The Best Restaurants In Jacksonville's LaVilla Neighborhood, Florida

Downtown Jacksonville
Downtown Jacksonville | © James Willamor/Flickr
Edgar Catasus

LaVilla came to shape in 1919 after the construction of the Union Terminal was completed. The neighborhood became Jacksonville’s major transportation center and the hub of the city’s African-American community. In fact, stars of the likes of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald once visited this jazz hotspot. LaVilla is now home to a multitude of quality restaurants that offer Southern and international cuisine. Here are some of the best restaurants in the area.

Downtown Jacksonville

1. Chomp Chomp

Chomp Chomp

Since its opening, Chomp Chomp has become a staple in the downtown area of Jacksonville. From the outside, it might look like a typical hole-in-the-wall joint but eclectic food full of savory flavors is awaiting inside. The menu is largely varied and offers something for everyone, from the tasty buffalo chicken sandwich topped with blue cheese and celery to the great Korean chicken kebabs and the home-made chips and salads. The decor is full of character, with drawings and stickers on the walls, and the atmosphere is decidedly friendly. A hidden gem not to be missed while exploring LaVilla.

Address: Chomp Chomp, 106 E Adams St, Jacksonville, FL, United States, +1 (904) 762-4667

Buffalo Chicken sandwich ©Neeta Lind

2. Pho’s Fever

Restaurant, Vietnamese

Vermicelli noodles
©Ron Dollete
This clean and and modern restaurant offers authentic Vietnamese fare at affordable prices. The pho here comes with a flavorful soup broth and rice noodles that are cooked perfectly al dente along with beansprouts, basil and jalapeños. Each pho comes with different items and it’s up to the customer to decide if they want it sour or spicy, and with all the meats such as the flank steak, sausage and tripe, or with other side dishes. The service is friendly and the atmosphere is welcoming and full of locals.

3. The Candy Apple Cafe

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, American

3. The Candy Apple Cafe
© Melissa Hillier
The Candy Apple Cafe delights its patrons during brunch and lunch by offering authentic French cuisine with a slight Southern influence. The restaurant boasts a full bar, a craft cocktail menu, and a charming porch where diners can eat outdoors. The decor is incredibly bright and positive, making customers feel like they are in some sort of fairytale setting where troubles are forgotten. Located on the edge of Hemming Park in the former Historic Seminole Club Building, the Candy Apple offers delicious bites with standouts such as the angus burger and the homemade crisp fries. Pair the meal with one of the creative cocktails and enjoy the cheery vibe.

4. Burrito Gallery

Restaurant, Mexican

burrito gallery
Burrito Gallery offers delicious Mexican fare as well as vegetarian-friendly and gluten-free options. Everything from the burritos to the tacos and quesadillas to the salads is prepared daily and with fresh ingredients. The restaurant features local art and music as well as an urban patio for outdoor dining. Voted as the best burrito by readers of Folio Weekly, the Gallery is always cooking their creations seasoned to perfection and with just the right amount of flavor. Make sure to try the cajun shrimp and the mahi mahi tacos – they are divine.

5. Olio

Restaurant, American

Polynesian pork sandwich
Olio prepares each and every item with complete care by using the highest quality ingredients that are organic and also locally sustainable. They even cure and smoke their own bacon, chicken, pork, and craft their own beer and wines – a real rarity in today’s overwhelmingly processed, fast-food world. The food is exquisite and creative, with innovative dishes such as the Polynesian pork sandwich, the coffee-rubbed duck or the lobster bisque to name just a few.

6. Cafe Nola

Bar, Bistro, Cafe, Restaurant, American

Shrimp and Grits
©Founding Farmers
Cafe Nola is an upscale restaurant offering bistro fare in a relaxed and intimate setting. The Nola boasts a clean and modern feel as well as an open bar where creative drinks are served aplenty. The bartenders prepare updated versions of staple cocktails with their own spin on them, reworking classics like sangria, mimosas, and Mai Tais. Due to its location in the lobby of the Museum of Contemporary Art, the decor is simplistic and graciously elegant. The food ranges from traditional Southern fare, with items like the shrimp and grits, to more modern fare like the Korean brisket wrapped in lettuce and the oysters with a bloody Mary sorbet.

7. La Cena Ristorante & Wine Bar

Bar, Restaurant, Wine Bar, American, Italian

©Smabs Sputzer
La Cena Ristorante & Wine Bar is a fine-dining Italian restaurant with a diverse menu and a full wine bar in stock. Located in the Elks Building, everything from the decor to the very presentation of the items is elegant and classy. Order the house made bread sticks or the house salad and the mussels as an appetizer and finish the meal off with the decadent chocolate mousse dessert. Pair the meal with one of the Italian wines selected from all regions of The Boot, and enjoy the cozy ambiance right in the center of LaVilla.

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