Review: Fill Up at T-Ray’s


By Dylan Bailey

On the corner of Beech Street and Eighth Street, lies an Exxon gas station from 1972. While it used to serve as a hub for people to fuel their vehicles, it’s now gained notoriety for fueling people with its delicious food.

If you’ve driven anywhere near downtown Fernandina Beach, you’ve most likely seen T-Ray’s Burger Station. And if you ask anyone’s opinion on it, you’ll hear two things: the food is amazing, and good luck finding a parking spot.

While the restaurant operates Monday – Saturday, from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m., the sooner you get there the better. Because as soon as I arrived, the parking lot was packed.

The outside of T-Ray’s is a sight to behold. Worn-down gas pumps, wooden dining tables, and an eclectic sorting of plants dotted around, there’s something about it that feels very inviting.

The inside of the establishment has an even more diverse set of furnishings and decorations – from a Ms. Pacman arcade machine to sports memorabilia lining the walls to the cook station being smack dab in the middle.

As I made my way to the counter and ordered, I was greeted with a warm, “What can we get for ya honey?” which accurately sums up the entire experience at T-Ray’s. Everything feels so personal and like you’re meeting up with a good friend for a hot meal.

The menu wasn’t overwhelming but still had a variety of options to choose from. I was particularly interested in the breakfast this time. From biscuits-’n-gravy ($5), and loaded hashbrowns ($8), to their Kitchen Sink omelet ($12), it’s easy to find something that’ll catch your eye.

I went with the Big Breakfast ($8.50), which comes with two eggs, your choice of toast or biscuit, bacon or sausage, and grits. And when they said “big breakfast” they weren’t lying–this is a filling meal.

I asked for my eggs to be scrambled, with some cheese, which were cooked flawlessly. Each bite was fluffy and creamy, and the cheese made them pop with that iconic sharp cheddar zing.

Instead of the sausage, I had bacon with this order. Just looking at them had my mouth watering. Each piece was cooked to perfection and was crispy with a wonderfully smokey flavor.

Instead of toast, I asked for the biscuit, and I’m glad I did. The inside of the biscuit had a generous lather of butter, and the pillowy texture was so soft that I could easily slide my fork through it, with no resistance.

Last, but certainly not least, were the grits. Thick and smooth, with a tasty buttery flavor, they were the star of the show for me. They were aromatic and I found myself finishing them off first.

At this point, I was ready to give T-Ray’s a big thumbs up. But I’d also heard numerous people say their lunch is just as good. So for the sake of this review, despite my ever-expanding waistline, I went back the following day to try out their lunch offerings.

The lunch menu is more robust, offering a wide variety of options. From the Big T Burger ($7.50), blackened mahi sandwich ($15), and portobello mushroom sandwich ($12), to homemade tuna salad ($12), there’s so much to choose from.

And to make lunch even more enticing, they offer specials. A fried fish plate on Monday, meatloaf on Tuesday, fried chicken on Wednesday, chicken ‘n dumplings on Thursday, and fried shrimp or a crab cake dinner on Friday.

I decided to double dip and went with two entrées: the Big T Burger combo ($12) and the fried shrimp dinner ($17). The shrimp are at market price, so your mileage may vary with the price.

I’d read on T-Ray’s website that USA Today had named them one of the 50 Best Burger Joints in America, so I was foaming at the mouth to try one.

The Big T Burger combo comes with fries as your side and a large drink. And when I say large, I mean it. This was easily two drinks worth of sweet tea that I poured into the cup.

The burger itself was juicy, big, and loaded with all the toppings. The crisp crunch of the pickles, with the sweetness of the sautéed onions, made the succulent patty even more appetizing. And the bun that held it all together was soft and light, allowing the focus to be on the patty.

I was happily surprised by the steak fries that came with it. They were golden, and sprinkled with just enough salt that they didn’t overstay their welcome. A fantastic pairing, that adds to the already delicious fragrance.

The Big T Burger combo is an incredibly filling meal, and for the price, it’s an outstanding value. I did pace myself though because I knew I wanted to try the fried shrimp dinner. And if you enjoy shrimp, this one is going to be right up your alley.

The fried shrimp dinner comes with 12 plump and juicy, deep-fried shrimp, two golden brown hushpuppies, and a generous offering of fries. I also asked for a side of tartar and cocktail sauce, as well.

The flavor of the shrimp was buttery and succulent, with every bite being scrumptious. Each piece had the perfect amount of batter, which was light and airy, and didn’t overwhelm the natural flavor of the shrimp. If the price of seafood wasn’t as high as it is, I could easily see myself ordering this frequently.

I find that hushpuppies can be hit or miss. Some like them to lean more toward the savory side, while others like them sweeter. These hushpuppies managed to find a good middle ground. Fried to golden brown perfection, the inside was tender with some added chewiness to it. And what I loved was the subtle hint of sweetness that would linger as you finished eating them.

It’s not a surprise to me that T-Ray’s Burger Station has built up such a positive reputation. From the scrumptious breakfast to the savory lunch, everything I sampled hit the mark. With an eclectic and memorable location, filled with warm and inviting people, this was an absolute delight to dine at.

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Sharon BB
Sharon BB(@mrsbb1215)
1 year ago

We tried this place when we first moved here and we’re unimpressed! Your review convinced us to give it another try. We’re leaving now. Thanks

Dylan Bailey
Dylan Bailey(@dylanbailey)
1 year ago
Reply to  Sharon BB

I’m happy the review made you want to try it again. I hope you enjoy your food!

Melissa Boettcher
Melissa Boettcher (@guest_67876)
1 year ago

They close at 1:00 on Saturday

Valerie Bailey
Valerie Bailey (@guest_67945)
1 year ago

Great review of an Island icon

Dave Lott
Dave Lott(@dave-l)
1 year ago

There is a reason T-Ray’s doesn’t do any advertising, they don’t have to. I consider myself a burger snob and have tried burgers all over the country. T-Ray’s burger is still #1 in my experience although the havarti burger at the Tremont Tavern in Chattanooga is a very close #2 .

Carol McC
Carol McC (@guest_68004)
1 year ago

We frequent T-Rays often during our two month winter stay on Fernandina Beach. Best place for burgers and fried shrimp. Love the food and the people.

Peg Scherr
Peg Scherr(@peg-scherrgmail-com)
1 year ago

Thumbs up for T-Rays! Their fried shrimp and fish bring my friends and I back over and over. If I can discipline myself not to eat the entire platter of food, there’s plenty for a second meal. They really know their stuff! I’m always impressed with how efficiently and friendly they are in handling the long lines of people. It’s well worth the wait.

Kudos also, for your weekly donation of breakfast sandwiches for the homeless and at risk folks in our community. The Day Drop Resource Center at 14th and Jasmine, operated by the Coalition for the Homeless, is most appreciative of your continued support. Thank you for all that you do!