The couples eating Valentine's Day dinner at Buddha Thai Bistro would have been flooded with rose pedals, if not for the gauzy tapestries that hung from the ceiling and held them aloft. The eatery's ceiling is a canvas that changes with the seasons, sporting hundreds of folded paper sculptures for the Thai New Year or colorful streamers for other celebrations. Though the decor fluctuates, Buddha Thai Bistro's commitment to flavorful cuisine remains constant. In the kitchen, seven varieties of curry simmer with meat and vegetables, fried rice sizzles alongside eggs and glass noodles, and extra spices lend a sobering kick to drunk-man noodles, served for lunch or dinner. A new vegan menu offers dishes such as soy shrimp and papaya salad and tofu egg rolls, and a robust wine menu helps diners pair reds, whites, and sakes with their meals.
Landshark Café synthesizes savory stomach set pieces to the sound of live music four nights a week. Its dining-room stage serves up a smorgasbord of sonic flavors—jazz on Friday, mellow reggae on Sunday, and spacey theremin solos on the secret eighth day of the week. Meanwhile, the café's kitchen beauticians slather the winter-pale chunks of chicken or shrimp on luau skewers ($12) with teriyaki sauce before tanning them to a crispy golden brown on the grill. Alternatively, beefy bites such as the mushroom- and onion-laced flat-iron steak ($15) and the pineapple-topped Hawaiian burger ($8.25) restore jaded meat prophets’ faith in the healing power of protein. With beers on tap and a laid-back wait staff, Landshark Café hosts garrulous groups for quick victuals or marathon meals to celebrate the end of a Capri Sun–based detox regimen.
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.
In Green Room Brewing’s tap room, servers pour out eight beers from other Florida breweries but it’s the microbrewery’s own pints that make it truly special. Visitors to the tap room can admire the steel fermenters, wooden barrels, and other brewing equipment as they sip one of several rotating specialty brews, such as a barrel-aged beer or a belgian. Two options stay on the menu year-round: an American-style High Head IPA with a citrus aroma and plenty of hops and the light crisp Diamond Belgian Wit, a traditional Belgian ale brewed with coriander.
But the brewery isn’t just about filling pints and growlers. Local artwork adorns the tap room’s sky-blue walls, and the brewery hosts live music performances, visits from other microbreweries, and regular Jenga competitions that help create a lively spirit of community, like the mandatory team-building exercises supervised by leprechauns each St. Patrick’s Day.
It?s 2 a.m. and the thump of dubstep still pours out onto Blue Water Island Grill?s second-story balcony, drowning out the din of laughter and clinking cocktails. Although this casual eatery caters to late-night revelers, it doesn?t shirk cuisine: chefs marinate fish in creative sauces, such as soy and tomato-basil concasse, and serve dishes with tropical flourishes such as mango coleslaw and Chiquita-banana-signed napkins.