by ERIN THURSBY
After a show at Theatre Jacksonville, there are several options within walking distance. The most classic choice is tucked away on the same side of the street as Theatre Jacksonville. It’s called The Grotto (2012 San Marco Blvd). Although it’s mainly a wine bar, the Grotto also has a tapas menu. They’re open til about midnight Thursday through Saturday, but they serve food until 11 pm on those nights. That, and the fact that it’s steps away from the theater, makes it a perfect place for light food after an evening show. Monday through Wednesday food is still served til 10, but they stay open til 11 pm. Sundays they close at 10 pm and stop serving food at about 9 pm.
For another upscale choice, head over to bb’s (1019 Hendricks Ave) after a show on Friday or Saturday. You can catch a bite til 11 pm or so, though we recommend heading for their bar rather than their dining room. They’re open until midnight both those nights, so you can keep drinking if you’d like.
On the more casual side is Mezze (2016 Hendricks Ave), a hookah joint serving up Mediterranean-inspired food. Most of it is fairly Americanized but decent fare. Their gourmet pizzas are on the pricey side (most run over $20), but they have plenty of other options on their menu, like their tasty gyro sliders, which are served as small flat bread sandwiches. On the outdoor patio patrons smoke stogies and hookahs in equal measure. Inside, it’s smoke-free and brightly lit. They have a selection of beer and wine.
Hurricane (1615 Hendricks Ave) is a commercial wing joint, pure and simple. It’s the most casual choice, where you can get a beer, wings and other bar food. They serve food until midnight Fridays and Saturdays, otherwise they close 11 pm.
There are a glut of night-time options at the beaches because of the bar scene. When people drink they sometimes like to eat, so places like Engine 15 (1500 Beach Blvd #217, Jacksonville Beach) make sure there’s a sandwich and bar food to soak it up. Engine 15, by the way, is part of Jacksonville’s brew culture, so if you love craft beer, it’s a good place to start.
Why should you love pub food? Culhane’s (967 Atlantic Blvd, Atlantic Beach) is a great reason why. On Atlantic Boulevard in Atlantic Beach, it’s a place you might want to take a date after a show at ABET (Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre) or Players by the Sea. Because it’s owned by actual Irish people, you may get to hear a little brogue as you eat your genuine Irish pub fare and down a beautiful dark beer. We recommend Nana’s Sausages. Not sure how Irish they are, but they sure are tasty little sausages, all wrapped up in flaky pastry and served with a spicy mustard sauce.
The Beaches have a lot to offer when it comes to later-night noms, but we love KC Crave (1161 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach) in Jax Beach. Make sure you have a couple of bucks for the valet parking (it’s complimentary, but it’s customary to tip) for this upscale bar. While they do serve great appetizers, the food is not typical bar-fare, as they serve an outstanding sirloin and other main dishes to drool for.
After a show at the Florida Theatre or at the T-U Center for the Performing Arts, you just might be hungry for something other than alcohol. If you do crave the latter, Bay Street will afford you plenty of options.
There are food offerings on Bay Street too, if you know where to go: TSI’s Taco Rodeo is available until 3 am all week. Downtown Jacksonville’s website touts Taco Rodeo as “Downtown’s only taco stand.” Otherwise, if you want to eat after 10 pm and you’re Downtown, Friday and Saturday are the best days of the week for it.
Chomp Chomp (106 E. Adams St) is a hole-in-wall for the hipster crowd, serving up everything from burgers to vegetarian options. They’ve only got seven tables, so the lunch crowd generally orders to go.
Burrito Gallery (21 E. Adams St) has more leg room and a courtyard hidden past their crowded bar corridor. BG has the advantage of a full bar, current art on the walls, room to sit (if there isn’t an event) and, of course, pretty fabulous burritos.
If you are in the mood for something intimate and expensive La Cena Ristorante (211 N. Laura St) fits the bill perfectly with exquisitely prepared Italian fare. It’s the quintessential backdrop for a special date; you can linger over wine and rich desserts until midnight, Tuesday through Saturday.