The Surf Restaurant is a Wipeout

By Dylan Bailey

The Surf Restaurant, a bar and beach motel standing since 1957, offers a unique dining experience that leaves a lasting impression. Whether for good or otherwise, will depend entirely on how you plan to dine. With a beautiful outdoor deck and a tiki bar, the ambiance screams ‘beach’ and exudes a carefree, ocean charm. The aesthetic appeal of the restaurant is undeniable.

My first impression was a bit confusing. Despite the lack of customers, the service area seemed deserted, creating an air of uncertainty about whether it was open or not. Only a chance encounter with a chef clarified the restaurant indeed was open for business. After the initial confusion, a friendly waitress appeared. Despite the slow start, her energy and approach to service were fantastic.

The menu offers a variety of options ranging from appetizers to main courses, with the notable highlight being their cocktail selection. Among the numerous appetizer options, the buttermilk fried pickles were my pick. Despite the impressive quantity and initial tasty bites, the pickles were overly seasoned, leading to a discomforting salty experience.

For my main course, the blackened shrimp street tacos called to me like a siren at sea. The combination of cabbage slaw, roasted corn, salsa, and Sriracha lime aioli further fueled my anticipation.

Surprisingly, the ‘street tacos’ were closer to sad ‘soft tacos’. With just two pieces of shrimp in each, the $12 price tag seemed a bit steep. The lack of proper seasoning and runny consistency of the toppings made them shrimply disappointing.

To finish off my meal, I chose one of the specials – a ham and Swiss grilled cheese with alfredo, served with a side of tomato bisque. The bisque was creamy and enjoyable, but the grilled cheese was soggy and lacked flavor besides the overpowering Swiss cheese.

Despite the inconsistent food, The Surf Restaurant’s ambiance deserves a mention. The combination of a tiki bar, an outdoor patio, and the location creates a unique atmosphere that might appeal to people looking for a casual bar experience rather than a sit-down meal.

While the ambiance is attractive and the service is commendable, the quality and value of the food leave much to be desired. If you’re looking for a casual spot to enjoy a few drinks, this might be a place to consider.


The Surf Restaurant


Address: 3199 S. Fletcher Ave., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

Hours: Sun., Mon., Thurs. (11 a.m. – 8 p.m.), Wed., Fri., Sat. (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.). Closed Tuesdays.

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Bill Fold
Noble Member
Bill Fold(@bill-fold)
13 days ago

To be fair it’s a beach bar and grill. If you want 4 or 5 star gourmet food go somewhere else. I think the Surf is one of the best places on Amelia Island and the food, service and drinks are top notch – for a beach bar.

13 days ago

I have to agree with Bill Fold. Don’t go the The Surf for Michelin star food. It’s a beach bar. They have seemingly struggled through several chefs searching to leave their mark. No. You are a beach bar. If they would put together some really good wings, fried shrimp, burgers and a great fish sandwich, they would do just fine. It’s a great facility in a great location. Just set your sights on being the best beach bar.

Douglas M
Noble Member
Douglas M(@douglasm)
13 days ago

Back in the mid-2000’s, when Paul from Philadelphia owned the business, it was THE place to go! Every local had a blue “Surf card” that generously redeemed $10 for every $100 spent. The prices were very reasonable and the food was satisfying. It’s been on a bit of a long downward trajectory since Paul sold it around 2010. I’m not sure how it lost it’s way……

Thanks Dylan for calling it like you see it. I’ve been disappointed with most everything near the beach that starts with an “S”…….it’s almost like owners think anything close to sand will flourish no matter what the service or food quality is, so they don’t really pay attention to it. Location will only take you so far… still need to work on good service and the product.

Noble Member
13 days ago

I have had very similar experiences, great watering hole next to the beach but not a dining destination.

Hunter Walker
Trusted Member
Hunter Walker(@hwalker00)
13 days ago

I’m sorry but EVERY review you have done before this one was the restaurant was the best ever (and of course it was clean). Now you go to the Surf, and you say it’s a wipeout? It’s not bad, I’ve been there multiple times but as others have commented, it is a BEACH BAR. Please explain you expectations. Ham and Swiss grilled cheese? Overpowering Swiss cheese?

Douglas M
Noble Member
Douglas M(@douglasm)
12 days ago
Reply to  Hunter Walker

Hunter……I believe the last two paragraphs of Dylan’s review says exactly that. He talks about ambience and drinks, but clearly warns people the food is probably a bit sub-par…..that jibes with practically every comment made below his article. Sounds to me like the review was spot on.

11 days ago

Unfortunately, THE SURF, in the last six months, has gone backward. It’s good for a post-beach/golf beer but there are other spots with better food selections.

9 days ago

We love this place! Try for yourself

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