FERNANDINA DINING: New Waterfront Restaurants
Something Old, Something New
Noteworthy is the revival of two popular Fernandina restaurant properties occupying prime waterfront locations. One is at the seashore, The Sandbar & Kitchen, the other on the intracoastal, the Down Under. It’s nice to see these places brought back to life and improved for the future enjoyment of visitors and residents.
At The Beach
With its oceanfront setting, The Sandbar & Kitchen opened their doors mid-summer 2017 at Fernandina’s Main Beach Park (2910 Atlantic Avenue). Outside of the luxury resort properties (Omni AIP & Ritz-Carlton), The Sandbar & Kitchen is one of only two beachfront restaurant/bars on Amelia Island. It’s located at Fernandina’s largest city beach park next to the only public boardwalk along the oceanfront (plus Putt Putt mini-golf, and seaside playground for the kids).
On The River
Coming in fall 2017 on the Intracoastal Waterway is the “new” Down Under Restaurant, featuring a large outdoor deck on the river and 80 feet of floating docks. More about October 2017 opening further below.
Main Beach Site Since ’62
The Sandbar & Kitchen is the new restaurant at a Main Beach building that dates back to 1962 (formerly occupied by Sandy Bottoms). The ownership of the beachfront property changed hands in late January 2017, with the restaurant space undergoing a major renovation.
The new interior design has a nice, relaxed beach vibe, themed the “Main Beach Pier.” More natural light and views of the beach and Atlantic Ocean have been revealed, plus a large outdoor bar added to the seaside patio. Shoreline views from an elevated perspective are available from the upstairs bar inside.
Whether sitting inside or out, upstairs or down, the new owners have successfully recreated this Main Beach restaurant space in a thoughtful, pleasing way. Sit at a table beside a sand dune on the outdoor patio. Or perch on a bar stool and feel a sea breeze while watching the sea oats sway. Those who prefer air conditioning can choose from tables or bar seating available on either the main level or second floor, with large screen TVs in view of all and stage for live musical performances.
For those sandy or in a wet swim suit who prefer to get something to go or stay on the beach, there’s a walk-up window. Patrons can sit at picnic tables on the beach itself, right in the sand, adjacent to the oceanfront patio.
We enjoyed a brick oven pie the first time visiting the Sandbar, choosing the Pesto Pizza (sized about right for two to share). Upon a second visit, we ordered the Fish and Chips (upon recommendation from a friend), sure to a become popular menu item. We also ordered the Chicken Paillard with lemon beurre blanc and fresh salad (mixed greens, strawberries, blueberries, raspberry vinaigrette, candied walnuts and goat cheese). It was wonderful! Hope this “special” becomes a regular menu item.
The Down Under
A renaissance is happening on the river at the Down Under. Closed for nine years, this old-time favorite seafood restaurant of locals and visitors alike on the Intracoastal Waterway is being revived by new owners and management. After undergoing major renovations, the long-awaited debut is highly anticipated around Fernandina. UPDATE: NOW OPEN, see photos, read “Dining and Drinks Dockside at the Downunder.“