If you ever been to St. Augustine, you know that shrimpin’ is big business. One of the main livelihoods for generations of families living in this northeastern Florida coastal city is reeling in shrimp from their shrimp boats, very much like Forrest Gump’s best friend Bubba. When I learned about this, my travel bug instinct told me to seek out eateries that serve the local catch. And thanks to a couple of helpful young guys at the St. Augustine Lighthouse, I found it at Osteen’s Restaurant.
When I arrived at the family-run Osteen’s Restaurant, there was still a massive queue of people outside the door waiting to be seated. Most of them are locals who have been coming to the place for 50 years. Since it was just me, I opted to seat at one of the bar seats rather than wait for a table. The service was prompt and friendly and the prices were very reasonable. What I really liked as well was that they had a “smaller appetite” menu, perfect for someone like me who usually cannot finish an entire Southern-sized plate.
Osteen’s Restaurant, St. Augustine
Rave: Fried Shrimp
I knew immediately that I was going to order their fried shrimp though I was tempted to get their fried chicken too (I overheard some folks talking about it.) But I stuck with the shrimp and wasn’t disappointed. It was probably the best, fried shrimp I’ve tasted anywhere. It was fresh, slightly sweet to the taste, and fried perfectly by the able cooks. The batter was also very light, almost like tempura. The small-sized plate came with six large pieces and two sides for the mere price of $8.50.
This was one of those true local gem, the same ones I generally seek to find when I travel anywhere. As mentioned earlier, many, if not all the people who were dining there that night were locals. They know who the cooks and the servers were. The owner herself was running the cashier. The interior décor was simple and the dining room was always buzzing until the time the restaurant itself closes. Everyone seemed pleased to be there and for me, it was the perfect way to end a very lovely day.
If ever you find yourself visiting St. Augustine, make sure you cross the Bridge of Lions and stop by Osteen’s Restaurant. I guarantee that you’ll be pleased with the food and the atmosphere. Just remember to bring cash and come in earlier for lunch or dinner to avoid the long wait.