With its ocean-abutting locale and umbrella-shaded beach seating, Sandy Bottoms combines tempting surf 'n' turf with the relaxing backdrop of the Amelia Island seashore. The varied menu siren calls with starters such as quesadillas ($7–$12) and fried Krabby Bites ($8). The eatery’s arsenal of fishy dishes, including mahi-mahi ($14) and the hearty seafood platter with fish, shrimp, scallops, and oysters ($24), diverts mouth while ambidextrous toes construct miniature sand castles under beach-planted tables. With three bars assembling a wealth of beverages, guests can indulge in thirst-quenchers that complement each dish, from the Texican burger and its ensemble of chili, cheese, and jalapenos ($9.50) to a grilled-scallop po' boy ($11).
Exposed-brick walls bearing dartboards, colorful paintings, and flat-screen televisions anchor Dog Star Tavern's rustic, playful character. Bartenders stand behind a glossy bar top, filling shakers with selections from 50 rums and 25 vodkas and washing aged scotch over ice cubes. Frosty mugs fill with 16 draft beers, ideal for sipping on hot nights in the beer garden or after dancing up a sweat to live music Thursday–Saturday.
The menu at 3 Lions Sports Pub & Grill hits all the bases with a full spectrum of pub food. Those looking for American classics can select a specialty burger, chicken wings, or chili. British-inspired items include bangers and mash and shepherd’s pie. The eatery also sets itself apart with items not typically available at traditional grills, such as pub fries with curry sauce and hawaiian pizza. Beneath spotlighted football helmets, bartenders serve bottled brews as well as draft selections such as Guinness, Harp, and Newcastle.
Just as engaging as its eats is 3 Lions' ambiance: it's a classic sports grill with dark wood accents and widescreen televisions that hug the exposed brick walls like spies hiding from people wearing 3-D glasses. Shiny black tables reflect the glow of neon signs and broadcasts of games from NFL Sunday Ticket and Fox Soccer Channel. For further entertainment, a calendar of special events includes regular happy hours, poker nights, and live music on Fridays and Saturdays.
La Cena Ristorante, a fine dining restaurant in the heart of downtown Jacksonville, is a cozy spot for intimate conversations and delicious food. It's a well-hidden gem with an extensive wine bar, burnt sienna textured walls and a downstairs main dining room that has only a few tables. Pastas and sauce are made fresh daily, and the skinny breadsticks and gorgonzola salad are local favorites. The menu is large and complex, and includes little side notes, jokes and anecdotes on everything from why parmesan isn’t served tableside to the fee for splitting an entrée. Dishes like the chicken scallopine, spaghetti carbonara and puttanesca make it obvious why downtowners flock to this Italian eatery. La Cena offers a flourless chocolate mosse, an extensive Italian wine list and an owner/chef who will alter dishes based on dietary restrictions.