Natural light pours in through the arched windows of Cara Mia Riverside Grill and reveals sweeping views of the Indian River as diners dig into linguine and calamari. In the kitchen, head chef Elizabeth Hanstein prepares house-made sauces from traditional Italian recipes and incorporates Mediterranean influences into dishes such as the chicken piccata, which finishes a mushroom-and-scallion chicken sautéed with a sherry wine sauce.
The Murder Mystery Company's talented troupe of improv actors performs live-action murder mysteries at public and private events to sharpen guests' latent detective skills. Throughout the play, the cast drops hints and misdirects blame, inviting audience members to get involved in a web of intrigue and hilarity. Besides public dinner parties, murder mysteries can unfold during corporate events, team-building exercises, and birthday parties for aging Sherlock Holmes impersonators.
The baristas at Café Unique pour fresh-brewed coffee to complement sandwiches and entrees that are packed with organic greens and Amish meats and cheeses. Inside, the walls brim with vibrant paintings, jewelry, and canvas photographs by local artists. Outdoors, a spacious brick courtyard seats up to 300 guests for special events, and on regular days welcomes dogs to frolic around and bury bones in the fire pit. In the café's high-ceilinged ballroom, plush red chairs and a 35-foot stage facilitate weddings or company gatherings.
Woody Mills is thinking of his mother, Grace Meyer. In 1980, she collaborated with Woody and his wife Yolanda to formulate three recipes that became Woody's sweet, hot, and tangy-mustard sauces—the linchpins of the first Woody's Bar-B-Q in Jacksonville. At that point, Woody became the guardian of the family's legacy of southern-style barbecue, which medal-winning pitmaster Paul Kirk and barbecue historian Ardie Davis went on to feature in their roaster's anthology America's Best BBQ. And while the recipes remain a secret, Grace Meyer's legacy is anything but. Today, Woody's Bar-B-Q franchises bring the celebrated marriage between pickles and pulled pork to eight states throughout the country.
The menu kicks off with battered okra—fried exclusively with trans-fat-free oil—alongside the hearty and hotly contentious Brunswick stew, which both Georgia and Virginia claim as their own unique creation. Two types of pulled pork and ribs star among a roundup of beef brisket, shrimp, and chicken, all of which can be packed into a sandwich for a quick drive-thru meal or spread on platters for catered events. Through helpings of garlic toast, Texas gets a special nod on nearly every plate, whereas signature baked beans and fluffy cream pies evoke a broader southern tradition of using rich comfort food for physical comedy.
Merritt's Table welcomes diners into a converted historic home, built in 1926 and offering ideal acoustics for clinking glasses brimming with boutique wine. Seated around white-linen-capped tables set across multiple small dining rooms, patrons savor selections from the day's small plates, which in the past have included hon-shimeji mushrooms—sautéed in butter, shallots, and porcini-mushroom stock—and roasted chicken and black-eyed-pea stew imbued with toscano kale. Among previous farm-fresh entrees, highlights include a braised osso buco ragout with buttermilk turnip puree, grilled flat iron steak with smoky paprika pasta and cheese, and Canaveral white shrimp drizzled with a Monterey mushroom and heirloom-tomato pan sauce and paired with Anson Mills cheese grits, one of chef Bolton's signature sides. To accompany entrees, owner Laura Farrelly scours the globe to stock Merritt's sprawling wine list with such selections as a flowery Alois Lageder pinot grigio and rich Cartlidge & Browne cabernet sauvignon.