The Jaxson

Living in Jacksonville => Dining => Topic started by: Metro Jacksonville on July 02, 2013, 03:02:56 AM

Title: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Metro Jacksonville on July 02, 2013, 03:02:56 AM
Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants

(http://photos.metrojacksonville.com/Dining/Hole-in-the-wall-Restaurants/i-tVMC9SQ/0/O/HOleinWall.jpg)

Here’s a short list of Jacksonville’s "lesser known" restaurants that you should try.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2013-jul-jacksonvilles-hole-in-the-wall-restaurants
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: InnerCityPressure on July 02, 2013, 04:20:37 AM
I cannot believe Chopstick Charley's is a functioning establishment.  I have passed by fifty times and wondered what it would have been like to sleep at the Joe and eat at CC's.

I just...
but...

I <3 Jacksonville
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Captain Zissou on July 02, 2013, 07:16:49 AM
Missed out on Karam's. That place is fantastic!!
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: sheclown on July 02, 2013, 08:02:43 AM
Tommy's "breakfast in a cup" on Walnut Street (just half a block south of Three Layers) is the greatest hole-in-the-wall for breakfast.  Where else can you get a bologna omelet?  Furthermore, I would be amazed if you ever spent more than $5 and lived to tell about it -- a lot of food.

Funky hours though.  Closes everyday at 11:00am and I don't believe it is open on the weekends.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Debbie Thompson on July 02, 2013, 08:28:15 AM
Oh, you've done it now.  Mark was interviewed by a local TV station, and he said, just don't tell people where we are.  We have all the business we need.  :-)
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: thelakelander on July 02, 2013, 08:33:46 AM
^LOL!  Anyway, Sheclown is dead on about Tommy's.  If you need a visual image of a hole in the wall, Tommy's is it.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: fsquid on July 02, 2013, 09:26:47 AM
It was only a matter of time before Pepe's had to raise their prices.  Felt like I was stealing when 4 of us got out of there for under $25.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Dog Walker on July 02, 2013, 09:35:26 AM
Does Pizza Italian in 5 Points count?  Gus has been there for over 35 years and has barely raised his prices in all that time.  Don't think he has redecorated in all that time either.  $10 single order of lasagna feeds two people to bursting; huge salad, bread included.

Plain Jane Italian food, but good.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: pwhitford on July 02, 2013, 10:08:53 AM
I think someone might have wanted to insert a different kind of story between this piece and the last feature.  As it is, the lead crawl shows a picture of an overstuffed sandwich referencing hole-in-the-wall restaurants right next to the picture of an overstuffed kid shoveling food into his mouth.  Kind of an unusual combination, don't ya think?
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Bike Jax on July 02, 2013, 11:19:18 AM
Chomp Chomp without question has the best burger in this city. Everything on the menu is outstanding, but that burger is amazing.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Doctor_K on July 02, 2013, 11:53:18 AM
I'm glad to see that Chomp Chomp is still in business.  I admittedly wasn't aware of their crazy hours and was able to stop by a few times during the week for lunch only to find them closed up.  I'd worried that my particular favorite hole-in-the-wall had become just a hole.

Thanks as always kids, for giving me something new to learn about and explore in Jax!
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: rashad992 on July 02, 2013, 01:20:12 PM
I think I might hit up that chopstick charley's joint since I see it's not abandoned like i always thought
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Josh on July 02, 2013, 02:54:41 PM
Does Pizza Italian in 5 Points count?  Gus has been there for over 35 years and has barely raised his prices in all that time.  Don't think he has redecorated in all that time either.  $10 single order of lasagna feeds two people to bursting; huge salad, bread included.

Plain Jane Italian food, but good.

$10? That must be their double-order cuz I've never paid more than $6.50 a regular serving, which still could feed 2 people given the amount of garlic bread you get. Gus' place is definitely an awesome 5 Points institution for sure though.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Dog Walker on July 02, 2013, 05:14:13 PM
Does Pizza Italian in 5 Points count?  Gus has been there for over 35 years and has barely raised his prices in all that time.  Don't think he has redecorated in all that time either.  $10 single order of lasagna feeds two people to bursting; huge salad, bread included.

Plain Jane Italian food, but good.

$10? That must be their double-order cuz I've never paid more than $6.50 a regular serving, which still could feed 2 people given the amount of garlic bread you get. Gus' place is definitely an awesome 5 Points institution for sure though.

We got drinks and left a tip too.  The lasagna is the size of a baby crib mattress.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: DDC on July 02, 2013, 05:40:35 PM
Oh, you've done it now.  Mark was interviewed by a local TV station, and he said, just don't tell people where we are.  We have all the business we need.  :-)

When was that interview Debbie Thompson? Do you remember what channel?
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: ben says on July 02, 2013, 05:58:02 PM
Oh, you've done it now.  Mark was interviewed by a local TV station, and he said, just don't tell people where we are.  We have all the business we need.  :-)

When was that interview Debbie Thompson? Do you remember what channel?

http://springfield.firstcoastnews.com/news/arts-culture/one-springfields-best-kept-secrets-intends-stay-way/51282 (http://springfield.firstcoastnews.com/news/arts-culture/one-springfields-best-kept-secrets-intends-stay-way/51282)
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Noone on July 02, 2013, 07:54:05 PM
Who wants to meet for breakfast and we'll play a game of pool for the bill?

Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: boydbettis on July 02, 2013, 09:30:10 PM
Awesome! Thanks going to have to try Chopstick Charley's and Pepe's Hacienda!
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: DDC on July 02, 2013, 10:18:34 PM
Oh, you've done it now.  Mark was interviewed by a local TV station, and he said, just don't tell people where we are.  We have all the business we need.  :-)

When was that interview Debbie Thompson? Do you remember what channel?

http://springfield.firstcoastnews.com/news/arts-culture/one-springfields-best-kept-secrets-intends-stay-way/51282 (http://springfield.firstcoastnews.com/news/arts-culture/one-springfields-best-kept-secrets-intends-stay-way/51282)

Thanks Ben 8)
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: KenFSU on July 02, 2013, 11:17:03 PM
Chuckled at the accidental irony:

(http://i.imgur.com/mtG4gKrl.png)
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: JaxByDefault on July 03, 2013, 01:33:53 PM
Missed out on Karam's. That place is fantastic!!

They don't advertise it, but they have a large amount of vegetarian and vegan options.

As always, ask the owners what they have specially made off-menu before deciding on your order. Great stuff!

Also, earlier this year, the Karam family purchased back the Beach and Hodges location which is now called Yalla! Grill. They sold it to someone else about a year and half ago, then it sold again. In short, the food there should match the original location on University again.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Noone on July 03, 2013, 02:04:20 PM
Tommy's "breakfast in a cup" on Walnut Street (just half a block south of Three Layers) is the greatest hole-in-the-wall for breakfast.  Where else can you get a bologna omelet?  Furthermore, I would be amazed if you ever spent more than $5 and lived to tell about it -- a lot of food.

Funky hours though.  Closes everyday at 11:00am and I don't believe it is open on the weekends.

What a cool place. Met Mark and the food was great. Definately will be back.
Thanks for sharing the place Sheclown.
 
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: ben says on July 03, 2013, 02:09:45 PM
Missed out on Karam's. That place is fantastic!!

They don't advertise it, but they have a large amount of vegetarian and vegan options.

As always, ask the owners what they have specially made off-menu before deciding on your order. Great stuff!

Also, earlier this year, the Karam family purchased back the Beach and Hodges location which is now called Yalla! Grill. They sold it to someone else about a year and half ago, then it sold again. In short, the food there should match the original location on University again.

I'm not sold on Karams. I know a lot of people, many from the Middle East or of Middle Eastern decent, that go ape for this place. I find that their shwarma and kabob plates are dried out, the pita is cold, and everything is reheated in the microwave. I'll go there in a pinch--it's DEFINITELY better than Hala's (what happened to that place?!?!)--but Raymond over at Noura Cafe has me. I'll take a meal at Noura's over a Karim's dish anyday.

Also, Hon Korean could have easily made the list!
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: hound dog on July 03, 2013, 09:29:55 PM
No Lie: the Vietnamese restaurant attached to the Econolodge at University Blvd and I-95 (Cagle Road) serves the best bowl of Pho in town.  I don't think it even has a name.  Don't let that stop you!
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Mr. Charleston on July 09, 2013, 06:41:58 AM
Another great Lebanese hole in the wall often overlooked is Wally's on Cesary Blvd two blocks north of Arlington Rd.  Great place.  Everything cooked to order.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: ben says on July 09, 2013, 08:09:13 AM
No Lie: the Vietnamese restaurant attached to the Econolodge at University Blvd and I-95 (Cagle Road) serves the best bowl of Pho in town.  I don't think it even has a name.  Don't let that stop you!

Are you sure this place is still in business?

Pho Viet on Mayport Road is my personal favorite.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: johnny_simpatico on July 09, 2013, 08:30:49 AM
One of my favorite hole in the walls is La Guadalupana market on Spring Park Rd., just north of Emerson. On WEEKENDS ONLY they serve fantastic tacos for $2 and various meals and soups. The tortillas are hand made right in front of you and arrive warm.  Fantastic.  This is Mexican food for Mexicans.  No sour cream or Taco-Bell and Ensenada-style Baja California gringo eats. (I've learned from experience that a Mexican place is worth avoiding is when it advertises itself as "authentic.")
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 09, 2013, 09:08:35 AM
One of my favorite hole in the walls is La Guadalupana market on Spring Park Rd., just north of Emerson. On WEEKENDS ONLY they serve fantastic tacos for $2 and various meals and soups. The tortillas are hand made right in front of you and arrive warm.  Fantastic.  This is Mexican food for Mexicans.  No sour cream or Taco-Bell and Ensenada-style Baja California gringo eats. (I've learned from experience that a Mexican place is worth avoiding is when it advertises itself as "authentic.")

Perhaps they have gotten better... I stopped in for lunch about 6 months ago(I think they just opened) and though "authentic" it did not compare to Pepe's... will give it another shot however...
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Ocklawaha on July 09, 2013, 10:26:30 AM
There is a new 'MIDTOWN DELI' location on the ground floor of the VA's Southpointe Clinic. Nothing else on the floor so don't worry about blowing the atmosphere with a bunch of broken down folks like ME. The location served up one of the best BLT lunches I've ever had yesterday. What is cool for others is it is almost dead center of the Southpointe office park, and it looks out over a nicely landscaped lake, more then that it also has a great patio dining on the lake. Well worth the effort parking shouldn't be a problem after 11 am.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: TheCat on July 09, 2013, 12:28:07 PM
So, who's tried one of these restaurants for the first time? Opinion? I most want to know about Chopstick Charley's.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 09, 2013, 01:02:24 PM
So, who's tried one of these restaurants for the first time? Opinion? I most want to know about Chopstick Charley's.

Me too... I keep getting this picture in my head of four old chinese mafia type guys sitting at the corner table playing cards... and they all stop and stare as I walk in...  weird huh?
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: ProjectMaximus on July 09, 2013, 01:05:47 PM
No Lie: the Vietnamese restaurant attached to the Econolodge at University Blvd and I-95 (Cagle Road) serves the best bowl of Pho in town.  I don't think it even has a name.  Don't let that stop you!
Are you sure this place is still in business?

Yeah I think it's been closed for almost a year. Too bad.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: mikemiller on July 10, 2013, 11:14:47 AM
Great series, all! It's great having reviews of out of the way joints that most of us have never visited. Guy Fieri where are you???? Jax has some new offerings for Triple D.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: BrSpiritus on July 10, 2013, 04:25:00 PM
What about the Mexican place on the corner of Confederate Park on 1st?  Is that place any good?
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Garden guy on July 10, 2013, 05:38:42 PM
Taco lady at beach blvd flea market...good stuff and homemade sauces..caliente..
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Non-RedNeck Westsider on July 10, 2013, 05:48:36 PM
Guy 'Fairy' can rot in hell.  Please no DDD in any of these places.

I haven't read the thread in a week or so, so some of these places may have been mentioned:

Viet - Pho Ha Noi - Blanding / 103rd
Cuban - El Mofongo - Timuquana / Wesconnet
Island - Caribbean Star - Blanding / Shirley
Central American - Puerta Plata - Blanding / Lakeshore
'Mexican' - El tienda de Mexicana - Lane / Lenox(?)
Sammiches - Amy's Cafe - 5 points, Chomp Chomp - Adams / Newnan(?)
Southern Seafood (i'e' fried) - Checkers BBQ (Fri. & Sat. only) - Old St. Aug Rd
BBQ - TCs - Lem Turner / Edgewood
Classic Southern - Arden's Cafe - St. Johns / Hamilton
Soul Food Fusion - Sunday's - Argyle Forest Blvd
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: TheCat on July 10, 2013, 06:04:42 PM
So, who's tried one of these restaurants for the first time? Opinion? I most want to know about Chopstick Charley's.

Me too... I keep getting this picture in my head of four old chinese mafia type guys sitting at the corner table playing cards... and they all stop and stare as I walk in...  weird huh?

There's definitely one guy that will stare at you...I feel confident that he is not in the Chinese Mafia. However, he will insist that you divide your left overs into more than one box so things don't get soggy.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: DDC on July 10, 2013, 06:39:50 PM
What about the Mexican place on the corner of Confederate Park on 1st?  Is that place any good?

I like it.  :) I am no expert on Mexican Fare but I have visited there several times and will go back again,
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: AKIRA on July 10, 2013, 10:19:33 PM
Nile Ethiopian in the smaller strip mall at Toledo and Powers (east side).
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Dog Walker on July 11, 2013, 09:55:59 AM
NRW,  will second the vote for El Mofongo.  One of the best Cuban sandwiches in town and roast chicken to die for.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: frank1953 on July 12, 2013, 04:10:56 PM
EL Mofongo is good and reasonable. Been there several times and would recommend to anyone.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: ben says on July 12, 2013, 04:11:43 PM
Nile Ethiopian in the smaller strip mall at Toledo and Powers (east side).

Thinking about trying this place this weekend. Any other info? How does it compare to Queen of Sheba? (Not defunct.)
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: frank1953 on July 12, 2013, 04:15:40 PM
Pass on Chopstick Charlie's. For one their egg rolls are nothing but a pile of celery and a few shrimp. Won't return. Want good Chinese try the Golden Egg Roll on Lem Turner. Been going there for years. They pile on enough rice  and entrees to feed two with one dinner and they will ADD EXTRA MEAT FOR A DOLLAR. Can't go wrong.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: fieldafm on July 12, 2013, 04:44:05 PM
Quote
Central American - Puerta Plata - Blanding / Lakeshore

Been on a big fried chicken kick lately (Simply Saras and Salty Fig are receiving high marks thus far, matter of fact I'll take Simply Saras over FYC's 'famous' fried chicken any day of the week). 

The chicarones are Puerta Plata are on point!

Ardens is another really good recommendation. 

Quote
Thinking about trying this place this weekend. Any other info? How does it compare to Queen of Sheba? (Not defunct.)

The lady friend did an article on them that will be coming out in Folio's Bite by Bite issue.  She seemed to be a fan (I was eating fried chicken across town that day). 
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Bondgirl on July 13, 2013, 02:40:29 PM
Jerry's Sports Grille on Atlantic near Hodges has the best breakfasts on Saturdays and Sundays.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: hooplady on July 13, 2013, 03:33:36 PM
Does The French Pantry on Powers Ave count as "hole-in-the-wall"?  Being next to an auto parts place should give some kind of oddball points.
Title: Thinking Exotic? COLOMBIAN Is Great!
Post by: Ocklawaha on July 15, 2013, 12:21:08 AM
EL RANCHITO RESTAURANT
14333 Beach Blvd Ste 22 Jacksonville, FL 32250(904) 992-4607
For those wanting a change of tastes without the gastronomic atomic reactions of some highly spiced Mexican foods, go COLOMBIAN! This little restaurant has flavors and aroma's so rich they could only be found in Colombia, but the Argueta family, Jorge, (who is actually from Guatemala City, Guatemala) and his lovely esposa Ana, who hails from the gorgeous colonial city of Cartagena, (Think St. Augustine on steroids) Colombia, have recreated all of it on Beach Boulevard. The restaurant has been in the plaza to the east (right) of Big Lots for 13 años, and Jorge and Ana have owned and operated it for the last 4 años.

The window suggests that the restaurant serves 'comida' (food) both Mexican and Colombian, but Colombian with a few available Mexican and Cuban sides would be more correct. If you want to try the taste of Colombia, you can't go wrong with the 'bandeja paisa,' one of my personal favorites. This translates as Bandeja = Platter, and Paisa = 'country', 'hillbilly', 'folk' or 'native to a region.' Consider this plate the Colombian version of a giant sampler at the 'Cracker Barrel.' The Bandeja Paisa is quite possibly one of the largest meals you've ever had on one plate. Correction: platter.

Typically you will get:
 
Colombian style beans,
white rice,
arepa (something like a grits cake - good with salt, pepper, butter and cream cheese),
chorizo (fresh cooked sausage in Latin America),
bistec (thin cut Spanish style steak),
ensalada or salad, usually a tomato, avocado slices and some shredded lettuce, which is the authentic way to serve it, AND NOT SERVED WITH DRESSING. Eat this along with your food as you would American veggies.
fried egg
chicharrón‎, a fried port rind (think SUPER THICK bacon without all of the salt).
sweet plantain slices = deep fried banana, a sweet delicacy.

Along with your Bandeja Paisa, you might order a side of Colombian Empanada's, in my opinion if you've never eaten Colombian style empanada's, you've never tasted empanadas! El Ranchito gets this dish nearly perfect as well. Empanadas have an outer crust made with masarepa, the precooked cornmeal that is used to make arepas. The filling is stewed beef (or pork) and potatoes seasoned with hogao, usually in the form of a brand-name: Sasson.

Frying these empanadas gives them a crispy exterior, but the cornmeal pastry is deliciously creamy and soft on the inside. It's traditional to serve these empanadas with spicy aji sauce, or with generous slices of limón (lime). For the unwashed Gringos among us there IS a proper way to enjoy an empanada. Pick it up with your hand and bite off one of the pointed ends (if they've just come out be careful because this can be very hot from heat, but not from spice), spoon in a portion of the aji sauce, or as I prefer a stream of lime juice. From this point until you have consumed the little meaty crescent, you will be in culinary heaven!

Lastly, I'd recommend the 'Arepa de Choclo.' Unlike the arepa served with your Paisa, the Arepa de Choclo filled with melted cheese is made with sweet yellow corn meal. It's hard to classify this as a bread, grain, or dessert, any way you enjoy it it is bound to become a sought after favorite. What's even more cool about this little food item, the variations are incredibly wide. In the Andes you might encounter El Ranchito's Arepa de Choclo, and around the next curve you'll find a restaurant with clay ovens baking a thick sweet cornbread over a cedar plank fire. Well that's my review boys and girls, now your on your own because I think I just talked myself into a new condo in the cloud forests. If I find the cloud forests out of reach at the moment, then El Ranchito can certainly make up for my home sickness for 'mi nuevo país.'

Within the $$ price range, you will find El Ranchito to be well worth your effort, Latin food at it's best and you won't need to bring a bottle of Tums with you. In summary? Buena comida tipica de Colombia especialmente el chicharron y la bandeja paisa.

(http://i196.photobucket.com/albums/aa111/Ocklawaha/TRAVEL%20COLOMBIA%20and%20Latin%20America/5340248f-efb6-4748-a9a1-a372f8019e81_zps3171f5d4.jpg)
Bandeja Paisa, Empandas, ensalada, arepa de choclo and of course the Tortillas from um... any fake Mexican restaurant in the USA and this SURE ISN'T MEXICO!

(http://i196.photobucket.com/albums/aa111/Ocklawaha/TRAVEL%20COLOMBIA%20and%20Latin%20America/9a71de40-8863-40e6-81dc-bf2256656104_zps49f0a265.jpg)
Typical ensalada served with your meal, often on the same plate over the top of everything else, I like the presentation at El Ranchito better then most.

(http://i196.photobucket.com/albums/aa111/Ocklawaha/TRAVEL%20COLOMBIA%20and%20Latin%20America/55f8a135-89b5-47ff-8306-a5c90676af8d_zpsf08fd685.jpg)
The Arepa de Choclo, worth the trip to El Retiro, or Santa Fe de Antioquia, Colombia, all by themselves, but failing that trip, a journey down Beach Boulevard will be rewarded.

Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Charles Hunter on July 19, 2013, 03:42:57 PM
The Jax Food Critic pays a visit to Chopstick Charley's, prompted by MJ's shout-out.  He was very impressed.  In a not so good way.
http://jaxfoodcritic.com/chopstick-charleys-restaurant-review-may-god-have-mercy-on-my-soul/
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: thekillingwax on July 19, 2013, 07:12:41 PM
Hahaha, that was awesome. Yeah, it might be a good idea not to include places in articles that have one review. The one person that ate there just wants others to share their pain. Although thanks to the article, the thought of a bunch of hipsters going into the chopstick dungeon trying to hide their fear while instagramming plates of the worst chinese food imaginable is beyond hilarious. Talked to my aunt about the place- she worked at the Bellsouth building on Emerson for years. She said lots of people ate there but even in its prime, the place was still awful. She said as soon as the chinese place in Market Square opened, their business plummeted and she was honestly mortified that they were still open.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: stroke4 on July 19, 2013, 08:14:07 PM
This is my review of Chopstick Charlies, after reading the metrojacksonville review and finding out that, after 40 years, they're still open!

I remember my father taking our family here YEARS ago. I don't remember anything else about the experience.

Zoom ahead 40 years. I drove by earlier today on the way back from the post office. The sign in the window actually said, "OPEN".I was shocked I'd always thought the sign said CLOSED.

We got out of the car and walked up to the door. The door is a rust colored wooden door. It opened on the left. We walked in and the place was exactly as described in the Metro review.

The vinyl booths lining the walls were circa 1970's. There were tables up and down the middle of the restaurant.

As we walked in there was a guy starting walk leave through the door to the kitchen. He turned around and the lady cook came out front and sat us down. She said we could sit 'anywhere'. There was nobody else in the restaurant. I picked a booth on the far wall where I could see the tv in the back.

She came over with a white table cloth and 'we' put the cloth on our table. We were starting to get fancy.

Our drink options were limited: Sprite, Coke or Water. I had an idea of what to expect. I was correct. We ordered Cokes. She brought out 2 cans and 2 glasses with ice cubes.

She handed us the menus. They looked circa 1970's. It brought back memories.

You had the old style options. Dinner for 1, choose from Column A. Dinner for 2, choose 1 from Column A and 1 from Column B. Dinner for 3, dinner for 4, etc.

I already knew what I wanted. I wanted something further down the menu. I wanted the sweet and sour chicken, an egg roll and a cup of egg drop soup. Paul followed suit and ordered the same thing.

She looked at us like... ARE YOU SURE? That's a lot of food! I'm like... yep. She went back to the kitchen. The other guy sat and watched the tv. After a little while he heard a noise in the kitchen. It was the cook bringing the eggs rolls and soup out on a car.

The egg drop soup didn't look like usual. It was kinda white and had the texture of rice pudding... almost. It was HOT and DELICIOUS! Amazing. The egg rool was delicious as well. You could tell it was homemade. It had small chunks of vegetables. The wrap was crispy and delicious. The sweet adn sour sauce was too chunky to squirt out of the plastic bottle so, I took the cap off and poured it on my plate. That worked out very well.

The main entree came out on metal elevated dishes, with lids!!! I haven't seen those in YEARS! That took me back. The sweet and sour chicken was in 2 dishes and the fried rice was in 2 more dishes.

Ok. I'll be straight up. I'm picky about my sweet and sour chicken. Jing Eng's restaurant was the only place that ever did them right. These were underwhelming. The fried rice was very good. The only vegetable in the rice was chopped onions. The fried rice was delicious.

The cook was right! It was a lot of food! We had to get 2 boxes to go.

The total for everything was $20.25. I paid cash. I'm not sure they can take credit cards.

Before she left I asked the cook how long she'd been there and what her name was. She said they opened in 1974. That sounds about right... my father is the type who'd take us to the new restaurany in town. Her name is KEETY. I asked her to spell it. K I T T Y. She's a sweetheart. She speaks pretty good English. She's very friendly. I told her our names. She laughed... Paul and Paul.

One thing to remember... there are no ceiling fans. There is air conditioning. I think it's set to 82. It came on twice.

Overall, the food was really good. I won't get the sweet and sour chicken next time. But, I would go for chicken fried rice... and an egg roll and a cup of egg drop soup.

Oh! I almost forgot! Kitty said they opened in 1974. I told her my father brought us... probably in 1974. She thought I was pulling her leg! I said, No... he did!

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc12_zps4898083e.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc12_zps4898083e.jpg.html)

Chopstick Charlies front door, from the inside

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc13_zpse7d81c2e.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc13_zpse7d81c2e.jpg.html)

The door to the kitchen and the tv on the left.

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc11_zps27b1440d.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc11_zps27b1440d.jpg.html)

The kitchen 'help'.

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc10_zps51240e8f.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc10_zps51240e8f.jpg.html)

Leftovers - Sweet and sour chicken and fried rice

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc7_zpsfba02918.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc7_zpsfba02918.jpg.html)

Sweet and sour chicken in sweet and sour sauce in an elevated metal dish.

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc8_zps6855cb4d.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc8_zps6855cb4d.jpg.html)

Fried rice.

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc6_zps20468de4.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc6_zps20468de4.jpg.html)

2 orders of sweet and sour chicken and fried rice in the elevated metal dishes.

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc1_zps7a6c2235.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc1_zps7a6c2235.jpg.html)

White table cloths!

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc3_zps78bbce69.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc3_zps78bbce69.jpg.html)

Homemade egg roll. Chopped vegies and crispy shell

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc4_zpsab7c34a6.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc4_zpsab7c34a6.jpg.html)

HOT egg drop soup. Sorry, low light made it hard to focus

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc2_zps12d15e00.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc2_zps12d15e00.jpg.html)

2 cokes, egg rolls, egg drop soup and fried noodles.


Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: 77danj7 on July 20, 2013, 11:36:38 AM
I had the Falafel from Wafaa N Mikes last night...as always it was so good.  There is no comparison to their falafel in my opinion.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Debbie Thompson on July 21, 2013, 08:34:34 AM
I thought I had seen my favorite hole-in-the-wall on this thread, but unless I missed it somewhere, realize it's not.  Luigi's Italian Restaurant on University Blvd, W., across from Winn-Dixie, halfway between I-95 and Beach.  It has been there for years and years.  We also like the one in 5 Points, but if Dog Walker said the lasagna at Pizza Italiano in Five Points was the size of a baby crib mattress, then this one must be the size of a queen size mattress.  I swear, it feeds me for three days.  And it's the best lasagna I have ever eaten.  I've had their meatball sandwiches, and their spaghetti and meatballs, but lasagna is so much my favorite, I order it nearly every time I go.  BTW...the meatballs are dense and the size of a baseball.  And the blue cheese dressing is really good too.  I think it's homemade. You won't get a bunch of light, lemon butter sauce at Luigi's.  It's a hearty red sauce place, although they did finally bow to current fashion and add Fettucine Alfredo to the menu awhile ago.

I saw Bike Jax talk about the burger at Chomp Chomp, so last Art Walk my friend and I went in and ordered one.  Would say it has a way more "hole in the wall" vibe than Tommy's in Springfield, but that may be due to how small it is.  That said, not a problem for us.  The burger was good.  Maybe not the best on in Jacksonville, but still good.  I liked the option of having a side salad instead of chips and the salad was good.  My friend, Leta, ordered the chips and they were great. They were hot, and tasted home made.  I saw other sandwiches I want to try, so I'll definitely go back.  We can recommend Chomp Chomp.

Hola at 1st and Confederate.  I like the Chicken Enchilada Verde, and order it nearly every time I go.  The fajitas are good too.  Happy Hour every day from, I think, 4 to 8.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: TheCat on July 21, 2013, 01:19:25 PM
@stroke4 I'm happy you liked chopstick Charley's. There are such differing opinions on this place. I want someone to try the sweet and sour chicken and let me know what they think.

I went to Chomp Chomp last night. They are mastering the burger and hitting cooking temps. I've ordered a burger from them several times and for me they have always been well-done on a medium cook request. Last night, I ordered three burgers two med-rare (for fear that they would overcook) and one medium. They were all spot on.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: JaxByDefault on July 21, 2013, 01:31:21 PM
EL RANCHITO RESTAURANT
14333 Beach Blvd Ste 22 Jacksonville, FL 32250(904) 992-4607

+1000 on El Ranchito.

You told us about this place years ago, Ock, and we have been fans ever since. Jorge and family are great and always willing to talk soccer with us!

Sometimes we just order three or four appetizers--empanadas colombiana, yuca, arepa con chorizo (or chicharron) are always favorites. (Follow Ock's advice and squeeze a little lime juice into the empanadas!)

The bandaja paisa is my favorite. It's enough food to feed two people, but I (shamefully) ate the entire thing by myself yesterday.

Don't bother ordering the Mexican or Cuban food on menu (although good, too). Just go straight for the Colombian stuff.

El Ranchito is definitely a hidden jewel in Jacksonville. It is the farthest we drive for any restaurant on our rotation of favorite places, and it is definitely worth the trip from the urban core, or anywhere else in town.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: stroke4 on July 21, 2013, 04:21:21 PM
Pictures from Chopstick Charlies:

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc12_zps4898083e.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc12_zps4898083e.jpg.html)

Chopstick Charlies front door, from the inside

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc13_zpse7d81c2e.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc13_zpse7d81c2e.jpg.html)

The door to the kitchen and the tv on the left.

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc11_zps27b1440d.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc11_zps27b1440d.jpg.html)

The kitchen 'help'.

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc10_zps51240e8f.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc10_zps51240e8f.jpg.html)

Leftovers - Sweet and sour chicken and fried rice

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc7_zpsfba02918.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc7_zpsfba02918.jpg.html)

Sweet and sour chicken in sweet and sour sauce in an elevated metal dish.

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc8_zps6855cb4d.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc8_zps6855cb4d.jpg.html)

Fried rice.

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc6_zps20468de4.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc6_zps20468de4.jpg.html)

2 orders of sweet and sour chicken and fried rice in the elevated metal dishes.

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc1_zps7a6c2235.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc1_zps7a6c2235.jpg.html)

White table cloths!

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc3_zps78bbce69.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc3_zps78bbce69.jpg.html)

Homemade egg roll. Chopped vegies and crispy shell

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc4_zpsab7c34a6.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc4_zpsab7c34a6.jpg.html)

HOT egg drop soup. Sorry, low light made it hard to focus

(http://i1286.photobucket.com/albums/a611/stroke4jr/cc2_zps12d15e00.jpg) (http://s1286.photobucket.com/user/stroke4jr/media/cc2_zps12d15e00.jpg.html)

2 cokes, egg rolls, egg drop soup and fried noodles.

Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: JohnnyG on July 22, 2013, 09:18:18 AM
We decided to try out El Ranchito this Saturday night and were solidly impressed.  I wish we had tried this place sooner instead of always going to La Nopalera a few doors down.  I read the review in this thread last week and had a friend from Colombia visiting from Gainesville so couldn't have asked for a better opportunity to go inn.  I made a reervation for our party of eight and am very glad that we did as the restaurant is tiny. 

The owner's daughter was our waitress and was friendly, professional and able to thoroughly and enthusiastically describe all of the dishes.  We got a variety of appetizers including the cheese arepas, chorizo arepas, tostones, empenadas and ceviche colombiana.  As a pescatarian, I can't speak to the empenadas or chorizo, but the tostones and ceviche were spectacular.  For dinner I got the whole fish, which was cooked and flavored perfectly and served with delicious beans, rice, salad and plantains.  It was way more food than I could eat, especially with the sampling of apps.  We had an awesome dinner and a great experience and will definitely go back. Our Colombian friend was very impressed and raved about the authenticity of the food.  It turned out to be a Colombian national holiday, so the timing was even better.  Thanks to the original poster for the reccomendation. 
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 22, 2013, 09:20:45 AM
We decided to try out El Ranchito this Saturday night and were solidly impressed.  I wish we had tried this place sooner instead of always going to La Nopalera a few doors down.  I read the review in this thread last week and had a friend from Colombia visiting from Gainesville so couldn't have asked for a better opportunity to go inn.  I made a reervation for our party of eight and am very glad that we did as the restaurant is tiny. 

The owner's daughter was our waitress and was friendly, professional and able to thoroughly and enthusiastically describe all of the dishes.  We got a variety of appetizers including the cheese arepas, chorizo arepas, tostones, empenadas and ceviche colombiana.  As a pescatarian, I can't speak to the empenadas or chorizo, but the tostones and ceviche were spectacular.  For dinner I got the whole fish, which was cooked and flavored perfectly and served with delicious beans, rice, salad and plantains.  It was way more food than I could eat, especially with the sampling of apps.  We had an awesome dinner and a great experience and will definitely go back. Our Colombian friend was very impressed and raved about the authenticity of the food.  It turned out to be a Colombian national holiday, so the timing was even better.  Thanks to the original poster for the reccomendation. 

Great first post!!  Welcome JohnnyG!!
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants, Part I
Post by: ben says on October 31, 2013, 02:44:10 PM
Just got back from Chopstick Charley's. The place is a shitbox inside. No AC, moldy, peeling walls, a ceiling that looks like it's about to cave, magazine selection from 1999 (really), and a man watching cartoons the whole time you're eating.

THAT all being said: the food is awesome and they're actually cooking back there. Best egg roll and wonton soup in town. I'd go back, but I'd take it to go.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: TheCat on October 31, 2013, 04:14:08 PM
Yeah, the TV watching a little Poltergeist-esque. What did you order?

(http://www.nerdist.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Poltergeist-movie.jpg)
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants, Part I
Post by: mfischer0 on December 18, 2013, 08:35:27 AM
Passed by that place for 20+ years thinking it was a heroin drop. My wife dared me, we went (clarification, myself and a buddy, she "ain't setting foot..."), and it was good. Interesting experience.
My only complaint is the celery. I haaaaaate celery, and Mama Chef loves it. Oh well.
Title: Re: Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants
Post by: Primatebuddy on January 02, 2015, 12:47:28 AM
I've been to Chopstick Charley's. I remember the experience fondly. Here is a review I wrote for the place back in 2010.

DINNER AT CHOPSTICK CHARLEY'S
Once, a long time ago, I had a dream about a place off Phillips highway where a person could get outstanding Chinese food.

I was working at the San Marco theater when the Beggar Weeds played on the small stage situated at the front of the theater, and part of their backdrop included a photograph of a sign for a motel called "The Joe." This was probably the genesis of my dream, since The Joe is right next to a place called Chopstick Charley's, and this was the subject of my dream. Of course, twenty years later, I don't remember the dream, but I never forgot the feeling of curiosity about this place.

I had driven by Chopstick Charley's for many years lamenting that I had never had a chance to eat there when it was open. On one trip to chauffeur my grandmother across the city, we passed by Chopstick Charley's and she mentioned that she'd been there recently when the caretakers in the community in which she lived purchased lunch for everyone. I said "Gramma, that place has been closed for years!" with the hubris only those who have not been around for seventy-six years at a minimum can possess. I thought she was simply old and confused and so when she insisted, I simply said "Okay Gramma."

Later, I got married and as my wife and I passed The Joe, she remarked that it was strangely brazen to name a motel after the infamous patrons of prostitutes, and I looked at her with a puzzled look obtained through years of experience at being puzzled, eventually realizing that she mistook The Joe for "the john."

Eventually our conversation steered toward Chopstick Charley's and how I was still regretful at never having the chance to partake of their presumably wonderful Chinese comestibles since, you know, they are closed. By now I started thinking how odd it was that a place that has obviously been out of business for so long hasn't been annexed by either the giant automotive boneyard on one side or the writhing forestry on the other, or even by the city to make way for some form of cookie-cutter strip mall, because we need more of those.

All of this brings me to the year 2010. Before the year 2000, everyone who talked about 2000 combined it with the words "the year," and it always made me wonder if people in 1850 talked about "the year 1900" with the same sparkle-eyed techno-angst that people did with 2000. Regardless, it is now 2010 and my friend Nikki mentions that she has eaten far too much food from, of all places, Chopstick Charley's.

And suddenly, after years of remaining in pretty much the same place, my synapses started reorganizing themselves, briefly causing a loss of all forms of coherence. When I recovered, I decided no more time would be wasted before I sampled Charley's cuisine.

Eventually, another week passed, and I decided once again to waste no more time and get to Charley's. Just a few days ago, we were returning from a small family reunion and happily discussing something that would change the world as we know it. Unfortunately, I was safely yielding to traffic at the onramp to 9A while the driver behind me was not, and in the bone-jarring collision I forgot what we were discussing. Nevertheless, since my wife hurt her back in the accident and is in no condition to stand and make supper, I am directed to obtain kung-pao chicken and egg rolls.

Going to new places and having new experiences is something special to me, but this was different. This was a reawakening, something I thought I'd left behind back in 1996, and here I was feeling all that old curiosity about that post-WWII chow-mein/motel complex. I was on my way to Chopstick Charley's, and by default, The Joe, which is now just "The Joe" and not "The Joe Motel." I would still like to stay there, because I think the name now gives it an air of short-stay superiority. I would then be able to brag about staying in the finest places in Jacksonville; The Sheraton, The Adam's Mark, The Joe.

The store itself is nothing extraordinary for forty years ago, but for 2010 it is a remarkable throwback to days when you could get away with a lot more and not get closed by the authorities. The front door looks a lot like the door to the bathroom in my old house, in that it doesn't seem to close correctly and so sits open all the time; a great sign.

Inside, the place is dark and the decor is stuck back in the late Sixties, complete with coat and hat racks on each booth. The ceiling is coming apart and threatens to fall upon anyone brave enough to dine-in, making me feel a bit like Damocles. There are two people sitting at the far end of the restaurant watching cartoons; a person I presume to be Kitty, whom I have heard is the owner, operator, chef, wait staff, and cashier; and another man, who never speaks to me but watches me intently for several minutes before turning his attention back to the television. I wonder if this is Charley.

Kitty gets up and is very friendly, inviting me to sit down and tell her what I would like. Today, however, I am taking out. I ask her for a menu, and receive a very no-nonsense menu which is hand written in many places. There are a lot of choices, but none of them are kung-pao chicken. So I order something I think everyone will like, and four egg rolls. The idea is that egg rolls are small and I am pretty hungry, so I will get enough for me and everyone else. She takes my order without writing anything down, and I am already impressed, since I have to use a voice recorder for damn near everything I want to remember. She tells me it will be twenty minutes, so if I have something to do I should do it. I like her.

I drive around for a while and come back in precisely twenty minutes, thinking someone of her age might respect punctuality, and I did not want to wait in line. This time I walk in and the non-speaking man only glances my way before resuming his cartoon absorption. For a moment, I think he may not speak English, then he laughs at one of the jokes in the cartoon, and I realize I am just not that interesting.

I fill the next five minutes with photographing the interior with my phone, which piques the interest of Cartoon Man, who starts watching me intently as I wander around the front of the dining room. Eventually, Kitty comes out lugging a bag of what looks like lead, since she is obviously struggling to carry it. I offer to take it from her and she hands me the heavy bag of food that feels like a bag of lead. I pay, eager to get home and try it.

On my way home, I take out one of the egg rolls, still thinking they are the same generic, La Choy egg rolls one might find at Panda Express. I am wrong. It is a huge fried beast, and I bite into it like a bear at a salmon run. My very first impression was pain, because it immediately coated the inside of my mouth with searing hot oil. The next sensation was enlightenment, because this was one of the single best egg rolls I have ever eaten. There were chunks of vegetables that actually looked like someone took the time to dice them and fry them with love and care. I am reminded of the Spongebob Squarepants episode where he is challenged by Neptune to prove his fry cook creds.

At home, the bags are emptied and the familiar food containers are open and the scent of freshly fried sweet and sour goodness fills the room. The taste of it is different than the usual sweet and sour chicken. It is not powerfully sweet and doesn't have the texture of generic chicken-flavored meat parts covered in molasses. It is light and contains what appears to be an entire chicken reduced to pieces; rather than all white meat, there is a combination of white, fatty dark, and dark meat lightly fried and coated in a very light and sweet sauce. I like this, my wife does not, so there are some pieces she cannot eat.

The pork lo mein is also delicious. The meat tastes like pork, and the noodles taste fresh as do the vegetables fried within, and it is not too oily. The fried rice is excellent, with a very different flavor than other fried rice I have consumed. The whole thing has the feel of a meal that was made by hand by a family member who is really good at making Chinese-style food. Somehow, I don't think she spares the MSG.

The only part that was disgusting was the part that is arguably the most thought of when consuming Chinese food; the fortune cookie. These tasted like the original fortune cookies that came with the restaurant. Not that they have the same flavor, but that they are actually forty-year-old cookies. We both spit them out immediately. To Kitty's credit, she didn't make the fortune cookies, so I can't really fault her. If she had made them, I am sure they would have been three times larger than other fortune cookies, and would have contained actual prophesies.

If you want good homemade Chinese-style food, and don't mind potentially getting asked for loose change, or your car and then your loose change, Chopstick Charley's is your place. Provided that I survive the next few days with no gastrointestinal rebellion, I would not hesitate to eat from there again. It would take a little convincing to actually eat there, though.