St. Simons Island Restaurants: A Local's Guide
If you've been reading the blog for a while now, you know that yes, there are islands in Georgia. I've gotten a lot of questions recently about my hometown of St. Simons Island lately so I'm going to be sharing a lot more about it here on the blog. First up I'm going to help y'all figure out...
Where to eat in St. Simons Island, Georgia
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Locals joke about having nothing to do on the Island but eat and drink. It's not a bad problem to have especially when there is beautiful scenery all around you to go with your meal. My family moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia when I was five years old and grew up in St. Simons so I've seen the restaurant scene dramatically change over the years. When we were growing up there were just a handful of local restaurants: CJ's Pizza, Mullet Bay, Brogen's, and Bennie's Red Barn. You should still check these out, but nowadays, there’s a much bigger local restaurant scene in St. Simons Island. So much so that it may be overwhelming, especially for a first time visitor. I'm sharing my list of favorite St. Simons Island restaurants in hopes it will help you narrow down your to-do list on your next trip to the Georgia coast.
St. Simons Island Restaurants: A Local's Guide
Cafe Frederica | 110 Sylvan Dr
It's been a St. Simons Island institution forever and still my favorite breakfast place. 2 eggs, scrambled, crispy bacon, grapefruit, and toast is my standard order. It may be boring but they make the fluffiest scrambled eggs I've ever had. The bagel and lox spread is equally tasty and the french toast is amazing if you have a sweet tooth. Try really hard to save room for dessert: homemade pies and cinnamon rolls are as big as your head. You're welcome.
The Porch | 549 Ocean Blvd
For me, it was love at first bite at The Porch. Who doesn’t love fried chicken?! First off, I love the vibe of the place. It’s counter service which is great when you’re on vacation because it is super casual and you may have people joining you at different times so order when you want and then grab a table big enough for any stragglers. As for the food, my favorite thing so far is 3 jumbo tenders with novice level heat with cheese grits and cole slaw. The heat levels do jump from doable to scorching (IMO) but if you think you can handle it, go for it. Novice is the most heat I personally can handle. I will They also serve Wild Georgia Shrimp which is awesome! It’s expensive but supports a local industry. I’ve tried the grilled shrimp skewers as well with grits and slaw. With a sprinkle of lemon and a dunk in the tangy cocktail sauce, delicious! As for drinks, they have some great beers on tap. Once I have this baby, I can’t wait to head back for some of their frosé!
Southern Soul BBQ | 2020 Demere Rd
I fell in love with the smoked chicken salad and BLT at Southern Soul back in 2006 when they were slingin' sandwiches on the Palm Coast Patio in The Village. Their menu has grown a lot and you can find out what their daily specials are by following their mouthwatering instagram account. I still haven't tried it all. Next time, Fried Chicken Sunday has my name all over it.
Sandy Bottom Bagels | 242 Retreat Vlg
This is a great spot to pick up breakfast or lunch for a group. The bagels are made fresh daily and have a variety of cream cheeses to choose from. I like to grab a few breakfast or lunch bagel sammies and take them to the beach for a picnic. Pumpernickel with lox and all the trimmings is my go to.
Nancy | 26 Market St, Suite 110
For a light lunch or dinner, I love this spot. The whole restaurant is white and bright with pops of color from the delicate farm to table dishes brought to the table and french music playing throughout. Honestly, I feel like I'm on the set of Something's Gotta Give, if only for an hour or two. Fingers crossed I'll run into Diane Keaton at the next table down one day. They focus on seasonal and local ingredients and make everything from scratch. The menus change often but one of my favorite dishes is the tomato pie on the summer lunch menu. No matter how full you think you are, ALWAYS get dessert. The meringues are just sweet enough; the giant chocolate chip cookies are great to share. Don't forget to shop their home and fashion sections too.
The Half Shell | 504 Beachview Dr, Suite 1 A
This one is a recent discovery and I'm diggin' it. Raw oysters by the dozen, peel and eat shrimp, some hushpuppies and you're done. They usually have ice cold Anchor Steam (San Francisco) Ale on tap and at least one Sweetwater (Atlanta) taps.
Bubba Garcias | 200 Redfern Village
My family opened up this little cantina back in 2005; can't believe it's been that long! I maybe biased but I think it's pretty awesome. Tex Mex classics with our own spin, you can't go wrong. My forever favorite tacos are the calamari tacos with black bean and mandarin orange pico de gallo, while new favs are the spicy pork tacos with pineapple pico. If you’re really hungry, go with the triple decker tostada. Don't forget to go upstairs for a drink at our bar Bubba's Up. Margaritas for days and well rounded craft beer lineup await as well as some arcade classics, pool table, and big porch nestled in the treetops.
Gnat's Landing | 310 Redfern Village
Just down the street in Redfern Village, is Gnat's Landing. My mom and late step-father opened this local favorite back in 1998 (I think? Such a long time ago). Named for the famous sand gnats that swarm the south, Gnat's Landing is your classic bar and grill with seafood a plenty. Gnat's is flip-flop and family friendly so during the summer be prepared to wait for a table. It's worth it though. My favorites are the Fried Oyster Slaw Bowl and the Fried Green Tomato Club Sandwich. We no longer own the joint but it still has the same flavor as it did when we opened it.
Island PHO | 111 Longview Pl
For something different check this place out for some authentic Vietnamese food. Try it all; everything is freaking delicious. The restaurant is a full service sit down spot but this is my go to for really good takeout if I’ve had a long day at the beach. Pick it up and enjoy on your screened in porch with some ice cold beer.
Delaney's Bistro | 3415 Frederica Rd, Suite C
Delaney's has been around for about 20 years, so you know they're doing something right. This is a true family establishment, owned by husband and wife team, Tom and Leslie Delaney with their children following suit. My seat of choice is in the bar because I love chatting with the bartenders and seeing who's coming and going. The menu is classic with dishes like escargot roquefort, foie gras, NY strip, and rack of lamb. However I rarely order off the menu here because they have an extensive list of daily specials including locally caught seafood. So make sure to ask about those. If you’re into wild game, this is a great spot to try rare cuts of meat like ostrich or antelope. This is another restaurant where you have to order desert no matter what. Everything is made in house and will make you forget about any diet you may be trying to follow. A few favorites for me: bourbon chocolate pecan pie and key lime cheesecake. Don't forget to make reservations!
Georgia Sea Grill | 407 Mallery St
If you’re looking for fine dining in the Village, this is your spot. They serve exquisite seafood dishes in a variety of preparations depending on the day’s catch. If you’re not sure what to get, their Shrimp & Grits is a classic topped with tasso gravy. They always have a variety of meat and chicken dishes on the menu if you’re not into seafood. For vegetarians order 3 or 4 of the side dishes to make your own veggie plate!
Indigo Coastal Shanty | 1402 Reynolds St
Indigo is just over the bridge in Brunswick but it's too good not to include. Chef and owner, Kate Buchanan once had a fine dining restaurant called Cargo that was a favorite for years but she decided to hang up the chef coat for something a little more casual. Indigo serves up Island inspired food like jerk fish tostadas, plantains, and a mean meatloaf sandwich. My typical lunch order is the Pac-Rim Noodle Bowl with jerked shrimp, light but filling and delicious. The Calypso (curry) Chicken Salad is another fav. This is a great place to stop for lunch when you’re exploring historic downtown Brunswick or on your way to St. Simons Island.
This list is just a taste of St. Simons Island restaurants but wherever you go, just make sure you keep it local.
On my list to try:
Frosty’s Griddle & Shake - Old school burger and ice cream stand in The Village from the guys at Southern Soul. The restaurant opened in the summer of 2019.
Have you been there before? What are some of your favorite St. Simons Island restaurants?