They say when it comes to flavor identity the further South you go in Florida, the further North you get. There is much debate on the lasting tradition of Southern homestyle cooking and the rarity of classic made from scratch dishes complete with real sweet tea and slow cooked sides. Jacksonville is perched in the ideal location just South of the Georgia border with plenty of rural outskirts, lots of family history, and a culture that appreciates great home cooks and fresh ingredients.
In almost all of the fine dining establishments nearby you’ll find a nod to Southern Americana cooking. Whether it’s grits, or mac n cheese, foodies can’t resist the nostalgia attached to classic comfort food. There’s nothing quite like the original, and that’s why locals still flock to time trusted favorites like Beach Road Chicken Dinners who have kept true to their original concept since opening their doors in the 1930s.
Community driven diners full of retro decor and friendly service attract lines out the door at establishments like Metro Diner, and The Fox Restaurant as they dish out consistent good ole fashioned fare. Meanwhile classic comfort still has room for reinvention with new icons like Maple St. Biscuit Company putting a modern twist on down home favorites.
Whether you’re seeking the best Florida BBQ, or a warm bowl of soup to fill you up, these homestyle favorites are sure to keep you coming back for more.
Arden's Kafe & Katering
For great service and good ole fashion comfort food, Arden's Kafe & Katering is where the locals go. Arden's offers an affordable buffet full of dishes prepared with loving care and the freshest locally sourced ingredients. Raised in the South, Arden puts great passion into her work and it shows. Don't be surprised to see lines out the door for this cozy local spot. Check out the twenty-five item salad bar, the wing bar, and the made from scratch desserts. Miss grandma's breakfast? Indulge in the southern tradition of homestyle cooking at the breakfast buffet where you can have your fill of savory biscuits and gravy, and pancakes piled as high as you're heart desires. Arden's also offers catering for holidays and business events where the wholesome goodness is sure to impress on any occasion. ((904) 240-1404)
Le Shea's Homestyle Eatery
Located in the center of downtown's urban core, Le Shea's Homestyle Eatery is full of comforting goodness that lives up to the name. You'll find generous portions of Salisbury Steak, the most tender Smothered Pork Chops you'll find in Jax, and fresh cornbread with just the right hint of sweetness. Le Shea whips up slow cooked sides like freshly cut greens, creamy mashed potatoes, and rich mac n cheese. Enjoy sweet Southern cobbler for your final indulgence and take in all the comfort Soul Food has to offer. At Le Shea's it's less about the fuss of fancy tables and linens, and more about the quality home cooking you love to remember. ((904) 354-5685)
Beach Road Chicken Dinners
Open since 1939, Beach Road Chicken Dinners proudly sports the title of "oldest restaurant in Jax". Dishing up the best Southern fried chicken in the region, Beach Road's location hasn't changed since it first opened it's doors, and neither has it's recipe for success. Families come from near and far to dine on tasty chicken dinners complete with their all you can eat cream peas, coleslaw, and old fashioned mini biscuits. Want great food to go? Beach Road has been the ideal take out joint since inception. Crispy fries are served up by the bag, and great sides like Jalapeno stuffed peppers add a little heat to your homestyle dish. Finish on a sweet note and make sure to save room for the cobbler.
Deerwood Deli & Diner
Established nearly forty years ago, the Deerwood Deli & Diner is a Jacksonville staple. Over the years the world has changed but some traditions still hold true at the diner including slicing their deli meat fresh every day. The 50s style deli and diner welcomes guests to enjoy classic reuben sandwiches, house made chicken, egg and tuna salad and breakfast served all day. Pair their certified angus beef hamburgers with an iconic milkshake for a nostalgic trip down memory lane. From fresh crispy fries, to desserts made like Grandma made 'em it's clear to see why the Deerwood Deli and Diner is such a community treasure. ((904) 641-4877)
The Fox Restaurant
Arguably one of the best spots to order up a juicy all American hamburger in Jax, The Fox Restaurant in Avondale is definitely a local favorite. Proving that great food doesn't have to be complicated, The Fox wins over diners seeking classic fare and great community. The nostalgic Americana decor includes memorable pieces from the 50s and seems to take you back in time to an iconic era when things were a bit simpler. Want breakfast for dinner? The Fox offers their full menu all day, seven days a week so you can enjoy the taste you're craving from Biscuits and Gravy to Corned Beef Hash on demand. For friendly staff, strong coffee, and simply delicious food visit The Fox Restaurant. (904-387-2669)
Dedicated to creating great food from superior ingredients Soup's On recipes are full of flavor, tradition, and down home goodness. Cultures collide at Soup's On where you'll find delicious soup's from around the world. Curry, cilantro, and chiles create robust aromas that delight the senses and enhance ingredients like chorizo, portobello, and quinoa. Specials change daily with both vegetarian and gluten free items also offered to cater to all pallets. Wholesome sandwiches, and salads make a tasty addition to any plate and ensure you leave satisfied no matter how big your appetite. Looking for an answer to "What's for dinner"? Soup's On has a freezer full of their favorite soups ready for you to take home. Whether dining in or taking out, Soups On offerings warm the soul and please the tastebuds. (904-387-9394)
Maple Street Biscuit Company
Locally owned and created Maple St. Biscuit Company is dedicated to Southern Homestyle Cooking with their own modern twist. The menu puts the classic biscuit front and center with creative sandwiches crafted with rich, made from scratch goodness. Each creation has it's own character like the popular Squawking Goat, a buttery biscuit topped with all natural fried chicken, a fried goat cheese medallion, and home made pepper jelly. Even sides get a modern makeover like The "Bob" Hash ups which use BBQ pork in place of ham. No great breakfast or brunch is complete without a steaming cup of coffee and at Maple St, you're served the best locally roasted brew in town. Enjoy the local culture with great service and a friendly community atmosphere at one of Maple Streets four locations in the River City. ((904) 398-1004)
Barbara Jean's at Ward's Landing
For casual southern dining centered on great homemade recipes pay a visit to Barbara Jean's at Wards Landing. Her signature "Eastern Shore" style crab cakes are famous in these parts. Relax at Barbara Jean's intercoastal location and watch boats and wildlife float by while you dig in some of the regions best homestyle platters like the Catfish Sandwich, and classic favorites like Meatloaf and Turkey and Dressing. Not to be outdone, the sides are as much of an attraction as the main dishes with Squash Casserole, Stewed Tomatoes, and Hans Ambrosia Salad taking up center stage. Possibly one of the locals favorite offerings at Barbara Jean's is the complimentary bread basket full of rolls, corn bread, and pumpkin bread served year around. End your meal on a culinary high with Bread Pudding, Fresh Key Lime Tarts, and of course homemade Cobbler momma would be proud of. ((904) 280-7522)
4 Rivers Smokehouse
Jacksonville native John Rivers' 4 Rivers Smokehouse is nothing short of a sensation. While living in Texas a dedication to mastering the art of smoked brisket inspired the ultimate conception of his brick and mortar flagship in Central Florida. Now, several locations later 4 Rivers Smokehouse is the most successful BBQ chain in Florida. The line out the door testifies to its local popularity where diners eagerly await their chance to sit family style around large picnic tables and dig into the best beef, pork, and chicken you can get your fingers on. Pair each meal with comforting sides "just like Mom's", like southern green beans, potato salad, and made from scratch corn bread. Top off the experience with a treat from the Sweet Shop and indulge in cake, cupcakes, brownies, and even fried oreos just to name a few. (1-844-4RIVERS)
Serving up one of the best breakfast and lunches in town for over a decade, Metro Diner has been hailed Best in Jax more than once. This popular establishment serves up generous helpings of classic American plates that are loaded, smothered, and sprinkled with tastiness. Omelet's, fried fish, and juicy burgers please tastebuds large and small, but the crowd really comes out for the daily specials. Stay informed of the "Black Board" specials like Key Lime stuffed Waffles, Bananas Foster Pancakes, and Southern Benedict when you sign up on their website to be emailed daily. The surroundings may be humble, but the flavors of Metro Diner certainly make a statement. Visit this local haunt for a memorable meal amongst a great local community. (904-398-3701)
About Amy West
Jacksonville, FL based Amy West is the creator of amywesttravel.com, a travel and lifestyle brand including TV show "Like Love Want Need".
New Zealand, China, Malta, Germany, and Brazil all find pins on Amy’s world map amongst other exotic destinations she's visited.
Amy regularly appears as a guest on several media outlets including WJXT News 4 Jax, Daytime Talk Show "The Chat", NPR Radio show “First Coast Connect”, and Jax Moms Blog. Look for Amy on "Amy West Travel the Blog" where she posts reviews on her exciting adventures.
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