St. Augustine has its fair share of restaurants but most are clustered around the downtown area or out at the beach; a shame if you really don't feel like braving the swarms of tourists for a quick bite to eat. Thus, upon seeing the location of Ned's Southside Kitchen on a map I was simultaneously suspicious that they had pinned it in the wrong place and compelled to go.
Ned's is located near the Wal-Mart on US1 in the building that was formerly Sharky's. Across the street is a McDonalds, to one side is a Krystal's and to the other a sports bar. This makes for one of the most unlikely locations for a good restaurant but the large crowd waiting to be seated in this seething mass of people, chairs, and food indicated that we were onto something.
Owned by Ned Pollack, the chef/owner behind the Gypsy Cab Company (one of St. Augustine's best restaurants), Ned's has some of the same gaudy ambiance and eclectic cuisine but with more of a down home, soul food flair. There's no pretense here, just great food at good prices with a little bit of dirty South character. Judging by the non-stop throng of patrons from all walks of life who came and went during our visit, I'd say they've hit upon a winning combination.
Remembering a few years back to an amazing meal I had at Gypsy Cab (a blackened salmon burrito that I still crave unto this day but have yet to see on the menu again), I ordered the fish wrap; not quite the same, but equally promising. The choice was a little hard as Ned's has a great variety of meals with some good vegetarian options in the mix (the sweet potato enchiladas were awfully tempting). The wrap was served with some tasty black beans and a delicious black-eyed pea salad/salsa hybrid, the likes of which I'd not previously encountered. And the wrap itself was gorgeous, as equally amazing as the blackened salmon burrito I had all those years ago. Although I didn't get to try anything else that our party ordered, I was assured that it was all fantastic; from the shrimp salad to the black bean enchiladas. It all looked good at the very least.
A strange but very welcome location, it's nice to see restaurants in St. Augustine pushing out beyond their usual confines. And with such glorious food, I may never be able to persuade myself to head downtown again.
Ned's Southside Kitchen
2450 U. S. Highway 1 South
St Augustine, FL 32086