Eat + Drink

Date Night Dining at St. Augustine’s Top Restaurants for Romance

The Sunshine State is loaded with romantic beach destinations. But the historic town of St. Augustine — America’s oldest city — brings something different to the table, both literally and figuratively.

Spend your days strolling the cobbled streets of the historic district and visiting the pretty, nearby beaches and forts. Then feed your appetite for the exotic with atmospheric dinners a deux at Mediterranean-inspired restaurants housed inside Spanish colonial buildings and old Victorian homes.

From your base at the Moorish-inspired Casa Monica Resort & Spa, check out our picks for St. Augustine’s most romantic date night restaurants.

La Pentola

Dine under the stars in the diminutive but dashing garden courtyard of this Mediterranean restaurant, which occupies a Spanish colonial building down a quieter street in St. Augustine’s historic district.

Baked brie en croûte is the perfect appetizer to share over a glass of Champagne or wine; then move on to such house favorites as the handmade pasta dishes, veal osso buco, duck a l’orange and lobster ravioli.

Costa Brava

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Savor exotic flavors at Costa Brava. (Photo: Courtesy of Casa Monica Resort & Spa)

Moroccan-style lanterns and carved-wood furnishings add to the exotic and utterly transporting atmosphere at this favorite Mediterranean restaurant inside the Casa Monica Resort & Spa. Costa Brava’s menu is strong on seafood, mixing coastal flavors from North Africa and Spain with local and seasonal ingredients from Florida to delicious effect.

Start with a pitcher of the fruit-forward sangria; then huddle together over the small plates that arrive mezze-style, with tasty treats like grilled octopus, Serrano ham, garlic shrimp and crab cakes among the many offerings.

Preserved Restaurant

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You’ll taste the modern in this Victorian home. (Photo: Courtesy of Preserved Restaurant)

Set inside a Victorian house that dates to the late 1800s and was once home to Thomas Jefferson’s granddaughter, this modern Southern restaurant oozes atmosphere.

Florida seafood stars in the steaming bowls of Cedar Key clams and the house-favorite shrimp and grits entree, studded with sweet Florida white shrimp. On a perfectly balmy Florida night, there’s no better seat for canoodling over such delicious food than a table for two on the restaurant’s wraparound porch.

Michael’s Tasting Room

Spanish-inspired food and flair await at this tapas restaurant a short stroll from the Bridge of Lions. The chef, Michael Lugo, is a native Puerto Rican who fell in love with St. Augustine after getting married here. And his passion for food and place carries through in everything.

Share several tapas dishes with your sweetheart to start — perhaps the marinated manchego cheese or boquerones (white anchovies marinated in vinegar and garlic) — before moving on to main courses like seared sea scallops and whole grilled snapper. A postprandial stroll to admire the Bridge of Lions, lit up at night, is a sweet finish.

Columbia Restaurant

st. augustine restaurants
Share a sangria at Columbia Restaurant. (Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Restaurant)

This long-standing Florida chain that started in Tampa is always worth visiting for its excellent Spanish food and old-world ambience. And smack in the historic district, St. Augustine’s Columbia outpost is full of romantic appeal with its gurgling fountains and pretty tiled surrounds.

Sharing the hearty menu offerings with your sweetie is the way to go here. Start with Columbia’s famous 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, and then share a massive platter of the Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, aromatic rice and chorizo.

Collage

Right off St. George Street in the middle of St. Augustine’s historic district, Collage is draped with bougainvillea on its unassuming exterior and full of white-linen-clad tables that shimmer with candlelight inside.

The menu of “artful, global cuisine” includes things like escargot in brandy cream sauce, succulent New Zealand lamb chops and fresh Atlantic black grouper, with many of the vegetables grown locally. On the rare winter days when North Florida catches a chill, Collage lights its fireplace, adding to the romantic feel.

Feel the Romance at These St. Augustine Restaurants

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(Map Design: Niege Borges)