Atlantic Beach, Florida, in Duval County, is part of the Jacksonville Beaches communities. And it’s a pretty awesome “suburb” for Jacksonville residents or visitors to enjoy.
In town for a publisher’s conference and additional promotion, thanks to the original Shark from Shark Tank, Kevin Harrington, we weathered the combination of a King Tide and Nor’easter to get out and about, away from a lovely beach hotel, One Ocean Resort & Spa, to bring these great restaurant choices to you.
As you drive into town, you see Atlantic Beach to the north, and Neptune Beach to the south (check out my article on Neptune Beach restaurants next!). These two beach towns have wonderful restaurants close to the beach. And even more several blocks inland.
Visiting other destinations in Florida? Check out our other guides:
- 9 Must-Try Marco Island Restaurants
- 13 Fun Things To Do In San Marco Island
- The 9 Best Amelia Island Restaurants
- 13 Best Disney Springs Restaurants
- 7 Best Kissimmee Restaurants
- 7 Best Neptune Beach Restaurants
- The 9 Must-Try Restaurants in Atlantic Beach FL
The 9 Must-Try Restaurants in Atlantic Beach FL
1 Ocean Blvd. // (904) 249-7402
One of the most beautiful spaces I’ve seen, walking into the entrance of this restaurant and bar is like walking into Neptune’s playground, or the most expensive fish tank you’ve ever seen.
A coral blue tube with specialty blue lighting and stones stacked on wires as you walk towards a sculpture floating thru the central space, floor to ceiling, planes of silver reflecting the light
The restaurant was available throughout the day, and the bar is considered one of the best in the area.
When we worked thru lunch, they catered a meal for us, chicken breast or beef sandwiches or curried hummus for the vegetarians.
Since I don’t eat sandwiches, I ordered the achiote marinated mahi-mahi tacos, served in a double soft tortilla, with mango pico de gallo, cabbage slaw, cilantro-lime cream, and a house-pickled jalapeno. It was a little messy but there was time to get to the restroom during the break and my hmmmms were quiet enough to not disturb the meeting.
We spent a couple of hours after the second day of the conference in the bar relaxing. The service was intermittently slow, but everyone remained happy to have accomplished what we’d done.
And the storm raged on, so it was good for us to have an entertaining reason to stay inside and continue to network.
If you’re in the area, they do offer a Thanksgiving special. So check it during any holiday.
30 Ocean Blvd. // (904) 270-1122
On a cold, breezy, rainy day, sometimes you just need to have a slice. The lady manning the counter for lunch the day I arrived told me the most common thing she sells is a slice … though, on days like today, the garlic knots are a big seller. Surprisingly, she hadn’t tried them yet.
But she should. I ordered and received the garlic knots several minutes before my slice of cheese pizza was ready, and they were among the most delicious I’ve ever had.
Warm and yeasty with a tasty garlic butter concoction, you can eat them with your fingers, finger lickin’ good style, or with fork and knife.
The cheese pizza slice arrived and was very heavy on the mozzarella. As good as it was, and it was a fine slice of pizza, it didn’t compare to the garlic knots.
The lady did say that the lasagna is one of the best-selling items from their Italian dishes, and it is beef, not sausage. I’d like to try it some time when I return.
Other items available on this menu include sauteed mussels, stuffed mushrooms, an antipasto platter, fried mozzarella sticks, fried calamari, chicken or tuna salads, the classic Caesar or Greek salad, or Joseph’s Antipasto Salad.
Their sandwiches include homemade meatballs, steak in a sack, pastrami, homemade Italian sausage, or chicken salad.
The smell of the fresh-baked Italian bread blends with the pizza dough, so you can’t really tell the difference between the flat rolls and the braided sesame loaf, for example, but the garlic knots are the best I’ve had in a very long time.
38 Ocean Blvd. // (904)853-5384
The thing to know in advance about Whit’s is that they have two flavors of custard, vanilla and chocolate, and then the flavor of the day. So go early in your visit so you can plan your day for how often you need to return. That leaves you the appropriate amount of time, calories, and money to budget.
For example, the day I arrived, they didn’t have a flavor I cared for. But the next day, they were serving “Buckeye” – as in The Ohio State University’s flavor with peanut butter and chocolate.
So, I returned the next day (after Ragtime Tavern, Seafood & Grille) and took a waffle cone back to the conference with me.
In the rain, the ice cream melted a little faster than expected, so it caused a tasty and delightful mess all over my hands … nothing a good wash couldn’t fix once the dessert was finished.
It was even creamier than I’d expected, this concoction of peanut butter and a bit of chocolate. I found most of the chocolate at the base of the waffle cone and it was even better than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
There are a variety of ways you can have your frozen custard served in addition to the cup or cone. They offer dipped waffle cone, waffle bowl, the Whitser, where you choose any topping to create your own unique flavor, beach madness, cool coffee, grasshopper, Hawaiian luau, mud pie, river city delight, rocky road, sea turtle, shark bite, and s’mores. It’s a good thing I didn’t start matching and mixing their candies, nuts, real fruits, bites, and favorites. I could’ve been rolled out of town.
My first day there, the special was mocha toffee. The other days were sea salt caramel, samoas, and mint chocolate chip. Good thing to get on the way out of town (after your car is packed).
207 Atlantic Blvd. // (904) 241-7877
Walk into Ragtime and you’ll walk into a rustic western bar with lots of comfort food, with a seafood twist. Seven of us went to Ragtime so it was good to see how everyone else’s meal compared to mine.
The water in this area doesn’t agree with me, not uncommon in beach areas, I’ve learned. So, the choice becomes bottled water, lemonade, tea (unsweetened or sweet), or soda. Since I can’t mix the sweet tea with water easily, I learned on this trip to have the tea mixed half and half (unsweetened better on the bottom of the glass, I learned), to make a palatable combination.
Others were quite satisfied with their sodas, iced tea, or lemonade.
The dishes varied from baked brie, Cajun crawfish dip, and pretzel stix to gumbo, hand-cut filet mignon (my next time choice), fresh linguini, shrimp and grits, and grilled salmon. With a Po’boy, fish wrap, cheeseburger, or blackened mahi sandwich to cover all the bases.
I wanted to have the steak but didn’t have the time during our lunch break, so went with the mahi-mahi instead. They were kind enough to put it in corn tortillas for me, a dark wrapped in a light, rather than the sandwich offered on the menu.
The mahi, cooked well done as I’d requested, was surrounded by a slaw of Cajun remoulade sauce, shredded lettuce, and tomato.
Others had chicken or fish or beef, one covered with thick miso.
The fries are waffle cut here, with plenty of space to capture their specialty sauces.
303 Atlantic Blvd. // (904) 372-4507
After the conference, it was time to catch up with other friends in the area, including a screenwriting colleague and her daughter, a realtor who knows the area well.
Coop is a new restaurant in the past year or so. And new for all three of us. Their Happy Hour is Monday through Friday 2 pm to 6 pm. Live music starts at 9 pm every Friday and Saturday.
Walk into a calm entrance, with seating off to the left and visions of the kitchen. Go up the stairs (or elevator) for the full bar experience and outside patio.
We chose an inside table near the bar.
Well-endowed with chicken decorations, I was impressed to see chicken and waffles on the menu … after my time in Houston at the Breakfast Klub, I had to ask.
They offered a combination of leg, thigh, wing, and breast, and a boneless option, too. But not with the waffle. So I tried the boneless chicken and had two sides… Brussels sprouts were the veggie of the day, so I went with the two potato options: tater tots and French fries.
Writer Joyce Davidson had the fish and chips and had half to take home with her, while daughter Lesley Davidson, also a screenwriter, but also a realtor and structural engineer, had the Our Famous Coop Benedict – three delicately balanced “sandwiches” with poached egg, BBQ pulled pork, fried green tomatoes, crispy onions, and Florida gold hollandaise on a toasted English muffin that practically glistened in the sunlight.
I did feel a little guilty for having no vegetables but did get to walk and get to the beach. The pool heater must’ve lost power during the storm. It was warm on Thursday night but NOT on Saturday, so no swimming that day. Exercise and better eating would be the goal for the rest of my time in Florida!
Their drink specials for a Sunday brunch included Breakfast bubbz, mimosas and poinsettias, Aperol spritz, House bloody Mary, Jalisco es Mexico, Bourbon Root Beer Float, and “56 Reasons” a Jägermeister Cold Brew with vanilla vodka, turbinado syrup, lemon juice, and half and half.
They do have salads, too, including baby kale and arugula, buttermilk fried chicken, pear salad and a create your own option.
When I go back, favorite daughter will probably order the Impossible burger and, if I’m hungry enough, I’m having that Angus Beef Burger, a fresh house-ground Angus beef, lettuce, tomato, quickles (not pickles), and Coop sauce on a brioche bun.
501 Atlantic Blvd. // (904)249-6500
My last day in town, we’d had the time change and I was out earlier than the restaurants were open. So I walked a couple more blocks away from the beach and came across the Beach Diner.
It’s everything you could want a beach diner to be (except the sand). Indoor or outdoor seating, responsive servers, and a wide selection of items. It was a great place to have an unexpected brunch. Open Monday through Sunday 6 am – 2:30 pm, it also offers banquet space and catering.
Make the time to circle the restaurants and see the beach signs. I really like the triptych to the right of the register. Any place with a surfboard in their art is A-okay with me.
I overheard one group sharing their best egg jokes. “All it’s cracked up to be” got the best laugh.
They have breakfast specials and sunrise specials (6-8 am), pancakes, French toast, waffles, omelets, old house favorites (including eggs benedict and eggs on the “Bayou” and biscuits with sausage gravy), breakfast sandwiches, a kid’s menu (8 and under) and Bubba Specials that I had to spend more time with.
Mama Helen’s Fried Chicken and Waffles comes lightly breaded, the chicken breast tender and tasty, a fluffy Belgium waffle, syrup and blueberry butter. The latter was tasty, reminding me of that BLT on blueberry bread I’d had at The Pharm in Buffalo, TX (see my Midtown Houston article).
They have Coca-Cola products and easily accommodated my request for water. Here, they took it directly from the soda machine, so it was the best tasting water I tried by far.
They also have “sensational salads.” From tossed shrimp and crabmeat and stuffed avocado to Mediterranean, Greek, Caesar, or a grilled chicken cobb salad.
And their version of the BLT is a BET. That’s right, you can have an egg salad with crisp bacon and a juicy tomato with fresh lettuce in a pita pocket.
I couldn’t resist the French Dip. It was lean and well grilled and needed just a touch of salt. The potato salad was the blandest I’ve ever had, with good mayonnaise, potatoes, and eggs. No other spices were identified. I added a touch of salt and pepper from the table (I didn’t think the jellies or hot sauce would add much) and it was better.
They do offer mimosas and wine, poinsettia, Bellini, pinot grigio, or chardonnay.
If you’re ever off-cycle for your meals mid-morning, or very early morning, this is a great place to stop.
363 Atlantic Blvd. Suite 1 // (904) 241-7637
This rustic tavern offers respite for literary type and normal folks alike. Greeted by the colorful tortoise by the entrance, and another on the tile floor, there’s room both indoors and out for people to engage, argue, learn, live, and love. And laugh. Oh, my there is laughter.
Start with chips and pico or queso or go right for Edgar’s nachos. They are tortilla chips with Edgar’s Drunken Chile, cheddar, and Monterey jack cheese. I didn’t know Poe had such a taste for flavors.
Then move on to one of the four quesadillas, a soup or salad. The Tavern Salad is mixed greens and grape tomatoes with onions, carrots, cucumbers, red and yellow peppers with fresh basil.
The beef options range from the Raven, a plain burger, to a Beef Hop Frog, Mig’s BBQ sauce, applewood bacon, and Monterey Jack cheese. They even have a beef black cat, grilled onions, Edgar’s drunken chili, applewood bacon, and pimento cheese. Never has a burger smelled so flavorful. And you can tell what a sense of humor the chef and the owners have when you read about the tell-tale heart and the rue morgue being best sellers.
They have all the same dishes with chicken instead of beef, covering all the bases.
And the same with the veggie options. They even offer a veggie Annabel Lee.
Since we’re by the ocean, though, we appreciate that they’ve included tacos, mahi or tuna, a buffalo shrimp taco, or shrimp salad sandwich. One dish the man near me was ecstatic over was the crab cake sandwich. He waxed poetic over the taste, smell, and feel of the dish.
For beverages, they serve Coca-Cola products, lemonade, fruit juice, ginger ale, water by the bottle, and milk. They have red bull and ginger beer, mocktails, and a virgin bloody.
Literary or not, it’s a fun place to be. And a great place to walk around.
299 Atlantic Blvd. Suite 2 // (904) 372-4059
While serious about their espresso, the healthy-minded people of Atlantic Beach frequent this healthy, delicious, fast-made food from scratch to get a great start to or boost in their day.
Drawn in by the froyo, smoothies, and acai bowls, power snacks, and desserts are easily available right at the front counter.
And they don’t like to make anything ordinary. The first thing I noticed was the “not your ordinary breakfast wraps.” The story they tell of the Phoenix Breakfast wrap tells how they chose to fill it with freshly cooked organic eggs, aged cheddar cheese, organic black beans, organic salsa, hot sauce, and a dash of their house seasoning. They serve it in a whole grain wrap after they’ve pressed it in the grill. Any step is adjustable, or any ingredient.
And they have egg and cheese, med egg, sweet heat, and offer the Hippie Chick. The latter, locally sourced tempeh, avocado, organic spinach, organic carrot, scratch balsamic vinaigrette, and house seasoning is served in a whole grain wrap. I think that would be favorite daughter’s choice.
They really love their espresso. They are devoted to Bold Bean, which sounds wonderful but a bit on deaf ears for a tea drinker. They do have some teas as well, they shared, that I could have with my steel-cut oats.
461 Atlantic Blvd. // (904) 853-6427
If the bull on the side of the restaurant doesn’t stop you, the smell of a rich, sweet BBQ should. They’ve been serving orders to go or for delivery, but for the richest experience, go and spend the time on the deck while music is playing. The camaraderie is exceptional, especially during their live music.
Open Tuesday thru Sunday, I really appreciate their table service. Proteins are not restricted to beef but also include duroc pork, pork ribs, turkey, and ABBQ’s homemade sausage. The prime brisket remains my favorite.
Learning about their four custom smokers direct from Dripping Springs, Texas, where you know they must know BBQ.
The first time I went by with crowds of people on the back deck, everyone’s toes were tapping along with the music. The brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and house sausage were a backdrop for the wonderful atmosphere.
When you review the menu, you learn you can order meats by the half-pound (8 oz.), which makes for a healthy portion (okay, maybe healthier if two of you share, but it’s big and delicious). Meat options include their CAB Prime Brisket (shall I tell you again how great it is?), pulled pork, and smoked turkey breast. And you can buy the ribs by the rack or half rack. Cheddar jalapeno house sausage and the house sausage are sold by the link.
Smokehouse favorites are sold by meat plates, Barbacoa chicken, or “The Texas Trinity,” a half-pound of brisket, pork spareribs, sausage, and two single sides. Even they admit the Trinity serves two to three people.
But wait, there’s more… they have sandwiches, shareables, including a loaded baked potato that won me over (without the cheese sauce), or a Frito Pie.
Imagining my fellow foster mom handing out single-serving packs of Fritos and adding a meat sauce to make pocket tacos, the Frito Pie had me wondering. They serve it with cowboy beans, lime crema, white cheddar, and pico de gallo. You can add any protein and have the option to add the cheese sauce.
Having it with the cab prime brisket was even better than the pocket tacos. It’d be a great dish to share … and a good reason to take some brisket home with you. It was almost as good as my Great Aunt Eileen’s. In Pittsburgh, she was legendary!
Note: M Burger is no longer in Atlantic Beach but remains available in Jacksonville Town Center and Nocatee.
Which of these restaurants in Atlantic Beach FL do you want to try first? Let us know in the comments section below!
Gail Clifford, MD, a physician for more than 25 years, has traveled to five continents and all 50 United States. An avid traveler, she happily goes on new adventures, especially on birthdays. Multi-generational travel remains a treasured pastime. She divides her time between Ireland and the U.S. You can find her on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.