I bet when you think about Jacksonville, you think of beaches and sunny Florida weather. We aren’t really known for any specific dish or style of food, but we have some restaurants that will give other cities a run for their money! Whether you are visiting from out of town or are a local looking for a new place to eat, these are the five restaurants that you must try while in Jax!
French Pantry is a teeny tiny sandwich place that only has about 10 tables. They are only open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11am to 2:15pm, and you better get there early! The line usually starts forming outside around 10:30am. Every. Day. It’s that good. Now I know you are wondering how a sandwich place can be THAT good. Reason number one? The bread.
They make all of their bread fresh daily. It’s so good that many Jacksonville chefs buy it to use in their own restaurants! When you get a table (which is family style, so make some new friends!) you are given complimentary bread with oil and spices. I know it’s hard, but you must pace yourself! Don’t fill up on bread; remember that the good stuff is coming next!
Favorite menu items:
- Turkey Bacon Swiss Guacamole Sandwich
- Pastrami on Rye
- Get there early! I am not exaggerating! I got there around 11 one time and stood outside for 45 minutes. Yeah I know that sounds crazy. But once you have invested so much time, you are seeing it through to the end!
- Get the Turkey Bacon Swiss Guacamole sandwich. Is it exactly how it sounds, delicious! 3. If you are just not into sandwiches, get the bruschetta. They have a bunch of different types and it is outstanding!
- Order dessert to go. You are going to be stuffed after the bread and the sandwich, but you can’t pass on dessert. While standing in line you have to stare at the dessert case the entire time, which is torture. I have tried almost everything in there (don’t judge), and you can’t go wrong. The most popular cake is the Wedding Cake. If they have it, get it. Trust me.
6301 Powers Ave, Jacksonville, FL
Maple Street Biscuit Company is one of the newer Jacksonville restaurants, but it has made one heck of a name for itself! They started with one restaurant in the heart of San Marco, then opened another in Jax Beach, and have a third location opening later this year in Murray Hill.
They are primarily open for breakfast and lunch, but are open for dinner on Friday and Saturday. Maple Street is not your typical breakfast place. They do biscuits, and they do them well! Whether you are in the mood for biscuits and gravy or a chicken biscuit, they have got you covered. The menu is very creative and unique.
Favorite menu items:
- The Ralphie/The Ralphie Deluxe
- The Farmer
- The Sticky Maple
- Get your own biscuit, but share a side. You might not think that a biscuit will fill you up, but it will.
- Get a Cinnamon Pecan Biscuit for dessert. One word, yum.
- For your order name, they have a new question every week. Sometimes it’s your favorite band, movie, tv show, etc. Check out the sign on your way in and think of an answer while waiting in line.
2004 San Marco Blvd, Jacksonville, FL
Every city has that one place that locals will take you to. In Jacksonville, TacoLu is that place. They were originally located about two blocks from the beach, but they quickly outgrew that location and had to move a few more blocks down the road.
TacoLu is primarily a taco joint, but you can find other Mexican items on their menu as well. The menu is a la cart, which I love because it allows me to mix and match. Even though they are always busy, the food comes out fast and is absolutely delicious.
Favorite Menu Items:
- Bangin Shrimp Taco
- Carne Asada Taco
- Blackened Scallop Taco (daily special)
- If you can’t find a parking spot, they have complimentary valet! Just don’t park in the neighboring shopping center. They will tow you.
- Don’t worry about sides, just get an extra taco. 3-4 tacos and you are good to go.
- Make sure to ask your server for the daily seafood taco specials.
- Get Sopapillas for dessert. They are Heaven.
1712 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach, FL
Jacksonville is surrounded by water, so you know we have some great seafood places! My favorite is Safe Harbor Seafood in Mayport. They are twice as awesome because they also have a fish market inside the restaurant! As a matter of fact, they supply most of the restaurants around town with their seafood! Recently they did some renovations that expanded the fish market as well as the restaurant. But with these changes came the best part, new Sunday hours (they were previously closed)!
Favorite Menu Items:
- Shrimp and grit cakes (Sunday special)
- Fisherman basket with Shrimp and Scallops
- Sit outside, no matter how hot it is. The view is amazing!
- Make sure to check the small sign next to the register for the daily fish specials.
- Check the hours before you go. They close at 6pm on certain days, so you either need go for lunch or have an early bird dinner.
4378 Ocean St #3, Atlantic Beach, FL
5. M Shack
Every city needs a good burger place, and M Shack is ours! All of the ingredients are fresh and the burgers are made to order.
They have a gourmet feel to them without being too uppity, which makes sense because the owners have been chefs in some of Jacksonville’s top restaurants! M Shack is a fast casual restaurant where you order at the counter. The line is always out the door, but it moves fast. The burgers are very inventive and extremely fresh. You will be hard pressed to find a better burger in Jax!
Favorite Menu Items:
- Portobello Truffle Burger
- The Sunrise Burger
- Truffle Parmesan Fries
- Grab a menu while waiting in line. They are located on the bar to the right.
- Get a milkshake. If you don’t, you will have to watch everyone else around you enjoy theirs, and that is no fun.
- You will be tempted, but don’t grab a table before you order. The tables rotate out really fast and there is always one opening up. The people in line see you stealing that table and will give you the eye.
10281 Midtown Parkway, Jacksonville, FL (904) 642-5000
About Jill Cruz
Jill Cruz has been blogging for about 3 years, and since she doesn’t cook, she likes to explore all that Jacksonville restaurants have to offer. Follow her on her food adventures at “ Forget Jack, Jill Wants a Snack!” and you might just find a new favorite restaurant!