Jekyll was once a rich man’s playground. It belonged to a group of millionaires, including Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Astors, and their friends. They built a Victorian clubhouse and elaborate mansions they referred to as “cottages.”
Today, their exclusive Jekyll Island Club is a part of a Georgia state park where we can view the lifestyle of the richest and most famous during the era of the Robber Barons.
There is more to the island than the historic district and museum, including beautiful beaches and a campground. Your dining choices depend on whether you are looking for a snack while you tour the historical district, some solid food for a real meal or a unique culinary adventure.
The Historic District
Besides the mansions and other historic buildings, there are lots of dining choices in the Historic District.
371 Riverview Dr // +19126353612
History and food mix at the Wharf. It’s located on the pier in the historic district where the Island’s club members arrived. In those days, a boat was the only way onto the island. When members of the Club arrived on the mainland, they were taken to the island on the Club’s 100-foot steamer, The Jekyll Island.
This is one of the best Jekyll Island restaurants to watch the sunset from the outdoor deck, but there is indoor dining, as well. The food is traditional American Southern style. Get in a Southern frame of mind with Fried Green Tomatoes or Fried Okra appetizers. Seafood is heavily featured, but there are chicken, meat or vegetable choices.
My favorite dish here is Shrimp and Grits. Those huge shrimp came from these same waters. The andouille sausage is slightly spicy, but it’s a Louisiana food, so that’s only natural. If you are really hungry, or want to share with someone, the Low Country Boil with Georgia white shrimp, crawfish, mussels, smoked sausage, sweet cob corn, and red bliss potato is authentic.
Wednesday thru Saturday evenings, you can enjoy live music.
9 Pier Rd // +19123192180
If you need a break as you view the mansions in the historic district, there are several places to grab a quick snack. Doc’s Snack Shop offers hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken salad sandwiches, grilled cheese, and several other short order foods.
My favorite here is their quarter pound all-beef hot dog slathered with chili, mustard, relish, slaw, and cheese. It’s served with chips and pickles. It might not be the healthiest food, but it is tasty. There are tables on the deck and a restroom.
24 Pier Rd // +19126352878
If you’re camping on the island or want a quick cup of coffee, frozen drink, ice cream, or a baked treat, stop at the Commissary. It’s the oldest shop on the island, built around 1915.
It was the general store for island residents and employees. In the early 1900s, they called the street where the Commissary is located “Feeding Road.” Besides the Commissary, the Dining Hall for workers was located on this street. Each day at noon, the Farm Bell, located next to what is now the Gift Shop, called the laborers to their midday meal.
You can buy Georgia made jams and jellies here, as well as other souvenirs.
The Beach Village
Leaving the Historic District and driving along the beach road, you’ll reach Beach Village, a mall area of stores, shops, restaurants, bars, and even a hotel. Some of the best Jekyll Island restaurants are in the beach village.
11 Main St // +19126352253
As soon as you drive in and park, you’ll see Jekyll Market. It’s a gourmet grocery with four restaurants inside. One of my favorites is The Love Shack. It’s a barbeque restaurant where you can choose from BBQ Pork, Wild Georgia Shrimp, Chicken Fingers, Rotisserie Chicken and Chicken Wings. Try the local favorite, Brunswick Stew.
The Boardwalk Deli offers a choice of sandwiches made with Boars Head Meats. Their Muffuletta, served with chips, is a good choice if you’re very hungry.
If you just need a quick pick-up, grab a cup of Joe at Good Day Coffee & Bakery, and a cupcake, chocolate toffee bar, or a Mile High Tower Cheesecake at A Sweet Shop Named Sprinkles. You can choose soft and hard drinks at Long Necks’ Beer and Wine.
There are plenty of tables outside under the overhanging roof to enjoy your choices. If you want to restock your pantry, dozens of other gourmet food items are stocked at the market. It’s one of the quirkiest Jekyll Island restaurants.
21 Main St // +19123192376
Just around the corner from the market, you’ll find Sunrise Grill. It’s an all-day restaurant with a great bacon-and-eggs breakfast. The late evening meals are delicious with an Appletini or Godfather Cocktail. Seafood is popular here, ranging from Crab Quesadilla to Shrimp Po’boys. They state all their food is homemade. Their motto is “from sunrise to sundown.”
20 Main St Unit 100 // +19125742337
McGarvey’s Wee Pub in the Beach Village transports you to “the auld country.” It’s an authentic Irish pub with dark wood and lots of cute signs posted all over. My favorite is in the lady’s restroom, showing a young couple picking flowers in a grassy field. The caption says, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to live with the psycho the rest of your life.”
McGarvey’s has several rooms, one large enough for a big party. There are cozy booths, and naturally, it has a well-stocked bar. The ledge over the bar has signed empty Jameson bottles. The customer who has the last shot from a bottle gets to sign it.
A miniature Irish pub scene shows a tiny table set with food, whisky and a glass of foaming ale in a tiny corner nook. There’s even a checkerboard set up if anyone wants to play.
The food is Irish fare. Dishes range from bangers, mash and shepherd’s Pie, to homemade corned beef and cabbage. For non-Gaelic patrons, they serve burgers and other American dishes. Everything is made from scratch. Be sure to save room for dessert.
I loved their Butter-Pecan Bread Pudding topped with caramel and whipped cream with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on it. Their bread pudding has been a first-place winner at A Taste of Glynn County competition several years in a row. That’s one of the reasons why it’s the best amongst the Jekyll Island restaurants.
Wee Pub’s owner, Kevin McGarvey’s family, is from Donegal County in the north of Ireland. He takes regular trips back to the Emerald Isle, so he keeps it authentic.
41 Main St // +19126359918
Another spot at the Village where you can have a meal or just an after-dinner drink is Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint. It’s at the end of Main Street and has an outdoor balcony facing the beach and a large bar with enough stools to keep a few bartenders hopping. You can get any kind of mixed drink here, as well as many southern food choices.
The Shrimp and Grits is a favorite here. Fried Chicken with Collard Greens is another. Their drinks reflect the heritage of the juke joints. You can get many moonshine cocktails, like Miss Ceely’s Punch, made with moonshine and pineapple juice.
They also have traditional beer, wine and cocktails. During the days of segregation, juke joints like this across the Southeast gave Black musicians playing the Chitlin Circuit a chance to shine. Of course, there is an old-fashioned jukebox here.
Great Dunes Park
Great Dunes Park towards the island’s north end is a 20-acre beachfront park that is a popular day spot on the island, and it houses some of the best Jekyll Island restaurants.
201 Beachview Dr N // +19123422600
Tortuga Jack’s is a Baja Mexican restaurant near Great Dunes Park. It’s popular with locals and visitors because it is dog friendly, offers outdoor seating at a tiki bar facing the ocean, and serves great food from morning to night.
I like to sit outside on the deck, but the inside dining room is cozy, and the bar is well stocked. Margaritas are the drink of choice here, but you have a large selection of cocktails, beer or wine.
My choice here is the Sweet Chili and Pineapple Sauce Tortuga Wings, but you have many other interesting choices. They serve traditional Mexican dishes like Fajitas with either chicken, shrimp or beef, or go whole hog and have them with all three.
You can choose enchiladas or burritos, or if you’re not into Mexican food, they have burgers or shrimp. Some unusual sides that you don’t find everywhere are Sweet Plantains and Mexican Street Corn.
There is live entertainment on Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday evenings in the summertime.
550 Beachview Dr N // +19126359730
Just across Beachview Drive from Tortuga Jack’s is the Great Dunes Entertainment complex. Here you can choose pizza at Red Bug Motors Pizza. Besides the made-from-scratch pizzas, you’ll find lasagna, pastas and other Italian food, or if you are not in the Italian mood, sandwiches and salads. They serve beer, wine and soft drinks.
Jekyll Island Restaurants Wrap Up
Jekyll Island has so many restaurants. It’s impossible to try them all, but these suited me.
Visiting other destinations in Georgia? Check out our other delicious guides:
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- 6 Must-Try Restaurants in Helen, GA
- Best Bainbridge GA Restaurants
- 8 Best Restaurants In Savannah GA
- 10 Best Atlanta Seafood Restaurants
- 16 Amazing Things To Do In Georgia USA
- 10 Must-Try Augusta Restaurants
I’m Kathleen Walls, former reporter for Union Sentinel in Blairsville, GA, currently publisher/writer for American Roads and Global Highways. I live in Middleburg, FL but travel extensively, mainly in the U.S. I’m the author of travel books, Georgia’s Ghostly Getaways, Finding Florida’s Phantoms, Hosts With Ghosts, and Wild About Florida series, and several novels. All available at my site, katywalls.com/.
Publications I write for include Travel the South, Roadtrippers, Travel Awaits, World Footprints, Snowbirds and RV Travelers, Family RVing, Deep South, Florida Country, and more. My photographs appear in many publications. I also do videos. I’m a proud member of International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers (IFWTA), Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), and North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA).