As THE PLAYERS Championship looms, a new restaurant with prime waterfront views of TPC Sawgrass is serving up a distinctive menu full of fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
The American Gator Club® offers casual outdoor dining with picturesque views of the Stadium Course’s 13th hole and lagoon. Located at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa adjacent to the pool, the restaurant replaces the former 100th Hole restaurant. With a new kitchen, new menu and expanded seating on its waterfront patio and deck, the American Gator Club aims to become a favorite gathering spot for both resort guests and local residents alike.
“This is one of the best places to watch THE PLAYERS,” said Executive Chef Joe Natoli, noting that last year he watched Tiger Woods play through from the restaurant’s deck. “It’s one of Ponte Vedra’s best kept secrets.”
Locally sourced cuisine
Much of the new menu, Natoli said, features locally sourced ingredients from nearby farms.
“We’ve made some great partnerships, including with Gyo Farms and First Start Hydroponics,” he said.
In addition to providing ingredients that will feature in special PLAYERS Championship week menu offerings, First Start will be growing everglades tomatoes and other produce especially for use by the American Gator Club.
“We’re trying to locally source as much as we can,” Natoli said.
And while the restaurant embraces its casual feel, menu offerings include traditional casual fare with an upscale twist. The smokehouse chicken salad wrap, for example, features grapes, cashews, red onion and mango jam with a honey mustard yogurt dressing. The “Plant City Strawberry Salad” features goat cheese, candied pistachios, baby arugula and a sherry vinaigrette, while appetizers include chili-glazed gator nugget tacos, smoked brisket nachos and Buffalo-style St. Johns cauliflower.
Where possible, Natoli said, the menu features popular items adapted with a local flavor. The “Swamp Cuban” sandwich, therefore, reflects the decade Natoli spent at the Miami Marriott, but with local variations.
“I wanted to do a Cuban sandwich but with a Jacksonville approach,” he said. “We use ham and pulled pork that we smoke on site. But instead of the traditional Swiss cheese, we use pimento cheese and replace the mustard with our mustard-tinged barbecue sauce.”
Signature drinks, meanwhile, include a white peach sangria garnished with fresh berries, pomegranate lemonade and a “heat relief” made with Captain Morgan’s spiced rum, Malibu rum, Blue Curacao Midori, fresh-squeezed lime and pineapple juice.
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the American Gator Club will likely extend its hours until 9 p.m. during the summer.
“We’ll be having raw bars and shucking oysters, and it looks great lit up with lights,” Natoli said. “It’s just a such a fun place to be.”