12 Places Locals Love to Eat

12 Places Locals Love to Eat

Locals always know what’s best when it comes to restaurants and dining. So, if you want to truly eat like a local in Fernandina Beach and indulge in some of the best dining opportunities that the area has to offer, be sure to stop at some of these 12 incredible Fernandina Beach restaurants which are authentic local favorites.

Each one of these Nassau County restaurants offers their own unique cuisine, service, setting, décor, and remarkable menu items that are sure to please the more discerning of palates.

fernandina beach restaurants

1. Cafe Karibo

Location: 27 N 3rd St, Fernandina Beach, FL
Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Café Karibo is a New American bistro conveniently located in downtown Fernandina Beach inside of a restored historic building on 3rd street. It offers a hip interior and comfortable outdoor garden patio seating. This is the place to try out a wide range of eclectic and interesting New American dishes including sandwiches, soups, appetizers, dinner entrees, brunch items, and pub grub favorites. A few of the specialties include the Seared Blackened Ahi Tuna or the classic Shrimp & Grits, but you’re sure to find a menu item or two to please you and your group. An adjacent brewpub offers an extensive list of beers and wines.

2. T-Ray’s Burger Station

Location: 202 S 8th St, Fernandina Beach, FL
Hours: 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Don’t let the exterior fool you! T-Ray’s Burger Station sits in an old family owned Exxon service station which made a gradual transformation into a favorite local breakfast and burger eatery from 1972 until today. The restaurant is now known for offering some of the best comfort food and sandwiches that you’ll find on the island and remains a hidden gem that both locals and tourists adore. Stop by T-Ray’s to get a bit of local Fernandina Beach history, take some photos of the quirky décor, and enjoy a delicious stick-to-the-ribs American breakfast or lunch at a very reasonable price.

3. Green Turtle Tavern

Location: 14 S 3rd St., Fernandina Beach, FL
Hours: 3:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Happen to be out late in downtown Fernandina Beach and looking for an extra drink to keep your energy up? Check out the Green Turtle Tavern on 3rd street, a favorite local watering hole with frequent drink and food specials, a laid-back casual vibe, friendly service and live music. A unique treat that you’ll find here: handcrafted cocktails made with locally sourced fruit and ingredients from their very own garden! There’s a great selection of beers and bourbon as well, and you’ll always get great service here along with some very interesting décor.

4. Espana Restaurant

Location: 22 S 4th St, Fernandina Beach, FL
Hours: 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Get a taste of Spain and Portugal at the Espana Restaurant, specializing in authentic cuisine from this region and open exclusively for dinner service. They creatively incorporate locally sourced seafood ingredients into delectable Spanish and Portuguese dishes. There’s plenty of seating available for your group or family in the scenic outdoor garden or inside, but most importantly the food is unique and delicious. Pick from a selection of authentic Spanish tapas, salads, meat and seafood entrees, and traditional paellas for one or two — a must-try if you haven’t had this popular Spanish dish before. No matter what you order here, you can trust that it will be made the right way.

5. 29 South

Location: 29 S 3rd St, Fernandina Beach, FL
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

29 South is a modern bistro that takes its name from its location on 3rd street and features its own clever take on traditional Southern American dishes. With an emphasis on sustainably sourced ingredients and a casual setting, 29 South has become a favorite eatery among locals since its launch in 2006. This restaurant does its best to source literally everything they offer from local farmers, fishermen, and even their own dedicated Chef’s Garden. Menu items range from Fried Green Tomatoes to Lobster Corn Dogs, Shrimp n’ Grits, and Lobster Mac n’ Cheese – all made with the freshest ingredients. You’ll find your favorite Southern meal here as well as several unique specialty dishes that are sure to hit the spot.

6. Lulu’s At the Thompson House

Location: 11 S 7th St, Fernandina Beach, FL
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Lula’s at the Thompson House is situated in the center of Fernandina Beach’s arts and shopping district and was founded by self-taught chef Brian John Grimley who has a natural interest and love for Southern American and Cajun/Creole food. This family-owned restaurant is where you’ll find several Southern comfort foods made with ingredients like Andouille sausage and locally sourced seafood, often with a spicy flavorful twist. This small cozy restaurant offers outdoor seating with a lovely garden and a wide selection of American menu items including sandwiches, appetizers, salads and brunch items. Favorites include the Shrimp n’ Grits, Shrimp or Oyster Po’ Boys, Cuban Sandwich and many other entrees. Don’t forget to order one of the delectable homemade desserts!

7. David’s Restaurant and Lounge

Location: 802 Ash St, Fernandina Beach, FL
Hours: 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Stop by David’s Restaurant and Lounge when you want more of a contemporary upscale American dining experience with a focused selection of the finest seafood and steak entrees. Perfect for a celebration, anniversary or birthday, everything you order at David’s is sure to be cooked and plated to perfection. Choose from a concise and select menu, only offering the best local and imported ingredients such as King Crab, Chilean Sea Bass, Dover Sole, Clams, Crab, Shrimp, Escargot and more. Treat yourself to a night out here while visiting Amelia Island and enjoy the attentive service and excellent cuisine no matter what you’re craving.

8. Bright Mornings Bistro and Café

Location: 105 S 3rd St, Fernandina Beach, FL
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

When you’re craving a satisfying breakfast and a cozy comfortable family-friendly setting, you’ll find it at Bright Mornings Bistro and Café. Select whatever you’re craving from an array of standard American breakfast favorites like egg entrees with potatoes, toast, grits, bacon, sausage and ham, breakfast sandwiches, a variety of pancakes, French toast, and brunch items. A small lunch menu is also available for a lunch service that starts at 11:00 a.m. and includes burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Enjoy reasonable prices on all the menu items here, great service, and a simple, well-done homemade meal to get you energized for the day.

9. Palace Saloon

Location: 117 Centre St, Fernandina Beach, FL
Hours: 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Another top nightlife destination for locals is the historic Palace Saloon, which stays open until the wee hours to satiate your thirst. It has quite an interesting story behind it as the oldest bar in Florida. The building was originally a haberdashery which was purchased by Louis G. Hirth in 1903 and converted into a saloon. The bar has been in continuous operation since then, even surviving the Prohibition Era. Today you’ll get to enjoy live music, an extensive drink menu with cocktails, craft beer, wine and liquor, and community events. Stop by for a drink and to converse with locals and travelers and learn a bit about the unique history of this very long-running bar!

10. Moon River Pizza

Location: 925 S 14th St, Fernandina Beach, FL
Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Moon River Pizza is a cash-only pizzeria with a variety of thin crust pizzas, calzones, salads, draft beers, and wines. They keep it simple here with a focus on offering some of the best pizza on the island made the traditional way: handmade with fresh ingredients and baked to perfection. Create your own pizza here or choose from a few specialty options like the Vegetarian, T-Rex (meat lover’s), Maui “WOW-ee” with ham and pineapple, among others. Locals often prefer Moon River Pizza for a late-night pie, and you can’t go wrong picking it as well, with the addicting thin crust that you’ll find here at a great price.

11. Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen

Location: 510 S 8th St, Fernandina Beach, FL
Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Whenever you’re in the mood for some delicious and perfectly made barbecue, stop by Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen, launched by celebrity chef Kenny Gilbert and his wife Anna. The restaurant features a seasonal menu with a focus on locally sourced produce and a variety of rotating themes from around the world such as Latin American, Indian, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Italian and Asian, showcasing the founder’s diverse cuisine preferences and cooking ability. The mouthwatering menu includes choices like pulled pork, turkey drum sandwiches, Andouille sausage, beef brisket, lamb shank, fried green tomatoes, spare ribs, jerk chicken, and several other Southern favorites.

12. Doo Wop’s Best 50’s Diner

Location: 1120 S 14th St, Amelia Island, FL
Hours: 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Doo Wop’s Best 50’s Diner takes you back to the past with its traditional American diner menu and 50’s themed décor. The black and white checkerboard flooring, red chairs, and white tables will remind you of the era, along with the satisfying homemade food. Menu options include burgers, floats, milkshakes, hot dogs, fries, breakfast served all day, and a number of vegetarian items. Whether you stop in for breakfast or lunch, eating at Doo Wop’s Best 50’s Diner is a unique experience you won’t soon forget!

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