Above: Dishes at Burlingame Restaurant in Fernandina Beach, Florida

Florida Restaurants: 20 Must-Try Favorites

In recent years, Florida has developed one of the most interesting and distinctive restaurant scenes in the United States. Fine local seafood — oysters from the Panhandle, shrimp from the Gulf and fish like grouper, snapper and cobia — is a constant on menus everywhere. But contemporary Floridian cooking is also a reflection of the state’s Southern heritage, as well as its ethnic diversity. The large Latin American and Caribbean communities have contributed dishes and foods to the culinary repertoire. And in addition to such local luminaries as star chef Michelle Bernstein (who recently opened a wonderful casual dining table called Cafe La Trova in Miami’s Little Havana), Florida has been attracting culinary talent from all over the United States. A good example is chef Steve Phelps, from Shaker Heights, Ohio, who, in 2001, moved to Sarasota and opened Indigenous, a sustainable seafood restaurant that specializes in inventive contemporary American dishes, a decade later. Phelps was a semifinalist for a James Beard Best Chef in America award in both 2014 and 2015.

Burlingame Restaurant

Fernandina Beach

Porchetta, oysters and cocktails at Burlingame Restaurant in Fernandina Beach - Amy Robb

Occupying a handsomely renovated house on a residential side street, Eric and Deb Fanelli’s restaurant has a small-town charm that makes the big-city caliber of chef Chad Livingston’s cooking even more surprising. Livingston is a native of Fernandina Beach and has intimate knowledge of the best local produce. At this restaurant, Livingston tweaks his menu regularly, but starters like smoked-fish dip with homemade pickles, and tagliatelle with lamb Bolognese are representative previews of his rustic yet strangely sophisticated style. Among the main courses, the snapper with whipped potatoes, sautéed parsnips, carrots and fennel with dill oil, and the braised beef short ribs with cauliflower-and-watercress purée and white-bean cassoulet are standouts. Finish up with the pecan pie with brown-butter ice cream, or the lemon pie with blueberry compote. Closed Sunday.

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Above: Dishes at Burlingame Restaurant in Fernandina Beach, Florida

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