St. Simons is one of Georgia’s Golden Isles, just a few miles off Georgia’s Atlantic coastline. When visiting the magical island, the dining choices are golden too. You can choose beachfront, historic, or just casual swimsuit and flip-flop places. You can’t go wrong. Here are a few of my favorites.
- The Seven Best St. Simons Island Restaurants
- Frequently Asked Questions
- St. Simons Island Restaurants: Wrap Up
The Seven Best St. Simons Island Restaurants
101 Downing St. // +19122685967
One place with an interesting historical connection is ECHO, the restaurant at King and Prince Resort. The name, ECHO, comes from the resort’s participation in helping our country fight WWII. This is one of the most peculiar St. Simons Island restaurants.
Many people today don’t realize that German submarines frequently operated off Georgia’s shore. Radar was a relatively new tool in the 1940s. Radar operates by bouncing electronic radio waves off any objects in the beam’s path, like an echo.
The King and Prince Resort shut down as a resort for visitors and housed the Navy operation center and the officers during the war.
ECHO is St. Simons’ only oceanfront restaurant and bar. Visitors, as well as locals, enjoy the elegant dining. Executive Chef James Flack oversees meals from breakfast to dinner.
Breakfast choices range from a fresh fruit plate to their special version of Shrimp & Grits Breakfast. It’s gouda grits topped with sautéed Wild Georgia Shrimp, poached egg, and hollandaise sauce.
One of my favorite meals there began with Watermelon Salad, a huge hunk of fresh watermelon, some fried goat cheese, dried pomegranate seeds, blackberries, lotus roots, cucumbers, toasted pistachios, frisee, watercress, then topped with frothy mint foam and lemon Creme Fraiche.
They paired each course with a special wine. A French wine, Champ De Provence, accompanied this salad.
For an entrée, I had their Shrimp and Grits, a different version from the breakfast one. This is one of my favorite southern foods. They served blackened wild-caught Georgia shrimp on an Andouille étouffée and accompanied with collard greens. The dessert, fried peach pie, was topped with vanilla ice cream.
ECHO’s bar is well-stocked, so you can have some unique cocktails. My favorite is High Tide, made with Rum Haven, Southern Comfort, a splash of vodka, and some fresh fruit juice.
Sea Shack Bar and Bites
201 Arnold Rd. // +19126383631
If you prefer an ocean view out by the pool with a more down-to-earth menu, the resort’s poolside Sea Shack Bar and Bites is the best choice amongst the St. Simons Island restaurants.
They offer simpler dining options, like burgers, hot dogs, salads, and sandwiches. You still have a large choice of cocktails, mocktails, a lot of Georgia craft beers, and wine.
Unfortunately, they are only open in the summer.
Cottage Custard And Coffee
238 Arnold Rd. // (no phone number)
If you want a change from the resort’s breakfast, there is a delightful breakfast spot among the St. Simons Island restaurants, Cottage Custard and Coffee, located on the resort grounds in a beautiful beach house. They specialize in light breakfasts before you hit the beach or golf course.
You can choose a home-made muffin, croissants, cones, or a bakery treat. They have some delicious frozen custards with a choice of toppings.
If you’re watching your diet, you can order yogurt or a fruit cup. They brewed coffee and espresso from beans from the local Wake Up Coffee Company. For non-coffee drinkers, you can get hot chocolate or tea.
310 Redfern Village // +19126387378
Gnats Landing is a shorts and flip-flops style place. It’s a popular local hangout among the St. Simons Island restaurants.
You’ll smell the fresh seafood before you step in the door, which opens onto a bar with enough clutter to make you feel at home.
Some cute signs adorn the plank wall at one end. My favorite one of the signs says, “Frankly Scallop, I don’t give a clam.”
It’s an outdoor and indoor place.
Unless it’s cold and rainy, head back to the open-air section. The large paddle fans with their little white lights keep a nice breeze going. Pick one brightly painted picnic table near the barn-style doors that stay open except in bad weather.
The food is southern style, including wings and burgers of all varieties. There’re a few unusual items on the menu. The Grits Bowl offers your choice of protein combined with andouille sausage over cheese grits with a side of French toast.
Don’t let the name fool you; the Vidalia Onion Pie, made with creamy Swiss cheese, sun-dried tomato, and onion dip is tasty and is served with tortilla chips to mop up that cheese. My favorite here is the shrimp basket.
You have choices on sides, but I chose sweet potato fries, cheese grits, and hush puppies. The shrimp has a crispy outer crust and is tender and delicious inside.
One of the unique drinks you see on the menu is the “$8,000 Margarita.” The name is derived from about how much the original owner, Robert Bostock, spent traveling and coming up with the recipe.
There’s a Jimmy Buffett touch here. If you’re there on Sunday nights there will most likely be live music. They also host an annual “Gnatfest,” with live bands.
Gnats Landing has been in business since 1999. They are open for lunch and dinner.
306 Redfern Village // +19126029736
Another locally owned place among the St. Simons Island restaurants is Golden Isles Olive Oil. Owner, Donna MacPherson, will convince you that healthy can be delicious.
Golden Isles Olive Oil is a combination restaurant and store. Besides serving food, Donna offers a large selection of specially chosen imported olive oils and balsamic vinegar. She also has a nice selection of Italian pasta and many Georgia-grown products.
My lunch was mixed greens with prosciutto and a slice of orange, with hibiscus syrup dressing and Bianco olive oil. My entrée was a crustless crab quiche made with cheddar cheese and topped with wild mushrooms.
Dessert was an unusual combination. I never knew I would love Blueberry Rico Ice Cream topped with lemon olive oil.
2020 Demere Rd. // +19126387685
When you’re in the mood for real southern barbeque, Southern Soul Smokehouse is the best St. Simons Island restaurant for that. They won Southern Livings’s “South’s Best BBQ” in 2018. The dress here is casual.
After all, barbeque isn’t good if it’s not sloppy. So, pick a table in the courtyard and get ready to dig into some real southern barbeque. I love barbeque so I went all out here.
I wanted everything but settled for the Southern Soul Sampler. It gave me a choice of two meats. I finally settled on pulled pork and ribs. The Sampler comes with Brunswick stew and a choice of sides. I picked slaw and baked beans.
Those ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender, and the pulled pork was so juicy. I slathered both the ribs and the pulled pork in Southern Soul’s special signature BBQ sauces, mixing the Sweet Georgia Soul with Hot Georgia Soul.
Believe me, both scream “soul food.” The Brunswick stew was a tasty mix of the individual ingredients rather than just a uniform mush.
Their latest addition to making happy customers is The Channel Marker Rum Bar, right in their courtyard, where you can grab a cocktail or a cold brew.
407 Mallery St. // +19126381197
If you’re looking for upscale dining, Georgia Sea Grill is the number one choice amongst the St. Simons Island restaurants. Zack Gowen, its owner, is committed to the idea of Farm Fresh. He is so committed he had his own farm sources.
If you order a catfish dish, you get one of Zack’s organically fed catfish from his own Satilla Ponds in White Oak, Georgia. Likewise with the vegetables offered as sides or sometimes main dishes.
We had a chance to speak with him and he told us, “I had just finished reading Potlikker Papers, and I was looking for a farm and a found an old vegetable farm, seven acres on Potlikker Place, same spelling; serendipitous. We closed on it and are in full production.”
Georgia Sea Grill executive chef, Tim Lensch, is right in step with having everything grown in Georgia or as close as possible.
When we asked Chef Lensch about this, he said, “I like to keep it as local as possible, as southern as possible, as simple as possible. I don’t try to overthink it.”
Since Chef Lensch doesn’t plan menus way in advance since it depends on what is coming in fresh. He plans around those items.
I had his Shrimp & Grits made with tender shrimp and a Tasso gravy with just a hint of spice atop smooth, creamy grits. He added small roasted for an unusual finish to the dish.
Dessert here offered some hard choices: Crème Brûlée topped with fresh strawberries and blackberries, or Georgia Pecan Pie made with local bourbon honey from Blackwater Bees. Several of us had the same difficulty choosing, so we shared.
The Brúlėe had a perfectly flamed crust covering mouthwatering banana custard goodness. The pie with crunchy pecans was served with a scoop of delicious vanilla ice cream. I still couldn’t rate one over the other. Both were perfect.
The ambiance here is quiet and relaxed. The main colors are simple white ceilings and black floors that give a feeling of aged elegance. The framed black and white photos of fishermen at their favorite St. Simons Island spots on its one brick wall give it a local atmosphere.
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of cuisine can I expect to find on St. Simons Island?
On St. Simons Island, you’ll find a diverse selection of culinary experiences. The island is particularly known for its fresh seafood, owing to its location on the Atlantic coast.
There’s a mix of fine dining, casual restaurants, and quaint eateries that offer American, Italian, Asian, and Mexican cuisine, among others.
Are there vegan and vegetarian-friendly options in St. Simons Island restaurants?
Absolutely! Many restaurants on St. Simons Island offer a variety of vegan and vegetarian-friendly dishes. While seafood is prevalent, restaurants often cater to dietary restrictions and preferences by offering a wide array of plant-based and gluten-free options.
Is it easy to find kid-friendly restaurants on St. Simons Island?
Certainly! St. Simons Island is known for its hospitality and that extends to our younger guests as well. Many restaurants offer kid-friendly menus and a comfortable atmosphere that is welcoming for families.
How does pricing generally range in St. Simons Island’s restaurants?
St. Simons Island has a broad spectrum of dining options to fit varying budgets. You’ll find everything from high-end dining establishments to casual, cost-effective eateries. It’s always a good idea to check menus online beforehand to get an idea of the pricing.
St. Simons Island Restaurants: Wrap Up
St. Simons Island flows on Island Time, so relax and enjoy some great Georgia dishes.
Visiting other destinations in Georgia? Check out our other delicious guides:
- 9 Must-Try Restaurants In Cartersville, Georgia
- 6 Must-Try Restaurants in Helen, GA
- Best Georgia Food
- Best Bainbridge GA Restaurants
- 10 Best Inman Park Restaurants
- 16 Amazing Things To Do In Georgia USA
- 17 Best Restaurants in Decatur Square, GA
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).