With an arsenal of seasonings and an artist’s touch, Flavors' chefs refute the common conception that all Indian food is spicy. Though many of their chicken, lamb, and seafood specialties hold the bite of fresh chilies and blended spices, a wide variety carry the more delicate flavors of rich cream, tangy tomato sauce, and mild curry. All their dishes have one thing in common, though: they all follow the outline of centuries-old recipes from across India while taking on contemporary flair and innovations.
Beyond the kitchen lies an elegant dining room, where knowledgeable servers refill glasses of fine wine and explain unfamiliar dishes to curious customers—detailing preparation techniques, listing ingredients, and demonstrating how to pronounce their names in Klingon. Come lunchtime, the lengthy buffet fills with freshly made platters of Indian dishes, enabling guests to sample a wide variety of tandoori meats, curries, and traditional dishes. Before taking their leave, diners linger over the last sips of mango lassi at linen-clothed tabletops and cushy green booths, surrounded by the vibrant artwork of local artist Neelima Gole.
The raspberry-colored walls, stained-glass lamps, and mosaic-tiled floors of Layla’s of San Marco transport guests to a Middle Eastern oasis filled with the succulent scent of lamb roasting in spicy sauces. Servers present a lunch buffet as fully stocked as a cornucopia on moving day, featuring fare such as falafel sandwiches, shawarma wraps, and buffalo wings to accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions.
Dinner entrees—such as charbroiled lamb kebabs, shrimp mediterrania, and seasoned tilapia in a garlic wine sauce—arrive on steaming-hot platters with sides of rice and a small salad. A lineup of hookahs puffs out aromatic smoke in a variety of individual or blended flavors, which can be filtered through a choice of water, soda, juice, merlot, or vodka. As bartenders mix drinks at the fully stocked exposed bar, Middle Eastern music guides a house belly dancer through the ranks of mingling patrons to fully immerse guests in a Mediterranean ambiance.
Big Pete’s Pizzeria is a brick behemoth in the heart of downtown Jacksonville, offering up New York-style pies in a homey pizza parlor reminiscent of a classic Brooklyn joint. The red walls, vinyl floors and a TV give the pizzeria a decidedly casual vibe. The large ordering counter houses self-serve soft drinks and teas, while simple black chairs and tables fill the space. The menu is a mix of traditional pizzas and specialty pies like the Taco Pizza, Eggplant Parmesan Pizza and Buffalo Chicken Pizza. Diners can also nosh on a host of subs and sandwiches, from pan-fried meatballs to Italian sausage. Pasta dishes, wraps and wings round out Big Pete’s Pizzeria’s selection, where the service is quick and friendly.
Spice-To-Go's founders and head chefs, a husband-and-wife duo, whip up a menu of fresh, homemade Indian fare with culinary skills honed in locales across the globe, including their home countries of Kenya and England. The couple prepares naan and basmati rice fresh daily, whispering plotlines of The Bold and the Beautiful in order to steam up every grain. These sides pair with house-favorite entrees such as aloo gobi, a union of cauliflower and potatoes in a flurry of herbs and spices. Saag paneer sends homemade cheese wading through smooth spinach puree, and chicken tikka masala splashes boneless, marinated pieces of meat with a creamy tomato sauce.