September 22, 2023
Amelia Island, with its rich history and picturesque landscapes, is not only a paradise for beach lovers but also a haven for food enthusiasts. Throw in a cool old building and you’ve got yourself a charming day or night out.
THE CRAB TRAP
Located in the old Seydel building, THE CRAB TRAP is a local favorite restaurant serving fresh seafood, hand-cut steaks, and craft cocktails – all with a wonderful piano bar upstairs. However, way back in 1877, the building was custom crafted by the Seydel brothers so their families could live upstairs and they could operate two stores on the ground floor… which is how it remained until the 1930’s when the Bailey-Davis Steamship agents acquired the building and stayed there throughout WWII. Throughout the years, several businesses occupied portions of this building until The Crab Trap opened in 1979 and has been providing hungry travelers with really good food ever since. Photo credit: The Crab Trap 31 N 2nd Street
Enjoy an ice cream and watch delicious fudge and chocolates being created in the traditional way using all natural ingredients, cooked in a copper kettle and made on a marble slab. This is FERNANDINA’S FANTASTIC FUDGE, located in the City Mart building that was built in 1884. Known for its beautiful architectural windows, this building was first home to Martin Downey’s Clothing store, then Fernandina Development Company, Arthur Steil’s and Oscar Thielde’s Bar, the Hardee Brothers Hardware Store, and finally Fantastic Fudge. They’ve been giving everyone a sweet tooth since 1988. 218 Centre Street
BEECH STREET GRILL
Enjoy a taste of elegance and history in the BEECH STREET GRILL, known either as the Bell House or “The Grande Dame of Beech Street”. Commissioned by Captain William Bell in 1889 as a wedding present for his bride, this gorgeous old home, now restaurant, stands out with its striking bay windows and two-story verandahs adorned with Chippendale-style balustrades. Through meticulous restoration, each space within the house seamlessly combines historical charm with modern aesthetics. Fast forward 134 years, the Beech Street Grill is a local favorite for delicious dining, imaginative cocktails, impeccable service, and the warm atmosphere of that gorgeous old home. 801 Beech Street
THE PALACE SALOON + THE DECANTERY
Between 1880-1910, Fernandina’s docks were among the busiest in the south. Basking in her heyday, she welcomed ships from the far corners of the globe. Of the many saloons that lined the lively streets of the harbour district – and there were over 20 at the time – only one bore the distinction of being the “Shipcaptain’s Bar.” and that was the PALACE SALOON. Originally constructed as a haberdashery in 1878, Louis G. Hirth bought the Prescott building in 1903 and replaced shoes with booze and named it The Palace Saloon. The Palace, along with gorgeous wine bar THE DECANTERY, continue to bring folks together. Go ahead, belly up to the bar, and as the bartender slides a mug of suds to you, the ghosts from ten decades past just may join in drinking to your health. Note: I realize this is supposed to be about “dining” in history but I would be remiss not to mention this famous bar. The Decantery does have delicious charcuterie boards and amazing desserts for a snack or after dinner treat.
LEDDY’S PORCH, located within THE FLORIDA HOUSE INN, offers a unique selection of breakfast and/or brunch items on Saturdays and Sundays. Their fried chicken and waffles will make your tastebuds as happy as your eyes are to be dining in this notorious place so full of history. Built in 1857, the Florida House is the oldest continuously operated hotel in the state of Florida where the likes of Ulysses S. Grant, Henry Ford, Laurel and Hardy, and Mary Pickford have all laid their heads. It was originally built as a boarding house by David Yulee, who was attempting to build a railroad from Fernandina Beach to Cedar Key. The railroad was almost complete when the Civil War began and Yulee’s dream ended. 22 S 3rd Street
This list doesn’t scratch the service of all the historical dining spots on Amelia Island, and they all have a story to tell. Whether you’re seeking seafood near the waterfront, an ice cream cone, or gourmet dining in a historical home, the next time you’re in downtown Fernandina Beach, pop into any dining establishment on or around Centre Street and be instantly transported to days gone by.
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