by BY DEVON STILES
In recent years, the demand for exceptional dining in Downtown Jacksonville has grown tremendously. The push can be attributed in large part to the success of the annual Eat Up Downtown promotion. Now in its sixth year, Eat Up Downtown has expanded to include 23 restaurants, each featuring their own three-course prix fixe menu from August 13-26, 2012. The event aims to showcase the wide variety of affordable options that Downtown has to offer.
Event organizer Downtown Vision, Inc. believes if diners have a good experience, then they’re more likely to return to Downtown for future dining experiences. During Eat Up Downtown, participating restaurants will offer three-course menus at $15, $25 or $35. The tiered prices allow fine-dining restaurants to showcase their creative menus while still giving an opportunity for more casual spots to compete. The vast array of restaurants involved in Eat Up Downtown provide diners with options ranging from barbecue to Thai to pizza to sushi to burgundy-braised lamb.
According to DVI, the 2011 Eat Up Downtown brought 18,000 diners Downtown during the two-week period. Not only does the event draw Jacksonville residents to Downtown, DVI reports that patrons from Miami and the Keys enjoyed the offerings. Last year, six of the participating restaurants extended their prix fixe menus for a third week. Additionally, some restaurants, such as bb’s, have even created their own prix fixe menus to use throughout the year due to the success of the event. Many of the restaurants involved have participated since the event’s inception.
The Eat Up Downtown experience doesn’t end at dinner. Comment cards are available at each restaurant with a buy-one-get-one drink coupon offer good at any of the participating bars in the Urban Core to encourage patrons to experience what Downtown nightlife has to offer. All comment cards will be entered into a raffle to win one of four gift cards to the Eat Up Downtown restaurant of the winner’s choice. There is also a photo contest on Facebook for diners to submit their favorite photographs from their Eat Up Downtown experience. Prizes include two $25 Jacksonville Landing gift certificates and two family-of-four passes to the Museum of Science and History.
Participating restaurants include Basil Thai & Sushi, bb’s, Big Pete’s Pizzeria, Cafe Nola at MOCA, Casa Dora, Chart House, Chicago Pizza Sports Bar and Grille, Chomp Chomp, Cinco de Mayo, Fionn MacCool’s Pub and Restaurant, Juliette’s Bistro, Koja Sushi, Northstar (“The Pizza Bar”), Olio Market, River City Brewing Company, Sake House, The Brew House Lounge at River City Brewing Company, The Wine Cellar, Underbelly, University Club, Vito’s Italian Cafe, and Zodiac Bar and Grill.
Coupon clipping or ticket purchasing is not required for patrons to participate. Simply make a reservation directly with the restaurant of choice from August 13-26. Restaurants may also allow online reservations at www.opentable.com.
Eat Up Downtown
by BY DEVON STILES