Jacksonville Restaurant Reviews – How We Started & Where We’re Going

On a Tuesday almost two years ago now, I pulled the wife and kids into the car and did what I do most days – I set out for a restaurant, hoping to be inspired.  The chosen restaurant happened to be my personal favorite at the time, a wonderful little New American restaurant in Atlantic Beach.  As we walked up to the restaurant something seemed a little off.  The chef, who I’d become friends with, walked out nearly ready to shed a tear and told me that the power had been shut off and unfortunately the restaurant would come to an end.  This broke my heart and when I went to bed that night I fell asleep wracking my brain for a way to change things.  I woke up the next morning with an idea for how to make sure that the next great little restaurant in Jacksonville didn’t encounter the same fate as the one I loved so much.  That idea became Jax Restaurant Reviews.  Since then, we have been busy exploring Jacksonville’s rich culinary culture and eating our way through our city.  We have grown and have brought friends and family onboard, turning this into a true family venture.

Papi Chulos - Guacomole Flight

Papi Chulos – Guacomole Flight

In life I’ve always had an intense desire to be around people with passion.  As I’ve embarked on this crazy journey through Jacksonville’s kitchens I’ve come to realize that for great chefs what they do is so much more than just a job.  In many ways the kitchen chooses them – they don’t choose the kitchen.  Our time with our city’s chefs has satisfied my need to experience the passions of others more than possibly any other project I’ve taken on.

Chefs Garden - Chefs at Work

Chefs Garden – Chefs at Work

When we started, one of our biggest goals was to spotlight great small restaurants with passionate chefs who are flying under the radar.  We’ve done that.  In many cases this has led to great success stories where small restaurants who were previously unknown have ended up on the radar screen and have seen huge increases in business.  The example that comes to mind is Mama Q’s Pizza.  There are also plenty of examples of great places that we shined a light on who still didn’t make it.  The one that jumps out to me is Dirty Red’s, a fun little cajun spot in Atlantic Beach with fantastic food who just couldn’t generate enough business to stick around.  I suspect they were a victim of location as much as anything.  Local restaurants truly have an uphill challenge against the big chains and their huge marketing budgets.

Mama Qs - Mashed Potato Pie

Mama Qs – Mashed Potato Pie

We recently compiled our 3rd list of great hole in the wall restaurants.  We hope you’ll join us in giving these amazing small restaurants a try and encouraging your friends to do so too if you like them.  Collectively I believe we can foster an environment where great small restaurants can succeed in Jax.

Hole in the Wall 3 - Tea Haus Desserts

Hole in the Wall Part 3 – Tea Haus Desserts

Additionally, we believe that one of the best ways for us to help great small restaurants grow is through our Food Adventure dinner series.  Typically $39 for 6 courses usually including a glass of wine, these events will give you a chance to experience a wide range of what a restaurant has to offer, but at a price much lower than what is typical for this sort of event ($60 to $80 is the norm).  We’ll pack a restaurant on a day that they’re normally empty.  Hopefully they’ll pull off an impressive meal and those who enjoyed it will share that experience with their friends and come back.  If you’d like to attend one of these let us know!  Folks who join our text list will be the first to know about upcoming events.  To join, text the word “adventure” to 904-685-6879.  If you decide you no longer want to be on the list, no problem –  just text “stop” and you won’t get any more texts.  Also, subscribing to our weekly email list is a great way to see all of our reviews and events.

Tres Leches - Kids' Foodie Adventure

Tres Leches – Kids’ Food Adventure

Hope to see you at one of our upcoming adventures!


  1. Two of my kids went to the Tres Leches kids event – it was awesome! They had a great time and we will definitely participate in these in the future. Thank you for setting that up, and for all the great reviews!

  2. thanks for the story on how you began! I love to see mom and pop establishments survive and thrive. Not a fan of box and chain restaurants. I believe you have featured aroma corner at Baymeadows and Old Kings. some of the mom and pops need some advice, though, about local dining expectations. Hate to see that the sausage paradise, owned by a lovely Ukrainian family, has already closed. their next door neighbor, kabab cafe, on Baymeadows Road behind the McDonalds near Philips Highway, has excellent food, but something seems amiss about the atmosphere. I never want to go there even though the food is great. Thanks again for your great reviews.

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