Jacksonville Restaurants: Hole In The Wall, Part 10

6 More Jacksonville "Hole in the Wall" Restaurants to try.

Published August 17, 2015 in Hole in the Wall - MetroJacksonville.com

Cover image from Emil P.

Bow Leg'z Bar-B-Que

So, like, whoa. This place is awesome. Easily the best BBQ spot in Jacksonville.

Every food element harmonizes with the other.

The sauces are made for the meats and the meats for the sauces. That's unusual for Jacksonville BBQ joints, where it seems the sauces just exist as standard issue dipping options. Not so with Bow Leg'z, their combinations are a well-coordinated event. Although, the flavors of the perfectly salted, choice meats do well even without the sauce. I went back and fourth. Sometimes dipping. Sometimes not. I wanted to eat it both ways at once.

The mac-and-cheese has a perfect crust, with a creamy and robust interior. The collard greens are crisp, almost refreshing.

The food speaks for itself here. Plus, very affordable. Around $30 fed two people, twice.

If there is a better BBQ place in Jacksonville, let me know.

4347-2 University Blvd S
Jacksonville, FL 32216

Phone number (904) 337-1603

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Located on the corner of Oak and Barrs Street, Judson's may be one of the most overlooked lunch spots in the Riverside area. You may think, as I did, it's just another copy cat deli with your basic assortment of prefab meats and mayo based salads. It's not. It's so much more. It's legit. Too legit, too quit.

I walked in pessimistic. The owner, whose name I can't remember introduced himself. I'm calling him "A Great Guy".

I started our exchange with a couple of pretentious questions:

"Uh, so, is the crab in the crab and cheddar quiche, like, imitation crab?"


"I wouldn't mind trying the burger...are they just frozen patties plopped on a grill?"

Annoyed, A Great Guy responded, "you don't come here much, do you?"

In my defense, I'm just tired of being burned by subpar hole in the wall spots. Especially, the Riverside and San Marco delis. I try to avoid them (microwaving falafel's is never okay).

As we were ordering A Great Guy said something like "Usually, if someone came in asking the type of questions you were asking I'd just ask them to leave."

In my secondary defense, A Great Guy is a bit of a curmudgeon. A lovable curmudgeon who cares deeply about the food he makes. So, rightfully, he was slightly perturbed at some random dude (who knows shit about food) questioning his culinary credibility. We became chummy and A Great Guy explained a bit of Judson's history, which is interesting, nuanced and dynamic.

For now, you should know, the restaurant is essentially a one man show with a focus on catering.

A Great Guy does the ordering. He does the cooking. He does the serving. He does the bussing.

Don't go here if you need a Panera/Starbucks saccharine customer service experience. Go here if you want real food made by a real human.

Still, expect a kinder, more thoughtful and introspective version of Seinfeld's soup-nazi.

The food, of course, is great.

The hand made burger patty with the hand-cut french fries (for only $5 bucks) were better than many of Jax's top burger spots. The crab and cheddar quiche was perfect for our brunch-ish meal. It came with a VERY fresh mixed salad and homemade dressing. The only draw-back since I ordered the quiche was I was still hungry. I ate a lot of my wife's burger. She did not take kindly to my intrusion.

2548 Oak St
Jacksonville, FL 32204

Phone number (904) 389-3199

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Famous Oriental Bar-B-Q Sticks

If Arby's did Filipino food this place would be the spot. It's not amazing. It's not terrible. It's kinda, whatever.

We'll just go along with calling some of the ground items "meat".  They were reminiscent of public school cafeteria food in the 1980s (which is better than what you get in school cafeteria's today, for sure).

The meat sticks were covered in so much sweet sauce that it felt like they were hiding something, like their hopes and dreams. The lumpia was almost amazing. The wraps were perfectly fried but the interior stuff was banal. uneventful. discouraging.

The draw; however, is the CHEAP factor. And, after a spending some time at the beach ordering some food from a  colorful"hut", with only outdoor seating is not a bad way to finish the day. I'm happy it's here and maybe they have other food items that are better than what is on their version of "dollar menu items".

This review from Yelp better explains anything I could say.

120 Lemon St Neptune Beach, FL 32266 (Behind Pete's Bar)
Neptune Beach, FL 32266

Phone number (904) 853-5497

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Ceviche Jax

A hole in the wall in that it's obscure and located a bit off of Atlantic Blvd. In terms of pricing; however, this spot may put a hole in your wallet. I think for lunch I ended up paying close to $17 (including tip) for one meal and no drinks.

The atmosphere is a bit much. A toned down Miami beach club vibe. Well, maybe that's overstating. It was the overly blue lighting. It was distracting.

The food is lovely. Every bite is refreshing.  Citrus. Onion. Cilantro.

The server went into incredible detail as to how the ceviche is prepared. All I remember is something about how the fish does not necessarily sit in the "marinade"; instead, it's repeatedly washed over the ingredients.

I ate my meal with a sense of excitement and dread, each bite meant less food on my plate.

27 Seminole Rd
Atlantic Beach, FL 32233

Phone number (904) 853-5497

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Vagabond Coffee

The newly opened coffee shop in the fast growing Murray Hill district is the goto spot for a cup of coffee, already. It's actually their second location if you count the Vagabond trailer permanently stationed in Hemming Park.

The coffee is awesome and the atmosphere is inviting. It's dressed down, hipster chic atmosphere is inviting, personal and homey.

It's everything you want from a unique, culture incubating coffee shop.

The drinks are on par with Jax's coffee trailblazer, Bold Bean.

I'll check out their loitering tolerance over the next few months ;)

934 Edgewood Ave S
Jacksonville, FL 32205

Phone number (904) 402-2373

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French Pantry

Image from Emil P.

Image from Emil P.

Image from Emil P.

Image from Bree

I kept meaning to include French Pantry in my previous lists. The times I've gone were simply for visiting not "hole in the walling". I can't combine the two, I guess.

It is absolutely the only place in the Jacksonville to get a life-changing slice of cheese cake or any type of cake, period. Everyone else is just making a flour mush pie in a kid's oven compared to French Pantry. They're the only reason to cake.

They're one of the best reasons to eat out in Jacksonville.

It's just amazing. Large portions of hyper fresh ingredients, prepared perfectly.

It's maddening eating at French Pantry. Your suspicions about being ripped off when you eat out in Jacksonville are accurate. The Jax dining scene is stuck in a twilight zone of high-priced mediocrity.

French Pantry is one of the few exceptions.

It's probably the only restaurant in Jacksonville with legitimate lines out of the door. Understandably, since they're only open from 11am to 2:30pm, Monday - Friday.

Everything is changing, though.  

French Pantry will soon become one of Jacksonville's most iconic establishments (I hope) as they were just purchased by John Valentino (a metroJ sponsor) and owner of multiple Jacksonville restaurants. Plans are on the way for a second location and it's rumored that it will be located in Riverside. Valentino has promised to uphold the the quality of French Pantry's offerings.

He has a positive track record about caring for standards and for the Jacksonville community.

In case you missed it, Valentino was the business man protagonist fighting to restore a historic avondale structure while the historic preservationist groups wanted the structure demolished in the name of more parking. It was a bizarro world situation.

You can search through the stories and conversations related to that controversy here.

6301 Powers Ave
Jacksonville, FL 32217

Phone number (904) 730-8696

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Check out other Hole in the Wall restaurants here.

Written by Arash Kamiar

This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2015-aug-jacksonville-restaurants-hole-in-the-wall-part-10

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