunch (10am-3pm). It is a small menu, but amazing. If you’re concerned about Covid, it does not have outdoor seating, but it is an old warehouse that has 30′ high ceilings, so the air circulation is good. The crab eggs benedict are my favorite, and they also have a good broken egg sandwich. The French toast is interesting–it comes with watercress, fennel, pickled shallot, hazelnut goat cheese, and a honey-sherry vinaigrette. I have not had that, and the savory sounds offbeat, but I have loved everything I’ve ever gotten from there (breakfast, lunch or dinner), so I’m sure it’s good. www.iceplantbar.com The outskirts of walkable–I would recommend driving unless you feel a longer trek will give you reason to eat more!
Most New: Roosevelt Room (shown above, photo by the Restaurant Times)
Finally, a new place–the Roosevelt Room! It has the most “brunchable” menu of the bunch. Right next to Prohibition Kitchen (same owners) on St. George Street. The Roosevelt Room is as stately as its name–huge crystal chandeliers, and a dramatic staircase perfect for wedding receptions (which was the plan, but which have been put on hold a bit with Covid). I have not eaten here yet, but some of our staff has, and it got all raves. The brunch menu includes Croque Madame, candied bacon as a side, eggnog griddlecakes (seasonal–but usually some kind of griddlecakes), a fancy avocado toast, etc. RR Menu — Prohibition Kitchen (pkstaug.com) Walkable.
Locals’ Favorite: Blue Hen
Because I have a hard time convincing the hub to get brunch (let alone breakfast!), I LOVE the Blue Hen and its amazing breakfast items. I oftentimes get the breakfast burrito with avocado–it has black beans, crispy potatoes, and it’s so good with a huge dollop of datil pepper sauce (don’t worry–every table has a bottle!) Also, some of the best homemade biscuits you’ll ever have–make sure you try them with the peach butter. Located in Lincolnville, 8am-2pm, with a limited breakfast menu from 11am-2pm (both the burrito and the biscuits are on the smaller menu). Closed Monday and Tuesday. www.bluehencafe.com Drive from the inn.
Most Surprising Brunch: Hangar One
Speaking of driving, here is an off-the-beaten-path choice that will satisfy any visiting foodie. Hangar One is–as you might expect–in the St. Augustine airport. You didn’t know we had an airport? Well, we do and it has an amazing restaurant in it. Lobster Eggs Benedict. Nutella Crepes. Short ribs biscuit and gravy. It’s a menu with flair, and food just as good. Open 11:30am-3pm Saturday and Sunday www.hangaronebistro.com. About a 15 minute drive from downtown; right on Route 1.
Those are our ten favorite spots, and what we think is exceptional about each one. But we’re always looking for new spots–so where is your favorite?