Our Top Five Favorite Restaurants In The Jacksonville Beach Area
Jacksonville, Florida is known for many things, such as its bustling beaches, parks, multicultural events, and diverse neighborhoods. My favorite feature, however, is the copious amounts of food that seems endlessly available. Being an Ohio native, I came from a small city of about 20,000 people. I grew up mainly on home cooked meals, and the occasional family dinner at a chain restaurant such as Applebee’s or Tumbleweed. If I wanted to eat somewhere new and exciting, I had to make the seventy mile drive to Columbus, and risk fighting the post-stuffing-my-face nap, the whole drive home. That being said, I was completely overwhelmed in the best way possible when I made the move to Jacksonville. I have tried anything from Asian Street Fare food at Hawkers in Five Points, to the Wet Willie Burrito at Lola’s in Riverside, to a quaint little organic bakery in Murray Hill called Community Loaves, to the flawlessly fried chicken at Uptown Kitchen in Springfield. I could go on and on, which is why I (with the help of my boss, Lee) have chosen to break down *some* of our top favorite places to eat (there are so many!), starting with the Jacksonville Beaches area. Hold on to your taste buds, because this is about to get real: real delish.
Let’s get the dough rolling with arguably one of the best places to get a pizza: V Pizza. Created by four Jacksonville natives, V Pizza was funded with the idea to bring true, authentic Napoletana pizza to our town. When it comes to ingredients, V pizza cuts no corners. It is their goal to use only the best, most authentic ingredients, such as “imported dry aged Italian meats, San Marzano tomatoes, and 00 flour.” This combination of deliciousness has come together to create menu items such as the Pizza Salsiccia, which boasts spicy Italian sausage, peppers, onions, fresh mozzarella, provolone, and San Marzano tomato sauce. Pizza isn’t the only thing served on the menu here. If you are a pasta lover, they offer a variety of panini. My favorite is the Chicken Pesto, which has pesto marinated chicken, spinach, and fresh mozzarella. Call me stingy, but if I am sitting down for a meal, the atmosphere is high up on the list of importance, next to the quality of the food. V Pizza has got this covered. The owners sought out an industrial look, and once they found the perfect locations, they perfected the atmosphere, creating a “Little Italy” feel, complete with a side car! Between the pizza, wings, calzones, panini, and cool atmosphere, V Pizza offers something for everyone!
Next on our list of favorites is Flying Iguana. This. Place. Is. Awesome. Located right in the heart of the North Beaches entertainment district, Flying Iguana offers a Latin American fusion cuisine. Aside from the modern atmosphere and fully stocked bar with over 100 different tequilas and a large selection of local craft brews, my favorite thing is the vast array of menu items. If you are a guacamole connoisseur like myself, then search no further. The servers here make the guac fresh, right in front of your very eyes, and it is delicious! Now, let’s talk about the tacos. These are not your mama’s tacos. Flying Iguana has a way of putting really cool twists on their cuisine. If you like to try interesting combinations, then the Crispy Pork Belly taco is for you. They paired a rum and coke glazed pork belly with watermelon, cojita, and pickled onion. If you are a lover of southern comfort foods, then you’ve got to try the Southern Comfort taco. This particular taco consists of buttermilk fried chicken, redeye gravy, creamy slaw, and pickled okra. The tacos are just the tip of the iceburg. I could go on and on about their menu items, but in the interest of time, I will just list off some of my favorites. Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes (topped with smoked salmon, house crema, chives, and ancho chile sauce), Pollo a la Brasa (Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken), Habanero Mango Glazed Swordfish (fried green tomato, sweet potato puree, and garlicky spinach), and who can forget their dessert items, such as Stuffed Churros, Plantains Foster, and Tres Leches Bread Pudding. Flying Iguana is a roller coaster of deliciousness for your taste buds!
Now let’s talk about fresh seafood. Look no further than North Beach Fish Camp. Located in Neptune Beach, this restaurant gives a fresh outlook on beach dining. The atmosphere offers a contemporary beachy vibe, and is welcoming to all types of diners. We will get straight to the menu items, because they speak for themselves. Two of my favorite starters are the Crispy Artichoke Hearts, and the Fried New England Clam Bellies. I cannot express to you enough, the freshness that this place offers. They have a chef on staff, so everything is expertly created. While the name of this restaurant includes the word “fish”, we must not overlook one of the best items on the menu: Steak! If you are like me, and you are regularly on the hunt for a delicious steak, (because let’s face it, many restaurants just cannot produce) look no further than North Beach Fish Camp. Their steak is honestly second to none. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I am a lover of steak sauce (A1 in particular). However, the cut of meat served here, along with the seasoning leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. Another important note about this establishment is the service. Being as successful as it is, this restaurant tends to get very busy. Even during peak hours, the staff is exceptionally trained to provide top-notch service. If you are looking for great food, a really fun atmosphere, and good service, North Beach Fish Camp is the way to go!
If you think you are seeing a pattern, it’s because you are. We LOVE pizza, seafood, and tacos. Some may call us biased; some may call us genius. Either way, our stomachs are happy.
Speaking of happy stomachs, have you ever been to The Pier Cantina & Sandbar? Located directly on the beach, in the heart of Jax beach, not only does this place have an awesome oceanfront view, two floors, AND dancing, it also serves up a super tasty Mexican cuisine! My personal favorite appetizer is the Taco Fries (french fries, topped with ground beef, queso, pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole.) You honestly cannot go wrong with that combination of ingredients. Their menu boasts tacos, burritos, salads, enchiladas, quesadillas, and much more. The Enchiladas Supreme is “three soft corn tortillas rolled and stuffed. 1 with ground beef, 1 chicken, and 1 cheese, and topped with red sauce, queso fresco, lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream.” Do I really even need to persuade you to try that deliciousness? If that doesn’t tickle your taste buds, then maybe the Civiche Taco will do the trick. With shrimp marinated in lime juice and topped with diced raw onions, tomatoes, and cilantro, this thing is fresh! If you are a lover of tacos, this restaurant is almost guaranteed to meet all of your desires. Channeling Forrest Gump’s Bubba, they have the Mahi Taco, Surf & Turf Taco, Sriracha Shrimp Taco, The Gringo Skirt Steak Taco, Sunny Side Up Taco, Pastor Taco, and the Shredded Chicken Taco. “That, that’s about it”. Actually, that only covers about half of the taco menu, but for the sake of your growling stomach, I will move on. My point is, if you are looking for a grand selecetion of Mexican food, along with a gorgeous ocean view and entertainment, look no further than The Pier Cantina & Sandbar!
Last, but certainly not least, is Sliders Seafood Grille. I love to focus on local businesses, and this is about as local as you can get! This place has been up and running for over thirty years, and there is no end in sight! Locals flock to this establishment during peak hours, and it’s easy to see why. Not only is the staff awesome, but the food is delicious as well. Sliders “specializes in seafood, in a creative blend of cuisines.” They have added their own twist to the fresh seafood plates that you have come to know and love. Let’s check out the menu. For starters, Crab and Cheese Cigars (lump crab meat, parmesan and provolone cheeses, rolled in a spring roll wrapper, and baked with cracked pepper marinara.) People! This is amazing! The “full meal” menu features items such as Seafood Gumbo, Sweet Lump Crab Cake, and Shrimp and Cheese Grits. My favorite full meal is the Butternut Grouper. It is baked with a crust of herbed seasoned breadcrumbs plus buttered pecans with herbal Basmati rice. This plate is a local favorite for a reason! For an authentic local feel, whether you are traveling, or just live down the street, this is the place to be!
There you have it! These are our top five favorite restaurants in the beaches area! If you live in Jacksonville, or if you’re just visiting, do your taste buds a favor, and stop by at least one of these awesome establishments. Go crazy! Stop by all of them, if you can! I promise, you won’t regret it.
(Property By Ford)