Now that my sister was a permanent Jacksonville resident, it was almost imperative we discover the best this Florida city had to offer. She had spent many years in Central Florida and had a Central Floridian’s appetite for theme parks, breweries, and the hipster effects on restaurants. By exploring Jacksonville, we were saving a fellow family member.
We had already inhaled the sights at the Riverside Saturday Market before also capturing nearby St. Augustine. Now we were back for dinner.
We returned to the Riverside area to visit Carmine’s Pie House, a vibrant pizza establishment. The entire menu was creatively captivating and we eventually settled on two pies with thick, juicy crusts: Margherita was a classic with Basil shreds while Purple Haze featured cuts of eggplant with mounds of Ricotta Cheese on top. All great pizza components which is why I’m doubly stumped when both contained less flavor than an ice cube.Then the Sweet & Dirty Fries decided to further insult us by swinging the opposite direction- sweet potato fries topped with crumbled bacon and a syrup- way, way too sweet. The already sweet Fries were drowning in the sweet syrup.
Fine. We’ll drown ourselves in craft beer then. Bold City Brewing beer specifically. Between the outside chairs, relaxing game room, and the line at the guest food vendor’s stand, the brewery was popping. It was popping so much the bartenders told me they weren’t offering beer flights. Forced to nurture one brew, I adopted their Duke’s Brown Ale. Meanwhile the highly entertaining Bath Salt Zombies with their folk harmonies mixed with heavy metal and quirky lyrics filled the warehouse with their music.
Friends often mentioned TacoLu so for lunch the next day we entered the crowded parking lot of this Mexican restaurant. After downing some creamy guacamole with their chips, we took on a collection of Tacos since that was part of their namesake. Their Baja Fish Taco (Beer battered white fish), Spicy Bird (Chicken in spicy chiles), and Carnitas (pork marinated in sodas) was surprisingly underwhelming. All taco tortillas were so thick it destroyed the flavor of anything inside. In the end we pitifully discarded all the shells and just ate the fillings.
Stuffed with food yet lacking satisfaction, we decided to try the Urban Bean Coffeehouse which restored our faith in Jacksonville edibles. We sipped a simple cold Latte, Mocha Macchiato and a Cold Brew while nibbling on (BONUS!) fresh donut. While patrons studied, a guest took up residence with the piano in the corner and was pa-plinking delicate music. Meanwhile, I was impressed with the not-so-subtle Christian proclamations in the decor such as inspirational books on tables and a sign saying ‘A little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus.’ (Not a ‘whole latte Jesus?’ ohhh missed opportunity)
Okay, so we didn’t get to enjoy most of the food in this half of our Jacksonville excursion however I know there’s other great restaurants in this big city. I guess that just means I’ll need another trip to Jacksonville to find them.
Meanwhile, I think my sister is in good hands.