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Amelia Islander

Slider's Seaside Grill

By Michael Gass • Photo by William Raser

Last week I had the opportunity to meet my friend, Cortney Gray, for dinner before a business meeting. The moon was almost full and the sun had just set, so we knew we wanted a place at the beach. What better spot than Sliders Seaside Grill? We decided to try out their new concept, Tortuga Jack’s, upstairs from the main restaurant.

It had been a beautiful day, despite being wintertime in Fernandina, but the temperature was starting to drop as the sun disappeared. Just the same, we opted to sit on the balcony, and our server, Staton, brought over a heater to keep us comfortable. We knew we had made the right choice as the nearly full moon crept up over the horizon; it lit up the entire ocean.

We ordered a round of margaritas with a trio of appetizers, and enjoyed the live music coming from the tiki bar below. As the music floated up, we put a hurting on the appetizer trio, which consisted of piping hot queso, guacamole, and fresh tomato salsa with a basket of fresh fried corn tortilla chips. Cortney ordered a strawberry margarita and I a house margarita, both on the rocks, mine with salt and hers with sugar. They came in mugs, and the crystal-coated rims glistened in the moonlight.

I couldn’t decide between the Enchiladas with Salsa Verde and the Steak Fajitas, and after much deliberation, I went in a totally different direction, choosing the Fried Chicken Tacos. Cortney went with the Chimichanga. The Chimichanga was stuffed with seasoned chicken and rolled in a flour tortilla, then fried golden brown. It was topped with red chile sauce and creamy queso, served with black beans and rice, and finished with a roasted corn and black bean salsa. It looked terrific and I was instantly jealous.

My Fried Chicken Tacos were equally delicious, if not quite as aesthetically impressive. The chicken was breaded and fried to perfection and came served on flour tortillas with fresh shredded lettuce, diced fresh tomato, sprinkled with shredded cheese and drizzled with a house-made ranch and sweet chili glaze. The portions were more than generous, and with our hunger satisfied, we paused to enjoy the night sky.

Since we still had work to do, we reluctantly decided to skip dessert. A friend of mine and her family were seated on the other side of the heater from us. They too had come for the view and a bite to eat. As Cortney and I caught up on the week’s events, the nearby kids finished their meals and shared a basket of crispy churros covered in cinnamon and sugar while their mother snapped some shots of the moon slipping out from behind a cloud bank. We wished we had saved room for such a treat, but we felt a tremendous sense of gratitude and peace sitting in the moon glow.

Sliders and Tortuga Jack’s are on the beach at the round-about where Sadler Road and South Fletcher Avenue meet. They are open seven days a week from 11 am to 9 pm, 11 am to 10 pm on weekends. Tortuga Jacks also boasts a Sunrise Balcony Breakfast on the weekends from 6 am to 11 am Friday through Monday.