After 20+ years visiting the Georgia coast, we’ve eaten at a lot of St. Simons Island restaurants. Chicken swiss. Popcorn. BBQ. Unlimited bacon at the breakfast buffet. Fried Shrimp. Grilled fish. These are some of the delicious delicacies we look forward to every time we visit St. Simons Island, Ga.
Our culinary ‘must dos’ have changed somewhat over the years, but here are several tried and true places we like to visit when we go to the beach, plus a few recommendations from my father-in-law’s crowd of locals. If you visit St. Simons Island, what are your favorites?
Casual St. Simons Island Restaurants
This St Simons Island restaurant has been on Garden and Gun’s Barbecue Bucket List, named one of golfer Davis Love III’s Greatest BBQ joints, called one of the secrets of the Georgia Coast by Atlanta Magazine and I could go on, and on, and on.
We call Southern Soul Barbecue our go-to 4th of July meal, and no matter how many days we are in St. Simons, there’s always a stop here for at least one lunch or dinner, and my husband is a certified BBQ judge, so he knows his stuff.
The restaurant itself is located around the traffic circle as you enter the Island. There isn’t much seating inside and outside are a few picnic tables. We usually pick up and take it home. I volunteer to pick up because I like to sit at the bar (if you can get a spot) and have a beer while they get it together. The smell just makes your mouth water from the time you enter, until the time you leave. Call ahead for take out. They are ALWAYS busy.
Brogens St Simons restaurant/bar is located near the pier in the St. Simon’s Island village. There is also a Brogens North location, but go to the Downtown location, it has an upper deck where we like to sit on a nice summer evening and watch the activity below, and the pier is right there which is fun with the kids before or after dinner.
The must have dish here according to pretty much my entire family is the Grilled Chicken Swiss. I’m partial to the Philly, or if I’m craving fish, the Blackened Mahi. We also love the free popcorn and shuffleboard, although lately they don’t seem to let you play shuffleboard. We did have a good game of corn hole out front though.
Mullet Bay is the grown up Brogens. Although you’ll find people of every age in both places, Brogens is usually the college crowd at night, where as Mullet Bay seems to be a bit older.
This restaurant is also located in Downtown Saint Simons and has inside seating, as well as a huge porch. Our family favorite menu item is the grilled fish sandwich. They don’t skimp on fish either, it’s a huge piece.
My son recently discovered the fried shrimp basket, which is also a keeper. Grab a seat in the bar area and nosh on roasted peanuts while watching the big game on the TVs.
Three words – batter dipped fries. They give you a lot and you’ll be hard pressed not to eat them all. Although the Crab Trap menu now includes grilled fish and healthier options, they began as a fried seafood only restaurant and that is still their specialty.
The shrimp is out of this world. Huge Georgia whites with just a light coating. I used to get the crab cakes, served in a blue crab shell. Each plate comes with a mound of the famous fries and the best hush puppies on the island.
The Crab Trap is a great kid-friendly place too. When my son was little we amused him by giving him trash to throw in the hole in the middle of the table. Of course, that got a little out of hand and we had to move everything away from him or it went down the hole.
The problem with my family is they get into a rut and go to the same places all the time, plus my youngest has this thing for ‘tradition’. However, more than a few readers have extolled the deliciousness of Iguana’s fried shrimp, so I’m putting Iguanas on my list for my next visit. A quick look on their website and I learned they’ve even won awards for their shrimp!
Echo is the hotel restaurant for The King and Prince Hotel, and offers the only beachside dining on the island. For the best views, choose the patio seating, or the dining room has floor to ceiling bay windows for viewing the waves.
At breakfast, our fresh fruit included raspberries, blueberries and blackberries in addition to melons and pineapple. We all fought over the bbq chicken flatbread, and the Echo donut that gives Café du Monde in New Orleans a run for the money.
My husband and I have also ditched the kids in the evenings to sit in the comfy couches in front of the huge limestone fireplace. In fact, we set out on a tour of rooftop bars one night and ended up at Echo because as cool as a rooftop bar sounds, Echo had better atmosphere.
This restaurant in the Village is a little bit of a chick place, but you’ll see lots of men accompanying the women too because the food is so good.
Barbara Jean’s menu is highlighted by home style cooking. The website will say they do seafood really well too. I’m sure they do, and in fact, reader Kimberly said she has shipped Barbara Jeans crab cakes home many, many times. Going to have to try their crab cakes. I’m from Maryland, so I’m a harsh judge.
I’m a good judge of dessert too, and Barbara Jeans is also known for their chocolate stuff, which I have yet to try and I’m not sure why.
I’d like to personally thank Barbara Jean for making most of our annual Thanksgiving dinner side dishes. Cue my favorite scene from The Blindside movie, “kids, thank your mother for picking up Thanksgiving dinner.”
I don’t eat raw fish, but this Thai and sushi restaurant located off Frederica Road in a strip mall area gets fantastic reviews.
This restaurant intrigues me. DelSur is an Argentinian Italian Bistro. I don’t even know what that means, but the menu sounds good and it gets high marks on TripAdvsior. It’s located at the corner of the St. Simons Island Village at Mallery Ln and Ocean Blvd, so the location is prime.
This is a good casual place.
The Go to place for ice cream according to our readers.
St. Simons Island Restaurants for Date Night
I’ve been hearing how great this restaurant is for more than a decade, but every time we look at the menu, it’s a little foodie for us (although honestly, I just re-looked at the menu and it’s not really foodie at all) If you’d like an adult meal at a reasonable price, this is probably a fine choice, and now I think I’m going to finally go there next time we’re in St. Simons. Halyards restaurant is located in the Shops of Sea Island. Send the kids to the movies at the Island Cinema while you sip good wine at Halyards.
This is my in-laws go-to Italian favorite. It’s also the ‘best Italian I’ve ever had outside of NYC’ according to reader Kimberly. She also said it’s the fresh Georgia seafood that is the star (and mentioned that it’s the same chef as Halyards).
So I left this off my list because it used to be our go-to adult night place, but we had two experiences that weren’t so great. However, they have moved locations and I’ve had my father-in-law monitoring the food and he said they are back to the old quality, so we’re going to give them another try because truly they were our favorite place for seafood on the island.
Sometimes called the Roof Restaurant, this Tuscan looking Villa is also home to the Ocean Lodge and is located across the street from the beach on Beachview Dr. I have not eaten here, but did sit on the deck for a drink.
This seafood restaurant is located at the marina, and has live music. I hear good things but have not been there since it was Emmeline and Hessies back in the 90s. Showing my age here. However, according to one reader, this is fantastic with the best shrimp and grits outside of Charleston.
Crab Daddy’s is the slightly upscale version of the Crab Trap. They have wonderful moderately priced grilled fish and a bottomless salad bowl that sounds very Olive Garden, but is actually very good. Children are welcome here and they do have high chairs, but you also see a lot of couples as well.
This is a new found place located in the Winn Dixie Shopping Center. Come on Monday nights for Trivia and flatbread pizzas. No true skills needed, just a desire to have some fun.
The Best Pizza on St. Simons Island
The perennial Atlanta favorite pizza parlor is now in St. Simons. We used to go to local pizza joint CJ’s, but Mellow Mushroom is really the better pie. St Simons Island also has lots of other chain restaurants like Outback Steak House, but you can eat there in any city, stay with the local options, there are so many good ones. I got a lot of flack for saying this, but we did a blind taste test between Mellow Mushroom, Sals and Brogen’s North (the sleeper pizza joint) and Mellow Mushroom won.
I received a lot of mail to add local favorite Sal’s Pizza to this list, so here it is. According to follower Anne, Sal’s is a small and quaint Italian restaurant with fire grilled pizzas and other homemade Italian food options. Seating is inside and out, but very limited, so get there early. And if you’re lucky, Sal may be there. The former pro boxer may be singing Italian songs while tossing dough to make pizzas in the open kitchen area behind the bar, just like you’d imagine at an authentic Italian eatery.
As I mentioned, this is the locals secret. You can’t get pizza at Brogen’s South at the Pier Village, but you can get a pretty darn good pie at the Brogen’s North location.
CJ’s is a popular local pizza place that is located in the Village.
St. Simons Island Restaurants for Breakfast
Pay your age up until 8-years-old. That’s the deal with the breakfast buffet at the Sand Castle, our favorite morning restaurant. Get to this restaurant located in the historic village downtown early, there is usually a line out the door by 10 am or so. In addition to the breakfast meats, muffins, yogurt, fruit, hash browns, biscuits and gravy and I can’t even remember what else, you also get eggs anyway you like and either French toast, pancake or waffle to order. Wear your stretchy pants to the Sandcastle.
Most restaurants on St. Simons Island are casual, but these are also good places to bring the family, kids included.
I see this place all the time and there is usually a line out the door for breakfast, but I’ve never been here. Apparently I’m totally missing the Banana Pudding Pancakes which are out of this world.
The pork pops are great for breakfast. And their desserts are pretty awesome too, but get there early if you want the best cookie selection, they sell out.