Taking little ones out to eat can be a trying task, since restaurants are often so quiet, cramped and lacking anything for kids to do.
Timoti’s Fry Shak in downtown Fernandina Beach, however, makes it clear that kids are welcome — and they’ll be incredibly well-entertained thanks to the huge pirate ship in the backyard.
We made our first, long-awaited visit to Timoti’s as soon as it opened one recent Saturday morning, and it didn’t take long before the place was hopping. Almost everyone had children with them, and the kids were more than thrilled to work up an appetite in the play area while they waited for the food to arrive.
The restaurant, which opened in May 2012, has a covered outdoor seating area with large, no-fuss picnic tables in view of the pirate ship. And — unlike restaurants that never give you enough napkins to combat a toddler’s mess — Timoti’s just keeps whole rolls of paper towels right on the tables. There’s also indoor seating and restrooms, and they offer takeout.
What’s even more special about the restaurant is the food. Timoti’s gets its seafood fresh every morning, and it is fabulous. You can get baskets of fried fish, fries and hush puppies; po boys; fish tacos; crab burgers; lobster rolls, and the list goes on. There is always chicken for the non-fish eaters. They have kids’ baskets ($5.99 as of this writing). They also offer daily specials on their menu, which is scrawled on a chalkboard.
I have to say, the setup at Timoti’s reminds me of the restaurants on another island known for its incredible seafood: Vencie, Italy. My husband and I vacationed there about 9 months before my daughter was born (you do the math!), and we soon learned to seek out the restaurants with the last-minute, hand-scrawled menus — they were the ones that based their offerings on whatever was fresh and at its prime at the market each morning.
Besides getting fresh, local-caught seafood, Timoti’s uses produce from local farmers and even offers drinks from local brewers.
It was hard to pry my son away from the pirate ship to eat his lunch during our visit, but when he finally came around, he devoured his chicken strips and fries. My daughter and I stole his hush puppy, which was absolutely delicious. It’s one of the many masterpieces the restaurant offers thanks to chef Brian McCarthy, whose food used to be featured at the now-closed Down Under Restaurant. I also had a fabulous Caesar salad and rich, creamy oyster stew, and a friend who joined us had the fried oyster basket. She is still carrying on about those amazing oysters!
When my son finished wolfing down his food, it was so nice to let him run back to the pirate ship while the rest of us relaxed and finished our meals. I think the end of the meal can be the toughest part with kids in a restaurant, because they typically finish first, and then they get bored and fidgety. That was not at all an issue at Timoti’s.
If you haven’t been there yet, you’re in for a treat. Just make sure you go when you have plenty of time for the kids to play!
If you want to go:
Where: 21 North 3rd Street, Fernandina Beach, FL
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Contact: Call 904-310-6550.