shop and eat

by erin thursby
Shopping is hard work. It’s no wonder the urge to refuel during a holidays is so strong. With that in mind, we’ve gathered together a sampling of some of the places near Jacksonville shopping spots where you might want to nosh between all that holiday gift gathering.
Avondale On St. Johns Street in Avondale, there’s enough boutiques with plenty of unique options to help you through the holidays. Biscotti’s is the hands-down choice for a post- or pre-shop nibble. It’s got something for everyone, and the prices don’t go above $11 unless you get a special. If you feel the need for exotic and yummy bar food, there’s always Casbah for Middle Eastern and if you need a good drink to go with your food–try the nouveau Southwestern fare at the liquor store cum restaurant/neighborhood bar of West Inn.
5 Points Zoe’s might be a chain, but it’s a great choice for a quick bite of deli stuff. I enjoy their chicken salad. For pizza there’s always a delectable slice from Al’s, and you can snag a wrap from Hovan for a healthier bite. When I want to sit down I tend to go for sushi at Sake House. I’d give Fu Hao a miss, if only because the food and service have been inconsistent. You may have a great time–or not.
Riverside at Whiteway Cool Moose is a neighborhood favorite, but it closes early. Try the cookies and the sweet potato fries, they are delish! Just a few blocks from its old location (within walking distance) is Whiteway Deli. It’s a Jacksonville must-eat, but it too closes post-lunch. European Street is also popular if you want a sandwich and a beer. But if you want to treat yourself with a serious meal, you can’t do better in this neighborhood than Primi Piatti. It’s more expensive than the other options and closes between lunch and dinner, but its Northern Italian fare has won the taste buds of people who claim they don’t like Italian.
San Marco The newest offering on the street, Taverna, is slightly pricey, but you won’t regret going there after some hard shopping (see last month’s review online). San Marco Deli has been on everyone’s list for a quick, decently priced sandwich and you might try Take Away Gourmet (Matthew Medure’s lowest priced restaurant) for a quick gourmand-style buffet.
St. Johns Town Center You certainly don’t lack for options at the Town Center. The upscale options that I’d recommend from least expensive to most expensive are: Maggiano’s, Mitchell’s, J. Alexander’s and Capital Grille. J. Alexander’s (and perhaps some of the other places) have the added benefit of a no-cost valet, so you can come to the Town Center, have them park, shop some and then end your day by eating there. On the lower scale, there’s HealthyWay Deli and their all-organic fare. You can also get casual (and less healthy) at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. These options don’t even begin to cover the Town Center, of course–but it can help narrow things down.