Since 2009, we at Jacksonville Fine Dining Examiner have written numerous articles about the best restaurants in Jacksonville. At times, we have focused on the best in a particular category, like our articles on the best Asian restaurants in Jacksonville, best view, best date night, best Mexican, best wine list, and our yearly article on the best fine dining restaurants.
Several other publications release similar “best restaurant” articles such as Jacksonville Magazine’s top 50 restaurants in Jacksonville, Florida Trend’s Golden Spoon Awards, and The Orlando Sentinel’s Foodie Awards. We find these types of articles very helpful in our own search for the best restaurants, so we wanted to compile our top picks into a convenient overview. The following list includes up to 3 recommended restaurants in each category. We hope you enjoy our list of the best restaurants in Jacksonville!
- American: 1. Black Sheep: Serving brunch, lunch, and dinner, Black Sheep is our top restaurant in the American category. Located in historic Five Points, the restaurant features locally sourced ingredients. American favorites appear on the menu, like Wild Georgia Shrimp & Grits and the Cowboy Meats Grass Fed Hamburger. 2. J. Alexander’s: Judging from previous articles, it’s no secret that we like this chain, located at St. Johns Town Center. J. Alexander’s is a great place for lunch or dinner and their wine selection is excellent. We recommend the Mexico City Spinach Con Queso, Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Prime Rib, and Key Lime Pie. 3. Metro Diner: Diners are quintessential Americana and this one certainly does not disappoint. We like Metro Diner especially for breakfast. We strongly recommend the Belgian Waffle with pecans baked in, the various types of Eggs Benedict, and the Hot Chocolate.
- Asian: 1. Blue Bamboo: This Asian-fusion restaurant has been a staple in Jacksonville cuisine for many years. We recommend the wine flights and peppercorn-crusted steak. 2. Wasabi: This Japanese steakhouse is the best we have tried and we recommend it if you are looking for excellent filet from the hibachi grill. We also recommend the sushi from Wasabi. 3. Bento Cafe: For a quick Asian meal Bento Cafe at St. Johns Town Center is our go-to restaurant. The Szechuan Chicken and Sweetheart roll are our favorites.
- Burgers: 1. Ted’s Montana Grill: It’s a toss up between Ted’s and our number 2 choice for best burger in Jacksonville. However, we put Ted’s on top because they offer a unique option in that they serve bison burgers. The Ted’s Cadillac burger has bbq sauce and bacon and it shouldn’t disappoint. 2. M Shack: If you are looking for a high quality beef burger, then the Medure brothers’ burger establishment is your place. The restaurant offers shakes, fresh burgers, and hand-cut fries. 3. The Blind Rabbit: Eatdrinkjax and Best Burger Review both offer excellent reviews on this Jacksonville Beach restaurant. Blind Rabbit is a whiskey bar and restaurant, which has a cool, urban ambiance. The menu features several burger options, like The Southern Burger with fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, peach habanero hot sauce, arugula, Georgia can syrup, pickled okra, served on a Brioche bun.
- Cocktails: 1. Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails: As you might guess from the name, Chef Tom Gray’s Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails offers some excellent cocktail options, plus the upstairs patio and bar area offers an excellent ambiance. Moxie has a Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 3pm-7pm and the menu offers drinks like the Fireside Chat with Ambler Bourbon, Ramazzotti Amaro, Falernum, apple cider, lemon juice and cinnamon syrup. 2. Ovinte: Some may consider Ovinte a wine bar, but it offers more than much more, including great food and excellent cocktails. Signature cocktails are on the menu, including the highly recommended Sailor’s Sidecar featuring Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, Cointreau Noir, lemon juice, with sugar on the rim. 3. Bistro Aix is not only one of our favorite restaurants, it also has an excellent bar area that is separate from the main dining room. Specialty cocktails include the Aviation with St. George Gin, Creme de Violette, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, and lemon juice.
- Date Night: 1. Eleven South: This is an excellent restaurant for a quiet date night with excellent food and wine, located near Jacksonville Beach. 2. Ocean 60: If you are looking for a more upbeat experience, Ocean 60 frequently features live music. 3. The Tree Steakhouse: This steakhouse doesn’t receive as much notoriety as it should. Open for more than 40 years, The Tree Steakhouse is an excellent place for a night out.
- Dessert: 1. Kilwin’s: When you’re walking by the PF Chang’s in St. Johns Town Center you may notice an incredible sweet smell coming from just down the road. That smell is the waffle cones at Kilwin’s, who frequently leaves the door open…a very effective marketing strategy. Luckily, the ice cream that goes in the cones is also excellent, like the Jax Mud (vanilla with oreos) that is unique to the Jacksonville location. 2. Rita’s Water Ice: They specialize in “Gelati” which is frozen custard soft serve and Italian Ice. We recommend the mango and vanilla. 3. Biscottis: This bistro has an impressive dessert cabinet filled with cakes and diners can actually receive a “dessert tour” from their waiter, which may be needed because of all the options. During a visit a few years ago, we tried the coconut and vanilla cake and it was excellent!
- Fish: 1. Marker 32: Located on the water, Marker 32 stands out as a premier seafood restaurant in Jacksonville. If you are looking for an upscale fish restaurant this is one to try. 2. Clark’s Fish Camp: On the other side of the spectrum is Clark’s Fish Camp. This is a locally known restaurant that would fall under the casual, backwoods, fish restaurant category. 3. Chart House: This restaurant has a very unique, circular design and is a great place for a fancy seafood meal.
- French: 1. Orsay: We are huge fans of this restaurant and have listed it on several “best restaurant” articles. These mentions include the #1 spot in our recent best wine list article and the #4 spot on our list of the top 20 restaurants in Jacksonville. 2. J.J.’s Bistro De Paris: Complete with a 9-foot model of the Eiffel Tower, J.J.’s Bistro is the closest you’re going to get to Paris in Jacksonville. We recommend the salads and the Boeuf Bourguignon (French beef stew). 3. Bistro Aix: Definitely an Americanized French restaurant, but they do have some French options.
- German: 1. German Schnitzel House: Located on Atlantic Blvd., this restaurant is one of the only authentic German restaurants in Jacksonville…so we will limit this category to only one restaurant restaurant for now. This restaurant offers specialties like Falscher Hase (German meatloaf), beef stroganoff, bratwurst, and several types of schnitzel.
- Indian: 1. 5th Element: We assume that most would not label Jacksonville an epicenter for excellent Indian food. However, there are a few like 5th element that you could try. The restaurant offers traditional tandoori options and other options like jalfraize, vindaloo, chrome, and tikka masala. 2. India’s Restaurant, 3. Masala Indian Cuisine.
- Italian: 1. Taverna: This is not what we would consider the “mom and pop” Italian restaurant. We consider Taverna more of a modern Italian with great options like meatballs and homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches for dessert. 2. Enza’s, 3. Maggiano’s: As far as chains go, Maggiano’s is probably our favorite.
- Mexican: 1. Cantina Laredo: Even though it’s a chain, we strongly recommend Cantina Laredo for an upscale Mexican dining experience. The table side guacamole, enchiladas veracruz, and Mexican apple pie are excellent. 2. La Napolera, 3. Campeche Bay.
- Pizza: 1. Moon River Pizza, 2. Al’s Pizza, 3. Mellow Mushroom
- Steak: 1. III Forks: This restaurant still seems new, but it has been in Tapestry Park since 2010. The restaurant serves USDA prime steak and has a very impressive floor to ceiling, glass wine cellar. 2. Ruth’s Chris (downtown): We prefer the downtown Jacksonville location for the expansive view of the city. 3. Salt: The Kobe Beef strip steak is top notch.
- Sushi: 1. Wasabi, 2. Crazy Sushi: It’s a small restaurant specializing in sushi with lots of options. 3. Roy’s: They don’t focus on sushi, but they have one of our favorite rolls of all time: the Lakanilau Roll…so we wanted to include it.
- Tapas: 1. 13 Gypsies: We believe that this is the best tapas restaurant in Jacksonville. The Street Style Kabobs, Coconut Mango Curry Chicken, Fresh Chorizo and Pears, and Tres Leches Cake are recommended if available on the menu.
- Thai: 1. Indochine: Their booth is part of the improved food at The Players.
- Upscale: 1. Azurea: Our clear favorite for upscale fine dining. Azurea’s seasonal menus, impressive wine selection, and ocean view make it our top choice for an upscale restaurant in Jacksonville. 2. Salt 3. Bistro Aix
- Vietnamese: 1. Bowl of Pho: Our clear favorite in this category. We suggest you try the sautéed chicken in lemongrass and of course, one of the bowls of pho.
- View: 1. 619 Ocean View: This Ponte Vedra restaurant offers a stunning, true panoramic view of the ocean. 2. Ruth’s Chris (downtown): If you want a view of the water and the city of Jacksonville this is hard to beat. 3. Espeto: From the second story, this restaurant has a nice view of the St. Johns River.
- Wine: 1. Orsay, 2. Wine Cellar: This restaurant has some excellent old world wines to go along with the usual California wines you see elsewhere in Jacksonville. 3. Matthew’s
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