st. augustine, florida: salt water cowboys

After spending three nights at Disney World, we packed up our overtired children and headed to the beaches of the eastern coast of Florida. We stayed in a beautiful condo in Palm Coast, just south of St. Augustine. My parents drove over and spent a couple of nights with us, and the first night they were there, we ate at a long-time favorite restaurant of ours, Salt Water Cowboys.

Just outside of St. Augustine, Salt Water Cowboys sits at the dead end of a two lane road, and the restaurant itself juts out over the marsh. The food is always good, but the thing I like most about the place is it’s location. It’s just stunning, really. And if you happen to go at sunset, you’ll never forget the experience.

When we first arrived, my common sense flew out the window and my 21-year old inner self got the better of me. After reading the drink menu, I ordered a Cracker Coolade.

Now, really. What grown-up woman – a mother of two, no less – who professes to be a foodie does that? Seriously? This is the type of establishment where you order a beer. And sweet tea. I’ll chalk it up to heat stroke or something, but regardless, I started a trend that night. We all – my parents included – ordered this frighteningly blue drink served in a mason jar with a maraschino cherry poking out the top.

One of the highlights of dinner was the basket of cheesy garlic toast that always starts the meal off.

The house salad is a typical salad, but it’s topped with a creamy vinaigrette with a bit of a kick to it. I didn’t hear our waiter tell us what type of vinaigrette it was – or perhaps my head was in a fog from the Cracker Coolade – and I forgot to ask, but it was delicious. It was sweet, tart, and had a spicy kick at the end. I was guessing it contained horseradish, but I could be totally off.

The menu at Salt Water Cowboys is your typical Florida fish camp type menu. It’s got just about any fried local fish or shellfish you can imagine, and they serve frog legs and alligator tail too. I’ve had the gator tail before. And which, when fried, tastes like…well, like anything else fried. I tried to stay on the somewhat healthy side, so I ordered the broiled shrimp stuffed with blue crab and served with a red pepper sauce.

Um, yeah. Nothing healthy about that dish. But darn tasty.

Jane and Michael Stern reviewed Salt Water Cowboys on their website, and since I am a huge Splendid Table fan and love the roadfood segment the Sterns do on that show, I was tickled to see it there. Salt Water Cowboys is a really unique Florida seafood restaurant, and honestly, it’s a toss-up between which shines brighter – the food or the setting.

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21 Responses to “st. augustine, florida: salt water cowboys”

  1. 1
    Liren — August 18, 2010 @ 10:59 pm

    What a peaceful looking place! It sounds like a perfect spot to unwind after a Disney trip. As much as I love Disney, it does seem to require a vacation after the vacation! It’s so nice that your parents can meet you and enjoy tasty meals (and fun drinks)! I love Jane and Michael Stern, too; their finds and the stories always make me smile. Sounds like you all found a true gem 🙂

  2. 2
    Gail — August 18, 2010 @ 11:02 pm

    In the words of the inimitable Tina Fey, “I want to go to there.”

  3. 3
    Eileen — August 18, 2010 @ 11:27 pm

    OMG… I love Salt Water Cowboys! My husband and I eat there every time we go to the St. Augustine area (which happens to be one of our favorite places to visit). Great food, fun atmosphere – I miss that place…

  4. 4
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — August 19, 2010 @ 7:13 am

    Those drinks look incredible – i would have been right there with you. And that stuffed shrimp – YUM!

  5. 5
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — August 19, 2010 @ 7:19 am

    I would be right there with you drinking one of those… nothing to be ashamed of! 😉 And that food looks incredible.

  6. 6
    RavieNomNoms — August 19, 2010 @ 8:48 am

    ooooo looks like so much fun! And those drinks?! They look so cute 🙂

  7. 7
    Jason Phelps — August 19, 2010 @ 9:06 am

    Definitely one of those places that gets talked about for all the right reasons.

    Thank You


  8. 8
    Just Food Snobs — August 19, 2010 @ 9:45 am

    What a beautiful restaurant and beautiful food! Thanks for sharing!

  9. 9
    Kath — August 19, 2010 @ 10:40 am

    @Gail 🙂 lol I want to go to there, too!

  10. 10
    Barbara | VinoLuciStyle — August 19, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

    Even though you’re in Florida, these pictures and the foods are so reminiscent of when I lived in NC and we would vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC. I want that shrimp dish, it looks divine but more than that, I want to be there with that view eating that dish.

    I miss the Carolinas; even more so after seeing your posts about your vacation; maybe it’s time to consider revisiting a place where I left so much of my heart when I moved to Colorado.

    • 10.1
      merrygourmet — August 19, 2010 @ 7:46 pm

      Barb – Sounds like you need to plan a vacation. 🙂

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  12. 11
    Leigh — August 19, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

    You really have a gift for photography, MJ. I’ve heard amazing things about SWC, but I’ve never been. I don’t eat seafood so we normally opt for Cuban or Spanish in St. Aug. I think next time we go I’ll have to give it a look. I’m sure they have steak, yeah?

    • 11.1
      merrygourmet — August 19, 2010 @ 7:45 pm

      Leigh – You are SO sweet. They have barbecue and probably some form of beef. You could always go for the gator tail or frog legs. 😉

  13. 12
    Velva — August 20, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

    You are right, the view from the restaurant is stunning. The food is intended to be fun and it shows. Nice. I would not have resisted the drinks either. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. 13
    Monica — August 21, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

    darn–we were just there. Next trip to see the family I am suggesting this place! Cracker Coolade and a gator growl…might be mixing those up come football season!

    • 13.1
      merrygourmet — August 22, 2010 @ 8:42 am

      Monica – Next time you definitely need to make the trip there. You – and the kids – would LOVE it.

  16. 14
    Claudia McCants — May 20, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

    Their salad is a family favorite that you can easily recreate at home when you’re nostalgic for Florida and Salt Water Cowboys. We make it with mixed greens, a sliced Granny Smith apple, walnuts, sliced red onions and Honey Mustard Dressing (store bought or homemade).

  17. 15
    Cristy — September 26, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

    Fabulous Food!

    Great experience!

    Joey was a great waiter!

    Highly recommend.

  18. 16
    Ron — May 25, 2013 @ 8:48 pm

    I have been to saltwater cowboys many times and usually have a good experience. On my most recent visit they had yellow fin tuna, mahi mahi and red snapper as the fish of the day. I went with the mahi mahi. Everything served was fine except the mahi mahi. I eat a lot of fish and I do not believe I was served mahi mahi. I believe I was served tilapia. In fact, I believe I was served soggy tilapia. It was rather disappointing, but my wife didn’t want to complain so we wrote it off. $44 for two soggy tilapias, 2 excellent baked potatoes, bread and salad may have been a bit more than it was worth.

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