The spirit of a traditional Irish public house lives on at McGarvey's Wee Pub. Aside from serving up pot pies and amber brews, there’s a devotion to maintaining a rollicking, lighthearted atmosphere. The occasional sounds of Live music also fills he air on weekends, while a full bar boasts draft beer, premium ESPN and NFL programming plays on the big screens, and the kitchen dishes up onion rings and beer-battered fries. Boisterous crowds often spill over to the awning-covered patio dotted with picnic tables.
Mojo's owner and proprietor, Todd Lineberry, grew up in North Carolina, right in the epicenter of one of the most thriving barbecue regions in the country. Todd grew to appreciate the distinctive tastes and flavors of different barbecue traditions, which is why he fuses flavors from the major barbecue regions—North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City, Texas, and the tour bus for the Charlie Daniels Band—into the dishes served at Mojo. Using authentic cooking techniques and housemade sauces, chefs stuff the menu with dishes such as pulled-pork shoulder, pit-smoked chicken, and chopped-brisket sandwiches. To complement these regional barbecued delicacies, they also prepare housemade Southern sides such as collard greens and creamy coleslaw.
Each Mojo Jacksonville-area location has an identity as distinct as the dishes it serves. Live blues music permeates the airwaves and nearby ocean waves at Mojo Kitchen, BBQ Pit, and Blues Bar, while Mojo no. 4 stocks more than 175 whiskies such as Jameson, The Macallan, Wild Turkey, and Jack Daniels. Each location also caters for parties and events of all types.
Thirty years ago, a mother, a son, and his wife joined forces to create their own barbecue restaurant, starting with family-inspired, made-from-scratch recipes. They formula proved to be a success, and Woody’s Bar-B-Q now dishes the same quality eats from locations in six states. The restaurant’s defining secret sauce decorates baby back ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, and roasted half-chickens at each location.
Chef Pedro Ramirez can often be seen hovering over a crackling spit, tending to the pig that roasts over its flame in the open air. When the bounty is finished cooking, Ramirez whips it up into pork sandwiches and platters—a Ramirez Restaurant specialty for nearly two decades. A retired US Navy Chief, Ramirez now leads his kitchen staff as they craft fresh ingredients into authentic Cuban, Mexican, and Puerto Rican dishes infused with homemade spices akin to the ones used by Ramirez's ancestors from Santo Domingo. In the dining room, designed in the style of a beach bungalow, Latin paintings hang over tables topped with homemade sangria and margaritas, and an outdoor patio supports the tropical atmosphere with flags and strands of lights as powerful as a billionth of a sun.
East Coast Sushi stocks their buffet ($10.99–$11.99/adult) with more than 200 menu items hailing from of the U.S., Japan, and China. Operating from a private oasis, sushi chefs slice and roll traditional morsels such as california and dragon rolls while hibachi specialists grill new york strip steaks and assorted veggies. Diners stockpile plates or industrial-sized fanny packs with entrees abounding with steak, chicken, and seafood, such as the crab legs ($3.99 extra) or the Asian-infused Thai-style chicken. A sampling of pastries and desserts sweeten the taste buds, preparing them for refreshing libations of wine and cold sake.
In a mobile food truck, Driftwood's pit masters slow cook the menu's meaty offerings for up to 16 hours on site at various Jacksonville locations as well as catered events. Lunchers refuel with daily selections, such as pulled pork, chicken breast, or ribs, that are each smoked over wood cut from cherry, apple, or bacon trees. Chefs craft homemade sides including baked beans and coleslaw to complement the protein-packed morsels. For catering, the mobile barbecue mavens journey to company picnics, weddings, and other events to fill the stomachs of 15 or more people. Meal planners can select spreads of one ($14/person), two ($16/person), or three ($18/person) meats, each of which comes with a choice of two sides and bread. Skilled servers emerge from the food truck to help customers pile up plates and bury leftover rib bones in their garden.
Hamburger Mary flipped her first burger in 1972 in San Francisco’s SOMA district. From her humble origins as the lovably eccentric icon for a late-night beer-and-burger joint, she has now crisscrossed the nation with her brand of family dining, which welcomes all open-minded people and focuses on members of the LGBT community. With cleverly mismatched dinnerware, diners dig into a menu rooted in Angus-beef burgers such as the Buffy the Burger Slayer or the 1-pound Proud Mary. Bold colors splash the walls, and colorful collages and artwork frame a fun, quirky space to encourage diners to get out of their comfort zone and finally attempt to bench-press their family members.