Pulling up at Simply Sara’s I almost felt for a minute like I’d left Jacksonville and been transported to a small town somewhere. Everything about the place from location off the beaten path to the decorations that greet you when you walk in the door to the bright and clean interior and the smiling faces waiting to serve you give you a sense of comfort and home. For the community around them in Ortega Simply Sara’s really has become home. Sara and her husband knew half the restaurant by name. I’m not sure how this place ended up in Ortega because it actually does belong in a small town somewhere. If you grew up dining in a place where everyone knew each other and families dined together on home cooked food at a fair price then you’ll feel right at home.
Address: 2902 Corinthian Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32210
Hours: – Tuesday thru Thursday until 9 pm. (Lunch 11-3 / Dinner 4-9)
– Friday and Saturday until 10 pm. (Lunch 11-3 / Dinner 4-10)
Sara’s also offers breakfast on Saturday mornings but doesn’t list hours.
Each day Sara or her husband heads over to the farmers market and picks out their produce to be used for the day. You’ll never see a Sysco truck pull up dropping off processed foods. They offer no processed sandwich meats. They bake turkey breast and ham, hand pull chicken salad and make their tuna and egg salad from from scratch. They truly have a commitment to fresh home cooked unprocessed foods. When you taste Sara’s cooking you can tell. Each night of the week Sara’s has a different menu. Tuesdays are chicken and dumplings day. Wednesdays are fried chicken night. Fridays are seafood days. We happened to be at Sara’s on a Tuesday.
We kicked things off with some eggplant fries($8.49) served with homemade chipotle ranch dressing. These were nice and firm with just enough crunch to them. It was nice to have an appetizer you don’t see everywhere else. We’d definitely order them again next time. We also had some pimento cheese and crackers($7.99). I’m not sure this needs any analysis other than to point out that this is another appetizer you don’t often find at other restaurants. Simply Sara’s gains points with us for that. The last appetizer we tried was the fried pickles($7.99). Those were decent. Next we had Simply Sara’s 80/20 black angus burger with house made chips. The burger was pretty good and house made chips are always a plus. Next we tried the pizza. Sara’s actually makes the sauce in house from over roasted tomatoes. Since they only have pizza on Tuesdays they get their dough from a local pizza company that makes it. We enjoyed the pizza. You could taste the difference in the sauce versus more processed versions. The dough was decent. For a place that only makes pizza one day per week it was pretty darn good. As a side we tried the collard greens. These were cooked perfectly. They weren’t mushy like you sometimes find when they’re overcooked or too bitter. The absolute star of the Tuesday dinner menu at Simply Sara’s is the chicken and dumplings. OH MY GOODNESS!!!! If there’s a better chicken and dumplings in town I’ve never found it. Frankly, I’m not sure I’ve ever had better chicken and dumplings. Rich, delicious, and full of memories of family around the dinner table. If you’ve ever had a big family dinner where everyone stuffed themselves full of chicken and dumplings one bite of this will transport you to that place. If this is a dish you love It’s worth a drive to Ortega from the other side of town. For dessert we tried Sara’s cookies. While tastes may vary we absolutely loved them. I loved them so much I bought 4 dozen to take home. Yes, I said 4 dozen. They were that good. Sara offers lots of different varieties. We particularly loved her homemade ginger snap, oatmeal snap, and chocolate mint varieties. I’m fairly sure I’ll be driving from the beach to Ortega to grab cookies from Simply Sara’s next holiday season. As far as service goes our waitress took good care of us and made sure we had everything we needed.
If you love family and home cooking you really owe it to yourself to make the trip out to Simply Sara’s. Sara and her family are the kind of people you want to root for. They’re the kind of people we need in our community and their restaurant is the kind of restaurant that often gets run out by all of the chains with their huge marketing budgets. They’re the kind of folks that send someone from the restaurant out to deliver food when their elderly customers aren’t feeling up to leaving the house to come get food. Yes, they do that. When you’re having a bad day and just need to be around good folks, head over to Simply Sara’s for a home cooked meal at a great price. We know that we will.