For the last 20 years South Beach Grill has fronted the Atlantic on Crescent Beach. Its upstairs dining room offers ocean views that provide the feel of dining on the deck of an ocean liner, minues the sway of the ship.
Owner Ted McLemore runs a quiet, smooth restaurant with an excellent selection of seafood dishes.
The menu includes an assortment of seafood like calamari, clam strips, crab cakes, North Atlantic fish and Mayport shrimp. You will find salads, burgers, tacos, wraps and burritos on the lunch menu.
South Beach Grill has gluten-free meals and vegetarian dishes like the homemade hummus with cilantro and black beans. Children have a menu that includes healthy options.
There are 175 seats in the double-decker establishment, with picnic table seating on its covered porch. With a full bar and daily happy hour, there are plenty of drink options. Breakfast is served until 10:30 a.m. on the weekends.
Q&A WITH OWNER TED MCLEMORE
How would you describe the restaurant’s atmosphere?
Beach casual, with wainscoting upstairs and pecky cypress wood downstairs. [There’s] a lot of wood. Sort of like a ship at sea, especially upstairs. The bar downstairs is homey. We are a family spot close to the beach.
What is your food philosophy?
We try and source as local as possible and change the menu seasonally. We get our sweet, plump shrimp from Mayport, and will not buy farm-raised fish. The menu is thought out in terms of its carbon foot print. Why were we getting kiwis all the way from New Zealand or avocados from California, for instance? The kitchen is scratch; we make all of our sauces and dressings in house.
What types of cuisine do you specialize in?
Seafood. We want to be the best place to go for seafood. And that is a result of how we procure, handle and cook it. It starts with sourcing seasonal seafood and ends with an excellent meal. We serve the gamut from flounder, tuna, shrimp, oysters and blue crabs to trigger fish. Chef Davidson is constantly creating new specials.
What is your signature dish?
A good example is our local, seasonal fish sauteed with a lemon caper sauce and a side of homemade pasta. It showcases our casual southern cuisine.
What would you recommend for a first timer?
For lunch try our fish tacos. [They are] two soft-shell tortillas loaded with trigger fish grilled, blackened or fried. Served with fresh salsa, cheddar cheese, key-lime cilantro slaw and a side of chipotle sour cream.
Price Range: $$-$$$
Location: 45 Cubbage Drive
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday | 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday | Breakfast is from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday