North Beach Bistro is more than a restaurant—it's a legacy. The upscale eatery was the vision of renowned chef Tony Pels, who trained with culinary giants such as Wolfgang Puck and Michel Richard, and chef David Seavey, whom Pels mentored for 15 years at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa. Pels passed away only two months before the restaurant's opening in June of 2008, leaving executive chef Seavey to carry on his tradition of culinary creativity and generosity.
Spurred on by this responsibility, Seavey combines the freshest ingredients with a genuine love for his fellow Floridians. The Jacksonville native crafts hearty and flavorful surf 'n' turf entrees such as the bistro bouillabaisse with Mayport shrimp, sea scallops, mussels, calamari, and fresh fish or chargrilled Black Angus ribeye with sauteed mushrooms and port wine sauce. Reddish-gold fixtures in the bar emanate light that's as warm and welcoming as the chef himself. DJs and live music keep the space vibrant, and the dining room's wood floors and spot-lit art give it an air of sophistication. Weekly trivia nights arm guests with knowledge that makes an ideal conversation starter or helps pass the time while stuck in an elevator with Ken Jennings.
Having grown up in Baltimore, Chef Kahn Vongdara showcases a cooking style infused with the flavors and ingredients of Chesapeake Bay. At Crab Cake Factory, he has compiled a menu featuring Maryland-style crab cakes and dishes such as trout and crayfish brushed with roasted-pecan sauce. Chef Kahn's hefty 16-ounce new york strip steak with crispy potato strings is served in a dining room—full of plush booths and wooden tables—where musicians pluck strings and sensually massage their saxophones. To complement the surf 'n' turf lineup and Jacksonville Jaguars games in the lounge, the eatery's mixologists offer more than 10 martinis, including the Cupid's Potion, crafted with Three Olives vanilla vodka and strawberry liqueur.
For the cooks at Lila's Seafood & Steaks, no imitation seafood can ever compare to the real thing. That's why they never rely on imitation crabmeat; instead, they sell real snow crab legs by the pound and stuff mushrooms with actual blue crab and crab stuffing. Crab only skims the surface of Lila's selection, which ranges from conch fried into fritters to mussels coated in housemade seasoned butter.
Equally choosy about beef as they are about seafood, the cooks shape certified Angus cuts into half-pound burgers and 16-ounce T-bone steaks. To end feasts on a sweet note, the culinary team creates several housemade desserts, including peanut-butter pie, a more satisfying dish than peanut-butter cups that you pretend are tiny pies.
ESPETO is an authentic Brazilian Steak House or "Churrascaria" with "gauchos" providing continuos table side service of 14 different cuts of mouthwatering rotisserie cooked meat complemented by an upscale and fresh salad bar.
After fresh river winds have breathed adequate life into your senses, apply your revitalized vision to Benny's tempting menu of salads, soups, and surf-and-turf specialties. Put some power behind your search for the perfect entree with an order of fried gator tail served with rémoulade ($8.95), or warm up your tongue with a serving of mussels milanese with garlic, shallots, mushrooms, basil, capers, and lemon-chardonnay brown-butter sauce ($8.95). Chef’s specialties include the ginger-sesame-seared ahi tuna, served with jumbo lump blue crab in a cucumber and pickled-ginger salad ($31.95), and the classic chicken florentine, served over garlic spinach and topped with a shrimp-alfredo sauce ($19.95). To get your hands on some prime turf without having to move in with your mayor, ask your server for a 10-ounce center-cut filet mignon ($34.95) or a roasted rack of lamb coated with a fresh-mint demi-glace sauce ($27.95).
III Forks in the Tapestry Park area is a classic chain steakhouse, offered in only a handful of cities in the country. The modern Jacksonville outpost of this semi-casual eatery is stylish, energized and swank, with a tasteful menu that includes beef, freshly caught seafood and locally-sourced ingredients. With wood floors and gleaming walnut furnishings, III Forks has several dining rooms to choose from across the sprawling facility, including the Trophy, Poker and Wine Room – the latter is wrapped in floor-to-ceiling glass walls that house over 1,500 bottles. Each is the epitome of classic, romantic, business and casual-elegant dining, with recessed lighting fixtures and varying wall and floor décor. Filet mignon, double cut pork chop and Chilean sea bass are top picks here, with sides like sautéed spinach and roasted mushrooms. Texas Pecan cake and chocolate ganache round out delectable meals.