Ruth’s Chris Steak House, located in the heart of Riverside inside the Crown Plaza Hotel, is the epitome of chophouse luxury. From its white linen tablecloths to its spectacular view of downtown Jacksonville and the Intracoastal River from the walled glass windows, the elegant tray ceilings, recessed amber lighting and deep brown leather booths speak to a style and class few restaurants possess. Whether you’re after a business dinner or a birthday, Ruth’s Chris won’t disappoint. Start with the signature Chop Salad, a julienne of iceberg lettuce, baby spinach and radicchio that’s tossed with red onions, mushrooms, green olives, bacon, eggs, bleu cheese and more. Signature steaks include the petite filet, ribeye or New York strip cooked to perfect doneness, while pescetarians can go for the Caribbean lobster tail or fish of the day.
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.
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.
In the kitchen at Mark's Prime Steakhouse, cherry and pecan flicker and pop in a wood stove. The smoke penetrates into thick cuts of U.S.D.A. beef and fresh seafood brought in from Mayport in Jacksonville. For filets, strips, or bone-in rib eyes, chefs singe a flavorful crust over each chop's juicy center before plopping it onto a plate sizzling with butter.
Servers with black vests and bow ties escort the prime proteins to diners' tables, where their conversations dance over dinner music by mid-century crooners, and light from the ceiling's stained-glass dome splashes onto dark woods. Nearby, martinis, classic cocktails, and a wine list—which has garnered Wine Spectator's "Award of Excellence" every year since 2004—rest on a vintage bar. Salvaged from the La Concha Inn in Key West, the tiger mahogany bar was built in 1873 during an era when bars were called saloons and bears were called mega-squirrels.
There are no easy decisions once you slide into a booth at Ormond Steakhouse. What should I get as an appetizer? What should I get as an entree? What nickname should I choose for the server? All of these things rush through a diner's mind as they open the menu and scan over its assortment of wood-fired steaks, chicken, and seafood.
Meals kick off with the likes of fall-off-the-bone rib tips and homemade kettle chips topped in melted blue cheese. Then, servers bring plates of market fresh fish, center-cut pork chops, and USDA choice steaks such as a Texas top sirloin in peppercorn sauce. Most of the entree selections do have a couple of things in common: chefs grill them over wood-powered flames, and they go perfectly with sides such as cinnamon apples. Beer, wine, and specialty cocktails?such as a pomegranate margarita?put the final note to this culinary symphony.
Since 1948, grills have kissed aged steaks from Chicago and Kansas City with open flames to take center stage on Gene's Steak House's menu bolstered with select classics dishes and fine wines. Cuts of beef range from 6-ounce petite filet mignons to 28-ounce porterhouse-steak behemoths, each carved from corn-fed, immaculately aged meat. Diners can relive fishing trips or nightmares about aquariums with plates of char-grilled stuffed grouper, lobster tails, and salmon. A list of over 200 fine wines from around the world lends bouquets to balance every smoky flavor, highlighting steaks with French red bordeaux and complementing seafood with German white varietals.