A Guide to Coastal Georgian Cuisine
In the Golden Isles, local fare gives way to culinary flair. From waters teeming with fresh coastal delicacies to tried-and-true traditions upheld by beloved local chefs, our area proudly boasts a flavorful food scene that has kept people coming back for seconds again and again.
In particular, enjoy some of these local, specialty dishes we are best known for, or browse a complete listing of restaurants.
It doesn’t get more local than a warm bowl of our namesake dish, Brunswick Stew. It was here that this Southern staple originated, and you can enjoy its rustic richness at a handful of restaurants. This tomato-based stew blends lima beans, okra, potatoes, corn and peas with local game, chicken or pork. Many restaurants, such as Gnat’s Landing, offer it on their menu. Get a recipe for Brunswick Stew and try it at home.
No matter where they come from, oysters are always at their best when they are super fresh. Fortunately, Georgian oysters are among the most flavorful in North America, and the Golden Isles is the place to shuck ’em and savor ’em. Several seafood restaurants include Georgia oysters on their menu. May we recommend the Oysters Redfern at Catch 228?
The waters off the Golden Isles are chock full of red snapper, and the same can be said for the menus of our finest restaurants. From the elegance of the Georgian Room and The Grand Dining Room, to the casual bistros of Iguana’s Seafood Restaurant and Tramici, you’ll find the freshest and most innovative takes on this delectable fish. Our favorite: pairing red snapper with a dash of pickled peppers.
Shrimp may be most associated with Gulf States cuisine, but we would argue that the shrimp harvested off the Golden Isles is even better. Local chefs put shrimp to good use on their menus, particularly when they offer the classic pairing of shrimp and grits like they do at Driftwood Bistro or the shrimp po’boy at Brogen’s South. You’ll also find innovative takes on fusing local shrimp with comfort food staples, like the shrimp corndogs at Georgia Sea Grill, which are served with a sweet potato-mango mustard and citrus slaw.
Chefs love working with fresh grouper, not just because its texture stays moist, but also because its mild flavor serves as a platform for culinary experimentation. At innovative restaurants such as ECHO and Halyards, grouper takes center stage alongside a bevy of other coastal ingredients.
The New Guys at the Dinner Table
2015 brought several new dining establishments to the Golden Isles, and they have all quickly become favorites of locals and visitors alike. Historic Downtown Brunswick’s latest restaurant is The Farmer & The Larder, a unique combination of a kitchen retail space, farm-to-table restaurant and cooking classroom. Don’t miss their Wine Down Wednesdays and grab-and-go lunches.
Jekyll Island is also enjoying a renaissance with a handful of new shops and restaurants. Tortuga Jack’s is the island’s only beachfront restaurant and is known for their delicious Baja Mexican style cooking. Live music is commonplace on their patio, as are the constant coastal breezes.
For the meat lover, Sea Palms Resort’s Public House is a palate pleaser. Their menu features pork shank, quail, and various cuts of steak, to name a few. Also new to the food scene is Ember, a “farm-to-fire” restaurant that prepares just about everything on the menu over an open fire, including the salads. Three words: grilled caesar salad. You won’t regret it!
Don’t let us fool you; the Golden Isles is no stranger to ethnic foods. Tara Thai & Sushi pays homage to traditional noodle and curry dishes as well as fresh sushi. Del Sur Artisan Eats fuses together flavorful Argentinian and Italian fare that the owners grew up with. And just down the street is their bakery that serves up fresh breads, pastries and some of the best empanadas you’ve ever had.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight, we have good news for you: calories don’t count when you’re on vacation. Be sure to bring your appetite with you on your next visit to the Golden Isles!