If you saw my last post with an updated guide to Amelia Island, you will have seen that we went to Jacksonville to visit family last weekend. When we travel anywhere, even somewhere repeatedly like Jacksonville, we’re always open to trying new places. Sometimes it gives them, the locals, a good opportunity to branch out from their regular spots too! I’m really excited about the places mentioned below. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Jacksonville is very up and coming with all the new developments and especially in their food & drink scene.
The Bridge at St. Johns Golf & Country Club
Conveniently located a few minutes off of I-95, we started the trip by meeting my sister and brother-in-law at The Bridge for lunch. After being in the car for a couple hours driving up from Orlando, it’s always nice to sit outside. The Bridge is technically in the Country Club but it’s completely open to the public. You can even enter the restaurant from outside by walking along the fence on the perimeter of the building as we did. Its elevated deck has views over the golf course, with a friendly, casual vibe. You’re sure to overhear some golf groups at the bar area too!
They surprisingly have a very reasonably priced lunch menu with a variety of options – sharable appetizers, fresh seafood, burgers, tacos, sandwiches, soups, salads, entrees…you name it. Being on keto, I ordered the Smoked Tuna salad and I’m telling you, it was SO good. Really fresh and well seasoned. For drinks, they have a full bar outside and local craft beers like the Veterans United Raging Blonde. I’d be happy to go back to The Bridge any time, and will specifically keep it in mind as a good places to eat just off the highway for future trips north. I’m always looking out for these spots as it seems like it’s all fast food and chains, which is no longer appealing to me and my sensitive stomach.
Julep Cocktail Bar in Palm Valley
I love a craft cocktail bar, so when we had a couple hours to spare before our evening plans, my sister suggested we check out Julep. It’s connected to V Pizza‘s location in Palm Valley, and quite hidden I will add! By the way, I wrote about V Pizza in a previous post, The Best Places To Eat and Drink in Jacksonville. I’m honestly not completely sure what the affiliation is between the two, but they are connected inside so you can enter from either door.
As soon as you walk in, I’m sure you’ll have the same reaction as us when we saw the bar “Ooo, cool!” It’s stunning and equally impressive with over 600 whiskeys available! The ceiling is really high to make room for such a grand bar. Despite being known for their wide selection of whiskeys, it is a full bar and they have an incredible cocktail menu (pictured below, subject to change). We all had such a hard time choosing what to order. I got the Big Hitter, The Llama, which was absolutely incredible. I couldn’t stop raving about it. If you’re looking for something with a darker liquor, the Minutes to Midnight was great too with Rye and Cold Brew among the ingredients. Honestly, you probably can’t go wrong with anything they make. Top notch quality and mixologists! I look forward to going here again soon.
Margaritaville Hotel in Jacksonville Beach
Another recent opening we checked out is the Margaritaville Hotel in Jacksonville Beach. It is exactly as you’d imagine except for the music. We were laughing after that we didn’t hear a Jimmy Buffet song once the whole time we were there! Upon arrival, there is very little parking at the hotel and valet won’t park your car if you’re not a hotel guest. Be prepared to have to find public Jacksonville Beach parking around the hotel instead. The inside looks just like you’d imagine – slightly cheesy, but new and modern at the same time.
We went to their bar & grill called Landshark to grab drinks outside facing the beach. Although I’m always happy by the water, the view isn’t quite as nice with the Jacksonville Beach pier under construction after severe damages during Hurricane Matthew. It was fun to visit the hotel but I’m not in a rush to return unless I’m in the neighborhood.
Eleven South in Jacksonville Beach
A few minutes down the road from the Margaritaville Hotel is Eleven South, one of my family’s favorite restaurants in the area. It’s not a very big restaurant, but they do offer covered outdoor seating in addition to traditional indoor seating. There was a big 50th birthday party going on next to us, so it got quite noisy! We ordered a variety of different entrees but I personally loved my Diver scallops dish the most. Look at the size of them! I was also lucky that this dish was completely keto, no substitutions necessary. If you’re looking for a fine dining experience in Jacksonville Beach, this restaurant is definitely worth checking out.
On our drive back from a day in Amelia Island we stopped in San Marco for a few drinks. It’s a neighborhood we’ve been meaning to check out but didn’t have the chance to until now. What I loved the most about it is how all the restaurants and bars are lined up on one main street with a few just off the main street – perfect from hopping from place to place. I hope to come back to try some of their restaurants too!
Grape & Grain Exchange in San Marco
Grape & Grain Exchange was at the top of our San Marco list as it’s both a cocktail bar and store selling a curated selection of wine, craft beer and small batch regional and local spirits. They have a bar in the back with more of a lounge vibe with dim lights, and a bar in the front that’s more bright and airy. Fortunately, the same cocktails are offered whether you’re at the back bar or front bar, so it doesn’t really matter. They make a mean Ramos Gin Fizz (pictured below)! I also loved the Tea Time cocktail with whiskey, China-China, rooibos tea, turmeric and lemon. It was really unique and delicious! I highly recommend this spot for a date night or a small group gathering, and would happily go back if I was in the neighborhood.
Posting House in San Marco
One of the hidden gems off the main street in San Marco is Posting House. Based on our experience, it’s tied with Julep for my top recommendations from this post. It started out as being the last stop of the night, after a long day exploring Amelia Island, and a fair amount of eating and drinking. Then, after looking at their menu and speaking the bartender, I learned they could do a sherry flight! I simply could not refuse. My family, boyfriend and I have fallen for sherry in the past few years. Note, if you’re not a sherry fan, they also have a great selection of craft beers and wines.
Back to the sherry flight. The bartender came over with five that he thought I might like based on the few sherries I have tried before, and gave a detailed description of each. We were very impressed by his knowledge and passion for sherry, making it an even more exciting and rare opportunity. We’re pretty convinced that he was equally enthused to have a customer that was open to trying and cared about sherry too! Although noticeably different, they were all so delicious. I’m glad I was able to take a picture of each bottle so I could remember them for next time. This same bartender later generously offered me a taste of one more, the Tio Pepe. Again, amazing! If you haven’t tried sherry or are interested in trying more, go to Posting House!!!
On My Wishlist
Between my parents and my sister and brother-in law, who now both live in Jacksonville/Ponte Vedra, there are lists of places to try out that even they haven’t been to yet. Below are some that have specifically been mentioned to me, but I know there are many more. So tell me, where else should I go?
- Athenian Owl – My parents have been raving about this family-owned Greek restaurant and taking all their friends there. I’m dying to try it!
- Southern Grounds – A local spot serving coffee, wine & food with a few locations in Jacksonville Beach and San Marco.
- Norikase – A hidden sake and hand roll sushi bar with intimate service and an omakase tasting experience. I believe it’s pretty new! Super curious to see how it compares to our favorite Kadence.
- Le Petit Paris Cafe – A cute spot for a casual brunch or an afternoon latte.
- Ember & Iron in St. Johns – A newly-opened, highly-rated cocktail bar and restaurant.
- Buchners Bierhall in Murray Hill – One of the bartenders at our favorite Ten 10 Brewing Company recommended this spot. It’s in the Murray Hill neighborhood near downtown Jacksonville (not NYC ;)), an area we have yet to explore.
In Case You Missed It
- The Best Places To Eat & Drink in Jacksonville, FL – More great restaurant and bar recommendations to check out!
- A Guide to Ponte Vedra Beach, FL – My first post in the area following my sister’s move back to Florida, and her wedding! This guide also includes a review of the Sawgrass Marriott.
- A Day in Amelia Island – My first trip (as an adult) to Amelia Island on our way to Savannah, GA.
- Another Day Trip to Amelia Island, FL – From the same trip as this post.
- A Photo Diary of Hammock Beach Resort – Located about an hour south of Jacksonville in Palm Coast, FL.
- A Weekend in New Smyrna Beach, FL – Located about an hour and a half south of Jacksonville.
- My Discover Page – A great place to find all the cities around the world that I have covered here on the blog. You can also find it listed alphabetically if you hover your cursor above “Discover” at the top of the page.
Thank you, as always, for reading and supporting my blog. 💙 If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at email@example.com or message me on Instagram @adventuresingourmet. For additional recommendations, I’d love if you would comment them below so other people can see it too! 🙂