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A Chef's List for Dining in Jacksonville

Stephen Dare has 20 years of experience at Restaurant ownership and cafe development. 30 years of professional experience as a chef. In this article he provides a short and impolitic list of the best food and dining options in the city from a purely food based perspective. Join us after the jump and weigh in!

Published March 5, 2013 in Dining & Nightlife      85 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article





2.  Bold Bean Coffee.  
869 Stockton St #1  Jacksonville, FL 32204
(904) 855-1181
http://www.boldbeancoffee.com

I would also stack Bold Bean up as one of the top 10 coffeehouses in the United States. By far they are the best coffeehouse available in the State of Florida, and in my pretty extensive experience they are also easily the best coffeehouse in the entire Southeast. There simply is no comparison to them. The coffee cost more than the other coffee joints in town, but it is appropriately priced for the supreme quality of the product and the natural excellence of all the choices of the proprietors.


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85 Comments

stephendare

January 24, 2013, 10:43:09 AM
I thought briefly about including Seafood Kitchen at Jax Beach, but Im going to do a separate article for beaches food.

ben says

January 24, 2013, 11:30:38 AM
I'm no chef, but I do love food...

1) bold bean - not just the best coffee I've had in the Southeast US, but the best staff.

2) french pantry - to die for. not sure it gets much better than this for a lunch spot. i still miss the days when they used to run a dinner service

3) orsay - best french food in the area. not much more to add.

4) the dreamette - may not be the best ice cream/soft serve in the country, but that place has is an institution worth visiting. never had a bad experience here, ever.

5) Nora's in Lakewood - easily the most authentic and homecooked Lebanese food in the area. Only place I go and order the special, every time. I trust the owner, Raymond, with my life. Try the raw kibbeh on Thursdays.

6) 13 gypsies/the tasting room - never had a bad meal at either place. great spanish food. 13 gypsies also makes the best risotto I've ever had--better than anything I've eaten in Italy

7) mr. taco - pepe's hacienda may be an iota more 'authentic' (where's the cojita at mr. taco?!), but nothing beats mr. taco. best tacos in the city, as well as the best tortas and tortillas. 

8) the donut shoppe (arlington) - best donuts...really.

stephendare

January 24, 2013, 11:42:39 AM
I'm no chef, but I do love food...

1) bold bean - not just the best coffee I've had in the Southeast US, but the best staff.

2) french pantry - to die for. not sure it gets much better than this for a lunch spot. i still miss the days when they used to run a dinner service

3) orsay - best french food in the area. not much more to add.

4) the dreamette - may not be the best ice cream/soft serve in the country, but that place has is an institution worth visiting. never had a bad experience here, ever.

5) Nora's in Lakewood - easily the most authentic and homecooked Lebanese food in the area. Only place I go and order the special, every time. I trust the owner, Raymond, with my life. Try the raw kibbeh on Thursdays.

6) 13 gypsies/the tasting room - never had a bad meal at either place. great spanish food. 13 gypsies also makes the best risotto I've ever had--better than anything I've eaten in Italy

7) mr. taco - pepe's hacienda may be an iota more 'authentic' (where's the cojita at mr. taco?!), but nothing beats mr. taco. best tacos in the city, as well as the best tortas and tortillas. 

8) the donut shoppe (arlington) - best donuts...really.

Ive never eaten at Nora's, Ben.  I will go and try it immediately.

funwithteeth

January 24, 2013, 11:56:58 AM
Nora's is wonderful. I ate there pretty regularly when I lived in Lakewood.

fsquid

January 24, 2013, 12:01:26 PM
Loved Mr. Taco when my office was over there.  I still like Pepe's a bit more though.  Thanks for your list Stephen as I now have two Viet places to try now.

Captain Zissou

January 24, 2013, 12:20:29 PM
Nora and Mr Taco are awesome.  I tried to get into the Pepe hype, but it just wasn't as good.  For prices and attractive waitstaff, go to Pepe's.  For everything else, it's Mr Taco by a long shot.

I've been known to eat some decent food, so here is a quick list of my favorite cheap places.
Tuptim Thai-  Awesome everything from the Tea to the Drunken Noodles.  They never let me down.
Pinegrove-  I refuse to eat a cuban anywhere else and their Shrimp Po Boy is the best in town.
Karam's-  When i just what some Shwarma, this is the only option. 
Nora Cafe-  When I want anything else, I go here.
Bowl of Pho- AWESOME
Burrito Gallery- Obviously.
Moon River-  I agree that it's just a fantastic cheap dinner.

*Only been once but showing some promise.
Beachside Seafood-*  It was delicious and the amount of fresh ingredients was impressive.
Tossgreen-* Everything is fresh and they did a surprisingly great job cooking my steak.  I wouldn't say they are a 100% must try, but I want to keep them in business, so I'll put the word out.


When I'm shelling out some extra cash
Tapa That- They knock it out of the park everytime
Salty Fig- Soon to be favorite once I get some money in my pockets
Nippers- I love it.  Mac and Cheese, Tacos, Tuna, everything I could ask for
Orsay-  It's a rarity that I can afford to go here, but it's always worth it


fieldafm

January 24, 2013, 01:15:49 PM
I would give you a list (there is much better pizza in Jacksonville, let alone the US, than Moon River), but a little pinched for time.

That being said, Hon Korean and Palm Valley Fish Camp are definately list worthy.

Mr Taco has a food truck, and you should be hearing more about it's locations soon  ;)

stephendare

January 24, 2013, 01:25:59 PM
I would give you a list (there is much better pizza in Jacksonville, let alone the US, than Moon River), but a little pinched for time.

That being said, Hon Korean and Palm Valley Fish Camp are definately list worthy.

Mr Taco has a food truck, and you should be hearing more about it's locations soon  ;)

Cant wait to see your list, but I will stand behind my comments on Moon River.

thelakelander

January 24, 2013, 02:27:16 PM
I'm no chef but here are some of my favorites:

Bold Bean - the only place I've been able to down coffee black and like it.

Chomp Chomp - great little whole in the wall that gets overlooked by many.

Soul Food Bistro - What can I say?  I'm a southern boy.  I love my oxtails, collards, mac & cheese, and cornbread.

Metro Diner - I'm a sucker for great french toast.

Singleton Seafood Shack - the type of long stay local seafood restaurant/market I wish DT Jax had.

Picasso's - Stuck inside of a Mandarin shopping center, I didn't know this place existed until last month.  I'll be coming back for a second round of shrimp & grits.

Kickback's - You're hungry and it's 1am in the morning. 

Food Truck of the day at Deerwood Park's Capital Plaza - Recently, I've been working out of my Southside condo.  Those food trucks pulling into Capital Plaza are godsent.  A great departure from all the chains down here.  Today, it was Up In Smoke that hit the spot.

Captain Zissou is dead on about Beachside Seafood.  I haven't been in a while but when I worked in Ponte Vedra, their fresh crab sandwiches were a weekly favorite for me.

EatDrinkJax

January 24, 2013, 02:28:34 PM
fieldafm - does Mr. Taco have a food truck (or do you mean Corner Taco?).

ben says

January 24, 2013, 02:30:11 PM
I would give you a list (there is much better pizza in Jacksonville, let alone the US, than Moon River), but a little pinched for time.

That being said, Hon Korean and Palm Valley Fish Camp are definately list worthy.

Mr Taco has a food truck, and you should be hearing more about it's locations soon  ;)

+1 on Hon Korean....great Korean food, a tad expensive, but worth it nonetheless.

Are you serious about Mr. Taco?!?

ben says

January 24, 2013, 02:31:53 PM
Picasso's - Stuck inside of a Mandarin shopping center, I didn't know this place existed until last month.  I'll be coming back for a second round of shrimp & grits.

Forgot about them! Great place, totally unexpected.

fsquid

January 24, 2013, 02:35:10 PM
Tried Picasso's for the first time last Monday and I was really impressed myself.  Pizza was almost just like I remember Imo's in STL.

fieldafm

January 24, 2013, 02:36:02 PM
fieldafm - does Mr. Taco have a food truck (or do you mean Corner Taco?).

I am 100 percent certain of the difference.  I know a thing or two about local food trucks.

Picasso's is a great recommendation for authentic St Louis style pizza (or ravioli).  I also agree about Beachside, no coincidence then that there is a connection there to my family's old restaurant.

smeeeth

January 24, 2013, 02:39:02 PM
I thoroughly enjoy Picasso's.  The Pizza definitely beats Moon River (I'm not saying MR is bad, but both their NY and St. Louis Style are spectacular).  Everything seems to be very fresh as they grind their own meat, make their own pasta, etc.  Menu varies from the Pizza/Italian fare to comfort food, and I have yet to find a bad thing on the menu to date.

JeffreyS

January 24, 2013, 03:29:54 PM
Does Picasso's do toasted Ravioli?

carpnter

January 24, 2013, 03:37:32 PM
I'm no chef, but I do love food...

1) bold bean - not just the best coffee I've had in the Southeast US, but the best staff.

2) french pantry - to die for. not sure it gets much better than this for a lunch spot. i still miss the days when they used to run a dinner service

3) orsay - best french food in the area. not much more to add.

4) the dreamette - may not be the best ice cream/soft serve in the country, but that place has is an institution worth visiting. never had a bad experience here, ever.

5) Nora's in Lakewood - easily the most authentic and homecooked Lebanese food in the area. Only place I go and order the special, every time. I trust the owner, Raymond, with my life. Try the raw kibbeh on Thursdays.

6) 13 gypsies/the tasting room - never had a bad meal at either place. great spanish food. 13 gypsies also makes the best risotto I've ever had--better than anything I've eaten in Italy

7) mr. taco - pepe's hacienda may be an iota more 'authentic' (where's the cojita at mr. taco?!), but nothing beats mr. taco. best tacos in the city, as well as the best tortas and tortillas. 

8) the donut shoppe (arlington) - best donuts...really.

Mr. Taco is great.  I also like a place called Lupita's, it is on University Blvd across from Town and Country next to Subway(old University Diner location).  Excellent Mexican food.

The wife and I have been trying to eat at locally owned restaurants instead of national chains when we eat out.  I am definitely taking notes of some of these places mentioned. 

fsquid

January 24, 2013, 03:43:26 PM
Does Picasso's do toasted Ravioli?

yes

TPC

January 24, 2013, 04:41:10 PM
I'm not a Cheif but when it comes to restaurants that I go to on a regular basis I have to agree with Moon River. I take all of my friends from out of town there and I've never heard a complaint but many a compliment.

For other low prices fair I also enjoy Burrito Gallery and Chomp Chomp.

TPC

January 24, 2013, 04:42:15 PM
Doh, I meant chef.

EatDrinkJax

January 24, 2013, 07:27:31 PM
Agree with lots so far. A few ideas for those who make it to the Beaches :-

Delicomb in Jax Beach - hole in the wall. Passionate about what they do. I'm super picky about coffee and theirs is awesome. Served in a large glass stein with organic cream. Creative breakfast/lunch with lots of vegan options. Kimchi on eggs. Mmmm. It's slowly getting discovered and the lineups are growing. Will need to move to a bigger place soon.

Two Dudes - Chef Ace French delivers amazing seafood and a great burger with great prices from a non-descript strip mall on Atlantic.

Azurea - Chef Ted Peters is creative and delivers delicious seafood. 5-star pricey, but a good treat.

Mojo's - pricing is very reasonable and they make an awesome burger (with bacon that is thick and crispy!), sweet potato mash and meat salad. Their barbecue is also solid but I can rarely get past the burger or salad.

Good Food Company - creative food from Chef Millard Cooley at reasonable prices. They even have a "discontinued" wine list, if you ask. We had an excellent bottle of French rose with lunch for $7.

Joseph's Pizza (thin crust) at Atlantic Beach is consistently outstanding, and so is DaVinci's Pizza, just down the road. Both have thin crust options, grind their own sausage meat, and let the flavors shine through without being greasy, bready, or drowned in cheese.




KEGreene1

January 24, 2013, 08:38:12 PM
Found a couple of new ones and see many of my favorites.  A couple of comments on the already mentioned:

I agree with Yacht Club, but would expand it to any fish Chef Stephen prepares!

Orsay is the best and can be done cheaply (especially during Happy Hour) - pork chop or steak frites

To add another one...
Gumbo Ya Ya's at San Pablo/Beach is great for po'boys and gumbo (and there house made hot sauce is awesome!)

fsquid

January 24, 2013, 11:40:56 PM
I'm trying the Gumbo YaYa's this weekend, good to see someone has a positive experience.

jcjohnpaint

January 25, 2013, 05:54:03 AM
Boldbean- hands down.  I have some friends in the Northeast that are roasters and I still find Boldbean to beat all I have tried. 

Captain Zissou

January 25, 2013, 09:28:39 AM
Want to add Casa Maya in St Augustine.  I'd say it's in the top 5 for local restaurants, any category, any price, period.

I also second Joseph's and Delicomb.

Edit: Palm Valley Fish Camp is also comfortably inside the top 5 restaurants in the area.  I like it better than North Beach Fish Camp.  I can't pinpoint the reason, but I just do.

Dog Walker

January 25, 2013, 10:40:33 AM
Best Cuban Sandwich in town comes from El Mofongo on 103rd near Westconnet.  Their Dominican Roast Chicken and pork skins are absolutely authentic.  I'm usually the only non-Spanish speaker in the place.  The moved to a larger space at the end of the same strip mall they are in because they were so popular.

Pastries are made on site too.

Riverrat

January 25, 2013, 10:49:32 AM
Wait. Carrabba's? I'd say the inclusion of that pretty much discredits the entire list. Yikes. (And yes, I've been to the Regency location, several times, and it's like every other fine Carrabba's).

stephendare

January 25, 2013, 10:53:08 AM
Wait. Carrabba's? I'd say the inclusion of that pretty much discredits the entire list. Yikes. (And yes, I've been to the Regency location, several times, and it's like every other fine Carrabba's).

Yes.  Carrabbas.  Brilliant food.  Great Price.  Expertly prepared, highly trained food servers.

As I stated in the article, this is purely about the food.

As a rule I hate corporate chains, and spend my entire time despising the food every time a friend demands that I join them at a corporate place.

And the Carrabbas at Regency is definitely a cut above the other Carrabbas.

KenFSU

January 25, 2013, 10:58:54 AM
Wait. Carrabba's? I'd say the inclusion of that pretty much discredits the entire list. Yikes. (And yes, I've been to the Regency location, several times, and it's like every other fine Carrabba's).

I actually think it gives his list a little added credibility.

Ballsy addition Stephen :)

Can't say I've ever had a bad meal at Carrabba's.

Very few chains you can say that about.

sandyshoes

January 25, 2013, 12:32:42 PM
Thanks for the great info...have to say, LOVE the photo;  it almost looks as if it were painted by a Dutch master, you all look very august [Websters:  marked with majestic dignity...]

stephendare

January 25, 2013, 01:09:53 PM
lol.  thanks Sandy!

Wacca Pilatka

January 25, 2013, 01:10:26 PM
Best Cuban Sandwich in town comes from El Mofongo on 103rd near Westconnet.  Their Dominican Roast Chicken and pork skins are absolutely authentic.  I'm usually the only non-Spanish speaker in the place.  The moved to a larger space at the end of the same strip mall they are in because they were so popular.

Pastries are made on site too.

Awesome tip.  Thanks!

Dog Walker

January 25, 2013, 04:07:29 PM
Lots of good tips here and can't disagree with any inclusion that I have tried!  Looking forward to trying some of the others.

How come Indochine isn't included?  I've only eaten there once, but it seemed really good.

TPC

January 25, 2013, 04:17:10 PM
If you like Indochine I recommend Tiptum Thai off of Roosevelt.

fieldafm

January 25, 2013, 04:23:15 PM
If you like Indochine I recommend Tiptum Thai off of Roosevelt.

Tuptim and Pataya are my recommendations for good Thai food in Jax.  Indochine is good, but the push definately goes to both Tuptim and Pataya (and they both offer a more price conscious menu). 

Pinky

January 25, 2013, 05:32:30 PM
Having grown up in Jersey I'm a bit of a pizza snob.  The best (or at least most "Jerseyesque") pizza in this town is Renna's, hands down.  No competition even.  Mellow Mushroom is good, Moon River is good, Al's is good, but Renna's is perfect.

jcjohnpaint

January 25, 2013, 07:05:07 PM
Thanks Stephen.  I have been looking these places up since I got home. 

stephendare

January 25, 2013, 07:58:05 PM
Thanks Stephen.  I have been looking these places up since I got home.

Seriously my pleasure!

cayohueso

January 26, 2013, 02:11:11 AM
Oh man. Jacksonville has always had all my favorite restaurants. Even when I had to move away I miss a bunch of places.
Pinegrove has the best burgers. Renna's has awesome sandwiches and pizza! Moon River too is one of my all time favorites. Blue Boy's has the Super Club that can be stretched into 4 meals AND it rocks.
Still...best seafood in town isn't. It's in St. Augustine at O'Steen's for over 30 years.

BridgeTroll

January 26, 2013, 09:22:36 AM
Having grown up in Jersey I'm a bit of a pizza snob.  The best (or at least most "Jerseyesque") pizza in this town is Renna's, hands down.  No competition even.  Mellow Mushroom is good, Moon River is good, Al's is good, but Renna's is perfect.


No love for Carmines?

Ethylene

January 26, 2013, 09:33:18 AM
Nora's?
Lakewood?
Can't find, plz help!
Did find "Nora's Pizza" on Merrill only.
Wanted to try asap only to no avail...

Adam W

January 26, 2013, 09:47:58 AM
Having grown up in Jersey I'm a bit of a pizza snob.  The best (or at least most "Jerseyesque") pizza in this town is Renna's, hands down.  No competition even.  Mellow Mushroom is good, Moon River is good, Al's is good, but Renna's is perfect.


No love for Carmines?

I love Carmine's FWIW. And, as I recall, Joseph's was pretty damn good (though it has been over 10 years since I've had pizza from Joseph's).

I'm sure Jax has lots of great pizza options.

Dog Walker

January 26, 2013, 10:37:30 AM
If you like Indochine I recommend Tiptum Thai off of Roosevelt.

Tuptim and Pataya are my recommendations for good Thai food in Jax.  Indochine is good, but the push definately goes to both Tuptim and Pataya (and they both offer a more price conscious menu). 

Love Tuptim!  Lek and Russell's Pataya Thai is too far away for frequent dining, but is always fantastic.

Don't overlook the Magnificat Cafe across the side street from the downtown library.  Benoit's quiches and the carrot and ginger soup are without equal in town.  He's got some secret ingredient in the soup that we have not been able to duplicate at home.

ben says

January 26, 2013, 01:00:38 PM
Nora's?
Lakewood?
Can't find, plz help!
Did find "Nora's Pizza" on Merrill only.
Wanted to try asap only to no avail...

1533 University Blvd W  Jacksonville, FL 32217
(904) 739-0033

Same shopping strip as Gene's Seafood, Mojo's, Domino's, Tijuana Flat's, Cruisers, etc. Across the street from Winn-Dixie, Healthy Bagel, Starbucks.

Ethylene

January 26, 2013, 02:12:21 PM
Nora's?
Lakewood?
Can't find, plz help!
Did find "Nora's Pizza" on Merrill only.
Wanted to try asap only to no avail...

1533 University Blvd W  Jacksonville, FL 32217
(904) 739-0033

Same shopping strip as Gene's Seafood, Mojo's, Domino's, Tijuana Flat's, Cruisers, etc. Across the street from Winn-Dixie, Healthy Bagel, Starbucks.

Cool, thank you Ben!

sandyshoes

January 26, 2013, 03:55:44 PM
Is it spelled "Noura's" or something similar?  It's next to Richardson's Jewelers and Merle Norman on the Tijuana Flats side of the strip.

JaxJerry

January 26, 2013, 05:39:37 PM
So, what professional accreditation allow Stephen to accurately refer to himself as a chef?  Is the guy behind the counter at Lubi's a "chef"? How about the kitchen at the European Street Cafe.  Do they employ a chef?  Isn't anyone in the kitchen a simple cook anymore?  Rant over.

spuwho

January 26, 2013, 05:41:54 PM
So, what professional accreditation allow Stephen to accurately refer to himself as a chef?  Is the guy behind the counter at Lubi's a "chef"? How about the kitchen at the European Street Cafe.  Do they employ a chef?  Isn't anyone in the kitchen a simple cook anymore?  Rant over.

Stephen works at Lubi's? ;)

I-10east

January 26, 2013, 05:48:21 PM
In terms of an old school 'fold in half' NY pizza, IMO nothing beats Libretto's at SJTC. The spices are absolutely perfect. Sure it's definitely not the most healthy pizza in the world as it's a lil' greasy, so I just dab the pizza top with some napkins, viola! It tastes that damn good to me to go through that. The more health friendly Mellow Mushroom is really good too; Can't wait until the Avondale location opens. 

stephendare

January 26, 2013, 06:33:05 PM
So, what professional accreditation allow Stephen to accurately refer to himself as a chef?  Is the guy behind the counter at Lubi's a "chef"? How about the kitchen at the European Street Cafe.  Do they employ a chef?  Isn't anyone in the kitchen a simple cook anymore?  Rant over.

Stephen works at Lubi's? ;)

Well a "Chef" is defined as the following:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/chef
Quote
chef  [shef]  Show IPA
noun
1.  the chief cook, especially in a restaurant or hotel, usually responsible for planning menus, ordering foodstuffs, overseeing food preparation, and supervising the kitchen staff.

But the primary difference between the two is that a chef is someone who is able to create recipes (with some understanding of the hows and whys, hopefully) and a cook is a person who is qualified to execute a recipe either as written or trained.

That and a chef is really just a manager or general manager of a professional kitchen.  It comes from a french word meaning basically "Chief".  It encompasses both cooking, efficiency, employee management, and economics of a kitchen.

As for me, 30 years of work experience in both corporate and ownership positions, training in 23 different types of ethnic cuisine, several television gigs for cooking and 13 restaurants under the belt, 7 of which I served as executive chef, Jerry.  Why do you ask?

buckethead

January 26, 2013, 06:46:21 PM
It sounds as if you might qualify to call yourself a chef. I am not a chef... but I do pretend in my own kitchen!

Don't judge me Jerry.

CityLife

January 26, 2013, 06:51:54 PM
No love for Matthews? I've only been there 3 times, but each time it has been a great meal and a different experience. It is a bit stuffy and the wait staff are a little self-important, but man is the food really good. If you ever want to splurge on a great meal or celebrate an occasion, this is the spot imo. A meal of Matthew's quality would cost about 25% more in NYC, Chicago, Miami, LA, etc.

I concur with Picasso's. Wish there was one in the urban core. I also think Carmine's isn't getting enough love. Its my favorite pie in town by a good bit, probably because their Chicago style is so good. Also love the Burning Down the House Lasagna and Fried Calzone. My wife is from the Jersey Shore, but grew up in an area of South Florida with a lot of NY/NJ transplants and we spend time in both places, so I'm a little spoiled on that type of pizza. Jacksonville has nothing that comes close, but there is some decent stuff I guess.

stephendare

January 26, 2013, 07:09:02 PM
Every time Ive been to matthews, the food has been technically perfect. But I think the creative juices have transferred to Medures at the Beach.  I toyed with including it in the short list, and I wouldnt object to its inclusion, but I didnt for reasons which I promised I wouldnt go into for this list.

Fallen Buckeye

January 26, 2013, 10:10:39 PM
Not technically Jax, but the best pizza I've had in NE FL is at Pizza Time in St. Augustine hands down. Of course, that was before I found found out I have celiac. Been meaning to try Moon River's gluten-free pizza for a while now.

Any tips for good gluten-free friendly restaurants?

Ocklawaha

January 26, 2013, 11:09:32 PM
So, what professional accreditation allow Stephen to accurately refer to himself as a chef?  Is the guy behind the counter at Lubi's a "chef"? How about the kitchen at the European Street Cafe.  Do they employ a chef?  Isn't anyone in the kitchen a simple cook anymore?  Rant over.

You've obviously never had the distinct pleasure of dining at one of Stephens restaurants, but even if you did, what qualifies you to judge the cuisine?

ben says

January 27, 2013, 07:59:29 AM
^Nobody has had the "distinct pleasure" of dining at one of Stephen's restaurants because nobody has told us which restaurants Stephen has opened. Not to mention, ANYONE qualifies to judge his cuisine whose tried it before. Also, not trying to be confrontational, but you (Stephen) were trained in 23 ethnic cuisines? How so? 7 executive chef positions? Need more information!!

thelakelander

January 27, 2013, 08:18:05 AM
I met Stephen at Boomtown back in 2006.  A group of us from MetJax had decided to get together and discuss becoming more organized to protest Mayor Peyton's Big Ideas plan for downtown.  If I recalled, at the suggestion of Councilman Suzanne Jenkins, we agreed to meet at Boomtown because of its location near city hall.  I remember there being a red headed guy coming out of his kitchen taking an interest and joining us at the table.  That small group went on to form the Metro Jacksonville that exists today.  For the first year or two (up to Boomtown's closing -- Dalton Agency purchased the building they were in), we met weekly at the restaurant, where Stephen prepared us an array a meals.  I for one, have always wished that Boomtown would reopen at some point.

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/122305/lif_20628954.shtml

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/051603/ent_12541810.shtml

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/060807/enm_175230680.shtml

http://www.eujacksonville.com/pages/06-21-07/boomtownclosing.htm

ben says

January 27, 2013, 09:47:26 AM
Thanks for the info. Again, not calling into question what Stephen said or making accusations. Would just like more info.

BridgeTroll

January 27, 2013, 11:03:16 AM
I met Stephen at Boomtown back in 2006.  A group of us from MetJax had decided to get together and discuss becoming more organized to protest Mayor Peyton's Big Ideas plan for downtown.  If I recalled, at the suggestion of Councilman Suzanne Jenkins, we agreed to meet at Boomtown because of its location near city hall.  I remember there being a red headed guy coming out of his kitchen taking an interest and joining us at the table.  That small group went on to form the Metro Jacksonville that exists today.  For the first year or two (up to Boomtown's closing -- Dalton Agency purchased the building they were in), we met weekly at the restaurant, where Stephen prepared us an array a meals.  I for one, have always wished that Boomtown would reopen at some point.

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/122305/lif_20628954.shtml

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/051603/ent_12541810.shtml

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/060807/enm_175230680.shtml

http://www.eujacksonville.com/pages/06-21-07/boomtownclosing.htm

Pretty sure that is where I first met Stephen also... (handing out flyers?)  Please bring back the meatloaf!  8)

stephendare

January 27, 2013, 01:09:52 PM
Thanks for the compliments guys!

In a way ben says, I couldnt be more pleased with the fact that you only know me as a person on metrojacksonville.com.  For a couple of years after I closed Boomtown, people kept treating me like one of the Dixie Chicks---you know, "shut up and sing" because so many people primarily knew me in a restaurant and theatre context.

Im older than I seem, ben and Ive had an extremely active life, often pursuing more than one career at a time.

Ive owned restaurants in Jacksonville, Seattle, Atlanta, and Indiana. Did corporate consulting in San Francisco, San Jose, Atlanta, Seattle and here in Jax. Worked for the most respected Sourdough Bread Bakery and Cafe in the country, and at corporate for the largest American coffee retailer in the world.

My first time owning a cafe in Jax was in 1991, I think. Here is a link to an interview I gave about the Fusion.  http://www.billectric.com/StephenDareInterview.html It was the first legitimate coffeehouse in Jax since the closing of the Golden Buddha in the 70s.  Got a lot of attention for that, and was part of the transformation of Five Points into an alternative district. It was also the first time that I was an active participant in an urbanist district creation.

There is a lot of information out there about the Fusion.  I followed it immediately with a place next door called 'oppenheimer's', and then after we closed, I went across the street and worked for my landlords at the Fusion (Cliff and John Schultz) and helped them create a place called The Abyss.  I built a 75 foor recreation of the caves of Lascaux as the entrance for it.  It was a pretty cool project.

Some of my places were successes, some of them were failures, and a couple were outright debacles.  But you learn equally from all three kinds of experiences. I don't ever have plans of going back into the restaurant business.  Its a younger man's game for people who have a real passion for food which I do, and Ive done almost everything I wanted to do in the food industry.

I'm doing what I am passionate about now at MetroJacksonville.  But Im more than qualified to discuss food and the administration of restaurants. ;)

stephendare

January 27, 2013, 01:37:10 PM
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/usa/florida/jacksonville/entertainment-nightlife/live-performance/boomtown-theatre-coffee

Just found this:  When we were in Springfield, Boomtown was rated 7th out of the 50 things to do in Jacksonville by Lonely Planet.  Brought a smile.

02roadking

January 28, 2013, 07:11:16 AM
Hmmm, Boomtown Springfield... Just the other day I ran across a menu from there in my to-go menu drawer. Just does not seem that long ago, but I guess time seems to fly by now.

JoeMerchant

January 28, 2013, 08:59:38 AM
As a resident of Springfield and a lover of good food, I miss the hell out of Boomtown.  It was actually one of the first places, if not the first, that my wife and I ate at when we moved to Jacksonville in 2004 and less coincidentally, the first time I met Stephen, whom chatted with us for a bit and even came out and sauteed the mushrooms table side.

stephendare

January 28, 2013, 10:04:30 AM
As a resident of Springfield and a lover of good food, I miss the hell out of Boomtown.  It was actually one of the first places, if not the first, that my wife and I ate at when we moved to Jacksonville in 2004 and less coincidentally, the first time I met Stephen, whom chatted with us for a bit and even came out and sauteed the mushrooms table side.

Thanks Jason!

John P

January 29, 2013, 05:59:52 PM
Sub picassos for moon river, uptown market for french pantry and bistro aix for orsay and you got yourself a deal.

Non-RedNeck Westsider

January 29, 2013, 06:59:15 PM
Sub picassos for moon river, uptown market for french pantry and bistro aix for orsay and you got yourself a deal.

I can't speak for Picasso's, but regarding the other two........  you may as well have sub'd Larry's and Applebee's. 




(meaning no comparison, JIC my comment went over your head)

MusicMan

January 29, 2013, 09:58:11 PM
Stephen, thanks for the list. I'm going to try a couple of these that I've never been to before.

BUT..................Chomp Chomp??  Ate there once during ArtWalk and was very disappointed. 

Dog Walker

January 30, 2013, 03:54:29 PM
And I ate at Bistro Aix a couple of times and was never impressed.  Degustabus non est disputandum.

Adam W

January 30, 2013, 05:25:41 PM
I really enjoyed JJ's Bistro in PV Beach when I went there a few years back. But last time I went, the quality had taken quite a nosedive, which was a real shame. They had a number of seafood dishes on the menu (which I cannot attest to the quality of, as i cannot stand seafood) - but I ate there back before I was a veggie and the lamb was very good.

I heard there is another location, but I've never eaten there.

ChriswUfGator

January 31, 2013, 07:33:28 AM
And I ate at Bistro Aix a couple of times and was never impressed.  Degustabus non est disputandum.

I think when it comes to AIX you don't need to give a disclaimer, Latin or otherwise, that place just sucks. It was good ten years ago, every time I've been since has been deplorable. Home of the $14 grilled cheese sandwich, what else can I say.

And Boomtown was a great place, I know Stephen's doing publishing now but I keep telling him he's missing his calling.

stephendare

January 31, 2013, 10:25:02 AM
Stephen, thanks for the list. I'm going to try a couple of these that I've never been to before.

BUT..................Chomp Chomp??  Ate there once during ArtWalk and was very disappointed. 

The experience can be uneven during the crush of the art walk---none of the downtown restaurants have mastered what its like to actually be busy, yet.  except hooters of course.

But again---sheerly from a chef's POV, Chomp! Chomp! is one of those places that you have to love.  Great ingredients, smart work, usually a very high quality of presentation and perfectly priced.  Seven dollars for some of the best food in jax.

But the thing that really got them included is the passion, creativity, and sheer love of food of the young chefs in the kitchen and the owners themselves.

These boys are gifted, especially considering that they are working in a street food milieu.

Hope you give it another try, musicman.

thanks for the compliment about boomtown, Chris!

5ptscurmudgeon

February 01, 2013, 08:40:09 PM
I remember Stephen's Fusion Cafe having a Serial Killer Art exhibit. Churches, City Council folks, business leaders etc. screaming bloody murder. LOL. One of the best cheap shameless media stunts ever.

stephendare

February 01, 2013, 10:42:04 PM
I remember Stephen's Fusion Cafe having a Serial Killer Art exhibit. Churches, City Council folks, business leaders etc. screaming bloody murder. LOL. One of the best cheap shameless media stunts ever.

fun times. ;)

Singledout18241

February 05, 2013, 09:42:49 PM
I am so happy to have stumbled upon this. I am always looking for new places to eat that are filled with character, great food, and prices. I can't wait to try some of these out. If I may add my recommendation, try Brewers Pizza in Orange park.  While I have never had moon river, I have heard many great things about them. I just haven't been able to go anywhere else for pizza after tasting it. It's seriously my favorite ever.   http://www.brewerspizza.com/home/

Dog Walker

February 06, 2013, 09:52:36 AM
I really enjoyed JJ's Bistro in PV Beach when I went there a few years back. But last time I went, the quality had taken quite a nosedive, which was a real shame. They had a number of seafood dishes on the menu (which I cannot attest to the quality of, as i cannot stand seafood) - but I ate there back before I was a veggie and the lamb was very good.

I heard there is another location, but I've never eaten there.

The decline probably started when Chef Benoit DeClefs sold his share of that restaurant, left and opened Magnificat Cafe downtown.  He wanted a less demanding work life and time for his new family.  He is a fully credentialed, French culinary institute trained chef with many years of experience.  I have had the privilege of eating  full dinners that he has prepared and he ranks with the best chefs in Jacksonville without doubt.

Adam W

February 06, 2013, 10:15:18 AM
I really enjoyed JJ's Bistro in PV Beach when I went there a few years back. But last time I went, the quality had taken quite a nosedive, which was a real shame. They had a number of seafood dishes on the menu (which I cannot attest to the quality of, as i cannot stand seafood) - but I ate there back before I was a veggie and the lamb was very good.

I heard there is another location, but I've never eaten there.

The decline probably started when Chef Benoit DeClefs sold his share of that restaurant, left and opened Magnificat Cafe downtown.  He wanted a less demanding work life and time for his new family.  He is a fully credentialed, French culinary institute trained chef with many years of experience.  I have had the privilege of eating  full dinners that he has prepared and he ranks with the best chefs in Jacksonville without doubt.

Thanks for that, Dog Walker. I wasn't aware of that at all. It explains a lot.

Good to know he's got another restaurant open, though. I might check it out.

brooklyn-ite

February 06, 2013, 11:28:29 AM
I personally ate at Boomtown and met Stephen.  Sure loved that restaurant and his cooking. 

And I still have an empty building on Park Street just waiting for the right  "restauranteur" to come in and make it sparkle.

Stephen, I'd love to publish part of this article over on my blog at http://www.icoulduseadeal.com/ and of course link back to this main article.  Would that be ok ?

Jeanine

stephendare

February 06, 2013, 11:44:40 AM
I personally ate at Boomtown and met Stephen.  Sure loved that restaurant and his cooking. 

And I still have an empty building on Park Street just waiting for the right  "restauranteur" to come in and make it sparkle.

Stephen, I'd love to publish part of this article over on my blog at http://www.icoulduseadeal.com/ and of course link back to this main article.  Would that be ok ?

Jeanine

Anytime Jeanine!  And thanks for the compliments!

Dog Walker

February 06, 2013, 03:14:48 PM
It seems that someone with more restaurant connections and experience is going to open a breakfast and lunch place where the short-lived 5 Spot was in 5 Points.  Anita's Cafe?  Amy's Cafe?  I was told the name but it has slipped away.  IHGO!

Partner of one of the new owners is a chef at Orsay.  There is a menu in the window that has some very low-priced breakfast options.

ben says

February 06, 2013, 03:26:42 PM
It seems that someone with more restaurant connections and experience is going to open a breakfast and lunch place where the short-lived 5 Spot was in 5 Points.  Anita's Cafe?  Amy's Cafe?  I was told the name but it has slipped away.  IHGO!

Partner of one of the new owners is a chef at Orsay.  There is a menu in the window that has some very low-priced breakfast options.

Great news. Thanks for the heads up. Saw some moving and shaking going on there, but assumed it was the old owners moving their stuff out.

Dog Walker

February 06, 2013, 04:29:19 PM
What you saw was the gift shop next door moving out.  The 5 Spot folks walked away and left everything inside to be used by the new folk.

JeffreyS

February 10, 2013, 08:01:24 PM
Made it to Picasso's today and it was great.  The St. Louis fare was legit Toasted ravioli, Da Salad (Pasta House Salad) and Gooey Butter Cake.



Dog Walker

February 16, 2013, 02:52:19 PM
From the Friday Daily Record:

Quote
Dine with Us Downtown at Magnificat Café

Jacksonville Jaguars CFO Bill Prescott and his wife, Kim, are planning their next Dine with US Downtown on Feb. 28 at The Magnificat Café at 231 N. Laura St.

It will be the 16th Downtown dining event arranged by the Prescotts to support restaurants and venues on the Northbank and Southbank.

"Bonjour! This month's Dine with Us Downtown is hosted by a French gem in the heart of Downtown, The Magnificat Café. The French-inspired lunch spot is opening specially for Dine with Us Downtown attendees," the Prescotts said in the invitation.

The Prescotts ask fellow diners to join them between 5-9:30 p.m. but to call ahead — (904) 353-3588 — so the restaurant can estimate the number of attendees. They also welcome diners to bring their own beer and wine because the café does not sell either.

There also could be special attendees. The Prescotts want board members of the Downtown Investment Authority and Downtown Vision Inc. to be there.

"This will give the board members an opportunity to meet residents and supporters of Downtown in a casual setting," said the email.

"Known for his quiche, chef and owner Benoit Desclefse hails from France. He trained in a variety of places such as Bordeaux, Paris and the U.S. before opening Magnificat Café in 2003," said the Prescotts.

BrooklynSouth

March 11, 2013, 10:22:15 AM
Not that I want more people in an already crowded restaurant, but I've never had a meal that was anything but excellent at the new Derby on Park. I had coffee-rubbed lambchops there two weeks ago and I couldn't believe the amount and quality for the price. And I usually don't like greenbeans because in restaurants they are always under- or over-cooked or flooded with butter, but theirs were perfect.

I-10east

May 19, 2013, 05:55:37 PM
Tony D's New York Pizza off of Baymeadows Rd (8358 Point Meadows Dr) is very good.
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