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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
A PERSONAL REVIEW OF RESTAURANTS AROUND THE WORLD

MANTANZAS INNLET RESTAURANT
ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA

This is about as far south as you can get in St. Augustine.  Some might argue that this place should have a Summer Haven mailing address.  Like so many restaurants along picturesque highway A1A, we had passed this place many times always meaning to stop by and give it a try.  On one sunny afternoon in March we finally dined there for lunch.

The wind was absolutely howling. Steady at about 30mph out of the west with gusts above 50.  Pelicans in the inlet right behind the restaurant (more than 50) were just drifting eastward toward the Atlantic at about 5 miles an hour and then flying a hundred feet the other direction.  Once again they drifted eastward and they all just kept repeating the process. Our delightful waitress said they had gathered in passage because the water churn had brought bait fish to the surface.  However we didn't see any of the pelicans diving for food.  So who knows?  I do know in the animal and bird world it all boils down to two things -- eating and procreating!  I didn't see any of the latter going on, either!



I Should Have Zoomed - Those "White / Grey Things" In The Water Are Pelicans & Not Whitecaps - Drifting From L to R

Our waitress was incredibly funny, nice and efficient.  We started with diet drinks and I ordered a dozen steamed little neck clams and my wife ordered some Manhattan style conch chowder.  The chowder was spicy and good.  My little clams were succulent and sweet.


Casual & Colorful Interior

We both chose a beer battered fish and chips basket for lunch.  The fish, cod, was great.  Obviously it had been sitting in the freezer because it's not found locally around these parts but it certainly didn't taste bad.  I've always said there's no excuse for a restaurant to screw up fried fish.  Even fish that has been frozen can be crispy and good if it's not held for too long and properly prepared.

The menu wasn't all that huge but offered a wide variety of shellfish and fish.  Lots of clams (raw and steamed) and ditto for oysters.  They had several "fresh fish of the day" choices including tuna, salmon and tilapia.  The steamed shrimp that went to other tables looked and smelled great.  We don't, however, eat shrimp at restaurants unless they're on a buffet table.  Just too expensive when you consider I can go to a nearby seafood market and get a pound of local shrimp---huge with heads still on---for just five bucks a pound.  It doesn't make any sense to pay 10 bucks or whatever for a half pound of medium shrimp that probably were born and raised in somewhere in Asia!

You can eat inside our out on the patio at this place.  Main courses were a little pricey for a casual place like this (as I recall $20-$25) but we sure enjoyed our meal here.  Our tab without tip came to just a dime under $46 with no alcohol.

You'll find this restaurant at 8805 A1A South and it's technically located in St. Augustine but it sure doesn't feel like St. Augustine!  Their phone number is (904) 461-6824.  We enjoyed it and we think you will, too!

They appear to be working on a new web site here.

Driving Note:  If you're southbound on A1A this place comes up suddenly.  Carefully look right after a bridge.  It's kind of tucked under the bridge.  You'll fly right by it if you're not paying attention.