Tucked away an hour from the nation’s largest city (area-wise), Amelia Island is a haven of quiet beaches, old-fashioned shoppes, and friendly locals. It’s no surprise, then, that this cute Southern town is home to an amazing food scene, with offerings ranging from fresh seafood to some of the juiciest burgers you’ll ever have from below the Mason Dixon line.
Unfortunately, the Island gets its fair share of tourists as well, leaving people to go for basic fare and restaurants, rather than the local gems. Lucky for you, we’ve sorted out ten restaurants that locals absolutely love, so you can totally pretend that you’ve been living on Amelia Island forever.
What’s a city without a farm-to-table restaurant? 29 South Eats takes this approach with a variety of different southern foods, including sweet tea-brined pork chops and a foie gras burger. Save some room for dessert though, cause their coffee and donuts bread pudding will totally reinvent the way you enjoy your cuppa Joe.
Forget what you know about burgers and fries. Tasty’s covers their sweet potato fries in “brown sugga butta,” but you can also get them spicy, if you’re into that. They have a different special for every day of the week, but if you’re not really digging a patty, they have hot dogs and lobster rolls too – all of which are just as good.
The amount of restaurants that serve seafood on Amelia Island may be exhausting, but this one is absolutely worth checking out for their sheer variety. Any of their seafood options can be fried, blackened, or grilled, but you can also grab some tacos or a poké bowl to go along with your basket.
4. Arte Pizza
When you hear ‘coastal,’ you don’t automatically think of gourmet pizza pies, but this restaurant proves that you should. Tucked away behind the downtown shopping district lies this authentic pizzeria, with wood-fired pies that you won’t forget anytime soon.
Guess what kiddos, there are other places you can find Dole Whip aside from Disney World. They have an awful lot of soft-serve and regular ice cream too, and you can get anything dipped in a chocolate shell that shatters with every bite. The perfect pit stop before or after a long day at the beach.
Leddy’s Porch is known for their chicken and waffles, but the rest of their menu is up to par with their fabulous take on the iconic dish. Be sure to get a handful of their buttermilk biscuits, which are even flakier and crumblier than the ones your grandma used to make.
This tiny cafe is hidden inside a health food store, but once you find it, you’ll definitely be back. Each of their menu items are prepared with “conscious eating” in mind, meaning they strive for organic produce, free range poultry, and wild-caught fish, among other things. If you’re lucky, you’ll go when they have the portobello burger as their special of the day, which is served with a creamy parmesan aioli.
Who comes to a beach town for Italian food? Quite a bit of people actually, since Ciao is Italian cuisine at its finest. Their tortelloni con porcini features a truffle cream sauce drizzled over tender pockets of mushroom-stuffed pasta, making you feel fancy AF in such a small town.
Sabbia serves up Mediterranean street food, which is a nice break from the restaurants that offer the traditional fried shrimp and seafood pasta that visitors often flock to. You can grab a few wedges of their warm pita and homemade dips, or if you’re in the mood for something heavy, their Mykonos burger – a mix of lamb and beef, served over a fresh salad in an open-faced pita.
10. Cafe Karibo
Karibo is known for their eclectic options that are gourmet without the gourmet price. Their menu has an extensive assemblage of flavors and dishes, such as their “crabby con queso,” which adds a coastal flair to the spicy Mexican dip. Better yet, right next door is their Karibrew pub, offering beer made on-site in a casual atmosphere.