Delicious Destinations: Jacksonville, Florida

surfboard on the beach in Jacksonville Florida
(Photo: Visit Jacksonville)

Some people plan their vacation with no thought of where they are going to eat, while others plan their entire trip around the scrumptious bites and tasty treats they are going to try. No matter what camp you’re in, the brand new FamilyVacationist monthly food column, Delicious Destinations has you covered! Welcome to your number one food recommendation column that covers everything from family dining, the best places for solo travelers, and the number one spot to grab a snack.

Let’s Eat: Jacksonville

I’m Megan duBois. I’m a full-time food and drink writer, and when I don’t have a fork in my hand, there’s likely an ice cream cone there instead. In this Delicious Destinations column, you can come with me to a different city each month and we’ll explore great restaurants, bars, bakeries, and other eateries. I’ll offer recommendations for families, adults, and solo travelers in each city. I’ll also give you tips on finding great themed restaurants, mid-day snacks, and breweries.

This month, we’re traveling to my hometown: Jacksonville, Florida. While you might think of Jacksonville as a passing-through city, a place with a not-so-great NFL football team, or a destination for beach bums, what you may not know is that the city also has a thriving culinary scene. In neighborhoods all over the city, you can find hidden gems and local favorites. Here are some of the best places to eat in Jacksonville.

The Best Restaurant For Families: Grumpy’s

In Orange Park, a suburb of Jacksonville, Grumpy’s is the spot to be for families. The restaurant serves up breakfast and lunch every day to hungry customers. If you go, I highly recommend breakfast so you can get one of their ooey gooey cinnamon rolls before they sell out for the day. This spot does get busy on weekends, so it’s best to arrive early, or grab a late breakfast after 10:00 am.

Grumpy’s Must-Have: House-made cinnamon rolls

The Best Restaurant For Adults: Orsay

There is no better place for a romantic evening out, or for a fun evening with adult friends, than Restaurant Orsay. The restaurant boasts a fantastic happy hour filled with handcrafted drinks and small plates. After happy hour is over, be sure to stick around for entrees, which include everything from the French classic mussels and fries to perfectly cooked steaks.

Orsay Must-Have: Roasted oysters and pan-roasted fish.

The Best Restaurant For Solo Travelers: Kim’s Korean BBQ

Kim’s Korean BBQ can be found in the Mandarin neighborhood of Jacksonville. While there are a ton of great local restaurants to pick from on the main road that runs through the neighborhood, one that is not to be missed is Kim’s. Solo travelers will love dining here because Ms. Kim, the owner of the restaurant, makes everyone feel like family. If you’ve never had Korean BBQ, before Ms. Kim will show you how to eat it the traditional way and load up your table with tiny plates of delectable bites called banchan.

Kim’s Korean BBQ Must-Have: Pan-fried dumplings and bulgogi beef

The Best Themed Restaurant: Secret Tiki Temple

While it may not be a secret anymore, Secret Tiki Temple is still one of the best themed restaurants in town. The entire restaurant and bar looks like the sort of tropical oasis you might find in Hawaii, but it’s right in the middle of Jacksonville. To dine here, reservations are required. Expect the full experience to last about 90 minutes for groups smaller than six.

Secret Tiki Temple Must-Have: Chicken wings and whatever tiki drink you love

The Best Mid-Day Snack: Mayday Ice Cream

There’s nothing better than ice cream on a warm day, and warm days are pretty frequent in Jacksonville. One of the best places to stop in Jacksonville for a break and some ice cream is Mayday Ice Cream. The local shop has a few locations around the city; they all carry the same flavors, so just look for the one that’s closest to you. Don’t miss standout flavors including ice box lemon, blackberry earl grey, and blueberry toast crunch.

Mayday Ice Cream Must-Have: Any flavor in a waffle cone with homemade sprinkles

The Best Jacksonville Brewery: Wicked Barley

Just like ice cream, a cold beer can be a real treat on a warm day. Jacksonville has plenty of breweries, and even has a self-led brewery tour. If you only have time for one brewery visit on your trip, however, you shouldn’t miss Wicked Barley. The brewery offers an intriguing array of unique brews, ciders, and seltzers. On the menu, you’ll find options as varied as blood orange IPA, blueberry ale, and traditional German lager. The brew list does get some new additions every once in a while, which makes this a fun place to stop if you frequently visit Jacksonville.

Wicked Barley Must-Have: Blood Drive IPA and cheese curds

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Megan duBois
Megan duBois is a freelance writer who covers theme parks, cruising, food and drink, and family travel. Her work has appeared on Buzzfeed, Popsugar, Insider, Orbitz, FamilyVacationist, The Daily Meal, Family Vacation Critic, TravelPulse, and more. Megan has been quoted as an expert and thought leader on theme parks for Forbes and other outlets.