218 First St., Neptune Beach
(904) 246-0881, slidersoysterbar.com
Full bar. Opening hours: Sunday, 10am-9pm; Monday-Wednesday, 11am-9pm; Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday, 11 a.m.-12 a.m.; Saturday, 10am-12pm
Price: entrees, $8 to $15; soup, $8; Safe Harbor platters, $12-$26; bowls, $8 to $10; entrees, $16-20; handhelds, $12 to $16; sides, $3.
Neptune Beach’s famous oyster bar, Sliders, recently underwent a major renovation after closing late last year.
The dazzling makeover includes a putting green, outdoor bar, new furnishings, an updated color scheme and modernized logo, as well as televisions in the indoor dining area.
The former Willoughby’s Auto Garage restaurant is a longtime gathering place for cold beers, freshly shucked oysters and a variety of seafood. From seasonal seafood ceviche to salty bacon-wrapped scallops, to by steamed clams and shrimp dip to share, Sliders caters to seafood lovers. There are also some nice choices for non-seafood eaters – a Caesar salad, a chicken boy, quesadillas, a bowl of chicken jasmine rice and a green salad.
We arrived on a hot Sunday afternoon, so it seemed appropriate to throw in a spicy strawberry margarita ($9) and half a dozen specialty “Godzilla” oysters from Slider. These raw bivalves are topped with a zesty seaweed salad, a dollop of cucumber wasabi and a spicy sriracha-like “pirate” sauce. The adjacent table had the shrimp nachos drizzled with queso and cream and that massive, stacked platter immediately commanded our gaze. I will try them next!
The fresh catch turned out to be one of my favorites: triggerfish, so I landed on the pick-two combo platter (market price) with a grilled trigger and fried clams. The platters are served with puppies and fries, but I replaced these with cheese grits. Most sides ($3) work for me, so it’s hard to succumb to just one when there’s cucumber and tomato salad, fried pickles, fried okra, collard greens, and mashed apples garlic earth.
My mom devoured her messy but delicious surf ‘n turf burger ($16) and fries. This angus burger comes with shrimp, melted cheddar, lettuce, tomato and onion. And my seafood obsessed half enjoyed a blackened trigger platter (market price).
The newly renovated, dog-friendly outdoor patio and bar area was lively, but we quickly got a shaded spot despite Sliders’ no-reservations policy. The atmosphere is laid back and we listened to the sounds of upbeat live reggae music wafting through the air. For late-night customers, Slider’s offers items until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Caron Streibich is a cooking enthusiast who reviews restaurants in the Life section. Follow her culinary adventures on facebook.com/caroneats and #caroneats on Instagram.