Taverna San Marco Expands, Adds Craft Cocktails, Private Dining and Quick Casual Lunch Options

“The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about, and what you value.” ~ Stephen R. Covey

Taverna San Marco has launched a new full liquor handcrafted cocktail program, along with an updated quick casual lunch service, lunch delivery and a private dining room available for special events and occasions.  

Southside - lemony, minty, lovely.
The restaurant added artisan and handcrafted cocktails to its award-winning wine and beer offerings, featuring all fresh, house-made ingredients and new twists on classics like the Ramos Fizz, Southside, and Sidecar. 

The new cocktail menu was designed by Brian Binniker, managing partner and bartender, who trained at Morimoto in New York. Binniker sites prohibition style recipes as one of his influences for the new menu. 

At a recent media event I sampled a complimentary cocktail called the Southside, a lemony-minty concoction that claims to have been invented at New York's famed 21 Club, and found it to be charmingly refreshing and light. 

Italian Grilled Cheese - housemade mozz, tomato, pesto, ciabatta - $8
Taverna lunch options now include quick casual (order at the counter, they bring to the table) and delivery service. 

If you prefer full-service that's still available as well, with the same quality menu and some new menu items, including seasonal sandwiches. Some of the restaurant's former special features have also returned. 

Recent Daily Lunch Special - Scallops with root veg puree and risotto - $15
Taverna arrived on Jacksonville's restaurant scene four years ago with the promise of high quality, fresh, handcrafted food, served in a sophisticated setting, at an affordable price. They've been delivering on that promise since day one. 

The culinary team makes everything from scratch - breads, pasta, cheese, sauces, etc., exhibiting a level of craftsmanship rare to come by in today's pre-fab, flash-frozen, mass-produced food world. Their traditional Neapolitan style pizza is a personal favorite, perfect to share at the bar with a Bold City Dukes Brown Ale on draft, or grab one to go, add a salad and you've got a light meal for two, no cooking required.

Butternut Squash Soup, with apples, bacon,
pomegranate molasses, creme fraiche, sage  -  $6
Jacksonville born Chef/Proprietor Sam Efron's seasonal menu features ingredients primarily sourced from local producers, who employ sustainable and humane farming methods.

The chef 
looks to our friends at Twinn Bridges Farm for herbs and a variety of seasonal vegetables, and uses all natural Angus beef, (with no antibiotics, no hormones, certified humane, and all vegetarian diet). The seafood is sourced from a local fish monger, and fish is caught locally according to the season. Efron's devotion to his craft and local, sustainable sourcing of ingredients have earned Taverna the Slow Food First Coast Snail of Approval.

Wine Director / Proprietor Kiley Wynne Efron brings an artist's sensibility and a firm passion for food and wine to the front of house operations at Taverna. A First Level Sommelier, she manages a 120+ bottle wine list (including 19 by-the-glass options) featuring Italian, Spanish, and California selections. Kiley can always be counted on to lend insight to your selection, resulting in the perfect pairing for your taste and price point.

Expansion at Taverna includes a counter for
ordering quick casual lunches, and a private dining room.
Expanding the space and increasing seating by 30% has been a plan a year in the making. The interior design includes a remodel of the existing restaurant, honoring their original farm-to-table theme. Reclaimed barn wood, live plantings and shimmering candles lend warm, rustic notes. The private dining room seats 40 in a dramatic yet intimate space.

Architect and interior design group DCOOP was employed for the expansion and remodel. The Jacksonville firm is noted for their award winning designs of Black Sheep, The Grape and Grain Exchange, and Ovinte’ at the Town Center. 

A grand re-opening celebration will be held at Taverna this Friday, December 20, 2013 from 5 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Guests at this open house happy hour will be treated to a selection of new lunch items as well as one complimentary handcrafted cocktail.

:: Stepping Onto Her Soap Box ::
When I was researching this post, I was stunned to note how many of my friends had either never been, or hadn't been to Taverna in some time. Many sited the trek to and construction (now complete at the Square) in San Marco, and the parking issues which plague so many local neighborhoods. It called into focus one of the emerging truths about our restaurant scene here in Jax. We're an expansive city, and we have more options for spending our time and money than ever before. But that's a good thing! What I urge you to do, is to consciously choose places (like Taverna) with engaged, involved proprietors (like Sam and Kiley) who are focused on local sourcing and creating real food, without pretense, in a beautiful space, at an affordable price. If these things aren't important to you, they should be. Don't MAKE me preach, now.

I suggest, if you've never been, or haven't visited Taverna in a while, that you make the trek (ok, San Marco is pretty centrally located, so let's get past that excuse) brave the traffic circles, find a parking spot (I've had no trouble finding rock-star parking since the construction added several spaces, but don't forget to check side streets and that lot behind the square) and enjoy a meal at Taverna. They are open seven days a week, lunch and dinner M-F, brunch and dinner on weekends. Happy Hour Tuesday through Saturday, 5PM-7PM. Seriously. Find the time. 

:: WIN THIS ::
To sweeten the deal, we're giving away a Gift Certificate - good for Lunch for Two at Taverna ($30 value), courtesy of Kiley and Sam!  Enter using the rafflecopter widget below - be sure to pick up extra entries for commenting / liking / following / sharing the news. I'll announce the winner December 26.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Taverna on Urbanspoon
1986 San Marco Blvd 
JacksonvilleFL 32207 


I will always disclose (as in the case of the cocktail, above) when I receive free food or swag, but I will not allow said gift to color my opinion or reporting of the food and experience. I will always share in plain terms what I do and don't like, and if I like it, I will urge you to try a place for yourself and form your own opinions. I'm not a trained chef or food expert, I simply appreciate the social and cultural aspects of good food and dining experiences, and I enjoy sharing them with you through my blog. Thanks for reading!


  1. It was so delicious the other night! I can't wait to go back and try some more of their offerings like their Butternut Squash Soup and Cobb Salad (my fav!)

    1. I love their soups. They really know how to coax the flavor out of simple ingredients.

  2. My husband and I have been looking forward to returning to Taverna since we heard about the makeover. Based on your review, It's going to be hard to decide what to try first!

    1. I haven't been for dinner yet - but I'm loving the lunch menu. The place looks great in the evening too though. I get a soft, sophisticated vibe from it.

  3. Mmm haven't been there in a while, I want to try the scallops with root veg puree and risotto...Great pics!

    1. That dish was a lunch special - so they may not have that same preparation, but the scallops are always a good bet there - perfectly cooked.

  4. One of my favorites. Whenever we attend an event where Sam is one of the chefs, his dish is always my fave. Always.

    1. He's got mad skills, for sure. I've never had a bad plate of food there.


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