Cafe Alcazar

Hotel Alcazar was a masterpiece.  No expense was spared when this opulent winter haven for the wealthy was built in 1887.  A casino, ballrooms, and a health spa including a sauna, gymnasium, and the world’s largest indoor pool were some of the hotel’s perks.  We caught glimpses of the luxury and elegance of a bygone era as we ambled through iron gates and past breezy arches to our lunch destination- Cafe Alcazar.

We were looking for a romantic lunch spot that was memorable and unique.  Somewhere cool- to escape the scorching midday summer heat- and unhurried where we could rest after a morning walking the historic streets of St. Augustine.

It’s a bit of an adventure finding the entrance to Cafe Alcazar.  Don’t enter the Lightner Museum, instead walk around to the left side of the building and under the awning to the Lightner Antique Mall entrance {<-photo}.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when we first entered the cool building’s empty hall.  As we followed the sign, photos of people in Victorian bathing suits {Cafe Alcazar is in the “deep end” of the indoor pool} and then a glimpse into an antique shop were fun nods to the historic setting.  A moment later we were greeted by music from the live pianist and a friendly hostess- I knew I had found my oasis.

“A modern cafe is not complete unless it has good and refined music.”
-Hoeffler Manufacturing Company, early 1900’s

St. Augustine’s Cafe Alcazar offers creative specials crafted daily by their chef.  Sean, our knowledgeable server, brought a Saganaki appetizer to start our meal.  What a cool {err… hot!} presentation!  Visit during a First Friday Art Walk to try this traditional dish of pan-seared Greek cheese.  There is plenty to share- I squeezed a lemon on the salty cheese and ate with a bite of bread.

My hubby, Chris, tried the lump crab BLT special.  Cafe Alcazar prides itself on using fresh, local, and organic ingredients and preparing everything in house.  Chris said this was clear in his sandwich.  Our server suggested a crisp white wine to pair with the crab- perfect pairing.

Okay- now before I share about my entree I have to confess that I’m totally biased.  I was a vegetarian for 12 years and in all that time, I could list the well-crafted veggie sandwiches I had on a very small piece of paper.  They are usually wimpy and predictable (hummus, avocado, lettuce and tomato, anyone?!).  Cafe Alcazar’s Grilled Asparagus Panini ($10.95) was the single most memorable veggie sandwich I’ve had.  Period.  So, in homage to my amazing sandwich, I’ve used my instagram photo to share my love.  Seriously people, it was delish.

The ciabatta bread was fresh and crisp (yes, I’m still stuck on that sandwich!), the grilled asparagus, onions, peppers and zucchini were perfectly cooked and the basil in the pesto was flavorful without being overpowering.  If you are looking to impress a vegetarian for lunch in St. Augustine, now you know where to go.  And it was huge!  I enjoyed a slightly sweet Reisling with my veggies- perfect pairing again.

Protip: Order an app, entree and dessert… and share with the one you love!  Servings are generously sized, I guarantee you will leave satisfied… if not, just have two desserts {ha!}.

I mentioned that you could impress hungry vegetarians at Cafe Alcazar, but you should know they also serve gluten-free patrons regularly.  {Don’t worry, meat lovers, the Roast Beef sandwich and the Chicken and Shrimp pasta dishes are expertly prepared, too!}  The manager shared that they have 3 gourmet salads that are gluten-free and that several of his regulars order the pasta dishes over brown rice instead.  Check out Cafe Alcazar’s menu ahead of time and then speak with your server or Chef Jesse upon arriving.  Since everything is prepared in house, they can work within a variety of restrictions to prepare a memorable meal.

Behind me, a distinguished gentleman exclaimed to his server, “I’m 83 years old and I’ve never had a soup as good as that- and I’ve had a lot of soup as you can imagine!”  It made me wish I was still hungry enough to try the French Onion Soup!  But I only had a teeny bit more room… for dessert!

We decided to try a gluten-free option to see if it could measure up to the rest of our experience.  It did.  Next time I’ll ask for no chocolate syrup- the presentation is beautiful but how can you improve on a dense, flourless slice of dark chocolate heaven!?!  {Alright, whipped cream is a slight improvement…}  :)

Surrounded by quaint antique shops inside the historic Alcazar Hotel, Cafe Alcazar shines- reminding us of the opulent luxury once commonplace in St. Augustine.  Chef-prepared, perfectly flavored meals are elegantly plated and served in a cool, unique setting.  Cafe Alcazar is the perfect choice for a romantic or memorable lunch.  It’s a gem locals are happy to share with our families, friends and you.  See ya there.

Cafe Alcazar
904-825-9948
25 Granada Street
Open for lunch daily 11:00 – 3:00 and for dinner the first Friday of each month for Art Walk from 6:00 – 9:00 pm.
A metered parking lot is available behind The Lightner Museum.
Cafe Alcazar on Urbanspoon

Cafe Alcazar hosted Simply St.Augustine for lunch.  All photos, opinions and blissful exclamations are my own.

Comments

  1. MADDIE KASER says:

    IT WAS THE MOST DELIGHTFUL LUNCH WE HAVE EVER
    HAD IN ST. AUGUSTINE…I DON’T KNOW WHY IT TOOK
    US SO LONG TO GO TO CAFE ALCAZAR.
    WE HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT FOR YEARS…
    DON’T CHANGE A THING…YOU ARE AS GOOD AS IT GETS…
    THANKS!
    MADDIE

  2. Evelyn Fiore says:

    If you haven’t eaten here, what are you waiting for !!! The atmosphere is romantic yet beautiful for a luncheon afternoon with friends. There is a pianist playing on a baby grand piano as you enter the dinning room. The aroma that radiates from the kitchen makes you drool . I ordered Shrimp Scampi on a bed of Linguini. As the waiter approached our table, WOW ~ Chef Jess had arranged my dish in such a way that it was like Eye candy to my eyes. As I took that very first bite, my taste buds were embraced with the delicate flavor of this outstanding dish. Shortly afterwards the waiter arrived back to our table presenting me with one more Shrimp in Scampi Sauce perched on a delicate little dish. The waiter announced that The Chef had realized he had shorted me by one shrimp and wanted to make sure I received what I had ordered. I WAS Very Impressed…I asked to see Chef Jess at our table when he had a chance. shortly after he arrived to our table… Bravo Maestro~ Chef Jess you are not only a fabulous Chef but a Gentleman… My hats off to you… My you have many years of continued success… Evelyn Fiore & Friends

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