Where to Eat in Jacksonville, Florida: 10 Great Restaurants
Located near the Florida–Georgia state line, Jacksonville largely draws its culinary influences from Atlantic Ocean fresh catch and the ‘Deep South’ cooking style. With Jacksonville being Florida’s largest city, restaurants here also display international flare. From Spanish tapas to Asian fusion, here are 10 restaurants that give Jacksonville its culinary mark on the map, an update of our previous list.
bb’s is a culinary establishment that offers a mix of American continental cuisine with international influences, including salads, seafood, pizzas and sandwiches, as well as daily chef’s specials that stretch the creativity of the culinary mind, while allowing customers to enjoy a range of delectable cuisine. bb’s offers local favourites such as Mediterranean chicken salad and mozzarella bruschetta, grilled pizza, Thai BBQ, jambalaya and marinated artichoke. Go for the prix fixe menu for a sampling, or appetisers, entrees, desserts and beverages. Check in on Foursquare for additional daily discounts and specials.
Aqua Grill popped up on Jacksonville’s 2013 Hall of Fame list and was awarded as one of Florida’s best eateries, with its exquisite décor, savoury food and friendly service. Located in the heart of Ponte Vedra Beach, the restaurant serves local, quality meats and seafood in a variety of recipe forms. For menu starters, the baked crab and artichoke dip is recommended, followed by the sautéed snapper, which is prepared with lemon parsley gremolata, sweet tomato jam, and spinach fettuccini with clams and mussels, in a champagne beurre blanc. Pair this with Frog’s Leap sauvignon blanc from Napa Valley.
Blue Bamboo creates a delicate concoction of Southern-meets-Asian fare. Chef and owner Dennis Chan wrote a book on contemporary Asian cooking (Hip Asian Comfort Food) and follows his own advice. As an example of the two cuisine’s symbiotic melding, customers rave about the red curry shrimp and grits with peppers and onions, peanut lime chicken salad, fried soft-shell crab and chilli mango salmon. On Fridays and Saturdays, Southern food-lovers will have a piqued interest in the kitchen’s peachy chicken and waffles, and chicken pot pie.
Matthew’s is a model in chic sophistication, boasting a wine cellar of over 2,000 bottles, ensuring that every dish is paired perfectly with a liquid counterpart. With an ever-changing menu it is recommended that customers expand their idea of culinary flavours. High booths set back-to-back give patrons a great vantage point to enjoy the atmosphere of the restaurant. From the menu try the diver scallops with butternut squash purée and celery, or the Francaise grouper with lemon braised spinach, mint and shallot herb broth.
Sophisticated yet unpretentious, Orsay is known for serving local produce from sustainable farms. The restaurant is a forerunner in gluten-free ingredients and the Slow Food movement, known for preserving traditional and regional cuisine. From roasted oysters to the yellowfin tuna nicoise and homemade ‘s’mores’ dessert, Orsay delights the appetite. Favourite menu items include the Prince Edward Island mussels prepared with white wine, garlic butter and thyme, and French green bean salad that comes with roasted hazelnuts and creme fraiche vinaigrette.
River City Brewing Company | Courtesy River City Brewing Co.
Ragtime Tavern is located in the heart of Atlantic Beach, featuring an open-air patio and late-night menu selection with a live bar and music, in addition to its Cajun, fresh seafood, chicken and pasta dinner menu items. Ragtime Tavern has spent over 25 years perfecting its drafts of Dolphin’s Breath Lager and Red Brick Ale for beer connoisseurs. Meanwhile the creative and fresh menu features a spicy and buttery Louisiana crawfish boil, tuna gyro, and New York strip steak. The restaurant prides itself on serving only the freshest and in-season ingredients.
River City Brewing Company is located close to the St John’s River in the downtown area, which hosts a variety of concerts and special events throughout the year. The name says it all – in keeping with its location, River City Brewing Co. does mean fresh seafood. The day boat seafood choice of the day is fresh from a local dock, and the house gumbo is a top seller. However, the beers make this restaurant stand out, including Jackson Pale Ale, Jag Light, Red Rooster Ale and Riptide Porter, all coming from specialty brew kettles within the building.
Taverna, located in San Marco Square, offers equally great indoor and outdoor ambience. The upper level peers over the restaurant, including a long bar and pizza oven, while the patio offers the opportunity for people-watching. With a variety of quality meals on the menu that are influenced by Spanish and Italian techniques, the cuisine is consistently delicious, with great presentation. Menu choices accompany the seasons, and consistently offer quality ingredients. A Taverna house specialty is the Neapolitan-style pizzas and the paella with chorizo, chicken, shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari, artichokes and peas.
Wine Cellar is a fine dining restaurant located in downtown Jacksonville, which pays homage to the French countryside. Consistently named by Florida Trend Magazine as one of the top 500 restaurants in the state, Wine Cellar offers al fresco dining beneath a large live oak tree in a brick-paved garden area. With an eclectic new-world menu of classic Continental cuisine, Wine Cellar has evolved its menu since its inception in 1974. Begin with the roasted portabella mushrooms, followed by peppercorn and parsley seared yellowfin tunaserved with potato mash, and topped with sautéed arugula in a port wine reduction.