The culinary scene in Jacksonville continues to grow each year. While franchise operations still dominate large portions of town, community favorites are keeping things intriguing by introducing the most recent patterns in food and beverage.
Some have been in the food business for decades; others struck the scene only recently. They all share some common bonds, nevertheless. Each is something special, offering that difficult to measure “yes” that satisfies guests night after night– atmosphere, staff efficiency, constant quality, interior decoration, and so on. Also, each offers diners good value, regardless of precisely what the costs are on the menu.
We’re not a town loaded with white-linen restaurants, and we shouldn’t pretend to be. A yummy plate of barbecue and two sides match us fine. So, if you have a hankering to get your fork on the road, this post is an excellent location to start your journey.
1. Blackstone Grille 112 Bartram Oaks Walk, Julington Creek
The Food: From the Thai-marinated steak to the tea-smoked duck breast, the inspiration at Blackstone Grille is evident. Chef Charles Wang’s Asian-fusion accents such as saffron and fish sauce come through subtly in meals such as pistachio-crusted chicken and grilled salmon.
The Scenery: Floor-to-ceiling windows provide great deals of natural light and white tablecloths and roses amid tall, intimate cubicles offer a sophisticated environment that might bring to mind an elegant restaurant in a shop hotel.
Expert Tip: On Chinese New Year, for three days (February 15-17) Blackstone will serve traditional Chinese fare.
Call for appointments as Blackstone’s regulars may scoop up the seats quickly.
2. Kazu Japanese Restaurant 9965 San Jose Blvd., Mandarin
The Food: Kazu is a standout among the sea of sushi areas in Northeast Florida. The comprehensive menu functions creative sushi such as the Florida daybreak roll (spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, and avocado covered in soy paper, topped with sliced up mango and served with sweet eel sauce) along with cooked entrées like spicy Thai basil chicken and barbecued eel.
The Scenery: Simple, black high-backed chairs surround basic black tables developing a smooth and modern theme. Behind the sushi bar, an excellent rock wall with the word “Kazu” built into it makes a fresh centerpiece.
Expert Tip: Sake is a must, and Kazu offers a large selection.
3. Ocean 60 – 60 Ocean Blvd., Atlantic Beach
The Food: Ocean 60 serves up Continental cuisine from the land, sea, and garden. A significant portion of the menu is ever-changing nightly specials with dishes like island seared grouper and ribeye Oscar. The Décor: There’s a primary dining-room with a more intimate feel, looking like something from California wine nation. There’s likewise a martini lounge, where live music is played, and beverages are combined and shaken.
Chef Danny Groshell knows his clients, and they understand him.
Expert Tip: Everyone raves about the Butterfinger martini, among the 20 home variations they have to provide.
4. Sliders Seafood Grille 218 1st St., Neptune Beach
The Food For more than 30 years Sliders has been providing seafood with soul. Classics like meatloaf have seafood thrown in, there are first developments like the deconstructed crab cake tacos, or opt for a traditional like baked oysters.
The Scenery: The big patio area with its long rows of tables feels a bit like summer season camp– being outdoors and surrounded by palms. There’s a fireplace towards the front and a tin roofing overhead.
Inside is a bit campy too with wood beams and brilliant shutters.
Expert Tip: Happy hour specials change with the day of the week here. Tuesday is tacos, accompanied by drinks like margaritas and coronas. Cleaner Wednesday offers up shrimp and clams, and Cold Thursday alternatives consist of raw oysters or peel-and-eat shrimp.
Drink: The house cocktails are primarily on the hot side, such as pain relievers and mojitos.