Beach diner is a small local chain of Diners in the Jacksonville area run by the Adeeb Family. The Adeeb family has a rich history in the Jacksonville restaurant scene dating back over 50 years. Whether you look as far back as the Copper Kettle and Sea Turtle Inn or currently at the Beach Diner and Bono’s Barb-B-Que the Adeeb family has left their mark on Jax food. Beach diner is open for breakfast and lunch everyday from 6am-2:30pm. It’s a popular spot at the beaches and there is quite often a wait. A general rule of thumb is if no one is waiting outside it’s not too busy and you should get seated in a reasonable amount of time. If you see a bunch of people outside come prepared to wait a little while. Beach Diner has 4 locations in Jacksonville. Their original location opened 17 years ago followed by Ponte Vedra Beach in 2005, Mandarin in 2009, and San Marco in 2013. On this trip we visited the original location in Atlantic beach. Beach diner is in a freestanding building on Atlantic Boulevard.
Food: On this trip we stopped in for lunch, though breakfast is always available at Beach Diner. We started with a cup of cream of asparagus soup ($2.69), which was the soup of the day. It was great! Cream of veggie soups can be a real winner or a complete strikeout. But, they are worth a try if they’re not something you usually take a swing at. This cream of asparagus soup was creamy and smooth. It had plenty of flavor without having too much salt. Too often restaurants bury their soup in salt and call it flavor. I would assume that Beach Diner does a great job with most of their soups, based on this great execution.
Next up was a BLT. On the menu is the B.E.T. Rider (Bacon, egg salad, tomato, in a pita, $6.49), but my 13 year old wanted a regular BLT. Sure, a BLT can be hard to screw up. There are that places that do it though. Beach Diner is not of those places. This BLT had plenty of bacon and fresh, flavorful tomatoes. We’ve discussed restaurants that use underripe flavorless tomatoes and you know how we feel about those. One thing I noticed was that Beach Diner had no shortage of quality, fresh ingredients. That always makes the best food.
Next was the Veggie Wrap ($6.49). The Veggie Wrap is not listed on the menu online, but it’s on the printed regular menu at Beach Diner. The veggie wrap had lettuce, cucumber, tomato, green pepper, alfalfa sprouts, tomato, avocado, and hummus wrapped up in a tortilla. It came with a side of fresh fruit, potato salad, or French fries. We got the fruit. This wrap is exactly what I hope for when I order a veggie wrap or veggie pita pretty much anywhere. No cheese, no dressing (although I’m sure you could add anything you wanted), delicious fresh veggies, and ample hummus. It was a great combination of flavors and textures with the crunch of the green pepper, the smooth avocado and hummus, the sweet tomato, meaty avocado, garlicky hummus, mmmmmmmm! Vegetarians, get excited!
We tried one of the specials, the Mayport Shrimp n’ Grits ($9.99). There are a variety of ways to prepare shrimp n’ grits. These grits were done as a fried grit cake with lightly breaded Mayport shrimp and a sauce that tasted like a brown gravy. It was delicious and very heavy. I ate about some of it and shared some with my lunch guests, but we didn’t quite finish it. The waitress asked if we liked it because there was so much left on the plate. We assured her it was great. It was just too much for our stomachs. The shrimp n’ grits came with a side of my choosing. This time I went with the sweet potato soufflé and cornbread. I was disappointed that the soufflé was topped with pecans instead of marshmallows, but that’s a personal preference. This soufflé was worthy of any thanksgiving table anywhere. It was thick with no lumps of sweet potato and almost sweet enough for dessert but not quite. The cornbread was very good. It was soft and moist cornbread that you could pick up without it falling apart. If you hate when your cornbread falls apart you will love this cornbread.
We also had our 2 year old with us. He wanted beans and rice. I guess he was hoping we were at Castillo de Mexico. Poor kid had to settle for a pancake. It was a really sweet touch that when the waitress brought out the pancake it had “Mickey Mouse ears” and a smiley face made out of chocolate chips. Talk about food made with love! He was very satisfied with his pancake.
Service: When we got to Beach Diner around noon on a rainy weekday we had to wait about 7-8 minutes for a table to open. As we were waiting about 6 more parties came in and had to wait. Some folks pulled up a chair at the counter, which is always first come first served. Even the folks that were 4th or 5th on the waiting list didn’t have a terrible wait, less than 15 minutes. The folks at Beach Diner do a great job of getting people in and serving them quickly. The kitchen must be hopping because it was a pretty brief wait for our food. Despite the fact that Beach Diner is usually busy they’re not chasing people out after their meals. I guess that’s to be expected since it’s the beach and everyone is pretty laid back. The waitress that sat us took our drink order and then another waitress took over for her before our drinks even came. We were on a bit of a schedule and ordered right away. Our food came quicker than we expected and the waitress, while very busy, checked on us several times, and did not pass along her haste in her interactions with us. She was also kind to our kids. That goes a long way.
- wider menu variety than your average diner
- fresh, flavorful ingredients
- can be quite busy
- only open for breakfast and lunch