If you’re anything like us you find yourself in the mood for an adventure in food from time to time. We love to hop in the car on a nice afternoon and take a trek to some fun and out of the way restaurant. Today we’re excited to share with you 5 restaurants within 90 minutes of Jax where you can experience food and often ambiance that is truly remarkable.
Address: 415 Anastasia Blvd, St Augustine, FL 32080
Phone: (904) 819-1760 Reservations are a must!
Distance from Jax: 1 hour
This past year I personally dined at around 150 different restaurants spanning from Durham North Carolina to Miami Florida. Of all those restaurants I was fortunate to experience, my visit to Llama was the most memorable. That’s truly saying something. The thing that makes a restaurant unforgettable for me is when it oozes passion. It is clear to me that Chef Marcel Vizcarra’s greatest joy in life is sharing the cuisine of his homeland with every person who walks through the door. To overlook his passion on a visit to llama you’d hve to be sleeping. Even then you’d probably have dreams of Peru! Dishes at Llama are incredibly authentic and unlike virtually any you’ve likely experienced in the run of the mill Peruvian restaurants most of us have dined in before. You’ll have to taste and see to truly appreciate what I’m talking about. If you visit one new restaurant in Northeast Florida in 2017 this should probably be the one. Make sure to make reservations because the restaurant is small and they often get completely booked.
Chef Jerome’s Old School Diner
Address: 1080 Jessie Grant Road, NE Harris Neck, GA 31331
Distance from Jax: 90 minutes
Days open: Only Wednesday-Sunday
In the middle of the woods in Southeast Georgia you’ll find the most unique restaurant you may ever dine in. From the dirt parking lot covered in old carpet remnants to the building covered in old license plates to the main dining room with a makeshift boxing ring in the middle to the backlit movie prop machine gun on the wall to the hug you’ll get from a total stranger when you walk in the door(Chef Jerome) every moment at The Old School diner is an experience. The Old School Diner truly has no shortage of character. From the moment you walk through the door you’ll be called family and treated as such. There’s a wide variety of options on the menu but no one orders from the menu. Everyone just orders the wheelchair platter. What’s included in the wheelchair platter you ask? The menu simply says, “Trust your chef.” What’s included varies by the day but virtually always comes with a wide variety of the best fried goodness you’ll ever eat (shrimp, oysters, chicken etc), plus ribs and some pretty stellar hushpuppies. Why do they call it The Wheelchair Platter? Because you might just need one to get out the door if you finish it. If you want an experience that’s out of the ordinary and some southern deliciousness that’ll make you smile this is the spot.
Southern Soul BBQ
Address: 2020 Demere Road, St. Simons Island, GA
Distance from Jax: 90 minutes
Did you know the restaurant Southern Living Magazine named the Best BBQ in the south for 2017 is located just 80 miles from Jax? In an old renovated gas station Southern Soul BBQ serves up unpretentious smoked meats that will knock your socks off. When you get there you’ll wait in line, although typically not too long. You’ll likely sit outside on big long benches and tables. The food will be worth the drive and worth the wait. If you’re tired of BBQ( how could you be tired of BBQ?) then their daily specials are pretty killer too. On our recent visit that special was some top notch fried chicken that I’d likely drive up there to get on its own. Next time you’re craving BBQ and you have the time, head up to Southern Soul and find out what Southern Living magazine thinks the best BBQ in the south tastes like.
Address: 4750 Amelia Island Parkway
Amelia Island, Florida 32034
Distance from Jax: 50 minutes
Located inside The Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island, Salt is the ultimate special occasion restaurant. The restaurant has a beautiful ocean view, a mind blowing level of service and a level of culinary expertise sure to wow even the most discerning diner. Every table is offered a selection of 8 different kind of salt from all over the globe to sample and add to dishes you’re served. If you want to REALLY impress a date or it’s your anniversary there’s no better choice than Salt for true foodies. On our most recent visit we were served brioche crusted cobia with fresh morels (mushrooms). This was one of the best fish dishes either of us had ever eaten and unquestionably the best mushrooms of my entire life. We suggest going with the 4 course tasting menu ($120 before alcohol). Make sure to bring your wallet because this is the most expensive restaurant in the Jacksonville area.
Riverside Cafe and Restaurant
Address: 106 Saint Marys Street Saint Marys, GA 31558
Distance from Jax: 40 minutes
On the waterfront in historic downtown St Marys Georgia lies The Riverside Cafe and Restaurant. Owned by the Liapis family and in business for 20+ years, Riverside Cafe serves up a wide variety of options from sandwiches and pitas to pasta to Greek staples like spanakopita and pasticchio. While we’re sure most of what Riverside Cafe serves up is pretty tasty, where they really shine is with their Greek dishes. Every dish that comes out of the kitchen is a family recipe made by a member of the family from start to finish. Owner and head chef Constantine Liapis shared with us “I’ve only had one employee in the kitchen who wasn’t a member of the family. I haven’t found anyone else who could do things to our standards.” When we sampled their Greek dishes we see could why. If they were located in Jax they’d be in the running for the best greek restaurant in town every single year. Greek food lovers should make the trek up to St Marys.