We Moved - Help
We just recently moved from San Francisco to Amelia Island. Now, we knew there would be some shock involved but we need help. There is no Whole Foods or similar type market around that we can find. Is there anything like it in Jacksonville as I know there's nothing here on the island. Use to finding things like heirloom tomatoes, frisee all the time, now nada.
How about dim sum, any place in Jacksonville that does dim sum that's worth going and trying. Really miss that on Saturday or Sunday morning.
How about good Mexican in Jacksonville. There are a couple of places here on the island but still looking for just the right place, really prefer Tex-Mex as we are originally from Texas. Cal-Mex just never got the job done I'm afraid.
Any other help would be appriciated. Have tracked down a Williams-Sonoma which will help in that area when needed. How about Sur La Table, any of those around?
Thanks in advance, looking forward to getting any information we can.
I recommend Fresh Market until Whole Foods opens their planned locations around Jacksonville. They have are not as big, but offer a good selection of produce, meats, and grocery, along with many prepared foods. The only locations I know of are Mandarin and Ponte Vedra.
I can't help you with the dim sum problem since I am looking for a place also. I haven't had dim sum since I was in San Fran visiting family earlier this spring and I miss it. When I find a place I will let you know.
For Mexican, my wife and I like Don Pablo's on Southside Blvd in front of the Tinseltown theater. My wife grew up in the bay area and lived in the OC for a couple of years and she thinks Don Pablo's is the best we have tried around here. They make all of their tortillas fresh in front of you, both flour and corn, and fry their own chips.
For kitchen gadget stores, I love Le Gourmet Chef in the Avenues Mall. They have lots of bizarre kitchen gadgets to keep me occupied.
Whole Foods is opening in Mandarin in 2008 (don't know exactly when). There are several Fresh Market locations in Jacksonville (there's a newer larger location in Ponte Vedra Beach which opened last week). One place I like that might not pop into your mind immediately is Costco - right off Butler Boulevard. Good selections of fresh seasonal foods and other items.
A couple of our friends have told us about a new Chinese restaurant which serves dim sum in Mandarin. That's about a 40 minute drive for us - I don't recall the name and we haven't tried it yet. You will have to explore some Chinese buffets here - and see if you like any. Our favorite is at the corner of Beach and San Pablo. It is easy to turn up your nose at a Chinese buffet - but you'll find lots of local Chinese people at quite a few of them. Our Chinese population isn't huge - or wealthy - hence the emphasis on cheap buffets. We don't eat Tex-Mex or Mexican (except out west). We're no help in that department. Except to say I've never heard anyone say they were overwhelmed by any restaurant here.
Sur La Table is basically a western store. It has - if I recall correctly - one Florida location - in West Palm Beach. There are 2 Williams Sonoma locations in Jacksonville - one at the Avenues Mall and the other at the St. Johns Town Center. One place that has lots of the the little gizmos you would look for at Sur La Table - like pastry tips - is Le Gourmet Chef. Closest location to you is the Avenues Mall.
There really isn't hardly anything on Amelia Island - but Jacksonville has decent resources. I think you will do a lot of driving!
Harris Teeter is a nice store on Amelia Island. We used to have one in Ponte Vedra Beach - but it closed. I miss it.
BTW - if you're used to eating fresh and local - you have to keep our local climate in mind. Florida is a large agricultural state - but the crops are limited due to the climate (tropical stuff like citrus down south - and not a lot up north - our largest crops in St. Johns county are cabbage and potatoes). We don't have lots of nice cool growing weather - the kind that lettuces like. Try growing lettuce - you'll see what I mean (smile). About the closest you'll come to good lettuce here is greens - like collards (which are a winter crop). On the other hand - we do have great local shrimp - those shrimp boats in Fernandina Beach aren't merely decorative (smile). And other fish/seafood.
BTW - just curious. Why the move from San Francisco to Amelia Island?
Moved for a couple of reasons. First, cost. It isn't just expensive to live in SF it's VERY expensive. We were retiring, owned our home for 9 years, took the money and RAN. However, we're from Texas but wanted to be near the water. We lived in Alameda which is a small island in SF bay and just loved island life. Have a childhood friend on Amelia so we visited and liked it. Knew we would be giving up certain things and that's fine as we do really like it here.
Another produce note is that sometimes the usual growing seasons can get flip-flopped. Normally the only decent strawberries you can get down here are the winter Plant City ones. Anything that comes in from the Midwest or California during the summer ends up being bred more for stability during shipping than for taste.
The Florida Uglies are probably two steps below most other heirloom tomatoes, but are still five steps above other grocery store tomatoes you'll find here.
We in northeast Fl are coming along but a little slowly. I believe they are looking for Whole Foods location right now - some talk of San Marco. If you go over the Dames Point Bridge and head east on Atlantic to San Pablo Rd, there is a shopping center where a Fresh Market is going in - I believe they are about 2 - 3 weeks away from opening though. Also there is a cute farmers market in Fern on Sat I think ( I live in Atlantic Beach and don't make it there often) Matthew's Market in San Marco has prepared food high quality but $$$$ (the restaurant across the street Matthews is great as well Restaurant Medure in Ponte Vedra - all same owner)
I also like Pom's in San Marco or even better Old Siam (his original) at the beach for Thai.
You should definitely take the ferry across to Mayport and go to Safe Harbor for Spicy Peel and Eat Shrimp with fresh rolls. Sit by the water, watch the pelicans etc. Can also pick up fresh fish at their seafood counter - I think the biggest in town.
There is a place downtown with DimSum but you are moving from San Fran, I don't think it will cut it. I keep on the lookout for that as well.
Mexican is another tough one. Haven't really found anything great.
We have a great deal of chains here I am afraid.
Good luck exploring your new territory!