Delicious Destinations: Amelia Island, Florida

shrimp fritters at the Amelia Tavern, a favorite place to eat in Amelia Island, Florida
Shrimp fritters at the Amelia Tavern, a favorite place to eat in Amelia Island, Florida (Photo: @MegaYummo via Twenty20)

This month we’re traveling to the quaint ocean town of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island in Florida. When people think of beach towns and food, often the first thing that comes to mind is seafood shacks and flip flops, but there’s so much more to this northern Florida region than deep-fried seafood and crab cakes. Planning a beach getaway? Check out these six great places to eat in Amelia Island, including a burger joint  inside an old gas station and a hidden bao restaurant in a historic home.

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Best Restaurant for Families: T-Rays Burger Station

There’s just something about an old-school diner burger that brings a sense of nostalgia and makes me super hungry. At T-Rays Burger Station you can get burgers topped with just about anything—and don’t forget to order a side of onion rings. The fun part about T-Rays is that it’s located in an old Exxon gas station. There’s no formal sign or advertising letting you know the little place is actually a restaurant, so you could drive right by and not know; but trust us, you’ll want to park and sit a while.

T-Rays Burger Station Must-Have: Big-T Burger and Onion Rings

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Best Restaurant for Adults: Area 51 BBQ

Area 51 BBQ is combining the best of two barbecue worlds—Southern and Korean—into one eclectic menu. The restaurant is known on the island for its tabletop grill ribeye bulgogi, which is only served on the weekends. Take a buddy because the meal is meant for two and you get a lot of thinly sliced beef, toppings, noodles, and broth, making this an easy-to-share meal you won’t soon forget.

Area 51 BBQ Must-Have: Dolsot for Two (that way you can try a bit of everything!)

Best Restaurant for Solo Travelers: Hola! Cuban Cafe

If you’re in the mood for something you can take to go while exploring Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach, stop in at Hola! Cuban Cafe. The little shop is just off the main thoroughfare into downtown, but it’s worth the small detour. It’s only open for breakfast and lunch, so plan accordingly. You can’t go wrong with one of their press sandwiches like a traditional cuban or pulled pork. I especially love the croqueta preparada sandwich: pick from chicken, ham, or cheese croquetas, pressed with ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard.

Hola! Cuban Cafe Must-Have: Croqueta Preparada Sandwich

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Best Splurge Restaurant: Salt

At the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island you’ll find Salt, a high-end restaurant boasting views of the ocean and a menu that highlights the delicacies of the sea. The restaurant pairs over 40 different salts from around the world with dishes to enhance flavor. No matter what you order here you’re sure to have an incredible meal with service that is unparalleled in the area.

Salt Must-Have: Sea Bass with Leek Bread Pudding

Best Mid-Day Snack: Wicked Bao

Everything is better when you’re walking around with a soft pillowy bao bun in your hands. Wicked Bao specializes in bao (steamed buns) and small sharable plates. I like getting selections to-go and taking them down to the beach to eat as a mid-day snack. A few of my favorite options are the braised pork belly bao and the bulgogi beef bao. No matter what you choose, though, it’s sure to be the perfect savory pick-me-up between meals.

Wicked Bao Must-Have: Bulgogi Been Bao and Crispy Rice Tots

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Best Amelia Island Brewery: Amelia Island Brewing Co.

You can find beers from Amelia Island Brewing Co. featured at spots around town, and the brewery also owns both Amelia Tavern and The Alley. Both are fun and unique spots to have a cold glass of freshly brewed and perfectly poured beer. The brewery has a rotating menu of on tap beers, including IPAs, blonde and pale ales, and lagers. Just tell your server what you normally like and they can direct you the right way.

Amelia Island Brewing Co Must-Haves: Whatever beer you love most

More About Delicious Destinations

Some people plan their vacation with no thought of where they are going to eat, while others plan their entire trip around food. No matter which camp you’re in, FamilyVacationist’s Delicious Destinations has you covered! Each month, this food column covers local favorites including the best family dining spots, the best places for solo travelers, and irresistible snacks in cities around the U.S. Up this month: the best places to eat in Anaheim, California.

I’m Megan duBois. I’m a full-time food and drink writer, and when I don’t have a fork in my hand, there’s likely an ice cream cone there instead. In this Delicious Destinations column, you can come with me to a different city each month and we’ll explore great restaurants, bars, bakeries, and other eateries. I’ll offer recommendations for families, adults, and solo travelers in each city. I’ll also give you tips on finding great themed restaurants, mid-day snacks, and breweries.

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Megan duBois
Megan duBois is a freelance writer who covers theme parks, cruising, food and drink, and family travel. Her work has appeared on Buzzfeed, Popsugar, Insider, Orbitz, FamilyVacationist, The Daily Meal, Family Vacation Critic, TravelPulse, and more. Megan has been quoted as an expert and thought leader on theme parks for Forbes and other outlets.