Erin’s Top 3 Restaurants in Jax
It’s no secret that Jacksonville is full of good eats. The First Coast is a foodie’s dream with everything ranging from fast casual to five star kitchens. And there’s been a huge push recently for restaurants to take it up a notch by using locally sourced fresh ingredients to serve up one of a kind dishes that keep patrons coming back for more and, most importantly, telling their friends.
When Nate asked me to pick my top three restaurants in Jacksonville, my brain started whirling. As a native, it’s impossible to pick just three favorites so this is not an exclusive list by any means but these are restaurants that I consistently recommend to others.
1) Safe Harbor Seafood
Growing up in a family of fishermen, I’ve always been spoiled with my seafood. But if you can’t catch your own dinner, Safe Harbor Seafood is the next best thing. Safe Harbor Seafood originated in Mayport but recently opened an additional location in Jacksonville Beach. Both locations offer a full menu and serve lunch and dinner six days a week. In addition to a restaurant, the Mayport location also features a market where you can purchase various fresh fish, shellfish, and molluscs to create your own culinary masterpieces at home.
My go-to order is a blackened shrimp po’boy with crispy fries, creamy slaw, and hush puppies washed down with sweet tea or a cold beer. If the weather is nice, take your food outside and enjoy eating along the water. (The Jacksonville Beach location offers plenty of people watching from the adjacent boat ramp.)
Both locations are incredibly popular, especially when the weather is nice, so be sure to get there early if you’re wanting to dine-in or you’ll be stuck waiting for a table.
2) Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails
Locally-owned and operated Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails is a refreshing refuge in the sea of chain restaurants at The Town Center. Moxie is committed to sourcing ingredients from local producers, purveyors, and farmers to create unique flavorful dishes.
Moxie is our go-to for date night. The round booths downstairs provide a cozy atmosphere. Upstairs can be loud so if noise level is a concern to you, keep that in mind. We love to sit close to the kitchen to watch the chefs. Start off with a couple of craft cocktails at the bar. (Happy hour is from 3pm-7pm daily!) If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic option, try one of the seasonal Handmade Sodas.
I like to start out with an order of Pimento Cheese Toast; my husband always gets Brunswick Stew because he’s obsessed. (They even gave us the recipe, though I haven’t figured out the math to turn it into a manageable batch of stew yet.) My favorite item on the menu is the meatloaf with scallion-whipped potatoes and creamy collard greens. (Those collards are what dreams are made of!) We have never had a bad meal at Moxie. And bonus points for the always friendly and helpful staff.
3) Si Senor Fresh Mex
As a self-proclaimed taco connoisseur, I’ve tried just about every Mexican and Tex Mex joint in Jacksonville. And I always come back to Si Senor. (At one point, I was eating lunch there multiple times per week!) They offer your basic taco joint menu but each dish is made with fresh and authentic ingredients.
I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a gringo with my standard order. I get the American Tacos – soft flour tortillas with grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and cheese – and a side of refried beans and rice. If you’re more of a traditionalist, opt for the Mexican Tacos – soft corn tortillas stuffed with your choice of meat, raw onions and cilantro. And if you really want to splurge order the Carne Asada Fries, I just hope you’ve got time for a nap afterwards. Don’t forget to stop by the salsa bar and load up on housemade salsas as well as extra accoutrements for your tacos.