As you cross the Bridge of Lions into Historic St. Augustine, you see a resturant sititng on a pier all by itself to your left. Many times I visited St. Augustine with friends and passed by it. Finally, I decided to stop by and try it. The wait can be long, but there's no lack of entertainment by watching children feeding catfish off the side of the pier. (Don't worry, they don't serve them them on the next day's menu). The service is friendly, old Florida style and the food is excellent.
Favorite Dish: As a french onion soup expert, I have to say that they have the best I've ever tasted.
SO disappointing! Wish I had seen the review pages before going! BIG waste of over $120 for 5 people! Only good thing about this restaurant is the view (which you can get by walking around outside near the water!) and the unique way of feeding the fish/birds! Terrible service from moment you walk in. People working seem like they are on some type of drug that not only makes them clueless, but makes them SLOW....in speech and otherwise?! Like others mentioned in these reviews, I'm a vegetarian and chose this restaurant over others, because of the vegetarian menu listed on it's website.....yet they don't have. Food was horrible, and actually basically unedible. Two of our party even got ill after leaving, which we KNOW was linked to the food. We are assuming the shrimp and probably a case of cross-contamination, since the place is very dirty looking. Like others said too, you have a slanted feeling the entire time there....from the slant in the dining area. Went here to celebrate a birthday and left not only hungry, because we couldn't eat the food (you would think a normal waiter would question why all the plates were still almost full when you came to clear the table....yet not even so much as a "was everything ok?"), but two of ill FROM the food that was eaten and out over a hundred dollars for it all. SO SORRY I chose this place for this special occasion. Please, whatever you do, don't go here! I plan to spread the word all I can. I honestly believe the only reason this place stays in business, is because poor unknowing tourists go in, for the atmosphere, and that's about it. Just nasty to be honest! You would be better off going to a fast food restaurant, then going here! Hope you come to read these reviews, before even considering going here.....wish I had! BIG thumbs down! PS-Would love to know who the people are giving the good reviews....my guess is either workers, owners, friends of owners, family of owners, etc...because have seen majority of BAD reviews from most....so, strange these few give a completely opposite review.
Favorite Dish: NOTHING! Absolutely horrible....would never go back and recommend you don't even go the first time! Tourist trap because of location on water! Unless you want food poisoning....suggest you eat somewhere else! Wish we had!
Our family looks forward to eating at the Santa Maria everytime we visit St. Augustine. My kids love feeding the fish and the birds from the table. We have always recieved great food and service. Thanks for another great meal!
Favorite Dish: blackened shrimp skewers and broiled stuffed fish, they also have a great curry chicken sandwich
We like to come here when we visit, and we were VERY impressed with the recent menu additions! The food and service were great and the kids have a ball here feeding the fish from the outside deck!
Very pleased to see that they added a bunch of vegetarian items to the menu! Thanks Santa Maria!
Favorite Dish: Vege melt was GREAT!!
It will intrigue you with the pier and over water pilings, and if you have little kids and want to feed fish at the expense of lower than average food quality- you will be entertained. But make no mistake about this place- LOCALS avoid it. It's a total tourist trap that preys on the one time patron. This place is better than Sizzler, not as good as Chili's food wise, but you pay a little more for the setting/location over those places in class. My wife would rather eat at Waffle House or Cracker Barrell than Santa Maria- that's is how bad it is.
Trust me... Avoid the pier temptation, go over the Bridge of Lions and try Gypsy Cab on the left about a mile or so up. I am local and I dine there 2-3 times a month with our neightbors. Prices not much higher, food 20x better, and it not "sleezy" with seagul droppings all over the place... Best to call ahead and make a reservation at Gypsy Cab.
Favorite Dish: Tried steaks and seafood options- all are competitive with Sizzler/Sam's Club canned options.
We ate here over 4th of July weekend. It was crowded but we were sat promptly at a nice table with a perfect view of the water. The server brought us a basket of bread to throw out to the birds and catfish. That was alot of fun! We had blackened Mahi and grilled shrimp alfredo and boy was it good. I highly recommend this restaurant if you are looking for something a little different and entertaining.
Favorite Dish: blackened Mahi and grilled shrimp alfredo
The coconut shrimp appetizer was great also
The restaurant has such a great location on the water, especially at night when its lights are part of the attraction of the waterfront, that I have been tempted to try it for years despite never having heard a local recommendation. It has some history and maybe there is some fun for children feeding the fish during the day, but the meals my wife and I had made me believe it only survives by attracting unsuspecting tourists.
We decided to give it a try on a Friday night after stopping at a couple other places with long waiting lines. There was no wait, which tells you something. My wife had a bloody mary from the bar but did not finish it because "it was not very good". Then her shrimp and scallop meal of pilaf rice was according to her inedible. I tasted them and it seemed you can get better out of a grocery freezer. My wife could not eat much of this meal and even got a little sick that evening and the next morning. I also had the gelantinous rice pilaf (awful), but my blackened grouper and string beans were pretty good.
The prices promised a much higher quality dinning experience.
Favorite Dish: If you have to go to this restaurant and you have never had grouper this might be a place to try it. It was a special and not on the menu, but it was very good. Actually I have never had a bad filet of grouper ever in St. Augustine. I almost always have it blackened. To have it deep fried would be a waste.
the santa maria was opened for business in 1954. they offer local seafood and american fare. the santa maria is located on a pier next to the bridge of lions. the most interesting feature of this restaurant is they have small doors at window seats were you can feed the fish in the harbor. a nice place for families with children.
My family and I have been eating here for generations. Our most recent trip to St. Augustine was in October. The food was fantastic as usual and my boys really get a kick out of feeding the hundreds of catfish that swarm around the restaurant. Thanks for another great & entertaing meal.
Favorite Dish: blackened seafood trio
After years of eating at great restaurants in St. Augustine, we decided to give this one a try, even though no locals ever eat there. We were incredibly disappointed. For starters, the service was extremely slow. Next, we assumed by the menu prices that the seafood must be fresh and well-prepared, but it was far from it. My scallops were overcooked and absolutely tasteless. Our vegetables arrived to the table literally shriveled, like they had been cooked and then reheated in the microwave. Even my son's fettucine alfredo tasted like it came out of a jar. The icing on the cake, however, was the basket of rolls. My husband took a bite, made a face, and found mold all over the bottom of the roll. Since he's an incredibly nice guy, he gently mentioned it to the waiter, who grabbed the roll and said "oops" and scurried away. He never apologized, comped nothing on the menu, and we left the restaurant completely dissatisfied and much poorer. Never again.
We ate at the Santa Maria on July. The prices are overly inflated, and the food is so-so. The scallops and shrimp platter didn't even taste fresh. But what really got me was the bubble gum stuck to the bottom of my son's plate when the food was brought to him. I can't believe no one in the kitchen noticed a big piece of bubble gum stuck to the plate. When we notified the waiter about it he said, "Someone was being a snot." What a comment to add to the already unappetizing atmosphere. He did bring him a new plate, but looking back, we should have insisted that our son's meal be free. Feeding the fish was not worth it!
The good things about the restaurant is that you have a beautiful view of the harbor and you can feed the catfish while you dine, but the problem is the dining itself! The service was abysmal, the prices high and the food quality pathetic. The fried food was grossly overcooked with some of the chewiest shrimp ever tasted, while the fish was clearly from the freezer with the outside hot and inside still partially frozen. When we asked for a customer comment card, we were informed they had none. We were not asked about how our experience was, probably for obvious reasons! The crowning insult was when we received our bill (over $100 for six) and saw that they had charged a gratuity of 20%! This is the worst restaurant experience I have ever had and I will not return here!
Favorite Dish: Nothing was very good. In fact, the bread they gave to feed the fish was actually better than the rolls provided for the people. That should have told us what was in store for the rest of our dining experience!
We always see this restaurant when we come through town, but we never eat here because we've been told (by the people who live here) that
*the food isn't very good and
*neither is the service.
They say it is a tourist trap. The only good thing about it seems to be that the children will have fun feeding the fish.
Start with an ideal location overlooking scenic Matanzas Bay and the Bridge of Lions, add a menu specializing in a variety of seafood and steaks, a full service bar & lounge, and the novelty of feeding the fish or birds from your table...all this and the friendly staff make for a unique dining experience that should not be missed!
Favorite Dish: Catfish and several steak varities.
One of our favorites is the Santa Maria which is on the Intercoastal Waterway close to the fort and the bridge.
On a dock on the water. You can watch the boats go by and the bridge go up.
Favorite Dish: Grouper or lobster