I am a sucker for restaurants that offer small plates; not only does it help with my indecisiveness, but it also gives me a better feel for the place when I get to try a wide variety of their dishes. The restaurant hidden in the very back of Riverside Liquors on King Street had a menu that intrigued me, so we decided to give it a shot.
I heard about Riverside Liquors from friends before and have walked past it hundreds of times while visiting other local businesses in the area. It took me 3 years to go inside and try it, but I am glad we finally did. I had an assumption that it would be dive bar-ish but was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere. There was a casual, classy vibe and I really liked that there weren’t any TVs. Although I tend to stick to beer, because we were in a liquor store, I felt compelled to order a cocktail. All of the cocktails on their drink list sounded appealing. As a sucker for tequila, I ordered a “sidekick” ($8) and my husband ordered a “new fashioned” ($8). Both were great.
Absolutely everything on the menu sounded delicious, so we really had to reign in the number of small plates we ordered. After staring at the menu for 10 minutes, checking out the specials on the board, we exercised self-control and narrowed it down to 4 items to start with (because hey, you can always order more). The dishes we chose were the fig & olive tapenade ($8), chorizo stuffed dates ($7), beet salad ($7), and the stuffed poblano ($11).
The tapenade was a stack of cream cheese, olives, and figs, drizzled with honey and served with warm house-made bread. The brininess of the olives, the sweetness of the figs/honey, and the creamy cheese all worked together in perfect harmony. As a carboholic, I could have used more bread.
Dates are one of my favorite small plate menu items and theirs were great. The spice of chorizo inside the sugary date and the saltiness of the bacon wrapping the date made for a delicious sweet and savory bite.
I try to incorporate a salad in most meals and I was impressed with the flavor packed in Riverside Liquors’ beet salad. I was surprised that the salad didn’t have any lettuce, but once I took the first bite I didn’t miss it at all. There were so many textures- tender beets, crunchy walnuts, creamy goat cheese, and crisp green onions. I wish they sold the bacon vinaigrette in bottles!
The stuffed poblano had great Mexican flavors. It was a surprisingly light dish and not greasy at all. The taste of the pepper was there without the heat. There was a good cheesy stretch to each bite of meat and rice. The lime crema added freshness as well.
As we were getting ready to cash out, we were chatting with the bartender (Dan was awesome) about my love of tequila and he asked if we wanted to try another cocktail- a spin on the ”last word” ($12), using Mezcal instead of gin. It was a beautiful cocktail and great way to finish our meal.
I think Riverside Liquors is a great stop when in the area, good for a date night, family dinner, pit stop with friends, or even a celebration (there was actually a birthday party going on in the main room during our visit). I’m looking forward to going back and trying more of their menu.
1251 King St
Jacksonville, FL 32204