From the Boat to the Table: Tybee Island Restaurants Offer Fresh Seafood, Good Eats and Great Times
By Amy Pine
Tybee is known for its laid back vibe, natural sand dunes and close proximity to Savannah, one of the country’s premier tourist destinations. For most of its existence, however, the small island on the Atlantic Ocean was not known for its restaurants. Fortunately times have changed. Today’s Tybee Island offers a variety of good restaurants, from casual dives to elegant cafes. On Tybee, seafood is king, with a number of great options for fresh, succulent seafood, including A-J’s Dockside, CoCo’s Sunset Grille, StingRays Restaurant and the Crab Shack. Tybee residents rave about Sundae Café, which has an extensive lunch menu featuring sandwiches, salads and fried seafood, and a lovely, upscale dinner menu with plenty of seafood, steaks, pasta dishes and more. The Tybee Island Social Club boasts an eclectic selection of tacos, seafood and burgers, plus cocktails as unique as the island itself. Those wanting a casual meal with great views will enjoy the atmosphere at the Caribbean-influenced North Beach Bar and Grill on the north side of the island, Fannie’s on the Beach near the Tybee Pier and Pavilion and Marlin Monroes Surfside Grill in the Beachside Colony Resort. The morning crowd (and visitors in need of a quick remedy for a lively Tybee night) will appreciate the Breakfast Club, a staple on the island that has been serving up hearty breakfast fare for more than three decades. So grab your swimsuit, relax and enjoy a day at the beach. Just don’t forget to bring your appetite!
This laid-back restaurant, located just a block from the beach on Butler Avenue, is a favorite among Tybee residents, and for good reason. The casual eatery, which features indoor and outdoor seating, has a menu chock-full of fresh, local catches. Favorites include the buffalo shrimp appetizer, soft shell crab sandwich and fried shrimp plate. Those having a difficult time deciding what to order will love StingRay's Platter, a seafood feast with steamed shrimp, snow crab, blue crab, Jonah crab claws, crawfish and mussels. The less healthy but equally delicious Tybee Fisherman's Platter is loaded with fried shrimp, scallops, fish, oysters and deviled crab. Many patrons enjoy washing down their meals with StingRay's famous margaritas while kicking back and listening to live music. (912-786-0209)
This popular pizzeria and bar draws a lively and eclectic crowd of locals. The restaurant's colorful, indoor space is a feast for the eyes, with an array of memorabilia covering the walls. Even more vibrant than the walls is Huc-a-Poos' menu, which features an interesting selection of whole pies and pizza by the slice. Some of the more creative choices include the fiery Hot Tamale topped with jalapenos, crushed red pepper, red onions and hot sauce and the Honkey, a white pizza with garlic spread topped with basil, spinach, black olives and red onions. If you're truly adventurous, go for the Shep Surprise, a pizza that will come out however the chef decides, regardless of what you request. (912-786-5900)
A-J's Dockside Restaurant
This popular Tybee seafood restaurant overlooking the island's Back River is a favorite among locals, who sometimes come by boat, dock and dine. A-J's offers both indoor and outdoor seating and features a good selection of seafood dishes, including deviled crabs, mahi-mahi and snow crabs. There are plenty of choices for those who don't eat seafood, among them wings, burgers and steak. The restaurant holds the unique distinction of being world headquarters for Tybee Island's Bomb Squad, a group that searches for the rumored nuclear weapon that was lost a few miles off the Tybee coast in 1958. Bomb-searching enthusiasts can pick up bomb squad shirts, hats, koozies and more during their visit to the restaurant. (912-786-9533)
The Breakfast Club
Serving up homemade breakfast fare since 1976, the always-packed Breakfast Club is a favorite among Tybee residents and visitors alike. The Tybee Island eatery offers an array of traditional breakfast food--eggs, homemade sausage, waffles, omelets, breakfast burritos, grits and more--plus a number of creative options such as Helen's Solidarity (aka the Grill Cleaner's Special), a generous helping of diced potatoes, Polish sausage, green peppers, onions, scrambled eggs and cheese. The restaurant, which is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. seven days a week, serves breakfast all day and also offers standard lunch items including hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, fries and more. (912-786-5984)
North Beach Bar & Grill
This beloved open-air restaurant and bar, with a prime location on Tybee's North Beach, serves up a variety of creatively prepared, Caribbean-influenced dishes. Favorites include fish tacos, jerk chicken, sweet potato fries, crab cakes and conch fritters, while more traditional fare such as hot dogs and burgers are always available for less adventurous eaters. The North Beach Bar and Grill boasts great views of the ocean and the Tybee Lighthouse, features live music every weekend and periodically during the week, and offers a tasty selection of tropical beverages, making it the perfect spot for island-goers to stop for lunch, dinner or a late-night drink. (912-786-4442)
Gerald's Pig and Shrimp
Who says you need to head into Savannah to get authentic barbeque? Gerald's Pig and Shrimp, a roadside eatery near the entrance to Tybee Beach, offers a mouthwatering selection of pork, ribs, beef brisket and more. The restaurant also serves fresh seafood, including shrimp and oysters, which may be ordered fried, boiled or sautéed. The low country boil, a local favorite, is a savory one-pot dish featuring shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn on the cob. Traditional side items, including baked beans, fried okra, green beans and French fries, round out the menu, along with tasty appetizers such as hush puppies, potato crab balls and wings. Be sure to wash down your meal with a glass of Gerald's tart and refreshing fresh-squeezed limeade. (912-786-4227)
CoCo's Sunset Grille
CoCo's Sunset Grill, a little gem overlooking Lazaretto Creek, is a laid-back eatery with great seafood, a friendly staff and the perfect waterfront setting. CoCo's features traditional seafood dishes, including fried shrimp, Alaskan snow crab, and seared shrimp and scallops, along with flavorful fare such as buffalo shrimp, bourbon glazed salmon and tuna tacos. There are plenty of options for land lovers, among them chicken wings, sandwiches, steak and ribs. The restaurant's waterfront atmosphere lends itself perfectly to cocktails, and CoCo's doesn't disappoint, boasting an array of tasty tropical drinks. And when the weather cooperates, CoCo's Sunset Grill lives up to its name, offering a gorgeous view of the sun setting over the river. (912-786-7810)
Heaping platters of seafood, a gorgeous view of the creek and a lively atmosphere are all part of the appeal of the Crab Shack, a Tybee seafood restaurant that has been delighting locals and visitors for more than 20 years. It's easy to see why the popular restaurant touts the motto, "where the elite eat in their bare feet." The casual eatery, which offers ample indoor and outdoor seating, has a relaxed, island vibe while boasting some of the freshest seafood around. One of the most popular menu items is the low country boil, a perfectly seasoned mix of shrimp, corn, sausage and potatoes. Oysters and crab are also favorites, along with a host of other fresh seafood. Meat eaters will be pleased that the Crab Shack offers barbeque pork and chicken, though eating at the Crab Shack and skipping the seafood may be considered sacrilegious. (912-786-9857)
Tybee Island Social Club
Don't be deterred by the name. Tybee Island Social Club is not some sort of invite-only dinner society for the elite. This welcoming Tybee Island eatery, located mid-island on Butler Avenue, offers an array of creative, tasty bites. The restaurant is perhaps best known for its unique selection of tacos, which include interesting combinations like siracha-battered fried lobster tail with pickled onions. Those in need of a seafood fix will enjoy peel-and-eat shrimp, crab cakes and ceviche, while meat lovers will drool over the chorizo burger, which combines beef, chorizo and bacon. The creative drink menu boasts original cocktails such as the Scientist, a mind-blowing concoction featuring rosemary syrup, bluecoat gin, Chase elderflower liqueur and fresh lemon and lime juice. Be sure to check out the restaurant's fun weekly events, among them Tuesday night bingo and Thursday open mic night. Tybee Island Social Club also features a great lineup of live music on weekends. (912-472-4044)
This Tybee Island favorite is causal by day and romantic by night. Located in a nondescript shopping center about one block from the beach, Sundae Cafe features an extensive lunch menu, with everything from island-inspired spicy tuna tacos and fried oysters to more traditional fare such as club sandwiches, chicken fingers and burgers. At night, the restaurant transforms into an elegant cafe with a superb selection of appetizers and entrees, including the seafood cheesecake appetizer--a decadent mixture of shrimp, lump crab and smoked gouda in a garlic butter crust--and a sweet potato-crusted grouper entree that incorporates shrimp beignets, peach and cranberry chutney, fried sweet potato shoestrings and wilted spinach. Desserts, which are displayed in a glass case at the front of the cafe, are equally mouthwatering and run the gamut from key lime pie to Reese's Peanut Butter pie. (912-786-7694)
About Amy Pine
Amy's thrilled to have the opportunity to share her love of Savannah with the world. A Savannah native, Amy has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and editor, and her work has appeared in numerous local, regional and national publications. Prior to launching a freelance career, she was executive editor at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she served as editor of the college’s alumni magazine. Amy received a B.A. in English and communications from the University of Pennsylvania. She's currently putting the finishing touches on her young adult novel, The Girl in a Picture Frame.
Read more about Amy Pine here.