Those hungry for a bite of burrito bliss need look no farther than a little beachside shack off of State Road A1A. Painted in sun-faded hues of red, blue, yellow and green and sticker-slapped with the symbols of local musicians, artists and skate shops, A1A Burrito Works Taco Shop is an easygoing St. Augustine Beach favorite.
Inside the SoCal inspired eatery, diners order Baja-style Mexican food staples like tacos, nachos, burritos, quesadillas and tostadas from a counter in front of an open kitchen, where they can watch as their food sizzles before picking it up from a service window and settling in — either out under the sun in one of the restaurant’s outdoor picnic tables or counter seats, or inside its screened-in patio.
Meat seasonings, sauces and salsas are all made from scratch onsite, and the meat is cooked fresh daily, with beef and pork slow-cooked for 8 hours every night. With a menu built for interchangeability, entrees come stuffed or slathered in chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, grilled mahi or beans.
In addition to a strong local following, the food has garnered national attention. In 2015 the restaurant and its Mexican UFO burrito — a massive menu favorite wrapped in a shape fit for interplanetary travel — were featured on the Cooking Channel show “Junk Food Flip.”
The restaurant also serves beer and wine, and the kitchen is open late, to 10 p.m. on weekdays and until 2:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Q&A with A1A General Manager Patrick McGinnis
How would you describe the restaurant’s atmosphere?
It’s family friendly. It’s fun. There’s a beach vibe to it. Very casual.
What is your food philosophy?
Oh, just make the best food every day and make sure everybody leaves with a smile.
What type of cuisine do you specialize in?
It’s Mexican, Baja style. Kinda spicy, lots of beans and rice and fresh vegetables [and] some spicier sauces and salsa. We make all of our own stuff here from scratch, so it’s all fresh every day.
What is your signature dish?
The UFO is definitely our most popular burrito. It’s your choice of any of our meat or protein options. Your choice of chicken, beef, pork, mahi mahi, shrimp, steak or vegetarian. It comes with your choice of black beans, pinto beans or rice. And then it comes with your choice of the works or Baja style. Then we wrap it all up and it’s sealed with cheese on the top so it looks like a flying saucer.
What would you recommend for a first timer?
I would definitely recommend a UFO.