The Gourmet Grouper was born out of a fruitful business partnership between veteran seafood-market owners John Shuler and Jason Arteaga, along with Christina Monas. The three set out to create a curated supermarket utterly unlike mega-groceries—one that could provide shoppers with a tailored selection of high-quality meats, seafood, and drinks from both distant climes and local markets. "We wanted to build a grocery store that we would like to shop at," John told the Beaches Leader. Along with his childhood friend and business partner, Jason, he procures gourmet goods from his network of local and worldwide farmers, fishers, and food artisans. The result is a smorgasbord of upscale groceries that tempt shoppers with fine cheeses, dry-aged Montana beef, Gulf stone crabs, and Louisiana crawfish. The goods are ideal for planning an elegant dinner party. Seasonal potatoes and vegetables can accompany lobster tails or Chilean sea-bass filets alongside craft beers and fine wines. The market even has artisanal snacking covered with gourmet pickles crafted by local picklesmith Tim Baker, who locks the fresh veggies' flavor into delicious stasis with careful brining and mild witchcraft.
To create their version of New American cuisine, the father-and-son team of Bassam and Nedal Mardini draw inspiration from virtually everywhere except America. At Maza New American Cuisine, their gorgeously plated dishes spotlight flavors from Mexico, Japan, and myriad countries in between. Consider their diverse treatments of a simple ingredient such as duck, which the duo marinates in pomegranate as an entree and loads into tortillas along with pickled celery and balsamic as an appetizer. The rest of their eclectic menu ranges from open-faced pork belly sandwiches crowned with tahini slaw to vegan- and vegetarian-friendly bites, including roasted eggplant purée. These meals, which the Florida Times-Union described as "fine dining quality", unfold in a cozy dining room adorned with fine-art paintings and photos.
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 filet mignon 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.
You're probably thinking, "That sounds great, but I've never bought a car or a computer without first reading the Wikipedia definitions for car and computer—I'm not about to buy a Groupon either without a briefing." Well, neither would we, and since this is everyone's first Groupon, allow us to briefly explain how it works.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Angus beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market. This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun Häagen-Dazs shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded to 160 restaurants in five years, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
The hefty cheesesteaks at Bongiorno’s Philly Steak Shop smack of authenticity since they rest inside Amoroso’s rolls shipped straight from Philadelphia and come packed with meats from South Jersey. Housemade soups prepared fresh each day pairs with the eatery’s six types of steak sandwich, as well as its hoagies, hot dogs, wraps, and quesadillas.