Sam Burnham, Curator
When you’re visiting a new area it’s easy to retreat into your comfort zone. All along I-95 you are sure to find recognizable signs - Chili’s, Applebee’s, McDonald’s, Wendy’s.
Don’t do it. Seriously. Just don’t. You gotta get away from that trap. Get yourself some local flavor. Get some of that place on you. Really experience the place.
We got this tip from the proprietor at Once Upon a Bookseller in St. Marys. She said we had to try it, that the locals eat there. That this was a must-try spot in the area. She hit the nail on the head.
Right on the side of US 17, just south of Kingsland sits an old fashioned diner. Steffens has been in business since 1948. They bill themselves as being a place for Southern comfort food. That is exactly what we found. This is a breakfast all day kind of place with the other great diner options - burgers, dogs, soups, and sandwiches. They have fresh salads and plenty of dessert.
An appetizer of fried green tomatoes got us started with a bang. They were done just right. Crisp tangy goodness that doesn’t fall all to pieces when you cut into it. It’s one thing to say you serve fried green tomatoes. It’s another to do it right. And Steffens does it right.
We can now vouch for the chicken and waffles, the all beef hot dogs, and the country fried steak. The latter with green beans, creamed potatoes, and a basket of cornbread.
The hot hot dogs are served on toasted buns with or without fresh diced onions and a side of home fries. Chili and slaw are both available as toppings.
The chicken and waffles are pretty standard. Once you get into it, the big waffle is a bed for delicious fried chicken strips that are crisp but not all dried out. An excellently prepared dish.
One of the best parts about Steffens is learning that they use local seafood, eggs, and other components to make delicious food that you won’t find and that fast casual chain joint out on the interstate. Throw in a great price and it’s hard to beat.
But it I’d be lying if I didn’t say the atmosphere was my favorite part. This beacon of yesteryear was a delightful stop. A piece of 1948 is standing on the side of The Coastal Highway, US 17. In this age of disposable everything, it’s good to see something of this quality endure. These places used to to dot the entire landscape but have now become rare as through traffic has left these old routes for the convenience of the interstate.
You have to get off I-95 to find this one. If you want an experience that leaves a smile on your face, you’ll try this one. Looking around the dining room, a lot of other people agree. I can’t imagine anything on that menu in that place would disappoint. In fact, until we can get back ourselves, let us know if you get by there and what you thought.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire