Operated by veteran restaurateur Peter Sideris (who has worked at New York's Smith & Wollensky), Hamilton & Ward Steakhouse serves meticulously prepared cuisine with world-class Kobe beef, prime beef that been dry-aged for a minimum of 28 days, and high-quality seafoods. Hamilton & Ward's dinner menu is loaded with several scrumptious cuts, from its signature 48-ounce porterhouse for two ($84) to the 32-ounce Flintstone ($54), a bone-in rib eye that'll stimulate Stone Age–era taste buds and tip over most foot-powered cars. Disguised bears, meanwhile, can hunch into their trench coats and break into a few fresh Maine lobsters (market price) or savor the restaurant's grilled Atlantic salmon ($26). Keep first-date conversations lubricated with any of the 400 wines in Hamilton & Ward's exquisite Mediterranean wine cellar, or guarantee a second with a glamorous glass of Louis XIII Black Pearl cognac, the only liquor to have been elected president of a Micronesian island.
When the Jacksonville Zoo first opened in 1914, it had only one attraction––a red fawn. Today, nearly a century later, it’s home to more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 plant species, and welcomes an ever-changing lineup of visiting exhibits. Guests stroll along the boardwalk in a large, open environment called the Plains of East Africa, where cheetah, antelope, and warthogs roam in environs that simulate their native habitat. The African loop also includes Elephant Plaza, where elephants stir up tidal waves playing marco polo in a 275,000-gallon pool. Visitors can also pet and feed stingrays, stand eye-to-eye with a giraffe, and head to the award-winning Range of the Jaguar exhibit to roam a replica of an abandoned Mayan temple. During summer months, kids get wet at the Play Park and Splash Ground, where they can climb into a treehouse or peer through an underwater window to see penguins swimming overhead.
After guests explore the wildlife, rest and relaxation await within botanical gardens such as the Asian Bamboo garden, where patrons cross a traditional moon gate to see a tranquil waterfall, komodo dragons, and an interactive bamboo mist forest. The zoo also features a carousel, train rides, and several restaurants where humans can tap into their own wild instincts by hunting their natural prey—the sandwich.
Janey Mac's Supper Club, which is located near no less than three universities, brings its menu of new Caribbean cuisine, soul food, and hearty country breakfast eats to students and food-appreciators of all walks of life. A dining room of understated elegance welcomes visitors to its sleek booths and votive-topped tables, illuminated by sparkling chandeliers and the gleam of rapidly moving forks. The hearty food gets an extra dose of soul when Janey Mac's welcomes live performers who serenade the lounge with R&B, jazz, and reggae.
If most people decided their career path as children, we would be overrun with unemployed wizards, quarterbacks, and pony firefighters. But for Rosario Domicoli, the restaurant industry beckoned at age 13. In the years that followed, he's opened a few restaurants of his own. His latest is the eponymous Domicoli's Ristorante & Lounge, a Southern-style Italian eatery with a robust menu of pastas, steaks, chicken, and veal dishes.
In the dining room, ornate mirrors line the walls, curved at the top to resemble arched door frames. Throughout the week, specials honor members of the community, such as servicemen and women, teachers, and costumed superheroes. Friday nights host performances from the likes of saxophonist Hunter Hayes, and Saturday nights feature jubilant karaoke sessions.
Riverside Manor’s cooks craft a menu of upscale Italian dishes, each served to diners in a renovated nineteenth-century silk mill. Just as a trip to the bookie precedes little-league baseball games, so too must first courses such as chicken wings ($7) or clams oreganata ($8 lunch, $10 dinner) clear the way for a festive entrée. Classic dishes such as rigatoni alla vodka ($10 lunch, $12 dinner) and fettuccini carbonara ($12 lunch, $14 dinner) share space with more exotic fare, including a 10-oz. raw filet mignon served on a 750-degree volcanic stone ($24). A lineup of brick-oven pizzas teaches guests that, unlike pi, pies end, and libations such as red ($5–$13) and white ($5–$12) wines, domestic ($4) and imported ($5) beers, and martinis ($7–$11) accompany the succulent eats.
The cooks in Hillery Street Restaurant & Grill’s kitchen know how to multitask. From dawn ‘til tusk, they are kept busy flipping fluffy pancakes, layering classic deli sandwiches, and topping pastas in rich sauces from the eatery’s impressively large menu. After biting into one of 20 types of omelets, Philly cheese steaks, or 13 burgers, patrons can savor some nostalgia by perusing the malt-shop menu and choosing from ice cream sodas and banana splits.