Saturday, April 10, 2010

#4 The Mill Top Tavern

See you at the top. The Mill Top Tavern has, by far, one of the neatest locations in all of St. Augustine. It is nestled in a 19th Century mill and is listed in the historical record (aged from 1888). The Mill Top appears to look very similar to a treehouse from Castillo Drive. There are two entrances into Mill Top, the front entrance is located on the main shopping street, St. George street and the back entrance is off of Castillo Drive across from the Castillo.

The bar is nestled upstairs, and has outside seating on the upper and lower decks towards the back entrance. At the back entrance is on the lower deck is where their live music performs. You are also able to sit inside with open air seating towards the front of the building. The back is where you want to sit though, it has one of the very best views in St. Augustine. I have a favorite seat at the bar and it is a view of the of Castillo de San Marcos, harbor and the inlet. I love looking at the ancient monument as well as watch the sail boats go by.

As a tour guide for the ancient city I enjoy knowing the history and admiring all the work that has been down around this town. It is truly beautiful.

According to their website, the Mill Top has been one of the best known taverns in St. Augustine for the past 25 years. The Mill Top offers live music daily and its not only a bar but a restaurant as well. Here is a sample of their menu, although I reccomend that you do not eat here. As much as a favorite bar of mine this is, the food here is awful and the time it takes is ridiculously slow! Stick to the liquid diet it is far more beneficial especially the way they make their drinks.

The Mill Top offers beer, liquor and wine. If you order a beer you can order up to a half a yard of beer for a fairly decent price. Now Mill Top doesn't really have a happy hour but they do have a list of specilaty drinks. They will also charge you a regular price for a drink and only charge you a dollar extra for a double and let me tell you, they are strong. Little tougher for me to drink personally. I didn't try any of the specialty drinks here because there was too large of a selection. There specialty drinks are actually specialty shooters but for an extra .25 cents they will turn them into a drink and some of the shooters are all liquor. So see below for a sample of some of the shooters:
  • Rotten apple- Southern Comfort, amaretto, spiced rum, melon liquor, pineapple and cranberry-4.75
  • Mind Eraser- vodka, coffee liqueur, soda on ice with straw.

Bartenders Favorite Shooters

  • Sheree's Perfect Paradise- Light rum, coconut rum, pineapple, grapefruit and grenadine- 4.75

  • Morgan's Blueberry Squirt- blueberry vodka, grapefruit and cranberry splash 4.75

Mill Top has one of the greatest atmospheres in St. Augustine, inside and outside seating with one of the most spectacular views. On my bar list i would give the Mill Top four stars out five, they have a great view, good service, strong drinks and live music. The only disadvantage is that they serve food but I don't find it to be very good, my impression was that it was overpriced bar food, however you tend find that in a tourist town. But don't let the food keep you away, come in for the music and drinks and work your way down to the new Irish bar, Meehans (on the bayfront) and eat their food. I believe that whether your there day or night you will have a good time. Just a side note, they do charge cover after a certain hour, it is only about two dollars just a note in case you aren't one for carrying cash.

The Mill Top Tavern (& Listening Room)

19 1/2 St. George Street, St. Augustine

Phone number: 904-829-2329

Just as side note, i took a majority of the pictures myself but a few were taken of the Mill Top website because the photos had more clairty

Thursday, April 8, 2010

# 3 Tradewinds Tropical Lounge

If walls could talk. Tradewinds lounge. If walls could talk, you'd be able to write 100 books. This probably one of the best places downtown St. Augustine has to offer with the best live music. As long as you don't mind fun: dancing, strong drinks, live music, smokey atmosphere and great people, it's guaranted you'll have one of your best bar experiences.

To enter Tradewinds you have to be 21 and don't try to get in if your not, especially if you are trying to use a fake i.d. you just might end up on the Wall of Shame. One evening I tried to go in, under 21, real i.d., as designated driver (yes that is the truth), and I still got kicked out. But many say you haven't experienced Tradewinds if you haven't been kicked out of Tradewinds (even for something as minor as that). Tradewinds, in preparation is loud, smokey, biker dive bar. And an absolute blast. Generally Tradewinds opens at 1:00 p.m. but music wont start till at 3:00 p.m. but it is fun nonetheless.

Tradewinds has some of the best history in St. Augustine here is a brief summary of it that I received from their website, since their history is far more extensive than I'd ever imagine.

Tradewinds Lounge has history that goes farther back before many of us were born. In the creation process of the lounge, it was meant to have the appearance of a sailor, seaside bar. That’s exactly what they did, Tradewinds is full of many island artifacts and collectable items placed all around. Many of them still hang to. It was in 1944 that idea of the lounge came into play, and quickly opened in 1945 and was known as the South Seas Lounge.

Through several business exchanges that took place over a decade and half and finally in the 60s it became Tradewinds. At the time Tradewinds was located at 1 Aviles Street and was known as place to go to hear great music and have a good time. As it was said Tradewinds was “your port of call.” Then in 1964, the city’s historical restoration department discovered the site of the Old Spanish Military hospital that dated back to the founding of St. Augustine. That means it was time for Tradewinds to relocate. Tradewinds moved to its present address at 124 Charlotte Street. With a change on location meant a change in music. New musicians took the stage such as Jimmy Buffet (who was supposedly kicked off stage cause he stunk), the Sounds of Blue Grass and other bands I have not heard of (at least I’m honest).

As time went by the music acts became some of the best ever. It has evolved from the early music to some of the most current music, the perfect blend of rock’n’roll, blue, country and occasional oldies acts. Now, for the past decade, Troy Locke and Matanzas has been the house band playing nightly (Sunday through Thursday). Or you yourself could take a shot at Open Mic on Thursday night, giving musicians the opportunity to have their songs heard. Tradewinds Tropical Lounge has been determined to continue the tradition to have the vest live entertainment in North Florida, and they have succeeded. As they say “Come on in and relive the history and make a few memories of your own.”

There you have a history of a great place.

The Happy Hour at Tradewinds is from 5-8 p.m. every day of the week (always a plus) and the house band starts at 8:00. The hous band Matanzas is truly a party an absolute blast. Matanzas is said to look much like ZZ Top thats up to you to decide, that sings a variety of country, southern rock and of course rock n roll. If your having a good time Matanzas wants to a hear a "HELL YEAH!"

Here is video of Matanzas performing at Tradewinds, the actual song doesn't start till about 1:45 so if you want to fast forward.

Tradewinds is one bar that you do not want to miss. Tradewinds can also be exceptionally dangerous (in a good way). It is always a blast and often the last stop of a great bar hopping experience. They do not serve food however they do have a popcorn machine in the corner or any specialty drinks. That doesn't matter though because of how strong they are, it can said its a glass of vodka with a splash of cranberry. You will thoroughly enjoy it. It also a note that this may one of the few bars, or the only bar that serves beers in can at about $2.50. Make sure you check out Tradewinds Tropical Lounge. For lack of an outside area I will give this bar four and half stars out of five.

Tradewinds Lounge Is in downtown St. Augustine right off of the town Square, if you are coming west over the Bridge of Lions you should see on your right after you cross Castillo Drive.

Tradewinds Lounge
124 Charlotte Street
St. Augustine, FL 32084

#2 Caps on the Water

Another of my favorite bars in town is Caps on the Water in North Vilano Beach. It is a little bit of a drive but it is well worth. Cap’s is a unique restaurant and raw bar. Cap’s gives you an idea of how the real Florida used to look. It is probably one of the most hidden dining treasures especially with the old Florida feel.

Cap’s on the Water actually began as fish camp and developed in a restaurant in 1981, the location sits on the site of an old, covered bait well with the goal being to create an authentic oyster bar. And it is an authentic oyster bar it is my favorite place in town to enjoy cocktail and oyesters all while sitting outside.

The oyster bar resembles a small, beach shack and serves a variety of simple food including: gumbo, Dungeness crab, local Mayport shrimp, raw, steamed, and baked oysters. Many people enjoy coming to this place for a simple cocktail and people of all sorts show up. These are two factors that makes it one of my favorite bars in St. Augustine. The oyster menu you have to select from is simply outstanding.

Caps is hidden beneath large oak trees and sits facing west out on intercoastal, right across from St. Augustine airport. There is plenty of deck room if you choose to sit outside. There is close access to the water and the docks so whether you enjoy watching the sunset or if you simply like to watch the planes fly in and out of the airport Caps is an absolutely stunning place.

At the Sunset Raw bar they serve a variety of drinks ranging from beer, liquor, shooters and wine. The wine list is actually a very extensive list that is made up of over 400 selections from many different wineries from around the world. In Wine Spectator Magazine, Caps received the “Award of Excellence” for the first time in 2006, then received again in 2007, and 2008, the awarded included the variety and pricing of the wine.

As much as I enjoy stopping at Caps especially when I’m in the area, they also have an excellent restaurant with a lunch and dinner menu. Dining at Caps can allow one to have the most intimate dining experiences. They have great service, great food, great music and of course a little dancing. This place has some of the best seafood in town.

Caps on the Water, Sunset raw bar is easily one of my favorite places to sit back relax and order a cocktail and eat some oysters and I suggest you do the same. I have yet to hear a bad review on the place. It’s easily accessible with ample of parking, neat clean restrooms and plenty of seating.

The hours for caps: Lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:30-3:30 and dinner is every days from 4:30 to close. However, this place does not take reservations, so get there early for dinner because it will get packed!

Phone: 904-824 -8794
Fax: 904-829-0709
Catering & Events: 904-819-8190

Make sure you visit their website.

Cap's On The Water
4325 Myrtle Street
Saint Augustine FL 32084

From Jacksonville
Take I-95 to J Turner Butler to A1A south.
Go all the way to South Ponte Vedra until you see a castle
Turn right at the castle (third street) end of the street is the intercoastal waterway
turn right on myrtle street it will be on your left.

From Daytona Beach (South):
Take I-95 North to exit 95 (Route 16).
Go towards St. Augustine for several miles.
Go across US 1 until you hit San Marco.
Take a right on San Marco. Take a left at the light to go on A1A North.
Go over Vilano bridge, follow A1A. Turn left at the castle (Third Street).
End of the street is the Intercoastal Waterway.
Turn right on Myrtle Street.

Either way look for the caps on the water sign: seen to the right
Photos were taken from Caps On the Water website.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Live Music from the Conch House

Here is a YouTube video from the Conch House, a sample of the live music offered on Friday evening.

Monday, March 29, 2010

#1 The Conch House

Finally, the first bar for my blog. You've heard me rave about it, my favorite bar, the Conch House. Finally, you get to hear about that things that makes this place my favorite bar, their are not enough words to describe my experience in conch house. I truly believe that the Conch House Lounge is one of St. Augustine's best kept secrets.


A photo of the Restaurant from the lounge at night.

The history of the Conch House Marina Resort goes way back. Being owned and operated by the Ponce family, the Ponces history in St. Augustine goes back over 400 years establishing themselves as a landmark in the area. The resort was first opened back in 1946 by Jimmy Sr. and Jackie Ponce and over years of hard work, the Conch House became what it is today. In 1976, the By the Sea Marina and Conch House Lounge were built. The Lounge extends 300 feet out over the water. The restaurant was then built in '80 and was the last bit added to Conch House.

The Conch House is much more than just a bar and a restaurant. It's a getaway. A vacation from home, without ever having to go to far. Here I've learned, the true value of a great bar is not in its drinks but in its bartenders whether it is telling a joke, a story, listening or just horseplay, they are the people who make you want to go out and stay.

When arriving at the Conch House, you aren't arriving at just a bar. You are entering "Conchland." The majority of the Conch House you see is the restaurant. They serve lunch and dinner and will host special events. At the restaurant a variety of dining scenery is offered, all Caribbean themed. The restaurant serves a variety of food ranging from steaks, seafood, salads, pasta other cuisines and has a Raw Bar. The Conch House is also a 200 slip marina that is located on Salt Run located 1000 feet from St. Augustine Inlet right on the intracoastal. It is also a Key West style motel.

One big event that Conch House hosts is Reggae Sunday. Reggae Sunday started on March 7th and will last all summer long till September 26th. Every Sunday, weather permitting, the Conch House has a live reggae band (different bands every Sunday) and everyone gathers for drinks, fun under the sun, great music, and a good time. On Reggae Sunday the lounge opens at 1 p.m. and Reggae begins at 3 p.m. with a $5 cover charge. The band plays till 7 p.m. and the lounge will stay up till 11 p.m. You must be at least 21 to enter.

Reggae Sunday is fun but is often too busy for my taste. I enjoy going to the Conch House during the week whether from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (which I never do) or just for Happy Hour, it is always fun. Sunday through Friday the Conch House is open from 12 p.m. till 11 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 12 p.m. till 1 a.m.

Happy Hour is from 4-7 p.m Monday through Friday. The lounge is located right on the water with the best scenery around. Happy hour prices are $1 off any beer, bottle or draft and $3 wells or house wine. It is well worth it. It was also voted best Happy Hour in St. Augustine by the St. Augustine Record. Another great aspect is that on Friday they have live music.

Conch House also has specialty that range in price that are not on the Happy Hour menu and they are:
  • The Goombay Smash (you'll only need a couple)
  • Rum Runner
  • Conch House Cooler
  • Planters Punch
  • Key West Rum Punch
  • Swedish Lemonade
The drinks and happy hour at the Conch House are great don't get me wrong but one thing that I love about the Conch House are the people. Aside from Reggae Sunday its generally an older crowd but let me tell you that they are like family to me. I have built a relationship with nearly everyone there including the bartenders. The people are friendly and the bartenders are some of the best around. The experience, like I said earlier, is what you really need. Its hard to put something so wonderful into words.

A view of St. Augustine light House from the lounge

Another neat aspect of the Conch House is when they are the host for fishing tournaments. A few weekends ago there was a Wahoo Tournament. Around 30 boats were entered in the tournament and the fishermen were allowed to weigh two Wahoo and the winner had a total of 127lbs. One Wahoo weighed up to 80 pounds. They weigh and clean the fish right on the floating docks underneath the lounge.

To the right is one of the dock hands is raising a Wahooo to be weight for the tournament. If anyone hasn't had Wahoo I recommend it, it has a similar texture to swordfish, apparently its best eat nearly raw like ahi tuna, I cooked on the grill with butter and lemon-herb seasoning. It was excellent. The tournaments are held fairly often generally a two day event. Boats will come from all over the participate in the event. So grab a drink and watch.

Overall the Conch House deserves to be, in my blog, the best bar in St. Augustine. Recommendations are always welcome for bar idea. Overall the food at the Conch House is mediocre, the drinks are strong, the bartenders are fun and friendly and the people are welcoming and fun. Come down anytime for Happy Hour rain or shine its always fun.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ke'e Grill

I went to one of the best restaurants ever when I visited south Florida this past weekend. One of my best friends, who lives in Jupiter Florida, invited my boyfriend and I out to dinner with her parents. It had been a couple months since we had seen them so it was such a pleasure that they invited us. The restaurant that they took us to was called the Ke'e Grill, by far the best seafood I have ever had. The prices run on a little more of the expensive side but it is well worth it.

The Ke'e Grill is located at 14020 US Hwy 1, Juno Beach Florida, 33408 (at Donald Ross Rd).

The way you know that it is an excellent restaurant? It is always crowded. My friend's parents even made a reservation but we still had to wait another 15 minutes, which they didn't mind since they knew what kind of food laid ahead. The restaurant has a great fancy, tiki restaurant/lounge vibe but there is only inside seating, none outside. The room you sit in is surrounded by large windows. To make it feel more tropical they place tiki torches and palm trees to completely cover the windows on the outside so it feels a little more tropical.

There is a full bar with plenty of seating and a diverse martini menu which I will get to shortly.

The food is excellent it really is. By far one of my best dining experiences I have had. They have an excellent menu. Unfortunately, Ke'e Grill doesn't have a website so the menu seemed relatively accurate to what I remember and you have to use travel sites or food rating sites, such as Urban Spoon to learn more about this fantastic place.
At dinner I had:
  • The House Salad with their creamy balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
  • Some rolls at dinner
  • A glass of white wine, Meritage, Evolution
  • We split a bottle of red wine at dinner
  • Entree: Chilean Seabass Piccata: sauteed, lemon, white wine caper sauce (no capers for me) and two side dishes, green beans and spinach maria.

Everything was excellent, my boyfriend got Sweet Potato Crusted fresh fish with a mango remoulade and my friend got the Palm Beach Snapper which comes sauteed, tomato provolone sauce, artichoke hearts and hearts of palm (sauce on the side) which all was good.

After our meal, my friends parents left and my boyfriend, friend, and I decided to have a couple cocktails at the bar since she knew the bartender. The martini/specialty drink menu was quite interesting. I convinced my girlfriend to have a martini made with my favorite vodka which is called 44 degrees north, its a huckleberry vodka, thus making her cocktail incredibly sweet. My boyfriend had a drink called the 19th hole which was made with Jeremiah Weed Sweet tea vodka and I had a pomegranate martini and a pear martini.

The pomegranate martini (I love pomegranates) is made with a pomegranate vodka(probably Pearl) mixed with Pom (fruit juice) and has a splash a syrup to cut down the bitterness of the Pom cocktail.

The Pear Martini was just simple Grey Goose La Poire (pear vodka) with a splash of Peach Schnapps.

Both were excellent cocktails. This restaurant is a must stop next time one is in south Florida, I believe there is multiple locations but I cannot speak for those. Check out the one in Juno for excellent food, great ambiance, excellent service and a wide variety. It will be well worth the time and money.

It's been awhile...

It's been a little while since I last posted...It's been a crazy week. I am going to post a few bar spots in a moment but I figured I'd clue you in as to why I haven't been blogging in so long..

As I said, I was going to West Palm Beach Florida for a bit and my first blog post will be about a really good restaurant/bar there and an excellent cocktail I had with a girlfriend. But this week alone has been a long, sad, happy week.

For one I spent every day at the Conch House this week. On Monday, I arrived to visit a friend where my boyfriend and I received news that a friend of ours had passed away.

On Tuesday, it was one of the conch house regulars birthdays so a celebration was in order.

On Wednesday, it was my friends memorial ceremony and I spent most of the day at that event.

On Thursday, I actually went home to visit my family to celebrate St. Patrick's Day a day late, so I got to eat corn beef and cabbage which is always excellent :).

Then Yesterday, Friday, somehow I ended up at the Conch House again...

And today, I'm sure I'll end up their shortly. Yesterday and today the Conch House plays hosts to a Wahoo fishing tournament. I love to go watch them bring in the fish, fillet them and weigh them. Only four out of 60 fishing boats went out yesterday so today should be pretty interesting. I believe that the record fish yesterday was 58lbs. So I'll upload pictures later this week but expect a blog post to come soon.