California chef John Taylor hadn’t been to St. George Island before December 2017, but his sister and her family have been visiting the island for 40 years. And through her tales and his own want to “bring the whole Mexican vibe to the panhandle,” the St. George Cantina was born.

Opened in June, the Cantina is located on East Pine Avenue and offers a lot that patrons won’t be able to experience elsewhere. Taylor, known as JT, has opened 52 restaurants throughout his career and decided now was the time to open one of his very own.

St. George Cantina Restaurant on St. George Island

“I’m excited to do it for myself,” Taylor says. “The biggest thing for me is guest service and food consistency, and I think the island could really use a step up in the way food is done. I want something really easy and clean.”

Taylor has tremendous respect for the chefs of Apalachicola and said he wants to create that standard at the Cantina. The menu is infused with diverse flavors and features pork, steak, vegetarian dishes, and lots of seafood. Taylor gets his shrimp and seafood from Apalachicola fishermen.

“We will feature a different fish every day,” Taylor says.

As a chef, Taylor has crafted the menu to include several fresh and homemade items, including his own hybrid corn-and-maseca-flour recipe for tortillas, which are used for the various tacos being offered.

An unusual offering guests will find at the St. George Cantina is the mac-and-cheese bar.

As Taylor puts it, “I love mac and cheese, and I want people to have fun when they come in.”

There’s a chef making cheese sauces and guests can add savory items like lobster and bacon. At the bar, the signature drink is the Moscow Mule, which has Taylor’s unique touch, adding passion fruit to the ginger beer and vodka that usually makes up the recipe.

Another distinct touch the Cantina offers is that only one item is fried — shrimp for the tacos — while everything else is sautéed or grilled.

Taylor is working with contacts in Tallahassee to bring in flamenco guitarists for folks who want a softer musical touch, but with plenty of beat to salsa or merengue dance to. He also offers the island’s only delivery service and has added catering services and cooking classes as well.

Another amenity he’s developing for the younger crowd is a teen night. He wants to put up a large tent over a grassy area and offer a DJ, hamburgers, and hot dogs for teens on the island.

“There needs to be something like that for them,” he says.

And it all benefits the greater island community, for locals and those here to enjoy a vacation.

“I hope everyone goes along with raising the bar,” Taylor said of setting a new standard. “It will increase traffic everywhere because if they can find it on the island, they’ll stay on the island.”

For the menu and more, visit StGeorgeCantina.com.

Winter at the beach brings a quiet serenity that’s perfectly suited to the introspection of a New Year’s resolution, the reawakening of the early spring, even the romance of Valentine’s Day.

No matter what you’re celebrating, you won’t find a more perfect place to toast the sunset – or the sunrise (hey, we don’t judge) – than St. George Island on Florida’s Forgotten Coast.

I can certainly recommend a few places to find a quiet place with a view of the Gulf, but honestly you’d have a harder time finding a place that doesn’t sparkle with coastal magic.

  • Up the Stairs in Apalachicola, an upscale, quiet dining location to get away from the bustling crowds (21+ only).
  • Gormley’s at the Gibson, set in the Historic Gibson Inn in downtown Apalachicola.
  • Apalachicola Ice Company, where you can enjoy a beer and some live music in the courtyard
  • Bowery Station, complete with outdoor beer garden and live music.

Of course, these are just a few of your options. All along Highway 98 – otherwise known as the Big Bend Scenic Byway Coastal Trail – you’ll find a string of quaint, small towns that feel like you’ve stepped back in time to old Florida: from Port St. Joe to St. George Island, Apalachicola and Carrabelle. Each one offers its own unique selection of bars and restaurants that are peppered with patios, balconies, verandas, terraces and decks perfect for you to behold the sunset, the surf or just the people walking by.

And if you really want to get away from the crowds, grab a bottle of bubbly and settle in somewhere cozy on St. George Island. You can drink a toast to new beginnings with someone you love. Our selection of rental homes is rife with decks and patios ideal for reflecting on all that the new year holds in the glint of a perfectly blush-colored sunset set to the melodies of rolling waves. Cheers!

Savor the taste of seafood during your vacation on St. George Island! No trip to the Gulf of Mexico is complete without at least one delectable dish of mouthwatering marine cuisine. The Forgotten Coast is home to a wide variety of restaurants and casual dining spots, where expert chefs serve up the best catches of the day to our visitors at all times of the year.

Restaurants on St. George Island

If you’re hoping to find your favorite seafood right on the island, never fear – plenty of favorite eateries are here! Blue Parrot Oceanfront Cafe is popular for surf and turf and for an unbeatable view of the Gulf of Mexico. Another excellent option is Paddy’s Raw Bar, which has earned its sterling reputation by offering locally sourced oysters, peel-and-eat shrimp and a diverse selection of beer. Other great choices for seafood include the Beach Pit or Black Marlin’s Bar & Grill.

Mainland Seafood

Once you’ve sampled the best of St. George Island’s fare, consider an excursion to nearby Eastpoint to select a dining spot among a number of local restaurants, including the Red Pirate Family Grill and Oyster Bar and Family Coastal Restaurant.

Then, cross the John Gorrie Memorial Bridge to explore the charming streets of Apalachicola before selecting the perfect dinner spot. Up the Creek Raw Bar, The Owl Cafe and the Apalachicola Seafood Grill are all excellent options, and they’re but a few of the local restaurants at your disposal.

Seafood Markets and More

Travelers who prefer to cook their own seafood will enjoy shopping at the region’s excellent seafood markets. Doug’s Seafood and Dail’s Seafood are both conveniently situated right on SGI; our Eastpoint guests often head straight to Lynn’s Quality Oysters.

Finally, there’s the crown jewel of the Forgotten Coast’s seafood scene: the annual Florida Seafood Festival. The festival takes place over several days each November and features an array of events and – you guessed it – a whole lot of seafood.

Savor the flavors of the Forgotten Coast!  Plan your trip to St. George Island today by contacting Resort Vacation Properties.

If you have small children, had small children, or have ever seen small children from a distance, you’ll understand the desire to occasionally dine away from said children.

Don’t get me wrong; I love kids (I even have some), but sometimes you just want to enjoy a meal without your kids… and without anyone else’s kids either. Up the Stairs in Apalachicola gives you that opportunity.

But the real appeal at Up the Stairs isn’t just the lack of children (that’s just a bonus!).

Nestled above shops in the quiet fishing village’s historic district, this fine dining establishment combines fresh seafood, exceptional service, extraordinary signature cocktails, and a growing wine list to create an unforgettable dining experience.

House favorites like the crab bruschetta and crawfish as well as the shrimp and sausage gumbo reflect the unique flavors of Up the Stairs, where the freshest ingredients meet in the most interesting combinations. Shrimp Sambuca, Petit Curry Pot, and beef carpaccio also make an appearance on this anything-but-ordinary menu.

Up the Stairs is situated right in the heart of the village, convenient to shopping, museums, and the waterfront. So it’s a great place to refuel any time of the day or night. And if you’re not quite up for the whole dining experience, you can always choose to eat in the lounge, where you’ll find most of the same delicious dining room selections in smaller portions.

If you’re spending time on The Forgotten Coast – taking advantage of all the hidden gems you can uncover in the calm of winter – don’t miss Up the Stairs. The real star there is the food.

Or maybe the cocktails. Or the wine list. No, it’s definitely the food. I can’t decide; stop by for a bite yourself and let me know which one you decide.

Lunch and dinner served Wednesday through Saturday. Sunday brunch served 11am-3pm.

76 Market Street in Downtown Apalachicola.

Nothing beats autumn at the beach. The emerald water turns a little grayer, the sun is a little lower, the breezes are a little cooler. The crowds are even a little sparser.

But the best part of fall in the Panhandle is the Florida Seafood Festival.

Now in its 54th year, this two-day celebration is the state’s oldest maritime festival, drawing thousands of visitors to the historic town of Apalachicola on November 3rd and 4th!

The Festival is held at the mouth of the Apalachicola River under the shady oaks of Battery Park. This confluence of the river and the Gulf of Mexico form an estuary that gives the local oysters their distinctive salty-sweet taste. Some call these the best in the country, and in fact, nearly 90 percent of all oysters served in Florida come from this spot.

Of course, oysters are king at the Seafood Festival, but there’s more to it than just eating (though that’s really enough, isn’t it?). The festival also features arts and crafts exhibits, plus other seafood-related events including the Oyster Eating and Oyster Shucking contests, Blue Crab Races, a downtown Parade, 5k Redfish Run, and the Blessing of the Fleet.

There’s also musical entertainment with headliners I Am They, a Christian music group performing Friday, and country music star Jerrod Niemann on Saturday.

The entire event is free and open to the public, so just head over to Apalachicola and enjoy the fun!

There’s nothing quite like enjoying a cool summer treat on St. George Island. Our vacationers can’t resist the allure of delectable ice cream flavors paired with unparalleled ocean views. Here are just a few of our favorite destinations for ice cream and other savory desserts.

Aunt Ebby’s Ice Cream

Located at 147 East Gulf Beach Drive, Aunt Ebby’s Ice Cream is a St. George Island classic. Flavors vary seasonally, which makes it easy to discover new favorites, and seating is available on the deck and indoors, with air conditioning to help you beat the heat. Once you’ve finished your snack, enjoy a stroll to explore the nearby businesses, including Island Emporium and Island Outfitters.

Sweet Surf

A more recent addition to St. George Island’s eclectic collection of eateries, Sweet Surf offers soft-serve ice cream along with a plethora of treats guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth. Options include Italian ice, root beer floats, milkshakes and much more. Sweet Surf is conveniently located at 41 East Gulf Beach Drive, right next to St. George Island Trading Co. and just a few steps from the St. George Island Lighthouse.

Off the Island

When you explore the nearby city of Apalachicola, you’ll also discover mouth-watering desserts. Visit The Old Time Soda Fountain at 93 Market Street for ice cream and treats, or stop by the Apalachicola Chocolate & Coffee Company to enjoy homemade gelato, as well as chocolate, pastries, cookies and other irresistible sweets.

Come to the Forgotten Coast

For travelers and their taste buds, St. George Island has plenty to offer. Experience the sweetness of the Forgotten Coast by booking your stay with Resort Vacation Properties today.

For some, breakfast is just a habit, a quick bite with coffee to get you up and running. For others, it’s a way of life. If you fall into the latter category, you’re in luck—the Forgotten Coast loves a yummy start to the day! We’ve rounded up some of our favorite breakfast spots to check out during your stay on St. George Island.

First up, we have a new addition to the island. Weber’s Little Donut Shop opened just a few months ago, but they’re quickly becoming a favorite of locals and visitors alike. They offer a wide variety of pastries with innovative flavors, like Fruity Pebbles and cookies and cream. But don’t worry about being overwhelmed with options; at just $1 a pop, it’s easy to try them all. It’s not uncommon for there to be a line before they open at 8:00 A.M., so get there early for the most options. And don’t forget cash! Weber’s is a card-free establishment.

Next is more of a St. George Island classic: The Beach Pit. Now in their sixth year, The Beach Pit is the top spot for traditional breakfast, with everything from bagels to crepes. A favorite dish is the signature seafood omelet, which comes with a choice of shrimp or oysters. If you like your breakfast with a little “hair of the dog,” this is the spot for you—The Beach Pit’s full bar starts serving when they open at 7:30 A.M.

Although it’s just across the bridge, the flavors of Apalachicola’s Café Con Leche will transport you to Latin America. The owner, Tamara Suarez, blends Venezuelan classics such as arepas and fried plantains, with classic breakfast dishes to create an experience as unique as the Forgotten Coast itself. Customers rave about their coffee, and, if you take your cup of joe with the digital edition of your favorite newspaper, you’re in luck—Café Con Leche offers free Wifi.

Of course, if you’re more inclined to stay at home for breakfast, that’s an easy option, too. All Resort Vacation Properties come with fully appointed kitchens, right down to coffee filters, and no dress code means pajamas are the perfect attire. Happy breakfasting!

Some say variety is the spice of life, but for “chiliheads,” or those who enjoy chili peppers and other spicy foods, the spice of life is—well—spice! And maybe they’re onto something: studies show that capsaicin, the molecular compound that gives piquant foods their kick, has a wide range of health benefits. We’ve rounded up the top four benefits of capsaicin:

  1. Capsaicin contains antibacterial properties that fight chronic sinus infections, such as sinusitis. This works exactly like you’d suspect—the spice helps the nose to stimulate mucus production to clear up congestion. These same effects work well on allergy symptoms, too!
  2. Capsaicin can also relieve pain. Some studies indicate that this is because it blocks the pain signals being sent to the brain, while others suggest that it’s due to the endorphin release associated with spicy food. There’s a long history of it being used topically for pain relief by Native Americans, but ingesting it can have the same perks!
  3. Another surprising effect of Capsaicin is its benefits for a variety of diseases. Although it seems almost ironic, it can help with intestinal troubles, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and H. pylori, and it has been used to manage or even prevent diabetes. Some studies even show it can help fight certain types of cancer!
  4. If you’re trying to shed some weight, look no further than chili peppers. Not only does capsaicin add flavor to sometimes-bland diet food, it can help to fight the buildup of fat and speed up the metabolism. A little kick in the form of a chili pepper also can decrease a hormone involved in promoting hunger, meaning it can curb your appetite, too!

Interested in adding more capsaicin to your life? Regardless of whether it’s for the health benefits or just for the flavor, swing by Sometimes It’s Hotter Seasoning Company on Gulf Beach Drive, where you can choose from a variety of zesty seasonings. Choose from their three bottled seasonings—the 7-pepper blend of Original, milder Jalapeno and Sweet Onion, or the fiery Habañero—or the wide varieties of fish blackening and seasonings for grilling, jerk, poultry, shrimp or jambalaya. All of their offerings are low in sodium and free of additives, preservatives, and MSG, and, if you start to feel peckish, look no further than their prize-winning snack nuts! Their blends make the perfect souvenir or gift for the chiliheads in your life, so be sure to stock up.

 

Sources:

https://draxe.com/capsaicin/

http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/06/03/29/capsaicin-7-powerful-health-benefits-of-the-stuff-that-makes-peppers-hot-004.htm

Our favorite time of year has returned to St. George Island — redfish season! This fish is just as interesting as it is delicious, so we’ve rounded up some facts, and, of course, a recipe to celebrate.

Also known as red drum, channel bass, spottail bass (for the distinctive spots on the tail that look like eyes to confuse predators), or just simply red, redfish are found in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Florida, as well as the Gulf of Mexico. They can live to be over 40 years old, and in the warm Florida waters, they can grow to be 45 inches long and over 50 pounds! Because of the popularity of redfish, the breed was almost fished out of existence by the mid-1980s. Thankfully, aggressive conservation measures have allowed the red drum to return and thrive.

This mild, flaky, delicate fish can be prepared a variety of ways: fried, sautéed, broiled, baked, or—our favorite—grilled. Due to the flaky texture of the fish, it has a tendency to fall through the grill, so try using a mesh screen. Another way to keep your dinner intact is to cook the fish “on the half shell”—that is, with the scales still present. You simply skip the skinning and cut two fillets from each fish along the backbone, then you’re ready to go. No clean up!

When paired with a fruit salsa, grilled redfish on the half shell is the perfect dish to get you in that island state of mind.

Also included are oven instructions for rainy days, and this recipe can also be used for redfish fillets, if that’s what you’re working with—just reduce the cooking by a few minutes.

Redfish on the Half Shell

Ingredients:

6 redfish fillets, scales and skin left on

Italian salad dressing

Creole seasoning

2 large lemons, thinly sliced

1 large lemon, halved

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Place the fillets in a pan, scales side down.

Pour Italian dressing generously over the fillets. Allow to marinate at least 30 minutes.

Remove fillets from the marinade, draining excess.

Sprinkle with a little with Creole seasoning.

Grill or broil.

On the Grill: Preheat an outdoor grill. Grill the fish for three minutes flesh sides down with the lid closed. We’re going for grill marks here. Flip the fish so that the scales are now on the grill, and place thin lemon slices along this fish fillets. Allow the fish to cook approximately 6-8 more minutes or until just cooked through. Check thickest part of flesh for doneness. Flesh needs to be opaque all the way to the skin. Squeeze the remaining half lemon over the fish. Remove from the grill.

In the Oven: Set oven rack to the center of the oven. Place thin lemon slices along the fish. Broil fish, skin side down, for approximately 20 minutes leaving the oven door slightly ajar. Check thickest part of flesh for doneness. Flesh needs to be opaque all the way to the skin.

 

Pineapple Mango Salsa

1 large ripe mango, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup fresh, chopped pineapple

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

4 green onions, sliced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Toss all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve. May be made a day or two ahead.