Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

Eat JAX: 24 Hours of Decadence in Jacksonville

Somehow I’d never been to Jacksonville. As a kid, my family normally vacationed in the Florida Panhandle or Orlando for the Disney parks, though I distinctly remember Atlantic coast trips to Sawgrass due north and Daytona Beach just south. But if we ever swung through JAX, it escapes my memory as surely I would have remembered a town this lovely.

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

Two of my dearest friends, Angie and Jade, claim Jacksonville as their hometown. When Jade, her husband and their new baby—all LA based (for now)—told me they’d be visiting her parents in St. Augustine, where they now live, for a full week, I politely asked if I could tag along for a couple days. And since St. Augustine is just 45 minutes from Angie in JAX, clearly I had to tack on 24 hours to see just what this city was all about.

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

What it’s about, obviously, is delicious food. I won’t claim that we made it to the JAX beaches or saw (m)any of the attractions—large shark statue aside—but by George, we ate well and we ate often. (Diet starts tomorrow.)

My trip down there from Nashville could not have been easier. It was 13 minutes from downtown to BNA airport and through security (God bless TSA pre-check). From there, I moseyed on down to the Southwest terminal, boarded the plane and, an hour and change later, touched down in Jacksonville. If ever there was an easier airport than JAX International, I’ve yet to find it, because another 20 minutes later and I was in my Enterprise rental car and cruising to Angie in the Southside. I reached her house in roughly two hours from when I left Nashville.

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go
Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

I know, I know, you’re thinking this is way too easy a trip given my past travel luck. I was equally skeptical.

But alas, there was no catch! Jacksonville is truly that easy a trip from Nashville. After I hugged on Angie and got a tour of her digs, we loaded up her beloved Altima, Sheila the Shark, and headed downtown. First thing’s first: FOOD. But not before we checked out the crazy art installations in Hemming Park.

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

Then, we strolled around the corner for our first real destination of my visit: The Candy Apple Café. Imagine if Willy Wonka and Alice in Wonderland procreated; their baby, I’m pretty sure, would be this darling downtown restaurant.

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go
Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

Since it was already 2pm and we had a 7pm dinner reservation, we ordered a smorgasbord of shareable plates, starting with the deviled eggs, Petite Angus Burgers and the sweet potato frites with orange-sesame creme and finishing with a short stack of the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes (they serve breakfast all day!). Let’s just say you’d be wise to mimic this order, as every dish was on point.

The Sweetest Spot in all of Jacksonville: Candy Apple Cafe & Sweet Pete's

Then, we stole away to the upstairs floors, a whimsical array of colors, candy jars and decor galore.

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

If ever anything happens to our old Victorian home, I’ve found where I want to go live and it’s inside Candy Apple Café’s dessert bar. There’s also a private event space, chocolate-making workshops and other goodness galore!

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go
Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

The Sweetest Spot in all of Jacksonville: Candy Apple Cafe & Sweet Pete's

There’s also a chocolate factory that you can peek into and see where the magic happens and the real life Oompa Loompas work.

The Sweetest Spot in all of Jacksonville: Candy Apple Cafe & Sweet Pete's

On the ground floor across from the actual restaurant is where the gourmet chocolate is found. Jackpot! Of course I couldn’t leave without purchasing a hodgepodge of delicacies from Sweet Pete’s.

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

How cute is the packaging alone? I almost didn’t want to eat it (note: I said almost). And if you don’t feel like dropping $18 on a three-pack like I did, they each come in individual boxes that you can buy a la cart. You also get a complimentary sea salt caramel just from visiting, and let me tell you these are a sugaraholic’s crack. I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted a better caramel than this one.

The Sweetest Spot in all of Jacksonville: Candy Apple Cafe & Sweet Pete's

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go
Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

The Sweetest Spot in all of Jacksonville: Candy Apple Cafe & Sweet Pete's

We only had about four hours to digest before it was time to eat again. After seeing Angie and our friend, local JAX gal Carrie, sing the praises of Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails on the regular, I knew there was only one option for where the three of us would eat dinner.

It wound up being a brilliant plan. Exhibit A:

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

Carrie, Angie and I ate our way right on through the menu, from the cheddar biscuit tots and Pimento cheese toast right on to the Sloppy Joe and Chicken + Waffles, which were more like a bread pudding than anything.
Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

And of course we finished with dessert. (I’m nothing if not consistent.) Peanut butter and jelly tart for the win!

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

This place is legit, guys, and the only reason I would need to return to JAX (luckily, I have about a dozen additional excuses).

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

It was a good 12 hours before I was ready to eat again, and Angie and I decided to skip breakfast and wait for lunch so we could indulge at Maple Street Biscuit Company in San Marcos. I love everything about this friendly cafe, which now has seven locations around town, in St. Augustine and even one in Tennessee.

They take your order and ask a question of the day—in our case, that was celebrity crush (Bradley Cooper, duh)—and call out your order based on the name you give them. Angie told me to go straight for the Squawking Goat, all-natural fried chicken breast, fried goat cheese medallion and house made pepper jelly, and man, I will have dreams about this decadent breakfast sandwich. Good thing there’s now an outpost near me in Chattanooga!

Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go

When we were done and couldn’t eat another bite, the kind owner did a lap through the restaurant delivering complimentary cinnamon rolls to each table. I took one for the team (duh) and ate my share, as did Angie. We’re experienced travelers and diners like that.

Culinary travel is definitely my favorite kind of leisure trip—work trip, too, for that matter—and Jacksonville did not disappoint. Now that I know what a quick and painless trip it is from Nashville, I’ll no doubt be back … sooner rather than later.
Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go
Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go
Jacksonville Dining in 24 Hours: What to Eat and Where to Go
COMMENTS
  • March 8, 2016

    Checking out restaurants is always one of my main priority when travelling. It’s always so satisfying coming home after a trip with a full belly and intentions to diet only to start planning the next trip to do it all over again ?
    Dominique recently posted..Bonaire – Road Trip South BonaireMy Profile

  • March 9, 2016

    Absolutely bookmarking this post! I fly into JAX to visit friend’s that live an hour away each year, but haven’t spent any time in that city. Food looks incredible and high five on the celebrity crush! Loves me some Bradley Cooper!

  • March 9, 2016

    So funny that you should post something about JAX, because we were thinking of going there soon. Very synchronistic! Awesome shots!!!
    Andi recently posted..The Inside ScoopMy Profile

    • March 14, 2016

      I think you’d love it! I give it my stamp of approval—just make sure you tack on a day or two to make it over to St. Augustine, as well =)

  • March 11, 2016

    Pretty component to content. I just stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually loved account your
    blog posts. Anyway I’ll be subscribing to your feeds or even I achievement you access persistently quickly.
    kidizoom camera manual recently posted..kidizoom camera manualMy Profile

  • March 12, 2016

    Thanks for every other great post. Where else may anybody get that kind of info in such an ideal way of writing?
    I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I am at the look for such info.
    Around the World recently posted..Around the WorldMy Profile

  • March 15, 2016

    You’ve made soome good points there. I checked on the web to find
    out more about the issue and foud most people will goo along
    with our views on this website.
    cnc router table recently posted..cnc router tableMy Profile

  • March 15, 2016

    But… did Angie tell you about the salad place we went to? (Insert cry laughing emoji here.) We were so proud of ourselves for being healthy and they bullied her for her aggressive toppings choices to a near comical level.
    Alex recently posted..India Can Be A Dangerous Place To Be A GirlMy Profile

  • March 15, 2016

    That area has some crazy statues, for sure. And the restaurants are so… colorful.
    Linda March recently posted..Win a $100 Gift Card From ChoiesMy Profile

  • March 16, 2016

    Jordan time downward robe within the modern vogue, the fashion, the excitement regarding appearance,
    build across artwork also permitted the impact about the
    appearance.
    retro 11 release date recently posted..retro 11 release dateMy Profile

  • March 17, 2016

    STOP. IT! I’m dying here.
    Rebecca recently posted..New Orleans: A few days in the Big EasyMy Profile

  • March 18, 2016

    Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but
    after checking through some of the post I realized it’s new
    to me. Anyways, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!
    sports998 recently posted..sports998My Profile

  • March 22, 2016

    Next time you go back, you’ll have to try the French Pantry. It’s only open on weekdays but it has the best cheesecake I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. So glad you got down there. I love that city!

  • March 27, 2016

    I just looked it up from Charleston on the route to Destin I can stop in Jacksonville. After this post it is a must!

  • May 24, 2016
    vi

    As a Jacksonville local, I’ve been to every restaurant. There are some amazing places down by Neptune Beach. MShack-burgers and shakes(my fav)
    Ocean 60- delish seafood. Flying Iguana- Mexican cuisine(they make fresh guacamole right by your table) . Also I would recommend Burrito Gallery Downtown. And the riverside arts market is every Saturday( food, rugs,paintings, magic wands, everything!!!)Mayport has this great place called Safe Harbour Seafood that’s also really good. My favorite is the grilled grouper sandwich. All their seafood is fresh caught. They have a dock right by the marina if you are traveling by boat. Jacksonville is such a diverse city and there is so much to do. Adventure landing is a great place to take the kids. It has a water park, arcade and minigolf,batting cahes, a couple carnival rides, go karts.there is a website called Jax for kids that list a bunch of stuff to do around the city. Im sure you tourists will have a lot of fun!!!-Viola

    • May 24, 2016

      Excellent! I plan to go back within the next year, so you made my next visit even easier. Thanks, Vi =)

  • May 24, 2016
    vi

    DONT FORGET ANGIES SUBS!!!! They have the BEST iced tea, Peruvian sauce and SUBS! You have to go!!!

  • November 23, 2016

    Hi, i feel that i noticed you visited my site thus i got
    here to go back the favor?.I’m trying to find things to improve my web site!I
    guess its adequate to use a few of your ideas!!
    Bart recently posted..BartMy Profile

  • December 12, 2016

    Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your site?
    My blog is in the very same area of interest as yours and my users would truly benefit from a lot
    of the information you provide here. Please let me know
    if this ok with you. Appreciate it!
    meilleure trampoline recently posted..meilleure trampolineMy Profile

  • December 15, 2016

    Fantastic beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website, how could i subscribe for a blog site?

    The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast
    provided bright clear concept
    poltrona offerte recently posted..poltrona offerteMy Profile

  • December 15, 2016

    hi!,I love your writing very a lot! percentage we communicate
    more approximately your post on AOL? I need an expert on this area
    to unravel my problem. May be that is you!

    Having a look ahead to see you.
    telescopio recently posted..telescopioMy Profile

  • January 29, 2017

    Hello I am so grateful I found your web site, I
    really found you by accident, while I was researching on Google for something else, Nonetheless
    I am here now and would just like to say thank you for
    a incredible post and a all round exciting blog
    (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all
    at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will
    be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the superb b.
    sechoir a linge recently posted..sechoir a lingeMy Profile

  • February 22, 2017

    May I simply just say what a comfort to find somebody
    who truly understands what they’re discussing online.
    You actually realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
    More people should look at this and understand this side of
    the story. I can’t believe you’re not more popular given that you
    surely possess the gift.
    mejores cascos inalambricos recently posted..mejores cascos inalambricosMy Profile

  • March 4, 2017

    Marvelous, what a blog it is! This blog gives
    valuable data to us, keep it up.
    auriculares Bluetooth buenos recently posted..auriculares Bluetooth buenosMy Profile

  • March 26, 2017

    hello!,I like your writing so a lot! percentage we keep in touch more approximately your article on AOL?
    I require an expert on this area to solve my problem.
    Maybe that’s you! Having a look ahead to look you.
    mini horno recently posted..mini hornoMy Profile

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

GET MY POSTS DELIVERED DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX
+ Sign up and receive your free copy of my eBook