From its majestic outpost, with views of the Intracoastal Waterway, marsh and marina, Jacksonville Beach’s Marker 32 sports a bay of glass windows, white table linens and light teak colored dining tables. The truly elegant eatery has two stories, with the second serving as a perfect place to take in a sunset dinner. Fresh local ingredients, prepared daily from scratch, make up the majority of the menu, including a cast iron-seared beef tenderloin, shrimp and Andouille fettuccine and pan roasted duck breast. This is upscale Florida dining at its best, with rich desserts and the sort of understated but elegant décor that makes Marker 32 perfect for date night.
J.L. Trent’s Seafood on the Westside is a casual seafood restaurant offering reasonable prices and tasty seafood dishes. With entrées such as crab cake, fried shrimp, flounder fillet and mahi-mahi dinners, all served with down-home sides like black eye peas, green beans, collards, grits and coleslaw. This is a Southern spin on Florida seafood, coming through loud and clear. In operation since 1997, J.L. Trent’s Seafood has cozy booths, nautical wall art, ceiling fans and lots of windows, making it a family-friendly outpost run by competent folks who always seem to make sure everything turns out the way it should. The slate grey weathered exterior is reminiscent of a Northeastern seafood shack somewhere in New England, and locals flock here for every kind of seafood imaginable.
Junior’s Seafood Restaurant & Grill, located on the north side, is a family friendly seafood house where catch of the day is the focus and entrées such as Captain’s Platters (shrimp, scallops, oysters, fish, deviled crab and clam strips, along with hush puppies and two sides) are de rigueur. The child-friendly ambience is perfect for all ages. Locals rave about the stuffed flounder, gator tail and crab cakes, offered in almost any combination imaginable, while sides like grits, fries and baked potatoes round out the meals. With its ample seating, nautical wall-art and big board menus, Junior’s is a favorite of locals on the north side. On the fifteenth and 30th of every month, the restaurant offers a discounted 30-piece shrimp dinner.
Carrabas Italian Grill is a chain Italian eatery offering an exhibition kitchen, wood fired grill and neighborhood bar in the Baymeadows section of Jacksonville. Italian-styled entrées often come with an Americanized twist, including a lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, shrimp and scallop linguine al vodka and sirloin marsala. The blackberry sangria and pomegranate martini are popular cocktails, while the décor, crafted after an old world Italian trattoria, offers diners a rush of beige-colored walls, red and gold accents, wine bottles, plus a gleaming wood bar space. There’s also plenty of cozy booths, large family tables and high-top tables in the bar area. Don’t forget to try dessert, like the panna cotta or mini cannoli.
The Bonefish Grill on San Jose Boulevard has a polished, casual feel to it, with gleaming dark woods and light oak tables that set the stage for a relaxed, slightly refined night out. The bar area is frequently energetic and noisy, with fresh cocktails made from hand squeezed juices, muddled herbs, small batch bourbons and local craft beers. With recessed sconce lighting and wood floors, the dining area is inviting, though the main draw are dishes like the Fontina Chop, a boneless pork chop with fontina cheese, garlic and prosciutto, served with a mushroom and marsala wine sauce. Bonefish Grill is a neighborhood eatery at its finest, where friends can gather, couples can canoodle and singles mingle at the bar.