The Driftwood Bistro: Best of the Jekyll Island Restaurants for Southern Cooking

The Driftwood Bistro on Jekyll Island is making a name for itself. And it's all good.

This great family restaurant (located at Villas-by-the-Sea) is fast acquiring a reputation as the best all-around restaurant on the island.

After all the glowing reviews I'd read, we decided to give it a try on our latest Jekyll Island Family Adventure.

Southern Cooking, Anyone?

At some point on your island vacation (especially if you have kids) you'll hear something like "Hey, Dad - we're tired of seafood. Can we get some old-fashioned Southern cooking tonight? Please? Pretty please?"

We'll, you can - at the Driftwood Bistro.

Start out with an appetizer of fried okra. It's not your average fried okra, however. You get whole okra pods, flattened and permeated with seasoned corn meal, before being deep-fried to a golden brown.

I'm more partial to fried okra the way my Mom used to make it, however, cut up and dipped in cornmeal. The Bistros okra was pretty good, though - sort of like a veggie potato chip.

You can also get fried mushrooms or fried green tomatoes. Detect a theme here? What's Southern food without frying? But there was maybe a little too much grease for my taste.

But not everything is fried. You can also order wings or Wild Georgia Shrimp as your appetizer.

Delectable Entrees

Driftwood Bistro offers something neat. You can get a regular size meal for around $12.95 (at this writing), or a petite plate at $9.95. Most folks say the petite is plenty, but if you have a Jekyll Island Adventurer's size appetite, go for the larger size and see if you can put it away. I did the petite plate and Martha, believe it or not, went with the regular, as did Josh and Scott. You can work up an appetite on Jekyll Island! But then you can always burn off those extra calories on the tennis courts or golf course.

Partake of your choice of Blue Ribbon Meat Loaf, Yankee Pot Roast (doesn't sound Southern, does it?), Stuffed Flounder, Chicken, Shrimp Creole, or something called Stuffed Collard Greens (whole leaf collards stuffed with seasoned ground beef baked in a scrumptious Creole sauce - I'm not a collard green lover, but I've heard the Bistro does it right).

Then there's the Wild Georgia Shrimp platter (deep fried, grilled, or blackened); Fried Catfish; Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin; a wonderful Shrimp and Grits dish; or a Sirloin Steak. Vegans can also get a Veggie Platter at a slightly less cost than the regular or petite entrees.

The restaurant also serves up a full complement of mouth-watering salads.

Salivating for something grilled? Try the Driftwood Bistro's Red Neck Reuben (what's more Southern than red-necks?); the Cracker Cuban; or the Mahi-Mahi Sandwich. Or bite into a huge, savory , juicy burger. Grilled dishes run about $9.00; burgers start at $6.50.

Savory Sides, Kid's Meals and Desserts

What's Southern cooking without side dishes? Sample green beans; black-eyed peas; sweet Southern slaw (I'm not partial to sweet slaw, but, hey, each to their own tastes); rice pilaf; collard greens; mac and cheese; steamed cabbage; cheese grits; fried okra; squash casserole; steamed broccoli with cheese sauce; glazed carrots (which I've heard are mouth watering); fries; mashed taters; creamed corn; beets (yech - I hate beats, but maybe the Bistros are good); or fried green tomatoes.

Kids 12 and under will eat well here, too. Order up Chicken Fingers, Fish Fingers, Pizza Bites, Fried Shrimp, or a Hotdog (all served with fries) for $4.25.

Key Lime PieKey Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie - Eat Only Pie; Leave Only Crumbs (photo by Little Blue Hen - Flickr)

The Bistro's dessert menu is to die for. Check out Georgia Bourbon Peach Cobbler (and the Ala Mode version); Chocolate Lava Cake (also comes Ala Mode); Ice Cream; Key Lime Pie; or Augusta's Bread Pudding. Desserts were rather pricey for my taste, so I passed. But they make 'em fresh and I've heard they're good, so maybe worth a try.

You can get your choice of soft drinks, tea, coffee or milk to drink with your meal. Or, if ordering an entree, take advantage of the Driftwood Bistro special and get a full bottle of wine for only $10.00. Can't finish it? They'll re-cork it for you and let you take it home.

Service with a Smile

Over 90% of the reviews I've read have only good things to say about the service at the Driftwood Bistro. On our visit, the wait staff seated customers promptly and took orders quickly, but we had to wait awhile for our food, maybe because it was late and there were several large groups already at tables.

Also, it was loud in there. Those large groups got pretty rowdy.

The management is responsive to folk's needs, as is evident from one customer's remark that the Driftwood Bistro was "...willing to stay open past posted closing hours to accommodate weary travelers."

The Driftwood Bistro is a must-try venue, and the food was fairly good. The restaurant's also one of the least expensive restaurants on Jekyll Island. I'd recommend it.

Jekyll Island Family Adventures "Wow!" Rating:

  • Ambiance: 8.0 (too loud for me!)
  • Service: 8.5
  • Cleanliness: 9.0
  • Food Quality: 8.0

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