The Gourmet Grouper was born out of a fruitful business partnership between veteran seafood-market owners John Shuler and Jason Arteaga, along with Christina Monas. The three set out to create a curated supermarket utterly unlike mega-groceries—one that could provide shoppers with a tailored selection of high-quality meats, seafood, and drinks from both distant climes and local markets. "We wanted to build a grocery store that we would like to shop at," John told the Beaches Leader. Along with his childhood friend and business partner, Jason, he procures gourmet goods from his network of local and worldwide farmers, fishers, and food artisans. The result is a smorgasbord of upscale groceries that tempt shoppers with fine cheeses, dry-aged Montana beef, Gulf stone crabs, and Louisiana crawfish. The goods are ideal for planning an elegant dinner party. Seasonal potatoes and vegetables can accompany lobster tails or Chilean sea-bass filets alongside craft beers and fine wines. The market even has artisanal snacking covered with gourmet pickles crafted by local picklesmith Tim Baker, who locks the fresh veggies' flavor into delicious stasis with careful brining and mild witchcraft.
Latin House Grill has a Caribbean feel, from its food—goat stew, plantains, and shrimp soup—to the beach scene and palm trees painted on the restaurant's walls. For those who want to substitute the Caribbean for Jacksonville's west side, the eatery offers open-air seating on a breezy porch. Here, diners savor tropical lunches and dinners, rounded out by pours from the full bar.
Alonzo Boschulte remembers his own stage fright when he guides beginning students onto the dance floor. With years of training, he grew from an amateur to a certified ballroom teacher and professional competitor registered with the National Dance Council. At Savannah Ballroom Dancing, he strives to echo this journey by transforming total novices into confident twirlers.
Lessons in more than 15 varieties of Latin and ballroom dance occupy the school's floor space. With pupils ranging in age from 6 to older than 80, the instructors stress the importance of mixing private, group, and practice classes to expose everyone to different dance scenarios. They also laud the fitness benefits of learning to dance, which hones one's sense of rhythm and muscular strength more safely than being at the bottom of a vertical conga line.
Glossy, tall tables and funky decorative woodwork on the walls make Daniel's Restaurant & Lounge feel like a ritzy nightclub lounge. The tapas is just as distinctive as the decor—tastes from all over the globe come together in each small plate made with locally sourced ingredients. Feel free to try Greek lamb sliders alongside tandoori chicken skewers. Or sample miniature sushi tuna pizzas alongside tender carolina crab cakes. The portions are more substantial than your typical tapas joint, too. Still, if you want something other than small plates, Daniel's also offers a more straightforward selection of steaks and seafood, including their signature surf and turf, NY strip steak, and slow-cooked, herb roasted chicken. After dinner hours, Daniel's transforms into a nightclub and hosts DJs and dance parties.
Located on Jacksonville’s south side, The Comedy Zone has been hosting some of the nation’s finest standup comedians for decades. Tucked away inside the Ramada Conference Center and Hotel, the Comedy Zone is a quaint, dim, charming nightclub venue filled with cozy tables and chairs. The thick carpet underfoot cushions the space further and keeps noisy shoes and squeaky chairs to a minimum. The small, gleaming wood stage is back-dropped by a large brick wall, reminiscent of so many other famous comedy clubs. Over the years, the stage has played host to a variety of national touring comedians and lots of local Florida talent. A full bar and a variety of burgers, sandwiches and appetizers are available to order, and can count toward the room’s industry-standard one drink or item minimum. Of course, that means comedy fans must be at least 21 years of age to enter the Zone.
The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1949, and currently plays at the 1,800 seat Robert E. Jacoby Symphony Hall in the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts downtown. Over the years, the orchestra has hosted renowned artists such as Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Luciano Pavarotti. It’s currently led by Music Director and Principal Conductor Fabio Mechetti, who has been in the position since 1999. He will be stepping down in May, but not until helming productions of The Marriage of Figaro and Verdi’s Requiem in the spring. The Jacksonville Symphony also partners with Duval County and three other public school systems to provide some 84,000 children the opportunity to both listen to and participate in youth-oriented symphony events. The orchestra’s charitable works, world-class facility and enduring star power have helped keep Jacksonville culture on the map for decades.