Lunch Spots in Jacksonville, FL
While visitors know the Mossfire Grill & Lounge for its sensational Southwestern fare, locals know it for both its fantastic flavors and its name. In 1901, a devastating blaze dubbed the “Great Fire” destroyed the city’s downtown core. The cause: a burning ember from a cook stove that drifted onto the rooftop of a mattress factory where piles of Spanish moss had been laid out to dry. Evacuees fled to the Riverside area, which quickly became known as the Mossfire District. Since 1998, the two-story restaurant with outdoor balcony seating located in Riverside’s Five Points neighborhood has become a favorite dining and hangout locale. A favorite starter is the Southwestern Hummus seasoned with cumin and lime and served with corn salsa.
Moon River Pizza in Jacksonville’s tiny, eclectic Murray Hill neighborhood (with a second location in Fernandina Beach) is a favored neighborhood pizzeria serving up the freshest pies in town via the happiest and most fabulously tattooed staff. While the food screams upscale-eatery sophistication (nothing canned on these pies) the atmosphere remains that of a casual dive. It’s a favorite among local runners, who swear by downing a medium T-Rex, described by one fan as a “meaty, cheesy circular piece of Heaven” and a few pints of Sweetwater Pale Ale for a boost of energy before a marathon run. Vegans appreciate being invited to bring their own vegan cheese. And we’re big fans of the gorgonzola salad with anchovies.
Opened and run daily by the fabulous – and fabulously handsome – fifth-generation French Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard, the Bistro de Leon is top favorite among locals and visitors to St. Augustine’s historic district. And it doesn’t hurt at all that his lovely wife Valerie is a revered winemaker from France’s Domaine de la Fond Moiroux. A top choice is the fish quenelle soufflé with crab and fish baked in lobster bisque. For a lighter lunch fare, consider the Sandwich Brie with melted brie cheese and walnuts. Ditch the diet and splurge with an order of profiteroles – cream-filled, dark chocolate-covered pastries – for a dessert you won’t regret.
Housed in an old soda shop that has served locals since 1938, the Metro Diner is a hands-down favorite spot for breakfast and lunch in Jacksonville. In fact, it’s so loved by the locals that it made an episode of the Food Networks’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. You can’t go wrong with the shrimp and grits. There’s plenty for the vegetarian, too. Try the stuffed portabello sandwich with spinach, tomato and feta cheese. The original Metro Diner is located a mile south of the historic San Marco Square. A new location opened in the Shops of Julington Creek in Mandarin and a third is planned for Jacksonville Beach.
Easy to miss, but well worth the second lood, Delicomb Delicatessen & Espresso Bar specializes in gourmet deli food made with natural and organic ingredients. Tucked away in a tiny brick building with a bumble bee-adorned, light blue façade, this delightful local favorite serves up a healthy selection of sandwiches, paninis, wraps, salads and homemade soups. A specialty is Delicomb’s line of kimchis, Korean fermented vegetable condiments that date back thousands of years. A favorite is the White Radish Kimchi made with daikon (an Asian radish), pear, ginger and green onion. Considered one of the world’s healthiest foods, kimchis, sold by the jar at Delicomb, are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes and probiotics. Eat it alone, add a scoop to your sandwich or mix it with scrambled eggs.