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We're taking our daughter to JU next week. Staying at Hampton Inn at Deerwood Park.

Any good ideas for a nice dinner one night and a decent one another?
How about a good salad place for lunch nearby?


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  1. You should be near Southside Blvd so there is a place called Sangria House for tapas etc and a great dimsum (with carts) place near Tinseltown (a huge movie theatre) called Bamboo Creek - would work for Sunday lunch. Further north is Blue Buddha.

    If you head to the beach, on Beach Blvd is a new place call TacoLu that is great. Plus local owners - not a chain. Good salads are tougher to find. You have all the chains - Crispers, Panera, maybe a Loop. I don't know - not so exciting.

    1 Reply
    1. re: meginAB

      Thanks so much, Megan,
      Real dim sum is something we love!
      And you got it right--we are not looking for the chain places.


    2. We got pizza from AL's on Phillips Highway last sunday. The spinach was OK. The Everything was way too soggy.

      My sister and dad say that Pattaya Thai Grille on Baymeadows is really good.

      Both are sorta near Deerwood. Traffic is hell in Jax these days. Not like the glorious 70's when Lubies (sp?) was my poison.

      1. You're in luck if you like Hong Kong style dim sum. Bamboo Creek should be walking dustance away from your hotel. Sangria House is worth the effort, and is close by - save room for a giant slab of tres leches for dessert. I'm serious - ask if they have it before youm order - its just terrific.

        On your way to JU, check out a donut shop named "The Donut Shoppe" next to a Gate store on University Blvd. north - on the right about a mile before you get to JU. You have to hit it in the AM, but its amazingly good. Ask them if they have any "uglies" available. Murder. I'm a JU guy - best of luck to your daughter. JU is a hidden gem.

        1. I actually thought of a place for great salads - and sandwiches too. It is off University on Powers Ave and it is called the French Pantry. They actually are a bread company but have a little dining room that gets packed. I am not sure their hours on the weekends and it is a little hard to find bc it is part of a warehouse but it is worth the line at the door. I remember having a great Thai salad. I haven't been there in a while but only bc I live kind of far. It is a perfect chowhound secret spot!

          1. Sangria House and French Pantry are both great. Make sure you have time to wait at FP, they usually take a while but it's worth it. I would skip Al's, it's mostly reheated frozen food.

            1 Reply
            1. re: hmoney

              We ended up at Bamboo Creek both nights and loved it, twice!
              Wed. and Thurs. nights were full of the storm (Fay) and the proximity of Bamboo Creek was a great help. The first night we got a bunch of dim sum. My favorites were the seafood dumplings and the sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves. The martini wasn't bad either.

              The next night we had potstickers, roast duck and stemed Mayport shrimp. All were very fresh and cooked perfectly.

              The servers were extrememly helpful and friendly.

              A big thumbs up!

            2. Whoever recommended Tacolu in Jax Beach is out of their mind! That is the WORST place I have eaten in 15 years. Bad food, overpriced, confusing menu items like "fried cheese" and the worlds worst margaritas! My wife sent hers back, it had soda water in it, and the manager brought her another one, you guessed it....tequila, lemon juice, and soda water....lots of soda water. I actually watched the bartender shoot soda into these drinks on the way out.

              Its a shame cause we live 4 blocks from this place, I had high hopes but it sucks beyond belief. Why is it that mexican restaurants cant make a decent margarita anymore?

              6 Replies
              1. re: jtboyd

                I think jtboyd is mistaken about many things--especially about Margaritas at TacoLu! (Full Disclosure: I work at TacoLu). The fantastic drink that he/she thinks is a margarita is NOT A MARGARITA AT ALL, but what is known as a Paloma. It is made with tequila, fresh squeezed lime juice and Fresca, which we have on the gun, nobody shoots soda water into a margarita!! Just as everything we serve at the restaurant is made fresh, daily, so too are all of our premium margaritas. They are made with our homemade sour mix--fresh squeezed lemons and limes and simple syrup with one of about 50 tequilas that we have on hand.
                If you're looking for piles of food that all tastes the same, then TacoLu is not for you. If you are looking for crispy fried mozzarella sticks at a mexican restaurant, then TacoLu is not for you. But if you are looking for fresh, exciting tacos, like an Ahi Tuna taco, or lamb or fresh salmon or just plain and simple brisket taco or chicken taco in tomatillo sauce, then you owe it to yourself to give it a shot and decide for yourself. Queso Fundido, is as traditional as a Mexican dish can get--it's fried cheese smothered in mushrooms and roasted garlic. It's a great start and now, with only one exception, everyone who tries it, loves it.

                TacoLu, Baja Mexicana
                1183 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

                1. re: Heavy

                  I am glad someone else voiced an opinion here bc all the feedback I get about TacoLu is great. (I know Heavy works there but it was disclosed AND Heavy obviously feels confident and proud about his/her workplace) I think many chowhounds will enjoy the experience!

                  1. re: Heavy

                    I do not work at or for TacoLu and I love it!!! I have eaten there several times and it is fantastic! There are many different types of unique tacos and all of them are delicious (I have tried a different one every time I visit TacoLu). This is not a traditional Mexican restaurant, but rather a place with "gourmet style" tacos and other tasty treats. It's also nice that it's owned by locals.

                    1. re: foodiejax

                      Unfortunately, I'm with jtboyd on this one. TacoLu is one of the worst eateries in town. While I agree that the menu is interesting, the execution of the meals is amateurish. We have eaten there twice (hoping the first time was an aberration), sampled many different items and have found not one to rise above mediocrity. The one stand out experience, although a negative case, was an order of fish tacos that tasted and looked like frozen fish sticks. I was looking around for cameras on that one thinking we were being punk'd.

                  2. re: jtboyd

                    I have to agree with you. I find it difficult to accept the food as being authentically Mexican when it is characterized as typical of Ensenada, which by and large is an Americanized playground for Southern Californians drunks (as San Miguel de Allende is a playground for Ralph Lauren (ne Lifschitz) wannabes.

                    My wife's tacos were certainly fresh, but they were a bit skimpy for the price and by no means could be compared with the real stuff available in Mexico. (Although it might be just like the fare targeted for Gringos visiting south of Tijuana.) The enchilada I had beat Taco Bell by a nose and made me vomit. (Doesn't authentica Mexican food typically result in a different kind of emergency?)

                    Finally, it irks me to go to a place that characterizes itself as Mexican and discover all the Latinos are toiling in the kitchen. The hostesses and wait staff up front all appeared to be regular pierced and tattooed 20-year-old beach types. (The kind that only know how to address clients as "you guys.") Our magnificent waiter identified the DR beer Presidente as Mexican. Am I nit-picking? Maybe I'm not smart enough to understand the "concept." After all, most of the piped-in music was anything but Mexican.

                    1. re: monsieurbigstuff

                      Gotta agree with much of the opinion on TacoLu. My chicken taco was tasteless and cooked to the point of mush. The fish taco was fried and not at all similar to food in Mexico. The whole concept seems poorly executed. Overall not good. It's too bad cause we need a good taco place at the Beach.

                      I'd have to say TacoLu is a Taco don't.