With a grateful nod to Mahoney, LN, Mehmet, lobbybobby, capnconrad, and all other contributors to this Forum I'm again updating the Recommended Restaurants List - this one is for the downtown area - including the Historic District but not excluding outside areas (San Marco and West King St) and the area just across the Bridge of Lions up to the Lighthouse. For exact locations check TA or Google.
Collage: Customers rave about the food and the service. I’m listing them first because I forgot them last time. (My bad!) For a special evening I always suggest Collage for the wonderful food and intimate atmosphere. Reservations recommended. Eclectic Menu; can be expensive.
Casa Maya: Great Cuban, South American cuisine - can sit in or out – casual and relaxed - FRESH! "Best black bean soup in town." Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Tiny place!
Meehan’s Irish Pub: Replaced the old Tavern on the Bay, now a fabulous Irish pub with delicious food! Oyster bar. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Live music at times.
Cellar 6 is fairly new and wasn’t on the list last time. I don’t recall seeing local reviews, but having personally partaken of their wine and appetizers, I can tell you the reviews on TA from travelers are accurate! My friends and I shared a fruit & cheese platter that was beautifully presented and delicious. Wonderful wine menu. The live music can be LOUD so conversation can be difficult after the music starts. Some outside seating. Present Moment Café: VEGAN, healthy imaginative, wonderful tasting foods and martinis made from Sake! Parking in back of building.
La Herencia: Cuban cuisine. Visitors rave about the café con leche. Food is excellent, tasty and reasonable priced.
Kozmic Bluz Pizza - a must - beers from around the world, nice owner, music on weekends. “I love their thin crust pizza, and the cheesy French fries.” Other foods also - fresh. Can sit outside.
Bistro de Leon: Authentic French country cuisine. Make time to truly enjoy a leisurely and delicious meal. Lunch & Dinner. A favorite of locals and visitors alike. Expensive.
Pizzatime: Some locals think this is the best pizza outside of NY.
Prince of Wales: English Pub with "great ambiance and true English food and a good pint o’er there!" Can sit outside also. Food can be greasy.
DeNoel's French Pastry Shop: good croissants and pastries. Breakfast & Lunch.” the best chocolate eclair I've ever put into my mouth." sweetpolly13. DeNoel's is open Wed-Sun 10-5 but I wouldn't bet on the 5:00 closing - they close when they run out of everything! GO EARLY!
The Tasting Room: Opened as a tapas restaurant, but now serves entrees also. Wonderful food; upbeat feel. Music on weekends. Outside dining available in romantic courtyard. I love the following review: "The Tasting Room - Eau. Muh.Gawd. This place was the highlight of our weekend...the most wonderful tapas I've ever had ANYWHERE (including Spain). Good service and excellent wine selections with reasonable markups. We loved it!" sweetpolly13
A1A Aleworks: fresh seafood and best views in town. Beer is good: they are a microbrewery. Eat upstairs – the bar downstairs is noisy, but great live music at night!
Café de Hidalgo Café: is a favorite for lunch with Paninis and build your salad. The BEST GELATO (Italian ice cream). Great coffees & hot chocolates!
Gaufres and Goods: Polish and Greek cuisine. Homemade food, wonderful soups and dessert waffles to die for! Very friendly people. Cheap.
The Spanish Bakery: remains a nice value for a quick and inexpensive lunch. Fabulous fresh-baked bread! Soups, empanadas, and cookies, too.
Le Pavillion: “best oysters and onion soup around in my humble opinion” (Rustykat) Been there a long time, and good food.
Opus 39: Same owners as The Tasting Room. For a special dinner - one of best in town. Personalized service for that special occasion.
The Bakery of Opus 39: “Very reasonably priced considering it's Opus 39. Breads between 3.25 and 4. Pastries around $3-4. The baker is they guy who used to bake the bread at Bagelicious”.
Raintree Restaurant: Good food; excellent wine list; great dessert bar! Located in a beautiful Victorian house. They have parking, but also provide free pick up and return from your B&B or hotel.
Columbia Restaurant: Try the white sangria made with champagne! Fresh Cuban bread and great salad & seafood. Excellent Cuban cuisine. Crowded so make a reservation first thing for your lunch. Prices increase greatly for dinner. They have parking also.
Habana Village Cafe: White table cloth place, no cutoffs. The food is to die for; authentic Cuban food; good sangria. They will have a band on weekends with dancing. Just opened (2010) a Mojito Bar – fun place.
Madre’s: serving burritos and tacos - inexpensive.
Claude's Chocolates (moved to St George St in Casa Monica building): hand made truffles, classic chocolates and cold hot chocolate bar (secret recipe) (or hot in the winter months).
The Taco Shop: Newcomer and already a favorite. FRESH and INEXPENSIVE. Try the fish tacos - really!
LaPentola: wonderful food; on the higher end for dinner, but lunch is wonderful and less costly. Can eat outside in their courtyard. They have a parking lot in back.
Flavors Café: busy little place, but worth the wait - inexpensive, FRESH food, smoothies, large portions. Have parking. Beer too.
Local Heroes: "Excellent wraps, salads & soups! And they will deliver. Very casual and fun; food is fresh and well-seasoned" officemax
Spy (in the Crab Grabbers location): sushi and saketini bar. “I've heard the service is slow but the food is really good.”
Athena's Restaurant: Greek food; great breakfasts.
The Bunnery: Breakfasts; baked goods (fabulous cinnamon buns); lunch.
Taberna del Gallo: Authentic Spanish period tavern with re-enactors singing and entertaining. Sing along and enjoy a beer or Sangria.
Scarlett O’Hara’s: "just ole bar food, but good, good time - Good martini there, young crowd, music and fun - can sit outside also, go early - it is a mob."
J. P. Henley's: A "sports bar", but not really - lots of wood, big screen TV, but the food is good (excellent shrimp empanadas). Not expensive. Beers from around the world-every beer you know! Good hangout.
Borillo's: "we LOVE their pizza!! YUM. Great pizza lunch special too! 2 huge slices of cheese and a drink for $5"oduamy
Hazel’s Hot Dogs: "Hazel's hot dogs are the best around - try for your self with hand cut fries." A favorite of locals. No dining room; just a couple picnic tables to the side.
****Across the Bridge of Lions and not far from downtown:
Zhanra’s- "It's a tapas place [that now serves entrees, too] and we have been both at lunch with colleagues and for dinner/drinks and I have enjoyed both. They have good prices on happy hour. There is also a cigar bar on the back - but the restaurant doesn't smell of cigars!"oduamy Great Sunday Brunch!
Gypsy Cab - wonderful menu – changes every day - fresh food - and plentiful!! Don’t order appetizers and dinner unless you have a place to keep leftovers. Go early on a weekend night as it is popular and later you will wait - worth the wait, however with good martinis ($8.00 while you wait). (Parking)
American Graffiti – all 1950’s and 1960’s memorabilia inside – chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes are to die for. Great milkshakes. Outside dining, too. Fun bar area.
If I have left out restaurants there is probably a reason. Restaurants on Anastasia Island and near Vilano Beach will be listed separately on this forum since most downtown visitors want to walk to their dining experiences or just stay close.
Restaurants to Avoid & Why:
O.C. Whites: Food is good but service can be awful. The courtyard is wonderful in good weather and if you have a lot of time.
White Lion: OK for drinks only.
Milltop Tavern: "good for a beer, live music and view but don't eat there!"
Acapulco: Need some recent feedback since they expanded - past experience has been so-so food and slow service. Location is fabulous if you can sit on the balcony. Nice bar.
Santa Maria: Do not eat there. OK for a drink OUTSIDE and enjoy the waterfront but food is marginal to say the least.
Conch House (across the bridge) - Food is mediocre and EXPENSIVE "wouldn't go there to eat - unless you are in your 20's and not fussy and like additives and fried food. BUT Reggae Sunday is great, lots of partying. This is a wonderful place to have a cocktail (or two) before dinner, enjoy the view on the water, and go elsewhere to eat. You might get lucky and get a good meal once in awhile, but don't count on it!"
O'Steens on Anastasia Blvd: Controversial favorite of tourists and lovers of Southern Fried Everything. Bring cash and prepare to wait - always a long line.
Print this out for your trip to our wonderful city! Please give us feedback and be sure to post reviews on where you stay and where you eat. Have fun, and do let us know on this forum how you enjoyed your trip.