Where To Eat?
Browse Amelia Island restaurants, from casual beach dining along the island’s eastern seashore, to the historic district in downtown Fernandina near the riverfront. Plus fine dining options on Amelia Island’s south end, including several restaurants at the two luxury resorts, The Ritz-Carlton & Omni Amelia Island Plantation.
Downtown Fernandina Historic District
Wicked BAO — 232 North 2nd St., Fernandina Beach (904-775-5577). Open for dinner only (4 p.m. to 9 p.m.), closed Sundays. Unique dining experience known for great service and flavorful “Asian Street Food.” In a crowded downtown dining scene, Wicked BAO has created a recipe for success. Don’t miss trying this gem, tucked away a few blocks off Centre Street. The combination of menu options, casual atmosphere, delightful restaurateur, Nathalie Wu, and the signature — steamed Taiwanese buns (i.e. “BAO”) — have all made a big impression on this town and its visitors. Chef Nathalie’s past culinary experience includes working at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore.
Island Kitchen – 11 North 3rd Street, Fernandina Beach (904-624-7447). Looking for a lunch place? Fresh and flavorful sandwiches, soups, & salads. (Eat in or orders to go.) A teacher of culinary arts (Amelia Island Culinary Academy), Island Kitchen’s Bill Thompson was a former Ritz-Carlton chef. The food reflects Chef Bill’s passion for both the slow food and farm-to-table movements. Serving wild-caught shrimp and local produce from Nassau County farmers. Like fish? Try the seared grouper sandwich (served on baguette with tomatoes, arugula, & creole remoulade) — yummy! Chef Bill also offers cooking classes and culinary tasting tours.
Le Clos — 20 S. 2nd Street, Fernandina Beach (904-261-8100). Enjoy a memorable dining experience at Le Clos (be sure to make reservations well in advance). This excellent French restaurant has a long established reputation downtown. Look for the charming cottage, circa 1906, with its white picket fence along the sidewalk.
The Boat House — 30 S. 2nd Street, Fernandina Beach (904-321-1234). Creating a buzz downtown in the historic district is one of Fernandina’s newest restaurants, The Boat House. For those looking to dine al fresco, the restaurant features a large patio with two outdoor bars (pictured below).
The restaurant is just a block back from Fernandina’s city marina and had been the site of a former boat yard for at least 30 years. The old building underwent an amazing transformation by new owners from Atlanta. The restaurant’s close proximity to the riverfront gives patrons the opportunity to eat, drink and glimpse a colorful Fernandina sunset. Offering a diverse menu, naturally there’s lots of seafood, steak, salads, sandwiches, and some Southern American specialties. Chef Jason Brumfiel was formerly at The Cloister, Sea Island, GA and also previously at Omni Amelia Island Plantation. Also dine at times while musicians/entertainers perform on outdoor stage.
Ciao Italian Eatery – 614 Centre Street, Fernandina Beach (904-206-4311). Serving dinner only. Chef/owner Luca Misciasci has been pleasing patrons in downtown Fernandina for decades. Serving pasta, pizza, salads, seafood, veal, chicken, pork, ribeye steak. A popular “special” when on the menu is Ciao’s seafood lasagna.
Espana Restaurant — 22 S. 4th St., Fernandina Beach (904-261-7700). Specializing in traditional Spanish and Portuguese dishes, a very popular place to dine. Reservations are suggested, especially weekends and busy summer season. Menu includes varied hot and cold tapas, steaks, fish, paellas, and homemade sangria. Indoor dining room, enclosed patio dining or outdoor garden dining. Mick Jagger dined at Espana during summer 2019, read about it here.
Café Karibo — 27 North 3rd Street, Fernandina Beach (904-277-5269). Café Karibo, tried and true, a downtown eatery for nearly 20 years. Serving sandwiches like the yummy “Big Bella”(portabella mushroom), chili, burgers, and tasty salads (such as Spicy Thai Noodle or Mediterranean Couscous). Plus after 5 dinner menu and homemade desserts. Eat inside or dine al fresco. Karibo features a side and rear courtyard, shaded by tree canopy (and pet-friendly, too.) Karibo’s “Happy Hour” is Tues. – Fri. 3-6 pm, drinks 50% off.
Timoti’s Seafood Shak — 21 N 3rd Street, Fernandina Beach (904-310-6550). Serving seafood prepared fried, grilled or blackened, tacos, PO’Boys, salads and bowls. Small seating area inside. Outdoor seating at covered picnic tables. Pirate ship play structure for kids.
Salty Pelican — 12 N. Front Street, Fernandina Beach (904-277-3811). A popular restaurant with second-floor overlooking the Amelia River along the railroad tracks. The restaurant features many big-screen TVs, a nice spot to watch sports and a sunset.
Burlingame Restaurant — 20 S. 5th Street, Fernandina Beach (904-432-7671). Enjoy a fine dining experience downtown at Burlingame, offering a “seasonally inspired menu, top quality ingredients and native products of the southern coastal region.” Chef Chad Livingston was formerly with “Salt” at the Ritz-Carlton and is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY.
The Patio Place — 416 Ash Street, Fernandina Beach (904-410-3717). Featuring sweet and savory crepes, salads, soups, homemade hummus, fresh seasonal fare. Enjoy outdoor patio and live entertainment some evenings.
Happy Tomato Courtyard Cafe & BBQ — 7 South 3rd Street, Fernandina Beach (904-321-0707). Lunch menu includes chicken salad, pimento cheese sandwiches and BBQ.
ARTE PIZZA — 109 North 3rd Street, Fernandina Beach (904-277-1515). Wood-fired, thin-crust pizza, plus large menu. Pasta, chicken, salads and seafood (including their popular shrimp mac-n-cheese). Eat in or take out.
HOLA! Cuban Cafe — New location is 31 South 5th Street, Fernandina Beach (904-206-1985). Unique in Fernandina serving authentic Cuban cuisine. Cuban coffee, pressed sandwiches, and desserts such as Empanadas, Churros and Flan.
Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro — 14 S. 2nd Street, Fernandina Beach (904- 321-2558). Fine dining restaurant, enjoy dinner in restored 1900s home or outside in the New Orleans-inspired courtyard.
David’s — 802 Ash Street at corner of 8th Street, Fernandina Beach (904-310-6049). One of Fernandina’s fine dining experiences, David’s also offers a beautiful cocktail lounge with live entertainment some evenings and a private wine room that can be reserved.
T-Rays Burger Station – 202 South 8th Street, Fernandina Beach (904-261-6310). Serving breakfast and lunch. T-Rays is a magnet for locals. Don’t let the name fool you. T-Rays offers what some feel is the best fried shrimp in Fernandina Beach, besides their burgers. Also serving salads, fish, chicken sandwiches, grilled cheese, tuna, turkey and more. T-Rays has attracted national media attention over the years with its unique setting — a former Exxon gas station.
Casual Beach Dining & Bars
Salt Life Food Shack, at Fernandina’s Main Beach Park, 17 North Fletcher Ave., (904-432-7385). Particularly popular with tourists, this restaurant’s design and setting exudes a beach vacation vibe. The blue hues of evening lighting along with glowing flames of tiki torches adds to the nighttime ambiance at this dining/beach bar option. During daylight hours, visitors enjoy the elevated waterfront view from rooftop bar that looks across Main Beach Park to the ocean.
The Sandbar & Kitchen, is also located at Fernandina’s Main Beach Park, 2910 Atlantic Ave. (904-310-3648). This restaurant is right on the beach. Brick pizza oven plus full menu. Sit oceanfront beside a sand dune at tables on outside patio or at the outdoor bar. Inside, dine upstairs or on main level (interior design is themed “the Main Beach Pier”). Lots of TVs for sports, live entertainment (musicians/bands perform on stage).
Sliders Seaside Grill — 1998 South Fletcher Ave., Fernandina Beach (904-277-6652). A landmark restaurant/bar on the beach for over 50 years, located at the city’s Seaside Park. Sliders features a large covered tiki bar near the dunes next to the outdoor patio dining area. There’s live entertainment, two levels of dining/bars inside and valet parking in busy summer season. Tortuga Jacks (Baja Mexican), located upstairs at Sliders also serves “sunrise breakfast,” just before dawn so patrons can watch an oceanfront sunrise. It’s the only non-resort beachfront restaurant where one can get breakfast and watch the day’s dawn.
The Surf — 3199 S. Fletcher Ave., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034. Phone: 904-261-5711. Outdoor dining, featuring seafood and more, on rebuilt deck (8,000 square feet), with live entertainment and casual beach vibe. Across the street from the ocean. Surf Café features poke bowls, sandwiches, organic smoothies and serves breakfast.
The Down Under, located under Amelia Island’s Shave Bridge (96106 Wades Place, 904-310-6211). A seafood lover’s menu, waterfront setting, and Southern nautical vibe, often features live musical entertainment. Dockside dining and/or drinks inside or out (large riverfront deck with Tiki bar). With floating docks for mariners, read a past article about the re-opening of the Down Under with photos.
Shuckers Oyster Bar & Grill – 96008 Wade’s Pl, Fernandina Beach (904-277-2580). Waterfront on the river next to Shave Bridge (on the mainland side). Shuckers offers indoor dining plus a nice outdoor area with fire pit, corn hole, and play structure for the kids. For oyster lovers, you can’t go wrong by getting the “big bucket” of steamed oysters, served with crackers, horse radish and cocktail sauce. However, Shuckers has big menu, a lot of seafood and more. The restaurant often features live musical entertainment.
Amelia Island’s South End
Parkway Grille – 5517 South Fletcher Ave. at corner of First Coast Highway near roundabout. (904-277-6614). Pleasing patrons for 20 years on Amelia Island’s southend, Parkway Grille is a good choice to grab a sandwich to go (also offering indoor dining). Their most popular sandwich is “Magic Man,” a hot sub with Boar’s Head roast beef, melted Swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms and onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo and au jus dipping sauce. Parkway also serves breakfast.
Lagniappe – 4810 First Coast Highway (904-844-2634). New hours: Monday to Thursday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. While you may stumble pronouncing its Creole name (“LAN-YAP”), don’t trip up by missing out on this fine dining experience. Chef/Owner Brian Grimley moved his culinary talent from Lulu’s at the Thompson House in downtown Fernandina, shifting to Amelia Island’s south end for this latest restaurant venture. And he’s met resounding success since, introducing “a little something extra” (the translation of “Lagniappe”). Calamari lovers, be sure to try the appetizer here! NOTE: As of May 10, 2021, Lagniappe’s lunch service was discontinued for the time being, due to “staffing challenges being felt across the service industry,” an update posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page on May 9, 2021.
Dining at Omni Amelia Island Plantation
Marche Burette “STEAK OUTS” – 85 Amelia Village Circle, 904-491-4834 . Not just for resort guests, locals love “Steak Outs” at Omni Amelia Island Plantation. Casual setting, al fresco dining served on rear covered porch and patio lakefront with live music.
“Steak Outs” are not year round, but have reopened in April 2021 for this year’s spring/summer/fall seasons. Omni is offering “Steak Outs” on Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 pm to 9 pm. While Marche Burette’s dinner menu is limited to just a few choices, steak is skillfully prepared on big grill lakeside (you can watch chefs). Choices are a huge 36 OZ Bone-In Ribeye, a more petite 8 OZ Beef Tenderloin or a 10 OZ NY Strip. All dinners are served with a side salad, bread, and loaded baked potato. (Alternative to beef is Salmon.)
Fine Dining At Ritz-Carlton
Salt (at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island) — 4750 Amelia Island Pkwy., (904-277-1100). The hotel’s restaurant, Salt, has been awarded AAA Five Diamonds in multiple years. Enjoy a rare fine dining experience at Salt, (valet parking, jackets suggested, reservations recommended).
The Ritz-Carlton opened their newest restaurant, Coquina (pictured below), last year in spring 2020. Coquina offers alfresco dining poolside, just steps from the sea, and features flavors inspired by Amelia’s time as a Spanish territory. For more info, call the Ritz-Carlton, 904-277-1100.
Or visit the Ritz Lobby Lounge Bar featuring a special daily bourbon presentation. Also available at the lobby’s bar, Ritz sushi chefs present the freshest seafood with house specialties including the “Amelia Roll.” Another dining option at the Ritz-Carlton is their restaurant, “Coast.”
Pizza & More
Townies Pizzeria & Deli — 819 TJ Courson Road, Fernandina Beach. Phone: 904-277-4755. Offering specialty pizza, wings, salads, sandwiches and more. Townies Pizzeria created a sizable, new chef’s garden this year adjacent to the business and planted its very first crop in springtime 2021.
Moon River Pizza — 925 South 14th Street, Fernandina Beach (near Jasmine St.). Phone: 904-321-3400. Pizza, salads (the Gorgonzola salad is very popular), calzones, serving wine and beer.
Loop Pizza Grill — Sadler Road and South 14th Street, Fernandina Beach. Phone: 904-321-0093. Family-style eatery (order at counter then seat yourself). Burgers, pizza, salads, and great ice cream thick shakes.
Florida Restaurant Pandemic Capacity Limits
The restaurant industry in Florida and around the nation faced unprecedented challenges as the pandemic unfolded in 2020 (and COVID-19’s impact continues in the new year). Back in late September 2020, Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, lifted statewide indoor capacity limitations at Florida’s restaurants and bars. Each Florida establishment can operate at 100% capacity (or implement their own capacity limits policy within their restaurant/bar property).
A new challenge has emerged in springtime 2021 — a shortage of workers. This is impacting some restaurants locally, across Florida and around the nation. Note that some businesses are adjusting their operating hours as required, due to current labor situation.