Our Writers’ Favorite Restaurants

While we strive to present to you our authentic experiences in restaurants and what you can expect when you go there, we all have our personal preferences. Sometimes a dish or a restaurant is more nostalgic than supreme quality. Sometimes the location is everything and the food is acceptable. That’s just the quirkiness of humans. Here we will share our personal favorites in a handful of categories. What are some of your favorites?

Otaki - Sushi Roll

Otaki – Sushi Roll


Sushi

Lisa: Sashimi Fusion. It’s visually the coolest sushi place in Jax. Neon lights everywhere. Makes for challenging food photos. The sushi is great, as are the dumplings, hibachi, bento boxes, you can’t go wrong.

Brittny: Blazin Azn food truck. Chef Charlie is a genius with traditional sushi plus his sushiritos are legit. I’d put him up against any sushi chef in the city.

Kristina: Fuji Sushi (10920 Baymeadows Rd). Fuji Sushi is not fancy (it’s in a strip mall) but it’s convenient and tasty

Rich: Sashimi Fusion. Bright lights, big sushi flavors

Gary: Sashimi Fusion. Located under a mile from my house…convenience trumps all else.

Jerry: Sushiko. Sushiko is a tiny little sushi spot in Avondale. Their fresh fish options are on point and are really enjoyable but where they really shine is their 40+ vegan items sushi menu. I know it sounds crazy but you’ll thank me after you try it

Rhonda: Sashimi Fusion

V Pizza

Pizza

Lisa: Pie95 Pizza. The best.

Brittny: I will not be forced to choose between Pie95 and Catullo’s Italian. They are both the best.

Kristina: Mama Q’s Pizza

Rich: Al’s Pizza. You can tell a lot about a pizza place by how well they do a simple cheese pizza. Al’s Cheese Pizza is pretty fantastic.

Gary: Mama Q’s. Hard to beat a good story of a successful family biz.

Jerry: Biggie’s Pizza. I have 5 favorite pizza places but if I have to choose just one then it’s going to be Biggie’s.

Rhonda: Your Pie

Sid & Linda’s- Fresh Shrimp


Seafood

Lisa: Ocean 60. They have a daily menu based on what they can get fresh. The regular menu is fine, but go with all the seasonal stuff. Ocean 60 is responsible for expanding my palate. We used to eat there frequently before we had kids. I tried all kinds of vegetables and sauces I had never heard of and it was always delicious.

Brittny: North Beach Fish Camp hands down. They have the freshest seafood and the best variety! AND CRAWFISH!

Kristina: Safe Harbor

Rich: Safe Harbor Seafood. Two words: Shrimp. Nachos.

Gary: Eh…there are a lot of places with good seafood on the menu. I take out of towners to Sid & Linda’s.  

Jerry: Safe Harbor Seafood. These folks offer up a huge selection of fresh off the boat seafood at a very fair price. The fact the you can watch the ships come in out back is a huge bonus.

Rhonda: Sid & Linda’s

The Bearded Pig - San Marco Platter

The Bearded Pig – San Marco Platter


BBQ

Lisa: Bearded Pig. I don’t love meat, but they have the best sides, yum!

Brittny: Berndt Ends BBQ made me into a believer. I’m not a huge BBQ fan but his brisket is irresistible.

Kristina: MOJO Smokehouse, BBQ & Blues

Rich: The Bearded Pig BBQ. Get a half lean/half fatty cut of brisket and you’ll have a full belly and a full heart.

Gary: What’s the name of the good food truck with the brisket? (Editor’s note: it’s Berndt Ends.)

Jerry: The Bearded Pig. It may be new but it’s already number 1 in Jax. If you’re in Middleburg definitely try G’s BBQ and in St John’s county stop in at Woodpeckers.

Rhonda: 4 Rivers

European Street Cookies

European Street Cookies


European

Lisa: German Schnitzel Haus. The pretzels with beer cheese soup for dipping. Does not get any better. Plus it may be the cleanest restaurant in Jax. They always have top notch health inspections.

Brittny: Orsay. Give me all the cassoulet and French pear martinis.

Kristina: German Schnitzel Haus

Rich: German Schnitzel Haus. Can’t decide on what to try? Get the Bavarian Platter. It’s like a box of chocolates, but with sausage.

Gary: European Street. Nostalgia is a son of a gun.

Jerry: Orsay – Widely regarded as the best fine dining spot in town this French eatery is my go to when I want an impeccable meal

Rhonda: Full of Crepe Food Truck

Happy Ending Latin Fusion- Ox Tail Special


Latin-American

Lisa: Latin Soul Grille. Everything at Latin Soul Grille has so much flavor.

Brittny: Latin Soul Grille! Maritza’s Empanadas, Latin Soul bowls, and Gary’s chicken #forthewin!

Kristina: Pisco’s Restaurant

Rich: Latin-American: Terra Gaucha. Green means Go. . .A tremendous amount of meat into my belly and a respectable amount of money out of my wallet.

Gary: No strong feelings here…. (editor’s note: for shame!)

Jerry: Las Antillas. Here you’ll find Puerto Rican food like your friend’s Puerto Rican grandmother would make. Make sure to ask for the lechon!

Rhonda: R.I.P. Tres Leches….it just closed last month.

Jax Diner, Steak Tacos


Mexican

Lisa: Cantina Louie. Dang I love tacos.

Brittny: Pepe’s Hacienda is the most under the radar Mexican food around (try the lengua) and then you can walk right next door and buy your groceries. Life doesn’t get better.

Kristina: La Casita (20 N Orange Ave, Green Cove Springs)

Rich: Mexican: Flying Iguana. The Crispy Pork Belly taco is a great balance of flavors cradled lovingly in a soft flour tortilla.

Gary: Taco Libre. Ambiance is awesome and the tacos are good.

Jerry: Pepe’s Hacienda. Go on Sunday afternoon for authentic Mexican food and a Mariachi band, and there’s a good chance a few customers will be swinging their beers and proudly singing along with the band.

Rhonda: Taco Libre

Blue Bamboo - Papaya Salad

Blue Bamboo – Papaya Salad


Asian

Lisa: Dim Sum Sunday at Blue Bamboo

Brittny: Fusion Food Truck. Chef Ashley’s Thai and Indian food is simply incomparable in Jax, no one can out cook her. I could eat her tikka masala every day for the rest of my life.

Kristina: Panda House (7643 Gate Pkwy) Panda House is the only Chinese restaurant I know in Jacksonville with cold sesame noodles. They’re delicious!

Rich: Hangar Bay Cafe. Does it count as Asian if they serve fried chicken with a bowl of Tonkotsu (Pork bone broth) Ramen? I think it does.

Gary: Thai Orchid on Beach and Kernan. Old habits die hard.

Jerry: Sam Won Garden. I’m a die hard Korean BBQ fan!

Rhonda: Fusion Food Truck

The Fancy Melt and The Apple Melt with Ham from The Happy Grilled Cheese


Sandwich

Lisa: For a cold sandwich, Blue Boy Sandwich Shop. Bread baked fresh daily and loads of deli meat. For a hot sandwich, The Happy Grilled Cheese, especially the weekly specials. There’s no telling what the HGC team will dream up. I had a fancy patty melt when I judged a food truck competition and I haven’t stopped harassing them about putting it on the menu permanently. No luck yet. 🙁

Brittny: The Happy Grilled Cheese! Perfectly grilled cheesy melty umami filled amazingness every time

Kristina: The Well Watering Hole. The Peruvian chicken sandwich at the Well is flavorful with a little kick and a little crunch.

Rich: Sub Cultured. Get The Godfather. They’ll make you a sandwich you can’t refuse.

Gary: Happy Grilled Cheese. Kid friendly, often near my house.

Jerry: The French Pantry

Rhonda: The Happy Grilled Cheese

Sunrise Burger @ M Shack Burgers

Sunrise Burger @ M Shack Burgers


Burgers

Lisa: Epik Burger. Holy smokes, the fruit and cheese burger.

Brittny: Epik Burger. Yes, I do want PB&J and brie on my burgers, thank you.

Kristina: The Loop. The burger at the Loop is just a classic.

Rich: Epik Burger. The Fruit and Cheese Burger. When you’re trying to be healthy, but kinda-sorta not. With a side of Truffle Parm Fries.

Gary: Epik.

Jerry: Pine Grove Deli and Meat Market. Leave it to the meat guys to have the best burger in town. One of the oldest butcher shops in Jax has a burger that can’t be matched.

Rhonda: Epik Burger

Greek Street - All The Greek Food!

Greek Street – All The Greek Food!


Mediterranean/Middle Eastern

Lisa: Greek Street Cafe. The Greek Street spread knocks my socks off, plus the owners and chef are from my hometown of Tarpon Springs, a Greek-settled small town near Tampa.

Brittny: Karam’s. This is soul food to me and few other places in Jax is offering the authenticity they are.

Kristina: Tabouleh Mediterranean Cafe

Rich: Greek Street Cafe. Can’t go wrong with the Gyro Platter.

Gary: Greek Street

Jerry: Ariana Kabob. This family owned Afghan restaurant will knock your socks off!

Rhonda: Greek Street Cafe

Trasca and Co Dessert

Trasca and Co- Housemade Mud Pie


Bakery/Desserts

Lisa: Nana Teresa’s Bake Shop, which is in Fernandina. Cupcakes that taste like eating clouds, people. In Jax, Sweet by Holly. I sample a few frozen yogurt flavors and then move on to the main attraction: all the mini cupcakes. The flavors and textures are always right. Also, I tip my hat to Holly for making Monday shine with Mini Monday- all minis are $1. I don’t need a bouquet of roses, I need a dozen mini cupcakes.

Brittny: Michael Bump’s creations for Forking Amazing Restaurants can’t be competed with in my opinion. His lemon tarts and macarons are my favorites! (Editor’s note: Forking Amazing Restaurants is the independent restaurant group that owns Bistro Aix, Ovinte, and IL DESCO. You can get Chef Bump’s desserts at those restaurants.)

Kristina: Cinotti’s Bakery-Sandwich Shop 

Rich: Cinotti’s Bakery. The Glazed Croissant and the Maple Bacon donuts are everyday favorites. Get there early or try again tomorrow.

Gary: Backyard Pops

Jerry: 5fx Ice Cream and Taiyaki. 5fx(formerly 3fx) offers up Ice Cream made fresh in front of you on a sub zero cold plate and stuffed waffles shaped like a fish.

Rhonda: European Street Cafe (hello…German Chocolate Cookies!)

Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails - Deviled Eggs

Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails – Deviled Eggs


Favorite/Go To Restaurant:

Lisa: Orsay for happy hour. 4-7pm every day there are tapas and drink specials. That scallop tartare is heaven.

Brittny: Always and forever Moxie. It’s the only restaurant in Jacksonville I can order anything off the menu and be equally satisfied every single time.

Kristina: Orsay. If I want a good meal, I can always trust Orsay to provide it.

Rich: Metro Diner. One of my favorite places to take out of town friends and family. I always recommend the Chicken and Waffles.

Gary: Kitchen on San Marco. Staff is always knowledgeable, fun and not overbearing.

Jerry: 13 Gypsys. Tapas done sometimes simply and always delicious.

Rhonda: Marianas Grinds

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