It was a sunny Saturday in June 1925 when the Florida beachside town was officially christened "Jacksonville Beach" and the elegant Casa Marina Hotel opened its doors for the first time. To celebrate, locals spent the night dancing and dining within its stucco Spanish-style walls, frolicking throughout its grand patios and lofty halls as the sun set over the adjacent ocean. Over the years, the hotel would house a variety of prestigious clientele—including John D. Rockefeller, President Truman, and Charlie Chaplin—who were drawn to the area for its boardwalk, its pristine beaches, and its hidden elevator to the center of the earth.
Nearly a century later, the historic hotel still stands, the original structure housing plush bedrooms and parlor sweets. Throughout the week, the restaurant opens its penthouse to diners, who can eat tapas and drink martinis as they gaze out over breathtaking views of the Florida coastline. In the kitchen, Chef Aaron Webb directs a kitchen crew as they whip up dishes in the style he dubs "New Beach cuisine," mixing local seafood with the traditions of Spanish cuisine and international flavors. Come Sunday, a champagne-brunch buffet sprawls across the dinning area, serving steaming platters of fresh seafood, roasted carvings, and gelatin molds of the town's most handsome bachelors. The hotel's renowned brunches and spectacular beach views have won the veneration of an abundance of media publications.
Dick’s quickly silences grumbling bellies with a menu of tasty grilled edibles and a tongue-tingling variety of spicy twists. Fried pickles ($4.29), buffalo shrimp ($7.49), or wings in 365 available flavors ($8.99/10) engage mouths as guests wait for the main attraction—half-pound burgers, whose meatslabs are hand-pressed and grilled to order over the heat of omnipresent flame decals. Bacon, swiss, and lettuce enrobe the Squealin' Cheeser burger ($7.59), whereas sautéed mushrooms sit proudly atop the Shroomer burger ($7.59) and a trio of cheddar, american, and jack adorn the Three Cheeser ($7.59). All burgers come with a choice of steak fries or waffle fries and can be sharpened with any of Dick’s 365 sauce blends ($0.59 additional). Before strolling over to the nearby beach to squash sandcastles, diners can clog their molars with chunks of deep-fried Oreos ($3.99), a chocolate tribute to the hamburger and a smooth ending to a spicy ride.
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.
Though the chefs at Urban Flats spend every day baking gourmet flatbreads in their stone hearth, the task rarely bores them. They keep life interesting by crowning the whole-wheat bases with locally sourced and seasonally rotating ingredients such as curried chicken, breaded eggplant, and diced red peppers. Thankfully, the culinary variation isn’t limited to the flatbreads. Urban Flats also offers a full slate of wines that range from fragrant whites to spicy reds.
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.