favorite food haunts - jacksonville and the beaches
Provençal bistro in San Marco. Transcendent. Seriously - their smoked tomato bisque haunts my dreams. Steak frites, lamb panini, luscious little pizzas, oak grilled fish, pastas, its all delicious. Bistro Aix is my number one restaurant pic in our adopted home town of Jacksonville, Florida (we actually live in a nearby beach town, but work in Jax).
This industrial chic jewelbox is sister to biscotti's, and serves up comfort/fusion. My favorite, cheesy creamy hot polenta sticks stacked lincoln log style on a pool of blue cheese vinaigrette. They make some of the best salads anywhere in town. One of my standing orders is field greens with black forest ham, dates, and honey drizzled goat cheese croutons. The main room can be noisy, but the mood is upbeat, and the service is excellent. They share a phenomenal dessert menu with biscotti's. Share a slice of the nut tart - it is so incredibly rich, a mouthful is more than enough ;)
Cozy neighborhood bistro in Avondale. Reminds me of some great spots in Cincinnati. Biscottis recently expanded to accommodate the constant crowds. While you wait for your table you are encouraged to peruse the dessert case - incredible, impposibly huge cakes, pies, tarts and more. My favorite from their eclectic menu is the rock shrimp pizza with goat cheese and baby spinach. Great spot for a late night apre-theater nosh - my friend Amy and I love to sit outside, savor a glass of red wine (the by the glass menu is awesome) and split a slice (ok, its more like a slab) of chocolate cake.
Blue Boy Sandwich Shop
Because every once in a while you want a great tasting, greasy hamburger the size of your head. This place is a working man's dream - no fuss, no frills, just standard lunch grub and plenty of it. Self serve drink refills ensure you'll always have enough soda to wash down every last bite. Jax insiders know this place is the bomb.
Delicious, innovative cuisine in a bright, contemporary gallery setting. Open for lunch Monday through Friday. Menu changes seasonally - recent favorite is the Lobster Cobb Salad.
Middle-Eastern menu, belly dancers, hooka pipes. Nestled in a quiet courtyard in downtown Avondale. For lunch we like the swordfish kabobs with a selection of appetizers - you'll fall in love with their creamy smooth hummus, tabouleh, falafel, fried jibneh.
Cool Moose Cafe
Chef/owner Tony Jarvis has a loyal following at his Five-points favorite spot. Serving Green Mountain Coffee, great cookies and muffins, and a sweet lunch menu with something for everyone. The Turkey sandwich with cranberry chutney is like Thanksgiving all year long. A ham sandwich with boursin cheese makes me happy-happy, and Cool Moose is one place where I will actually eat the ubiquitous pasta salad. Easy on the pocketbook, which means more money to spend while browsing through the nearby antique shops.
The French Pantry
French farmhouse meets California casual. The French Pantry owners Tim and Barbara Felver previously worked for Wolfgang Puck in LA. Good fortune for us, they now reign supreme over this improbable 5,000-square-foot warehouse plunk in the middle of the Powers Ave. industrial district. A wholesale bakery delivers breads, rolls and desserts to restaurants, hotels and country clubs in Jacksonville. The restaurant makes me very, very happy. Friends in the know will beat me about the head with a baguette when I tell you just how happy. The French Pantry is one of those classic "best kept secrets" - yet there is always a crowd. Come early, get in line, get your food, pick up some incredible baked goods to go, and get out! Or if you are not in any hurry, linger at one of the communal French farmhouse style tables, and munch on their mind altering bread slathered with sweet creamery butter while you wait for your salad or sandwich to arrive. Tell 'em the gang at Nourish The Beast sent you!
Wine and tapas in San Marco. Local's love the Grotto. Toney little spot with a fantastic wine list - retail wines too. Great spot for a private or semi-private party.
Burgers al-fresco rock this Avondale neighborhood joint with a blue collar bent. The Blue Cheese stuffed "squirtin'" burger is the bomb. Pin-ball, pool tables, porch. 'nuff sed.
Havana Jax Cafe
Enjoy classic Cuban comfort food at this Best of Jax perrenial favorite, then slip next door to Cuba Libre for a cool Mojito.
Hovan Mediterranean Gourmet
Five Points lunch spot popular with students and neighboring office workers alike. Gyros, falafel, hummus, salads, the best ingredients, simply prepared and presented. Easy on the pocketbook as well as the heart. Fast service, plenty of seating, aditional parking in rear.
Joseph's Pizza rocks the Atlantic beach pizza scene. By the slice or by the box, get yours with extra garlic. Perfect end to a night of bar-hopping in AB.
Thai in Baymeadows. The soothing decor and perfectly presented dishes come together to make this a favorite spot to grab lunch whenever I'm on that side of town. Shrimp in peanut sauce with broccoli is pretty awesome, but I like the soups and green curry too. Same owners as The Thai Room at Jax Beach.
(CLOSED) English pub and grub in downtown Jax. Go for the Bangers and Mash.
Famous for their burgers, The Loop is anything but a burger joint. This Jacksonville based franchise takes the fast food atmosphere and stands it on its head, with great salads, pizzas, soups and sandwiches. Graze your way through the entire menu - it is all great.
Maggiano's Little Italy
Chain, yes, but it's just the kind of clubby Italian-style spot I like. Their tastes of Little Italy are served up family style - which can be a bit much for couples or solo diners, so plan on taking home some great leftovers for your lunch. I love their Chicken Parm, and the Rigatoni D takes chicken and mushrooms to a whole new level. Valet park at St Johns Town Center, you don't want to waste time looking for a parking spot. If you want to order to go you can drive around back to pick it up - Great for no-cook nights.