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Just moved to JAX... need to eat! =0)

My husband and I just moved to Jacksonville and we are a bunch of food snobs =0). We are very picky about the restaurants we go to so we need some good recommendations. We came from Southern CA where we had some awesome food to choose from. We had a choice of authentic Mexican, Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Korean just to name a few. These are the types of cuisines we are looking for. We don't care how far we have to drive (well as long as its not an hour away), we just want good food! Please help!

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  1. Click on my tag, and you see a bunch of reviews and pointers for a variety of local places. Here's a list of my favorites of some of the types you see listed above.

    Chinese: Bamboo Creek at Tinseltown - good Chinese from the menu, and HK style dim sum. No carts for dinner, but all dim sum is available from the dim sum menu. The best Chinese in town, IMO. You will miss SoCal, but this is quite good, really.

    Korean - Sam Won Garden on University Blvd. - it's about the only Korean place I know of locally, and I like it. That's about all I can say. We have BBQ on every corner, but it's not Korean BBQ. :)

    Thai - I like Thai Garden in Orange Park, but you'll see lots of Thai available around town. Sala Thai is nice neighborhood Thai on the Southside, and Basil Thai is more upscale in San Marco.

    Mexican - lots around, none authentic. You can get a decent Tacos Al Pastor at La Nopalera (several around town.) I like the one on Hendricks in San Marco. It's a dive, but the food is good, and everybody cooking is Mexican, honest to God.

    Japanese - lots of Sushi everywhere, and some of it is even OK. We like our neighborhood places - Sumo Sushi and Sushi Cafe, both in Riverside. Teppanyaki is ubiquitous, all are about the same. Nothing special, but you know what you're going to get. Authentic Japanese? If you find some, please post here.

    I invite you to develop a taste for BBQ, and southern homestyle meat and veg. Finding this here is like finding great Chinese in greater LA - there are all sorts of goodies to enjoy. Lots of recommendations for local joints - just check my board and search the Florida board for Jacksonville. You'll get a sense of where to avoid. Never eat a bite at the Jacksonville Landing, if you can help it. Not a bite of anything there is edible.

    Welcome to town! Try lots of stuff, and please post your impressions pro or con right here. We love it here, and we never go hungry. :)

    Bamboo Creek
    9734 Deer Lake Ct, Jacksonville, FL

    Sumo Sushi
    2726 Park St, Jacksonville, FL 32205

    Thai Garden Restaurant
    10 Blanding Blvd Ste B, Orange Park, FL 32073

    La Nopalera
    1930 Kingsley Ave, Orange Park, FL

    La Nopalera
    11700 San Jose Blvd # 4, Jacksonville, FL

    Sushi Cafe
    2025 Riverside Ave Ste 204, Jacksonville, FL 32204

    9 Replies
    1. re: mezzrow

      Thank you so much!! This helps a lot! Ill be sure to try these places out and let you know how we liked them! =0)

      1. re: mezzrow

        Okay so... The first restaurant we tried going to was Sangria House which was today (Monday) and we didn't know it was closed on Mondays so now we will have to try that place another day thats not a Monday. So we decided on a place that was close by, this was Sala Thai.
        Sorry to say but this Thai restaurant was a BIG disappointment. Now my husband is Vietnamese and the only thing he liked at this restaurant was the Thai Tea. I didn't like anything!
        This is what we had:
        1. Papaya Salad: Way TOO much Fish Sauce! We couldn't even taste the Papaya there was so much fish sauce.
        2. Tom Yum Soup: Watered Down and huge chunks of Mushrooms which are not suppose to be so big.
        3. Black Bean Snapper: Traditionally its suppose to be a whole fish and not a fillet. That wasn't so bad.
        4. Pad Thai: Very very bland, no flavor whatsoever (we actually took this to go, which I am glad cause now we can add our own spices to it to taste better).
        5. Thai Tea: Which my husband approved
        6. Thai Ice Coffee: Gross. It was like Thai Ice tea and coffee mixed together.

        So there you go. I'm sorry if I was harsh, but it had to be said.
        When we start to crave Thai, we will be sure to check out Thai Garden. =0)

        1. re: mezzrow

          Well mmtrinh1223 is my wife and well to be frank, I just got off the toilet after eating its food. Now to those who think I can't handle my "spicy/ethnic" food, just let me tell you that I'm a first-generation Vietnamese guy who grew up in Orange County, California eating Vietnamese dishes created by my mum (yes, that means tripe, duck's/pig's blood, and other beautiful offal prepared beautifully). I'm 22 years old and have eaten in hole-in-the-wall establishments in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, England, France, Spain, and halal street food in Manhattan. I eat food on naval ships for months on end so I've had some of the worst and some of the best. I can handle most gastronomical endeavors.

          Sala Thai was a default after stopping at Sangria House and realizing it was closed on Mondays after we checked its website on my mobile.

          I will elaborate on what my wife has said.

          Papaya salad: Really? Really now?! How hard is it to throttle back on the fish sauce. I'm Vietnamese. We KNOW fish sauce and we use it like its going out of style (which it apparently hasn't). Find a balance, Sala Thai! Dousing the salad with the fish sauce doesn't tout your Asian-ness.

          Tom Yum Goong/Kung: It was weak with quartered button mushrooms. I was confused. Very weak with lemongrass notes pattering away.

          Black bean snapper: As is true with southern states that serve seafood; it was battered and fried. Not crispy as if it were scored and submerged/ladled with hot oil to cook. This was the only thing worth eating (that and the rice it was served with).

          Thai tea: It was a bit sweet but it was quite acceptable. My palate isn't as skilled for this drink.

          Thai coffee: I've never had it and I had to ask. It sounded interesting. Best way to describe it? Dirty rendition of thai tea with coffee instead of tea.

          The ambiance was not too bad (I don't really care about an establishment's ambiance in general) but the lighting (which I do mind) was a bit too dark for me. The waitstaff was extremely courteous.

          The dishes we had at Sala Thai would NOT be considered Chowhound worthy.

          1. re: ChristDriven

            Sorry about the bad experience, CD. My experience w/ Sala is limited to an occasional quick lunch, and my background in Asian chow isn't nearly as deep as yours. Sounds like you got the equivalent of chicken fried steak w/ brown gravy - unacceptable. They're really nice folks, and the panang curry for lunch tends to be quick and tasty. I'm not a Thai tea guy, so YMMV, I suppose. Better Thai can be had at Thai Garden in OP, my favorite in the area.

            BTW, should you find something really authentic for Asian of any kind, please let us know here. Sorry you missed the tapas. A note - the son of the folks at Sangria House has a hole in the wall place in Riverside, and he cooks a much less traditional tapas menu than his Mom. Just a note - look for 13 Gypsies in Jacksonville. I think he's closed on Monday as well.

            1. re: mezzrow

              Funny you say that because despite all I've eaten...::lowers voice::...i _like_ chicken fried steak. =D
              Thai Garden will be an option we'll look towards when we're up for Thai again.

              For Vietnamese, we stumbled upon Saigon Cafe (622 Cassat Ave.) from a previous Jacksonville post. I didn't have pho but my wife did. She enjoyed it. I tasted a bit of it but I wasn't up for pho that day so my opinion was biased. Decor was okay (not great) and prices are a bit more than in Westminster, CA (which is where mmtrinh1223 and I are from). The prices were still very reasonable considering the small population of Vietnamese in Jacksonville. My general rules for mom and pop Vietnamese restaurants are that the decor SHOULD be bad. If I see a "fusion" Vietnamese restaurant with trendy decor, I generally stay away because their market focus is not on the Vietnamese-everyman/woman. That upscale decor also signifies high prices for food that is NOT supposed to be expensive.

              I'm taking note of 13 Gypsies joint. Spanish tapas are also one of my most favorite cuisines (grammar check, anyone?).

              Anyone else who is serious about food, check out Coulter Kirkpatrick's blog (http://www.jacksonville.com/interact/...) at the Florida-Times Union website. He seems to be as serious about food as anyone else. If you do decide to read his blog, I comment on there as JonathanN.

              1. re: ChristDriven

                Thanks so much for the link to the Foodie Jerk's online column! Too bad he doesn't have a column in the regular print food section on Thursdays. I don't care for spicy Mexican food, but am tempted to try Pepe's after reading his review and seeing the market pics!

              2. re: mezzrow

                Okay so today we went to try that Bamboo Creek restaurant and this is what I have to say about that:
                My husband and I decided to try this place out today and were pretty satisfied by the end of the meal.

                We arrived at around 11:40am and got sat right away. What made this place promising was that there were other Asians (Chinese and Vietnamese) in the restaurant. Made me miss home to hear loud Vietnamese people chattering away =0) All of the food came out fresh and on those carts! =0)

                Anyways this is what we had:
                1. Hot Jasmine Tea
                2. Char Siu Bao- Steamed buns with BBQ pork (one of my favorite things to eat!)
                3. Fung Jeow- Chicken Feet
                4. Sui Mai- Pork/shrimp dumplings
                5. Har Gau- Shrimp dumplings
                6. Fried Taro
                I think that was it. I am sad to say there were some stuff we really wanted (Egg Custard and Tendon) that they didn't have. Our waiter said that they were understaff in the kitchen and said that a lot of their customers ask for those items. My husband just couldn't understand why if some items are in high demand they just don't make those first. Oh well.

                This place is good, but since I've had better in CA its not great. We will take what we can get =0) We will come back to this place most def.

                Thanks for the tip! More food to eat and more reviewing to come! =0)

                BTW: That Vietnamese Restaurant my husband was talking about (ChrisDriven), is pretty good, you should check it out!

                1. re: mmtrinh1223

                  re: Saigon Cafe - will do... Looking for a cold day to put away a nice bowl of pho. Thanks!

                  I've driven past Saigon Cafe for years and never stopped. Big thanks for the link to the Foodie Jerk site at the T-U. This is new to me.

                  Westside Taco Trucks? I'm there!! Weekends too??

                  Dos tacos al pastor, gracias...

                  1. re: mezzrow

                    There's another Vietnamese place called Saigon Bistro on 3546 St. Johns Bluff, JAX. We went to this place the other night, and thought it was pretty good as well. I have to say their broth was better than the Saigon Cafe place BUT Saigon Cafe gives more meat than this place. I think we will probably go to Saigon Bistro more just because its closer to where we live.

                    Also we ate at that Sushi Cafe this past Sunday. The fish was good, we were surprised about that, but its kinda weird knowing that our fish is being prepared and served by Chinese people lol. Oh and what is with that 1pc deal? That kinda got to me haha. Sorry I guess I am a big critic when it comes to Sushi joints just because I lived in Japan.

                    We shall try Sumo Sushi the next time we want a sushi fix =0)

          2. Welcome to Jax ... we, too, moved from SoCal (San Diego), and miss our cuisine choices! I agree w/ everything Mezzrow posted ... and would add these (not sure where you are living ... but most of these should be closer than an hour from any side of town): For nice tapas, Sangria House on Southside boulevard ... not much atmosphere, but good, homemade food;
            for Thai, I like Pattaya Thai on Baymeadows (although I haven't been there in a while); Middle Eastern, Hala's on University .. again, not somewhere to go for the atmosphere, but good, solid hummus, tabouli, and the standards;
            Bistro Aix in San Marco is yummy - excellent desserts and wonderful fresh-tossed salads ... some of the entrees are hit or miss;
            good BBQ - Mojo's on University ... homemade sides and nice meats (not preprocessed stuff);
            The Brick in Riverside ... especially nice to sit outside and enjoy some fine weather; also in Riverside, Biscotti's for nice desserts and good food (albeit small-ish portions, which isn't great for a really hungry husband)
            Al's Pizza (several around town) for a pretty good pizza - don't really recommend the pasta dishes ... excellent grilled chicken salad
            For lunch - the French Pantry on Powers (don't let the outside fool you .. very yummy food)
            Havana Jax on Beach (in San Marco) ... pretty good cuban (very good mojito's)

            That should get you started. Stick to the mom and pop places ... you'll find some good stuff. For real Mexican (like we're used to) - basically forget it! I haven't yet found good fish tacos or a good carne asada around here ....

            Good luck!

            1. I worked in JAX for a few months, and the best restaurant I found by far was called Matthews. Surprisingly good food for the area, but quite pricey... suitable for a special meal or one on an expense acct!

              1 Reply
              1. re: miami2boston

                For the best food in Jacksonville, non-chain, just three words:

                Beach Road Chicken

                Southern cooking and hospitality....

              2. My favorite Thai place just closed - Old Siam at the beaches (Pom why did you leave us????). I would love to hear when you find a great place for Thai. PK Noodles on beach is good pho.
                I second French Pantry - hidden inside a warehouse and Bamboo Creek. Worth going to Blue Bamboo a little further north on Southside Boulevard.
                New good stuff at the beach include Taco Lu's - fun, cheap tacos, loud and Fish Market for the hot and spicy shrimp (shells on boiled) with fresh rolls!

                Keep us posted with you findings!

                1 Reply
                1. re: meginAB

                  Had a very nice lunch at Bistro Aix in San Marco. The calamari app was enough for 4, really and the sauce was super garlicky. Sandwiches were big and tasty. Best dish was the proscuitto and goat chees salad. I loved the big crispy piece of proscuitto for a garnish.
                  Didn't like: I think they put the bread in the microwave! What's up with that?
                  Wait staff is a little pushy about selling extras.
                  For sure, they put the brownie in the microwave. Who wants to eat a scalding hot, albeit delicious when it cooled, brownie?

                  My advice--forget the microwave--you have good food!

                2. I have lived on the Southside of Jacksonville for 22 years, coming originally from NYC/Manhattan. I REALLY miss the authentic ethnic foods there and have honestly found nothing comparable in Jacksonville. To get a memorable meal, you generally have to go with either fine dining like Matthew's, or stick to seafood at the beaches or real southern or Florida Cracker food that is well prepared. An exception is Bamboo Creek, which has been mentioned for dim sum.

                  One place I love is actually just south of St. Augustine Beach, Saltwater Cowboy's. It's about a 40 min. drive and a little hard to find, but well worth the trip....as well as the long wait for a table the night we went. They have been in business 35 yrs., with the current owners there for over 20 yrs. It features authentic Florida Cracker food (gator tail, frog legs, soft shell turtle), as well as ribs, seafood, and chicken, prepared very well and in a wonderful atmosphere over salt marshes. Heres a link:
                  Note: I have no vested interest in this place--just a happy diner. Prices are moderate.

                  1. I am originally from Sa,Texas and grew up my younger years in Louissiana and just moved from Ft Lauderdale where I lived the last 8 years.Thats just a back ground of my taste buds.There is a true Mexican restaurant called Tapatio on Old Bay Meadows Rd and it doubles as a grocery store.They have great corn tortilla tacos overstuffed with meats like lengua(cow tongue)cabezza(brain)carnitas,chorizo,carne asada,sprinkled with lots of cilantro and tiny diced onions.Not California or Texas style but true SE Mexican food.Also try there Fajitas that has ribs,shrimp,steak,pork, sprinkled with chorizo and tomatoes.This is a great dish and is the most expensive thing on the menu and its only 12.99 inluding real mexican rice and beans and small guac.I say real Mexican rice because most of the terrible Mex places around serve yellow rice from the bag.(immatation saffron rice).My advice if you walk into a Mexican restaurant and see this yellow rice on peoples plate you should consider yourself lucky that you saw it and walk right out.My second recommendation is JJs Bisto de Paris 7643 Gate Parkway Suite 105.This place is amazing and reminds me why french food is the cradle of the gourmet scene.There Bouillabaise (spelling?) with tommatoe fume was the best Ive had and the Pate was super fresh.Of note I was brought 2 style and both where exceptional.No French Bistro would be complete without a great desert menu.I might be wrong but I believe there was over 50 on the menu.Last time I was there I had the poached pair with rasberry torte and it was crazy good.As far as Asian food in these parts its been pretty lack luster and I keep trying different places.I guess there is a reason PF Changs has a 2 hr wait.

                    1. I just saw in today's paper that Bamboo Creek has closed!! However, the piece noted that the owners hope to open soon in a new location. Wonder why St. John's Town Center was not a good location? Not enough of a lunch crowd, perhaps?

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: FLnow

                        Another one down - sooooo depressing. Get to your favorite local owned places NOW before they are no longer there!

                        1. re: FLnow

                          WHAT?!?! This placed closed?!?! WHY?!?! They had GREAT dim sum!! NOOOO!! Just when we move here and find some good Asian restaurants!! If you can keep us updated if they do locate somewhere else.

                          1. re: mmtrinh1223

                            They've moved to Baymeadows Road. In between I95 and Philips Highway. I think it's the old Bennigan's location.

                            1. re: Sunshine17


                              would you know the exact address?

                        2. So we came across another Vietnamese restaurant that is even BETTER than Saigon Bistro and Saigon Time. This one is called P.K. (Pho King) Noodles. Its on Beach BLVD, next to the community college.

                          I give this place a 4 out of 5 stars and heres why:

                          1. They gave plenty of meat and noodles
                          2. If you have a tongue that can taste different spices then you can definitely taste the beef, cinnamon, ginger, and onions (which are the main ingredients).
                          3. Cheap ($6.75 I believe)
                          4. Ice coffee was delicious
                          5. If your into Vietnamese deserts, they have some good selections (its mostly tapioca, milk, coconut, fruit, jello and sometimes red beans- I personally don't like it but my husband loves this stuff).
                          6. They had Paris by Night on, now that's serious! =0) (Just Google Paris by Night).

                          1. The bowls weren't big enough
                          2. My husband wanted fresh sugarcane drink, but they only had it in the can.
                          3. Not enough veggies (bean sprouts, basil, mint, etc.)
                          4. Their brisket was done WAY well done. They need to tone it down.

                          Both my husband and I ordered the Pho with all the meats in it =0) They have a wide range of other Vietnamese dishes and we will come back to try them all. =0)

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: mmtrinh1223

                            Pho King is on my list of places to visit along with the famous FU KING restaurant in Lake City!

                            Jacksonville has some pretty horrible restaurants, but the good hole in the walls come and go, except for the Bar-B-Q places which stick around. (I like Pig Bar-B-Q on Normandy Blvd. or on Lem Turner Rd. and Johnson's Pit Bar-B-Q on Brentwood, off of Golfair.) There used to be far more Vietnamese restaurants, but they have dwindled over the years. For awhile there were two on Cassatt Ave. near I-10.

                            I like Singleton's Seaffod Shack and Mayport and would recommend the fish of the day lunch special. Always fresh and a good deal.

                            Hung Thinh supermarket on Normandy Blvd. at Lane Ave. has a dynamith Banh Mi sandwich, in my opinion at least. (My mum isn't Vietnamese!)

                            For greasy breakfasts: the Fox in Avondale, Dave's Diner in Murray Hill and June's Diner in Marrietta.

                            1. re: monsieurbigstuff

                              We moved down from Atlanta and have also had a tough time finding places we like to eat.

                              The BEST we've found are:

                              French Pantry: Oh so yummy. This place is only open for lunch on weekdays but well worth going out of your way. Their bread is served at many other restaurants in town (1171, Pastiche). Their cheesecake is what I dream of when I dream of cheesecake: light and velvety, not weighed down by too much cream cheese, sweet but not cloying, and bound by a buttery graham cracker crust. I cannot overemphasize how good this place is. Their ambience is horrible (basically a warehouse off University) but the food more than makes up for it.

                              Lemongrass Thai - Cool interior from former cooks at Pom's Thai. Best Thai that we have found in the city.

                              Metro Diner - Good, greasy diner food. Love the Challah on the Square.

                              Pepe's Hacienda - Mexican restaurant attached to a Mexican grocery. It's not the best Mexican I've ever had but the best I've had in Jacksonville. They use good fresh ingredients. Leans more towards true Mexican food than Tex-Mex.

                              Matthews - Upscale restaurant but the only upscale restaurant that is really worth the expense in this city. Recently, they've been putting coupons in the weekly mailer for $20 off a $100 dinner, which we recently used.

                              Heirlooms Cafe: We have only been here once so I can't say definitively that it's the best in the city but we had a darn good brunch here. Novel usage of fresh ingredients.

                              Mojos Barbeque: Good barbeque. Good sides.

                              Mossfire Grill: I think Mossfire Grill is probably somewhere in between the mediocre and the best restaurants, actually, but, to give it the benefit of the doubt, I'll place it in best. Reasonable nouveau Tex-Mex.

                              The MEDIOCRE we've found are:

                              Bistro Aix: We don't really understand the hype. The food is good but not great and tends to be fairly greasy. But, it's better than most in the city.

                              BBs: Salads and desserts are very good. Pizzas and entrees are pretty good but not great. We go there only for salad and dessert (hey, we have to balance out the healthy with the unhealthy).

                              Basil's Thai: This place can be hit or miss. We've had good meals here and we've also had really lousy meals here. I think the trick is to stick with curries and noodle dishes here because their other food isn't that good.

                              BAD restaurants in the city (so so many):

                              La Nopalera: We tried this place twice because it was so near our house but found the food to be disgusting. Much prefer Pepe's.

                              1171: I have no idea why this place gets accolades. Boring, unseasoned food. And way too expensive.

                              Row Restaurant: Same as 1171. Cute house but bad food.

                              Biscottis: I know that BBs and Biscottis have the same owners but we've found BBs to have generally much better food.

                              River City Brewing: Bleh. But great views if you go there for drinks.

                              Any Indian restaurant: Indian food in this city is just bland, mediocre, and Americanized.

                              Middle Eastern restaurants: We've been to Layla's in San Marco and Casbah. Both were lousy. Hala looks promising since they make fresh pita, so we will try there next. Zaitoon at the beach is supposed to be good but we haven't tried it.

                              Taste of Thai: Not good.

                              Italian/Pizza: We've been to La Cena and found the food to be overpriced and uninspiring. A pasta restaurant in Riverside (can't remember the name) was reasonable but service was horrendous. We aren't big fans of Pizza Palace or Vito's pizza. The best we've had is Picasso's Pizza (right next to the Whole Foods). But, we want to try Moon River which is supposed to be really good.

                              Sushi: We've been to several and have been unimpressed. We've tried Sake House, Sushi Rock Cafe, and Sushi Cafe and found all three to be pretty lousy; Sake House was the best of the worst though.

                              I'm excited to hear that there is a reasonable Vietnamese restaurant out at the beach! We've been avoiding trying the Vietnamese places here because bad Vietnamese tends to be really bad.

                              1. re: trappedartist

                                You know, even though the restaurants here aren't great, the produce and meat tends to be fantastic so we end up cooking in a lot. We especially love Seafood Gourmet (the best seafood my husband says he has ever eaten) and the Jacksonville Farmer's Market. If you haven't tried those, check them out. I have lots of thoughts on where to buy produce/meat in JAX, so let me know if you want more thoughts.

                                1. re: trappedartist

                                  If you want REALLY good Middle Eastern or Lebanese food- go to Karam's at 4241 University Boulevard in Jacksonville Florida (904) 636-9595 just south of Memorial hospital on same side- all of their food is terrific, especially the Schwarma- I get the platter with 3 sides (our favorites are french fries, cous cous and cucumber yogurt salad- with two extra pitas my 12 yo daughter and 9 yo old son and I are STUFFED!

                            2. Welcome, recently moved to Tampa after living in Jax for just under 3 years.

                              Jax is a tough town for food snobs. Most restaurants are fair at best, the few gems stand out a little better because of that though.

                              Thai - Several good places around Thai room (Jax Beach) is good and reasonably priced. My favorite is Palms Thai Bistro in San Marco, the menu is somewhat more limited (and slightlly more expensive) but a few standout menu items make the place. Best Pad Thai in town.

                              Mexican - You won't find any decent mexican in Jax. What you wll find is a nice selection of great taco joints. Tiajuana flats is a small chain that we visited often but there are a bunch of others worth visiting.

                              Fine dining.
                              North Beach Bistro is a newer restaurant at the beach that quickly became our favorite. Decent prices for what you get, beautiful atmosphere and amazing food. Tuna Martini and Proscuito Rissotto croquettes are must haes.
                              Dwight's Bistro - cozy open kitchen bistro with an eclectic menu. Great homemade raviolis and fish/meat dishes.
                              Chew - downtown, another great bistro, busiests at lunch but the menu works for dinner as well.

                              Japanese - There are a ton of sushi restaurants and some are pretty tasty.

                              BBQ - you can't find good BBQ in Jax unless somebody is making it in their backyard. Honestly anyone who thinks the local chains are good hasn't been someplace that has REAL Q. (Kansas City or Texas)

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: ploftus

                                "BBQ - you can't find good BBQ in Jax unless somebody is making it in their backyard. Honestly anyone who thinks the local chains are good hasn't been someplace that has REAL Q. (Kansas City or Texas)"

                                Honestly, anyone who thinks the only REAL Q comes out of Kansas City or Texas needs to expand his or her horizons a bit. Memphis, NC and SC (et. al.) all have unique styles of BBQ that are incredible when done right. Also, the NC and SC styles have migrated down to GA and FL, and you can find some excellent places in both states. Here in JAX, Mojo's (three locations, I think) does an excellent NC Style Q, along with dabbling in some other regional variations as well. There are a lot of other places in town that also do a really good job. That said, Sonny's and Woody's, two of the larger chains, are, in my opinion, purveyors of cooked meat, not BBQ.

                                1. re: RHT in JAX

                                  You all should try a new place that opened in April on the Westside. It's called Gators BBQ just off of Beaver Street and Cahoon. tiny place that I recommend you try the first time during the "off hours" the line is out the door every day at lunch and dinner the BBQ is so good! They have the best beef brisket in Jax, even a few Texans approve of it.

                              2. For Korean, I would recommend going to Koja: It serves sushi but is owned by Koreans and if you know what you are looking for, you can get a few favorite Korean dishes. I find their bibimbap & dolset exact to what you would get in Korea. If you look on the sushi menu you will also find Kimbap, which is bang-on. I have order pulgogi before but had to ask for the lettuce to wrap it with and the samjang.

                                For Mexican, I frequent TacoLu at the beach. The fresh tacos are addictive and have interesting fillings to choose from like Ahi tuna or brisket. YUM.

                                Jacksonville, FL, Jacksonville, FL

                                Jacksonville, FL, Jacksonville, FL

                                1. A little background, born and raised in NY, living in Jax for 8 years now. Best NY style pizza is Rennas at St. Johns Town Center, hands down. A good place for breakfast is Beach Diner (they have one in Ponte Vedra and one in Antlantic Beach), try the Ultimate. Nice dinner spot is Aqua Grill in Ponte Vedra. Good spot for a beer and some Guinness wings is Fiann McCools in Jax Beach.

                                  Yes, bigger cities have better restaurants than Jacksonville, but there are plenty of good restaurants in this city. The only thing that makes it hard is that the city is so big and spread out, and there isnt one area that has better restaurants than another area of town. If you enjoy the search for that good meal as much as the good meal, then Jacksonville will satisfy your foodie needs. Also, don't forget about St. Augustine, there are some really good spots down there. try Acapulco right across from the fort for Mexican and a beautiful view if you can get a table on the deck upstairs.


                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: CDB76

                                    Just wanted to let everyone know that PK noodle is closed. So another one bites the dust: :( This economy is killing some great restaurants.

                                    1. re: meganandy

                                      Its not close, they were refurbishing. Just ate there yesterday

                                  2. Hi----there is some hope here in Jax. I lived in NYC for 15 years and was spoiled. PK Noodles on Beach Blvd has solid Pho and other simple Vietnamese. There is a new VERY authentic Fujian Chinese restaurant on the corner of Old St. Augustine Rd and Hood called Fu Xing. Excellent Offal and Seafood.

                                    There is some decent Sushi at the corner of University and San Jose in the Winn Dixie Plaza there. Sit at the Sushi bar and introduce yourself to Min. Ask what he has special. He also does some interesting hot dishes that are not on the menu.

                                    There is no good Korean in town and the Thai is hit or miss. There are a couple of good options for Indian. The buffet at the 5th Element on Baymeadows RD is copious and varied and there is a place specializing in South Indian just in the next plaza up the road. Miyami?

                                    There are some other little ethnic gems...Colombian and Brazilian Bakeries, a little Honduran place on Old Kings Road and more.

                                    1. Moved here from North Jersey for work a couple of years back. Frequent the NYC/Chi areas for ethnic food. Here are the places I go to. Nothing spectacular, but gives me the basic essentials I need while living here in Jacksonville.

                                      El Rinconcito (colombian)
                                      Pho King (vietnamese as mentioned)
                                      Piscos (peruvian)
                                      Tommy's Brickoven Pizza (best pie in town)
                                      Mi Pueblo (they make cemitas and tacos al pastor inside this little mexican grocery)
                                      Madrid (run by venezuelans but they make a lot of cuban items here)
                                      Rico Mex (you can get honduran baleadas here)
                                      Flavors (Indian buffet)
                                      Sammy's Italian Deli (sell olives, deli meats, Italian imports, and make lunch sandwiches...get the Tony's Special)
                                      Apna Bazaar (Indian grocer)
                                      Dae Ho (Korean grocer)
                                      Bamboo Creek (Dim Sum location moved to Baymeadows)
                                      Las Antillas (Puerto Rican)
                                      Brazil Grill (on beach blvd...great brazilian buffet, but only open for lunch M-S).
                                      Jax Oriental Market (chinese market)
                                      Antojitos Colombianos Panaderia (Colombian bakery)

                                      Hope that helps. These are pretty much the only places I go to. Nothing spectacular, but it keeps me satisfied until I can get out to a city.

                                      Apna Restaurants
                                      9436 S Orange Blossom Trl, Orlando, FL 32837

                                      Italian Deli
                                      247 N Collier Blvd Ste 104, Marco Island, FL 34145

                                      Pisco's Restaurant
                                      4131 Southside Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32216

                                      3090 S Jog Rd, Greenacres, FL 33467

                                      Rico Mex
                                      5026 Richard Ln, Jacksonville, FL 32216

                                      Sammy's Italian
                                      9533 NW 41st St, Doral, FL 33178