by Damon Noisette // photo by Agnes Lopez

Occupying an unassuming location in a former filling station just over St. Augustine’s Bridge of Lions on Anastasia Island, GAS Full Service Restaurant fully embraces the origin of the building, with elements of chrome, a concrete shop floor, gas pump door handles out front, and car art on the walls. Opened in 2011, owners Lindy and chef Ben Loose’s restaurant offers a selection of elevated comfort food dishes with local and seasonal ingredients. Most of the menu items are made from scratch, including the salad dressings and ice cream.

Our decision to visit GAS on a Saturday in the early evening without a reservation was our only mistake of the night. The spot is a favorite for locals and the limited number of tables ended up meaning we had to wait an hour before being seated.

We started off with the crispy onion straws ($6) appetizer, a heaping plate of thin strips of fried onions paired with a house made creamy Russian dipping sauce. My companion and I made it about a third of the way through the mound before focusing on the Reuben rolls ($9), a set of three marvelous deep fried eggrolls stuffed with corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese, sliced in half and paired with the same Russian sauce that came with the onion straws.

Having done so well with our fried appetizers, I figured I’d try my luck with the jalapeño popper burger ($14.50) with house-made chips. It was a behemoth, and the burger came to the table with a stern warning from our server to let it cool down a bit before taking my first bite. The burger is actually a pair of grilled four-ounce beef patties that are stuffed with cream cheese, cheddar, and jalapeños and then panko breaded and fried into a big, juicy and explosive ball of a burger. After a few unsuccessful attempts to take a full bite of it, I cut it into fourths and enjoyed it fork and knife style.

Weighing in at 16 ounces, the espresso rubbed ribeye ($28) is a substantial and tender cut. My dining companion liked how she could taste the coffee flavor and was very complimentary about how it was prepared.

We shared a pair of desserts, the sea salt and caramel brownie with house-made ice cream ($7.50) and the strawberry, datil pepper, and goat cheese cheesecake ($6.50). I swear it is not an exaggeration when I say the cheesecake was by far the best I’ve ever had in my life. The goat cheese brings a welcome lightness to a dessert that is normally dense and rich, and the datil pepper adds a wonderful kick of spiciness. The brownie was no slouch, but the cheesecake was the topic of discussion for a majority of the ride home and again at dinner the next night as we toyed with the idea of heading back down for another slice.

GAS Full Service Restaurant
9 Anastasia Blvd., St. Augustine; 217-0326;
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 11 AM-9 PM; Friday-Saturday, 11 AM-10 PM
Prices: Appetizers $5-10.50; Lunch $6.50-$14; Dinner $10-24

Take a Hike: If you're already in downtown St. Augustine and were lucky enough to find parking, GAS is just a short walk over the Bridge of Lions onto Anastasia Island.

Plan Ahead: A reservation is highly recommended for prime times.

Check the Chalkboard: Just inside to the left is a chalkboard with a list of the daily specials, desserts, and local craft beers on tap.

Great Chef: Chef Ben Loose will be competing for the Island Team at Jacksonville Magazine's Great Chefs of St. Augustine event on Friday, May 15, 2015.