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.
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.
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.
The chefs at Ship 2 Shore Seafood & Steaks fry, grill, broil, or blacken fine meals using highest quality ingredients from land and sea. Aquatic hankerings can be sated quickly without eating a child's sandcastle by ordering the mussels appetizer, which chefs free from rocks before sautéing ($8.99). The seafood trio lets diners collate a three-piece dream-squad from options such as shrimp, scallops, oysters, clam strips, and fish ($15.99; $12.99 for seniors), while the 16-ounce T-bone steak delights carnivores with a slab of high-quality certified Angus beef ($19.99). Kids' meals proffer a smattering of shrimp, clam strips, corn dogs, or mac 'n' cheese ($4.99 each) that tots can nosh from the safety of their under-the-table forts, while homemade peanut-butter pies end dinners on a sweet note ($2.99/slice).
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.
Grinders Café has ground its own chuck beef and emulsified its own coffee beans each morning since it first opened its doors in 1986. A traditional American feeding and watering hole, the café welcomes all diners to a peaceful seat in a cozy space where no cravings go unsated. The eatery's menu is punctuated by signature southern breakfasts served until 2 p.m. Biscuits and sausage gravy ($5) compete with pecan waffles ($7) and country ham and eggs ($9.50) to start a patron's day, while twilit servings of fried green tomatoes ($6) wind the evening down with bona fide belly pampering.