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Restaurants in and around Amelia Island

I'm taking a family vacation with my two young children to Amelia Island in March. Does anyone have any good suggestions for family-friendly restaurants? Not really interested in doing any chain restaurants. They eat pretty much anything. Thanks!

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  1. I don't know too much about "family-friendly" restaurants but I'll try. We ate at a few higher-end places like Joes 2nd St. Bistro and Espana which were both good. Barbara Jeans is reknowned for crabcakes, I thought it was OK, but it seems very family friendly, I think. Also Down Under is popular and seems casual. That was pretty good. The Crab Trap is family friendly, it was so-so. The Surf is very popular, it was pretty good, certainly casual. We sat outside there and listened to a band and there were plenty of families. None of these places are fabulous, but they are decent. IMHO, Amelia Island isn't a huge culinary destination, but it is very pretty and a lot of fun. I must have spent 40 hours just strolling the beach looking for shark's teeth (and found plenty!)

    I thought that the variety of supermarkets there was great...Harris Teeter, Winn Dixie and Publix. Plenty of choices. Also, for coffee Kofe House was excellent...you can go and learn about roasting in the afternoons.

    The best meal we had there was at the pizza place Moon River. We got a pizza to go that was awesome! I would say a stop there is a "must."

    My only caveat is that I haven't been there for about 3 years and I don't know what has come and gone since then. Have a blast!

    1. I'll second Barbara Jean's for family-friendly fare. If the weather is nice, get a table outside on the porch. Down Under (not far from Barbara Jean's) would also suit your needs....

      1 Reply
      1. re: bcodom

        I'll third Barbara Jean's - my sister lives nearby and she just loves it.

      2. Thanks to everyone who responded. We're going in two weeks and can't wait!

        1. Hello. I grew up in FB & can let you know locals hide the gems from tourists, but there are a few.

          Moon River on 14th St is a must. Don't let its location next to a convenience store fool you. The pizza, calzones, & salads (I love the Greek, my husband loves the White Pizza) are all great. The cool art hanging, decorate restrooms, & pizza tossing will impress the kids.

          Lulu's on 7th St downtown is delicious & my favorite hideaway. It's eclectic island food. I love the fish tacos & Amelia Island Salad. It's very causal, great people, & very budget friendly. You can eat indoors or out. The restrooms are wallpapered with the Weekly World News.

          Happy Tomato on Centre St downtown is a good lunch choice if you've already been to Moon River & Lulu's. It's basic sandwiches in a garden-like courtyard. It's a great alternative to fast food. You have to walk through another shop to get to the cafe.

          Kabuki in the Winn-Dixie/Wal-Mart shopping center is a very popular Japanese steakhouse where the chefs cook at the table. Anything flame' is particularly exciting.
          The menu is standard shrimp, chicken, & steak & fried ice cream for dessert. There's also a sushi bar. It's only open for dinner. (Get there as they open to avoid a long wait.) Prices are about $15-$20 for adult plates. This is the place everyone goes for their birthday.

          The Down Under (immediately under the main bridge on the north end) has a great location & is known for its seafood. It has a great reputation and is very low-key. The prices are moderate. You can also explore under the bridge (nothing too exciting to find but the kids would probably find it cool) & check out the train bridge & sail boats while you're there.

          The Surf on Fletcher/A1A is a bar & restaurant across from the beach. You can eat outside or in. The food is standard burgers, fish, surf & turf. Most people go there for Wing-it on Wednesdays & if the weather is nice there usually is entertainment on the deck. It's the location which makes The Surf.

          Barbara Jean's off A1A is good for lunch if you get to eat outside. It's worth a little wait to get an outdoor table--immediately on the marsh with a great view. It's southern coastal food. The restaurant got its start in St. Simon's Island.

          Picnic at Forth Clinch State Park. If you want to get fresh fish to grill go to Captain Van's (1214 Beech St, off 14th). It's in an older, working class neighborhood & looks a bit like a dive but they know what they're doing. They also have great fried clam sandwiches. The Seafood Market at the marina downtown also has good fish but you must get there early for anything fresh & they are pricier.

          Avoid restaurants at the Ritz Carlton & Amelia Island Plantation. I have ate at both several times & never walked away satisfied. Plus the kids will be bored out of their minds. Brett's at the downtown marina is popular with tourists because of its location, but the food is mediocre at best. Unless it's dramatically changed I would not consider Joe's 2nd St. Bistro kid friendly.

          Hope this helps!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Agent No. 9

            down under restaurant has closed down. we ended up going to slider's on fletcher and had a bucket of steamed oyster's.

            1. re: boogey

              Too bad about DownUnder!

              Slider's is definitely *not* family friendly, though.

              1. re: Agent No. 9

                I would say Sliders is family friendly. We were there about a year ago with a group of 7 adults and 2 small toddlers for a weeknight dinner. We didn't have to wait for a table, service was quick, food was good, and the dining room seemed very casual. They even had a few tables and a small swing set/playground area outside so families could enjoy dinner while letting their kids play. There was also a tiki bar set up outside, so I am wondering if the atmosphere changes on the weekend? (The tiki bar was empty when we visited.) I would definitely recommend this place for a good, casual seafood meal with small kids.

                One nice thing about Amelia Island is that they have outdoor seating at a lot of restaurants, so if it is not too hot (or I suppose too cold, but we are usually there in July…) you can sit outside with kids. That always seems to be a better option for us when we are dining with kids.

          2. P.S.
            If you drive south on A1A/Heckscher Dr off the island & over a few small islands you can ride the Mayport Ferry across the St. John's River & to Singleton’s Seafood Shack. This is a piece of Old Florida still left.

            1. Which place is right on the beach and you could sit at the bar and look right on the ocean? It's after you pass Ft. Clinch...and it was closed down last year.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Maurice Rahn

                If you are looking for good, authentic Italian food, Pompeo's is the place to go. We live in Savannah and visit Amelia several times a year. Our visits would not be the same without dinner (or lunch) at Pompeo's. Mario is the owner and he makes all the pasta by hand. On the weekend he has a housemade caprese salad - where he makes the cheese by hand in new sweatsocks. The best cheese you will find in America. Try the mixed grill or the Zuppe di Pesce on the weekends. He is a rockstar!

              2. We were back in Amelia Island last week. Since I can never find many restaurant reviews online, I thought I would mention a few places that we like. We are usually dining with a large party (7 adults, 3 small kids) and looking for some great food (preferably seafood) in a casual atmosphere. These are our favorite places:

                Sliders Seaside Grill (on Fletcher) is becoming one of our favorite "family friendly" restaurants. There are lots of outdoor tables, its right on the ocean and the food is good (not great, but good beach food - lots of seafood). They have an interesting pineapple casserole as a side dish that I have never seen before. It was buttery, with a Ritz cracker topping -- something you would expect to see at a potluck & actually pretty tasty.

                29 South (on Third Street) normally has really great food. We have eaten there the past three summers and have enjoyed it every time. (Although, this last time it was a little off the mark with kind of lousy service, but we are hoping it was a one time thing, maybe just a new waitress.) They claim to be a "chic, neighborhood bistro" but we have taken kids there without problem – it is not too fancy. Their focus is on local & organic food and everything we have eaten there has been good. We usually get lots of apps, whatever seafood is the night's special, and the grilled romaine salad. We always go with a large party and everyone enjoys their meal. I doubt you could go wrong with anything on the menu.

                Arte Pizza (on Third Street) - We had read some great reviews on this place & decided to give it a try. They have good pizza cooked in a wood fired oven and even better salads. It is very casual -- you actually walk through the kitchen to get to the tiny dining room. Worth a try if you are in the mood for pizza. (We also tried Moon River Pizza last year. They also had good pizza, but probably better for take out.)

                Cafe Karibo (on Third) is a funky little place with an outdoor courtyard shaded by these great big oak trees. Because of the shade, we have always eaten outside (in July) and felt very comfortable. They have an interesting "worldly" menu with lots of salads and sandwiches and a few entrees. They will also let you turn an appetizer into an entree by adding one of their unique sides (asian slaw, coconut rice, etc.) They have recently added a gastro pub (Karibrew) which brews a few tasty beers. This may be my favorite restaurant on the island due to the interesting variety of food and the cool outdoor seating.

                Fernandina’s Fantastic Fudge is also a fun tourist stop. You can’t miss it – it’s right on Centre and usually has a large group of tourists out front. We usually stop in for ice cream and then take way too much candy back to the condo with us. The chocolate covered pretzels and salt water taffy are both good.

                1. If you don't mind driving a few miles off the island to Yulee there is a really nice seafood restaurant called Jinright's Seafood House. My parents live in Fernandina but always take my wife and I there when we come. Very nice atmosphere, typical southern "fish house" food fare. I'd recommend the crab cakes and a glass of sweet tea!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: PurgedReality

                    Jinright's Seafood House has closed. It went from Seafood to an Italian restaurant - which, sadly, is already closed. There is a sign on it now that it will be a Chinese restaurant, but not opened yet. . .

                  2. I'm heading to Amelia Island in late February 2011...do these replies still hold true? Anything new I should know about?