August 11-16, 2019
This trip was my first time to Jacksonville and I made it a point to avoid the beaches and explore the local establishments that make Jax the city where it’s easier. Let’s get ready to learn, see, do.
- Kingsley Plantation: This is a National Park Service protected piece of history in the greater Jacksonville area. Located less than an hour from the city center, it preserves the history of the enslaved who lived along this riverside plantation. Kingsley Plantation is unique in that the owners where a biracial couple that transitioned from an owner and slave relationship to a common law marriage. Mrs. Kingsley outlived her husband and eventually ended up selling the plantation and freeing the slaves as instructed by her deceased husband. The difference between this plantation and other southern plantations, is that you usually see a more grandiose interpretation, at Kingsley Plantation, the home is more modest and reflects a working farm. The Ranger did an excellent job of explaining the architecture of the home and how it was constructed by the hands of the enslaved. The best part of the visit for me was seeing the slave cabins . It was the first time that I saw that the cabins were made out of oyster shells mixed with sand. This form of construction is called tabby. This is definitely a must see and I highly recommend you take a drive out to see the last plantation in the state of Florida.
Munch Tip: There is a FREE 30 minute tour that is offered twice a day at the plantation. Make sure to call ahead to reserve your spot because they fill up quickly.
- Naval Air Station Jacksonville: Military installations are a hidden gem for military history. NAS Jacksonville is the home of the Blue Angels, which are known for performing aerial maneuvers and tricks in the air throughout the country. Upon entering the Navy base, there is a park that showcases all the different planes that have flown directly from the base. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you get to see these birds up close.
Munch Tip: The only way to gain access to the Navy base is to be sponsored by someone who is in the military or works for the military. See the following link on access requirements, click here.
- Soul Food Bistro: I found this establishment by using the app, Eat Okra. You know the food is good when there is a long line just to order. The setup of this restaurant is cafeteria style where you can order entrees ranging from fried catfish to oxtails. Each entree comes with two sides. I decided on ordering the catfish with candied yams and cabbage. I was delightfully surprised that they fried the fish to order, which I greatly appreciated. There are four locations throughout Jacksonville and I am sure if you visited anyone of those establishments you would get the same awesome experience I had.
Munch Tip: Soul Food Bistro is closed on Mondays, so make sure to plan your visit accordingly and buy two entrees. One for lunch and one for dinner.
- 4 Rivers Smokehouse: This BBQ joint brought a new twist to the scene by adding an in house bakery to their restaurant. The restaurant reminded me of the Salt Lick restaurant in Austin, TX because it had a small pit grill in the kitchen area. The prices were really reasonable. My suggestion is to try the 2×2 sampler platter so you can get to try two different types of meats. I chose the burnt ends (my favorite) and the pulled pork with a side of BBQ baked beans and mashed sweet potatoes.
Munch Tip: Get there early! The restaurant is closed on Sundays, so on the day that I went, an influx of people came to partake in the delicious BBQ.
- Barrique Kitchen & Wine Bar: I was doing a google search for local wine bars and stumbled across this restaurant. The happy hour menu was exceptional! I practically ordered everything in their bites section. The prices ranged from $5-7 for the small bites and $5-8 for the cocktails and wines. My ordered consisted of the oysters ($7), veal meatballs ($5) and the carnival cauliflower ($5). You know I couldn’t pass up getting a drink, so I ordered a glass of their in house Sangria and a glass of Prosecco to finish the meal. So I wouldn’t get food regret, I closed out my meal with the baguette with Gorgonzola dipping sauce ($7). I was so glad I found this local joint and will definitely be adding it to my list of go to places.
Munch Tip: Plan your visit on a Tuesday to participate in the weekly trivia night. Playing is absolutely FREE.
- Cooper Hawk’s Winery & Restaurant: All I can say is WOW! What a great find in Jacksonville. This restaurant has the vibe of an upscale restaurant on a vineyard. I believe that this is the next level of urban wineries. The menu is creative and innovative and made me want to try everything. The meal starts off with complimentary pretzel bread for the table and two FREE tastings of any of their wines available in house. I had a hard time deciding between my two favorite dishes (e.g. gnocchi and risotto), so I finally settled on the prime rib risotto which was cooked in white wine and mushrooms. The portion size was so filling that I took the leftovers home. For my drink, I tried the limoncello sangria which was evenly balanced between the tartness of the lemon and sweetness of the wine was absolutely delicious.
Munch Tip: Cooper Hawk’s offer membership options for a fee where you can get free wine tastings, a monthly bottle of wine and discounts in the restaurant.
- Clark’s Fish Camp Seafood: Quirky and unique is the best way to explain this restaurant. Camp River is located in a quaint neighborhood off of St. Augustine Road. As I stepped into the restaurant, I was welcomed by a live alligator in a tank. If you are looking to experiment with your dinner Camp River lets you try everything from kangaroo to rocky mountain oysters. I kept it tame by ordering the loaded blue cheese fries and the swamp platter. This consisted of shrimp, oysters, clam strips, deviled crab and tilapia with a side of hush puppies and corn. I was extremely stuffed and left satisfied.
Munch Tip: Ask to sit outside on the back deck where you can enjoy the ambiance of the river. See if you can spot the Gators and manatees.