Although food is our main passion, another big passion of ours is travel. The two things go hand in hand, so we’re launching a new series that combines these two interests: MFP Destinations. Whenever we manage to get outside of South Florida — whether for a week or just a weekend– we’ll be posting our own guide of what to do in that specific city.
For this first installment, we’re focusing on St. Augustine. Located roughly five hours north of Miami by car, it’s the nation’s oldest city. As a result, there’s a lot of history here; expect to learn quite a bit about the city — and Florida in general – as you explore St. Augustine’s attractions. It’s not all forts and museums, though. There’s a bustling culinary scene as well, as we quickly found out.
Here are some of the best spots we discovered during our weekend trip there.
For breakfast, head on over to this cozy cafe on St. George Street that’s been in business since the 1980s. If you have trouble finding the place, just follow the scent — the smell of Cinnamon Buns will guide you. The namesake item should be the first thing you order, but there’s other bakery fare like croissants and cookies that will hit the spot, too. Craving something savory? Sandwiches, pot pie, macaroni and cheese, and other hearty selections are also available. But again, the cinnamon buns are where it’s at.
The name says it all. These aren’t regular waffles and shakes, though. Cousteau’s fun flavors and toppings will have you opening up Instagram in no time. The Hennessey, for example, is their version of s’mores: a waffle topped with chocolate sauce, toasted marshmallow fluff and graham cracker crumbles. Prefer something lighter? The Plimpton waffle comes topped with fresh blueberry compote, whipped cream and local honey.
While we’re on the topic of sweets, let’s talk about The Hyppo. Since you’re going to spend a lot of time strolling through St. Augustine — everything in the heart of town is within walking distance — grab a Gourmet Ice Pop for the road. At this cool spot, the pops are made fresh daily and the flavors are always changing; each experience is different. Expect traditional flavors like strawberry and chocolate alongside blackberry cheesecake and other seasonal options.
Fried chicken and biscuits go together like peanut butter and jelly, and this restaurant has been serving up that comfort food staple since 2012. First-timers should go with The Five: a flaky biscuit, all natural fried chicken breast, pecan wood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese topped with sausage gravy with a little kick. It’s a giant portion and you’ll need a nap afterward, but it’s so worth it. If you still have room, opt for a side of the Smokey Mountain Mac and Cheese. You’re welcome.
All the places we’ve listed so far are casual for the most part. For something a little more upscale, Cellar 6 delivers a great dining experience with plenty of wine and live music; it’s a perfect date night destination. The wine bar is dark, but the iPad menus make ordering a cinch. You probably won’t need the menu except for ordering wine, though — this is one of those places where you should listen to the dinner specials. While the regular menu has your typical and tasty restaurant fare (steaks, pastas, salads, etc.), the daily deals put the kitchen’s creativity on full display.
We never really associated craft cocktails with St. Augustine until we checked out Odd Birds. This quirky bar is doing its part in growing the city’s drink culture with small batch libations and a chill backdrop that’s perfect for happy hour or a night on the town. If it’s variety you want, Odd Birds has you covered with spirits from near (St. Augustine’s own distillery) and far (Asia and South America). Bar bites are just as eclectic; try the arepas, which pay homage to owner Cesar Diaz’s Venezuelan roots.
Ice Plant is like stepping into a time machine: Its appearance harkens back to its early 20th-century past as an actual ice plant. That’s why custom cubes play an integral role in the bar’s extensive roster of craft cocktails — as do fresh, hand-pressed juices and specially developed syrups and bitters. This place does get packed, so get there early or be prepared to wait (totally worth it, though).
Since this place is attached to Ice Plant, you can explore the distillery while you wait for a table. The other — and preferred — option is to enjoy the distillery without the worry of a time constraint; this is not the type of place you want to rush through. The distillery tours, which are free and run every 30 minutes, will walk you through the distilling process and introduce you to their current spirits lineup. At the end, you’ll stop by the Tasting Room to try some of the spirits on their own and in specialty cocktails. Learning and drinking = good times.
This 17th-century fortress is the oldest masonry fort in the United States. Originally built to protect against British attacks, the Spanish Fort is now recognized as a U.S. National Monument. Once inside, you can explore the grounds and learn about its storied history through interactive exhibits. Make your way to the top of the fort for beautiful panoramic views of the city and watch as reenactors fire a cannon from the deck.
Before visiting this place, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes — you’re going to walk a lot. The lighthouse dates back to the 1800s and is considered the city’s oldest surviving brick structure. There are 219 steps that separate you from the top of the lighthouse, where you can look out onto Matanzas Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. To make your experience more memorable, stop by for one of the lighthouse’s fun ghost tours.
Wolf’s Museum of MysteryHorror movie fans will get a kick out of this off-the-beaten path museum that features an array of oddities and antiques. Even if you’re not a fan of scary films, you’ll appreciate the peculiarity of the place. Within the two-story building, you’ll find everything from an alien mortuary and cannibal kitchen to a Mayan-sacrifice room and the bloody boudoir of suspected ax murderer Lizzie Borden. Obviously, none of these things are real, but they’re so detailed that they might just convince you otherwise.