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Feb 21, 2008 01:06 PM

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 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.