Eat Up Downtown

Save the date and your appetite! Downtown Vision, Inc. is dishing out exquisite cuisine at an affordable price during the fifth annual Eat Up Downtown, Downtown Jacksonville’s dining promotion, which runs for two weeks, from August 15 – August 28. Check out http://www.eatupdowntown.com for more information.

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Sakura – Best Sushi in Jax

20110813-122249.jpgIf you haven’t been to Sakura on San Jose Boulevard at the intersection of Sunbeam Road, you’ve been missing out.  One of Jacksonville’s first Japanese Restaurants, Sakura has shown it is the premier in Sushi.  Stop by and say hello to Paul at the Sushi Bar, and try his own, the Paul Roll.  A unique roll filled with shrimp tempura, topped with lemon wedges and shrimp sauce make it legendary.

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7-Eleven coming to Jacksonville?

We at Hungry Jax are hearing rumors that Seven Eleven wants to expand into Jacksonville. The two locations they are looking at are downtown at the Magnificat Cafe and Avondale across the street from the Brick (The old gas station that has been vacant). If people remember correctly, Jiffy Huntley Stores and Little Champ ruled Jacksonville 20 years ago.  Now it seems that Dailys and Gate now rule the Jacksonville landscape.  My how things change over the years. Check back soon for more updates.

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TacoLu – A taste of Baja Mexicana?

So with all the hype surrounding TacoLu, which is located near Penman and Beach Blvd, my wife and I decided to try this true “hole in the wall” restaurant last Friday. As we approached the restaurant, the lines were out the door and parking was horrendous. Note to those who are going to TacoLu’s:  The restaurant next door will tow you, so park accross the street and walk.

As we expected, we were told the wait would be roughly 45 minutes, so we took a seat and people watched. As many people walked into this restaurant, we were so excited about the food we were about to eat. Should we go traditional baja fresh fish or venture out and get the scallop taco? A couple things to point out about this place. First, this place has minimal air condition. It seems like the building is extremely old, as the air condition could not keep up with the amount people that they had seated. The restaurant does have two large oscilating fans, but they were not making the place cooler at all. Second, this restaurant loves to seat large parties over small ones. We saw several tables become available and stay available for roughly 30 minutes, in order to accomodate larger parties. It’s probably not the best way to do things, but maybe works in this smaller environmnet.

We finally were seated after an hour wait, and were greeted with hot chips and salsa. Now, if there is one thing you take out of this review, it’s that this place has the best salsa I have ever tasted. They should seriously bottle this stuff and sell it in gallons. It’s so fresh and delicious, with pieces of cilantro, toasted garlic, fresh tomatoes and other goodness, that it’s hard to replicate. We finally decided on what we wanted to order. My wife ordered the Bangin Dilla and I ordered a brisket, carnitas, and scallop tacos. We also ordered the guacamole to start.

The guacamole was brought to the table very quickly, and it was topped with toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas). I can’t say that the guacamole tasted bad, but it was just bland. It needed to have some salt, jalepeno, and some lime or lemon. It truly had no taste at all, and the toasted pumpkin seeds only added a decorative presentation to the dish.  The guacamole was  a little disappointing

The Bangin Dilla – When you normally order a quesadilla, a side of sour cream, lettuce, or even some pico usually comes with it.  This quesadilla came with nothing.  My wife and I tasted the quesadilla and found it also to be bland. We opened it apart, and found five pieces of popcorn shrimp.  This places claims that they make everything fresh, but I promise these shrimp were frozen and bought from Sysco.  Considering that this store is right around the corner from Mayport, supporting local shrimpers and buying local, would yield you way bigger and fresher shrimp.  We were disappointed with the Bangin Dilla.

The Tacos – The tacos I ordered came out as expected, and with several lime wedges.  The plate was well presented.  The scallop taco contained cabbage, cilantro, avocado, and a chipotle cream sauce. We were not impressed by the taste of this taco, as again it was bland.  The scallops were very rubbery and over cooked.  Also, with three small scallops in a large taco, there was nothing in this thing.  Now, this was a totally different story on the brisket.  I thought this taco was nearly perfect.  It was a little on the dry side, but overall very tasty and served perfectly.  The brisket taco was served with onions, cotija cheese, and cilantro.  This one was my favorite! You could almost taste a hint of the Dos Equis Beer.  Fantastic.  The third taco that I ordered was the Carnitas, and it was good, but yet again a little bland.  This taco was suppose to be served with jack cheese, onions and cilantro,  yet all I got on top was onions.  See the picture to the far right.  I guess one out of three tacos was good, the rest were just ok. 

This place by no means is bad.  It has some good qualities.  The beer is fresh, the drinks looked tasty, and the chips and salsa are to die for.  The other good quality is the service.  We had such amazing service at this place, yet be prepared to sweat your ass off, if the place is crowded.  We still are not sure about all the raves of this place, as its just par food.  I think the hype for the beach is that if its where everyone hangs out and has good drinks, its the greatest thing since slice bread.  Give a try, and let us know what you think.

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Monroe’s Bar-B-Q – Downtown Monroe’s-On-The-Go

Yes! I dream of Monroe’s Bar-B-Q on a daily basis.  Check out the the Times Union’s article on the new Monroe’s-On-The-Go, coming soon to downtown. Get ready for some tasty wings!  For those of you not downtown, you can get this amazing Bar-B-Q at 4838 Highway Avenue.

Monroe’s Bar-B-Q to roll into downtown, beyond with new food truck.

Monroe’s Smoke House

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Seasons 52 – New Restaurant at The St. Johns Town Center

Seasons 52 a highly acclaimed fresh grill and wine bar has selected the St. Johns Town Center as its 20th opening. Known for its seasonally inspired menu and fresh approach to dining, Seasons 52 focuses on bring fresh food for “living well.”  Each item on the menu, from the flatbreads and appetizers, to entrées and mini desserts, contain less then 475 calories.

The Seasons 52 at the St. Johns Town Center will seat 331 total diners, with 36 seats on an out door patio, and 91 seats at the piano bar, which offers live music everyday. Additionally, the restaurant will offer three larger private dining rooms and an exclusive chefs table.   The restaurant features an award winning wine list created and developed by Master Sommelier George Miliotes.

Seasons 52 will be located at 5096 Big Island Drive, which is right across from Capital Grill, and will employee over 100. We welcome Seasons 52 to the Town Center.

www.seasons52.com

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Carmines Pie House

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As the first post on Hungry Jax, we had to make it new and local. We visited Carmine’s Pie House on Forbes and King Street in Riverside (2677 Forbes Street), which just opened two weeks ago. We arrived around 8:00pm for dinner, and the place was packed. The place has an overall relaxed environment, with locals hanging out and having beer and wine, in which they have a large selection. The beer chalkboards contain a large variety of different beers, ranging from microbrews to the usual Bud Lights. There was an aura about this place that had me thinking it would be become an instant classic, but who knows. The last place that was here was called Al Hilim – The Dream Café, and that didn’t last long at all.

We were told the wait was going to be 35 to 40 minutes, but we were seated in about 15. Overall the service was slow, but it seems like they were ironing out the kinks. The menu was limited, as they were trying to get accustomed to massive swarms of people raiding the food. The sentence on the limited menu summed it up, “Beer and wine, pour till we run out – Thanks Riverside for your business in a couple of months we will reintroduce our full menu.” Basically, we are going to drink and be merry, and then we’ll eat once we get acclimated to the chaos.

We ordered the following items:

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Wings – I must say, these were pretty amazing. Overall, they came out extremely hot and crunchy. They had a hot sauce on them, but they were not drenched. They were served with a sweet hot sauce on the side, that is made in house and is delicious. It kind of reminds me of the “Smack My Ass, and Call me Sally” sauce at Tiajuana Flats. The wings were definitely something I would come back for without a doubt.

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Burning Down the House Lasagna – The lasagna came out served with some massive melted mozzarella cheese and homemade sauce. Wow! With five different layers including chicken, sausage and the works, this dish is sure to be one of the signatures of the restuarant. The bread served with it, probably could have been a little better, but it wasn’t needed.  This little piece of heaven could have been my last meal, and I would have been a happy man.

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Medium Pizza (Olives, Pepperoni, and Jalepenos) – Although it wasn’t the best pizza I have ever eaten, it certainly was extremely tasty. Overall the pizza was crispy on the bottom, and perfectly cooked.  The key to making a good pizza is the following:  1) Keep the ingredients and cheese from sliding off the pizza, and 2) It’s all about the sauce.   Overall, the pizza had both of these qualities, yet it just didn’t strike our fancy.  By all means, if you order us one….we’ll eat!

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Chicago Beef Sandwich – My boy J, order the Chicago Beef Sandwich, and it looked tempting to steal.  I was definitely jealous when it came to the table.  Before I could take a picture of the sandwich, J had eaten a couple bites.  Needless to stay, this thing is a staple.  If J likes it, then you will too.

In conclusion, definitely hit up Carmines.  We truly believe this place will be an instant classic.  As J says, this place is legit!

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