European Street Café has 4 locations in Jacksonville- one in SanMarco, one in Riverside, one in the southside area on Beach Blvd. near University, and one in Jax Beach on Beach Blvd. If you have been in Jacksonville for any length of time, chances are you’ve had lunch or dinner at European Street Café. Each of their locations is a standalone building with brightly colored awnings and signage. Parking can be a hassle at the San Marco and Riverside locations, as is typical for those parts of town.
The day of our visit, we went to the Beach & University location.
5500 Beach Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 32207
European Street Café serves a wide variety of lunch type food with a European flair, along with 200+ beers and a variety of decadent desserts and imported candies. The menu categories are: Appetizers, Soups, The Clubs (sandwiches), Family Favorites (specialty sandwiches, etc.), Ruebens, Veggies Lovers (vegetarian and vegan options), Basics (simple, straightforward sandwiches), Salads, Heros, German Sausage, Pita Pockets, and Wraps. There are 5-10 offerings under each of those menu headings. So it’s safe to say there is something for everyone at European Street Café.
Typical for us, we started with Warm Brie ($7, served with pieces of almond, butter, sliced apples, and fresh bread). At the majority of restaurants the brie typically comes out in some kind of breading or other coating. At European street you simply get hot gooey delicious brie with little sliced up almonds on it. I enjoy that they keep it simple. The brie was warm and melty when we cut into it, and the almonds were a great compliment. The bread was soft and fresh. It’d be nice if they cored the apples so you didn’t have to cut out the piece of core and seed from each slice.
Next up was a Stuffed Tomato ($8, Tabbouleh, chicken, tuna, shrimp or tempeh salad stuffed inside a tomato. Served with apple slices and pita wedges.). We opted for Tabbouleh, which made this a satisfying vegetarian meal. The presentations is gorgeous, but let’s talk about the tomato. I could tell by looking at it that it was a sub-par tomato. One tart bite told me I was right to begin with, unfortunately. Now to the tabbouleh. Tabbouleh is a salad that originates form the Arab world. It is typically made with bulgur, tomatoes, cucumbers, chopped parsley, mint, onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt, or some similar variation. All of those ingredients should tell you that you don’t want to kiss someone after they eat tabbouleh. Kissing someone would not have been a problem after eating this tabbouleh. It just lacked flavor. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t anything special. It was accompanied by the same red delicious apple slices with core and seeds, and pita bread. The pita was quite good. It was soft and excellent for scooping up bites of tabbouleh. I ordered this because I was trying to make a nutritious choice and it had a variety of nutrient-packed plant foods as opposed to delicious concocted food items. It could be as flavorful and delicious as some of the more unhealthy choices at European Street are, but it was a miss. The truly unfortunate part is that I have had it once before and it was a flavorless miss then as well. I guess it’s my fault for ordering a dish I didn’t enjoy a second time but second chances are sometimes a positive too. Just not this time.
Moving along to more flavorful and less healthful options, we tried the BLT wrap ($7.50, triple order of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise and Swiss cheese served in a honey wheat tortilla). It’s hard not to like something that comes with a triple order of bacon, isn’t it? My teenage son orders this every time we eat at European Street Café. The bacon is cooked, but cold, and it is not crispy, but it is the right bacon for this wrap. The lettuce is shredded iceberg, which adds a nice crunch. Really, all of these flavors work together, the tomatoes don’t stand out, but they do their job. Swiss is the right cheese to accompany this wrap. This and every wrap and sandwich on the menu comes with potato chips and a pickle. Spoiler alert, they’re Wavy Lay’s and a dill pickle spear. European Street Certainly got that right, because we cannot stop eating the chips. More on that later…
The last entree for the day was a Half-A-Sandwich and Soup ($8.25 with cheese on the sandwich and a cup of soup. More for a bowl or breadbowl of soup). Our sandwich was turkey with cheddar, lettuce, and raspberry dressing. It was fabulous. We added the raspberry sauce because we’ve had it before on a different menu item (Turkey Parisian, $9) and wanted a similar experience with our half sandwich and soup. It was an excellent choice which we will be repeating in the future. It livened up the boring old turkey sandwich perfectly. The soup we chose was beer cheese soup. European Street Café always has beer cheese soup and another soup of the day. You can’t ever go wrong with the beer cheese soup. It is thick and salty in the best of ways. If you decided to order a cup of it just so you could dip your Wavy Lay’s into it, trust us, you wouldn’t be the first person. If you’re a cheese lover don’t miss this soup!
On this visit we didn’t indulge in much of the sandwich menu but trust us when we say they have awesome sandwiches. A few of our favorites are the Italian club, Beef and brie, Princess Anna, and Turkey Parisian.
One of our favorite things about European Street Café is dessert. They have the most impressive looking cookies in Jax. They look like giant half scoops of ice cream, dipped halfway in chocolate, white chocolate, or flavored candy coating depending on the cookie. European Street Café always offers to serve them warm or cold, but we urge you to try them warmed. We also urge you to restrain from eating a whole cookie in one sitting, but make your own choice. Who are we kidding you won’t be able to stop yourself! Other dessert options include a variety of pies and cakes (Kentucky pie, New York style cheesecake, E. Street Classic, Italian Lemon Cream Cake, among others), various chocolate covered graham crackers, and tons of imported candy. Some highights include Baci (Italy), Chunkie (UK), a huge selection of Haribo gummy candies (Germany), Aero (UK). One thing we have seen available more recently at European Street Café is candies from Sweet Pete’s, a local gourmet candy shop. We love local restaurants and shops standing with one another, and this just warms our Jacksonville hearts.
In addition to desserts, treats, and candies, European Street Café offers wines and beers from around the world. They serve over 200 beers, and offer many of those in their shop. They serve a much smaller number of wines, but sell many varieties in their shop. European Street Café makes gift giving easy with either a gift card or boxed sets of beer varietals.
Service: Our service was a little spotty at first on the day of our visit. Someone took our drink orders and then it took a while for our waitress to see us and take our lunch order. Our only real complaint about service at European Street is that the wait from when you order your food until it comes out is usually 20+ minutes. That just has always struck us as a little long for sandwiches. It’s a great reason to order an appetizer, because those do come out quicker. Not ordering an appetizer does not mean your food will come out quicker, even if you express that you are in a time crunch. It appears to be more of how the restaurant is run, rather than an issue with the wait staff. Keep this in mind if you are trying to fit in a trip to European Street on your lunch break.
The other thing we wanted to point out is the restaurant furniture. It’s small. The tables are all small, square tables, with small chairs. The table is always crowded when the food comes out and we have put the napkin holder and drink special/dessert tents on nearby window ledges in the past. The tables and chairs feel infinitely smaller when dining with small children.
Overview: We have long been fans of European Street Café. With something for everyone- from meat eaters to vegans, and everyone in between- it’s a great restaurant choice for a small gathering. The food really shines when it comes to meat, cheese, and bread. There’s a beer for every beer lover and a dessert and candy for every sweet tooth. European street is easily one of the best sandwich shops in town and a favorite places for locals to take their out of town visitors.
- Variety of beers
- Awesome cookies, cakes, pies, candies
- good price point
- Very good sandwiches
- It’s always 20+ minutes before entrees arrive
- cramped tables