Ruth’s Chris Steak House, located in the heart of Riverside inside the Crown Plaza Hotel, is the epitome of chophouse luxury. From its white linen tablecloths to its spectacular view of downtown Jacksonville and the Intracoastal River from the walled glass windows, the elegant tray ceilings, recessed amber lighting and deep brown leather booths speak to a style and class few restaurants possess. Whether you’re after a business dinner or a birthday, Ruth’s Chris won’t disappoint. Start with the signature Chop Salad, a julienne of iceberg lettuce, baby spinach and radicchio that’s tossed with red onions, mushrooms, green olives, bacon, eggs, bleu cheese and more. Signature steaks include the petite filet, ribeye or New York strip cooked to perfect doneness, while pescetarians can go for the Caribbean lobster tail or fish of the day.
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 ribeye 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.
In the kitchen at Mark's Prime Steakhouse, cherry and pecan flicker and pop in a wood stove. The smoke penetrates into thick cuts of U.S.D.A. beef and fresh seafood brought in from Mayport in Jacksonville. For filets, strips, or bone-in rib eyes, chefs singe a flavorful crust over each chop's juicy center before plopping it onto a plate sizzling with butter.
Servers with black vests and bow ties escort the prime proteins to diners' tables, where their conversations dance over dinner music by mid-century crooners, and light from the ceiling's stained-glass dome splashes onto dark woods. Nearby, martinis, classic cocktails, and a wine list—which has garnered Wine Spectator's "Award of Excellence" every year since 2004—rest on a vintage bar. Salvaged from the La Concha Inn in Key West, the tiger mahogany bar was built in 1873 during an era when bars were called saloons and bears were called mega-squirrels.
Top-of-the-line cuisine from the land and the sea meets in the kitchen of Toni Steakhouse, a family-owned restaurant that opened in 2008. Chefs hand-cut steaks such as the 28-ounce bone-in Cowboy rib eye and the center-cut chateaubriand for two, pairing them with traditional sides such as loaded baked potatoes and wilted spinach. Those who opt for seafood choose from specialties such as sushi-grade grouper and red snapper filleted onsite. Cocktail pairings range from classics such as the Ketel One vodka martini to the decadent creations such as the Godiva chocolate dessert martini.
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).