Downtown dining keeps getting more and more tasty. This month we’ve picked three restaurants you should try if you happen to be in Downtown Jacksonville!
Gili’s Kitchen Catering & Bakery
126 W Adams St # 102, (904) 475-1400, giliskitchen.com
Even with the wide variety of cuisines in Jacksonville, finding Kosher in our fair city is more difficult than you’d expect. Chef Gili owned a catering company in Israel before teaming up with Ricki Ben Simon to form Gili’s Kitchen Catering and Bakery. While they serve up traditional Jewish fare, especially when it comes to catering events, their menu is surprisingly international, with Vietnamese-inspired items alongside Mexican, Indian, American barbeque and Chinese-inspired cuisine. Their Chicken Curry Sandwich is especially popular, but the item people come back for is their “Dirty Burger.” It’s barbecue sauce and shredded meat in a homemade bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mayo, an upside-down egg, onion jam and “facon” to keep things certified Kosher! We also recommend the mashed sweet potato side. It’s definitely got a deli-vibe, with at-the-counter ordering, and generous portions. It’s located right in the heart of Downtown, just a short walk from Hemming Park on Adams Street or the Landing. Most regulars come during weekday lunches, but they have expanded their open times to past 5pm, and they are open on Sundays, a relative rarity for a deli joint downtown. You might want to check in on Jewish holidays before you go–they were closed for Passover for about a week this past April. Their normal hours are Monday-Thursday, 11am – 8pm, Friday 11am – 3pm, closed Saturdays, and open Sunday 12pm – 8pm.
100 N Laura St #100, (904) 802-7745, bellwetherjax.com
The Black Sheep Restaurant Group‘s newest restaurant, Bellwether, isn’t afraid to have new items on their menu, so if you’ve got a palate that craves variety, or you love trying the newest dining trends, it’s the place to go. On their general menu, they love to keep things local, so if you’re into supporting local farms and breweries, they’ve got you covered. While the chef certainly has fun with unique flavor combinations and instagramable trends, there’s enough on the menu to keep the less adventurous diners happy. They have several standouts on their dessert menu, in particular, their Carrot Cake, which isn’t served in the usual format. Fans of Bellwether eagerly await their soft serve flavor of the week. Past flavors have included Chocolate-Ricotta Balsamic Swirl with Cosmic Chocolate Candies, and Toasted Almond and Honey with Honey Nut Cheerios, plus house-made Honeysuckle Gummy Bears. With their fully stocked bar, they’ve built up their dinner service, though they do have a lunch crowd there as well (it’s more sit-down than to-go-oriented). If you’ve got an event Downtown or you’re seeing a show, they’re a good place to catch dinner beforehand, Tuesday-Saturday. Hours are Mondays 10:30am – 3pm, Tuesdays 10:30am – 7pm, Wednesday-Friday 10:30am-9:30 pm and Saturdays 5pm-9:30pm. You can get by without a dinner reservation, but we recommend calling ahead just in case, especially if you’re on a tight schedule.
15 Ocean St, (904) 844-5000, spliffsgastropub.com
Spliff’s Gastropub is a solid choice for the late night denizens of Downtown. It’s bar food–true–but it’s pretty dang awesome bar food. If you happen to want a nosh after an event downtown, we recommend anything with cheese (grilled cheese, mac & cheese, pork belly sandwich) or a Spliff “pocket” which is basically a savory stuffed puff pastry. We are especially in love with the Shorty, puff pastry stuffed with cajun seasoned shrimp, bacon and two different kinds of cheese. The atmosphere isn’t about a dining experience; it’s about comfort foods served in a fun bar setting. The outdoor biergarten has art displayed, and they’ve got a ton of beers on tap, with various theme nights and entertainment. Seven days a week they are open from 6pm-1:30am.
Parking Rules If You’re Eating Downtown
All metered spots Downtown are free after 6pm on weekdays and ALL weekend!
Metered parking is enforced from 8am – 6pm, Monday through Friday. Most meters cost 25 cents per half-hour with a limit of two hours, some accept credit cards, all accept quarters.
Several parking garages can also be used (rates vary) including the Lanier Parking Garage on Forsyth Street and the SunTrust Center Garage on Hogan Street.