Jacksonville’s Best Restaurants in 2018

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Jacksonville has a lot of restaurants, but I know that the number of options can appear to be overwhelming for some people. I’m making this list of food reviews to help narrow down the choices for people who are indecisive but don’t be afraid to read it nonetheless. My mother was a food critic for many years, so my perception and input may be of value as opposed to someone who only eats purely fast food.

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Regardless, the first Jacksonville restaurant on my list is Gilbert’s Social. The name suggests that the Jacksonville establishment would be something similar to a coffee shop or a nightclub, because of the “social” part. Fret not, as it’s just a Southern-style restaurant. If that’s the opposite of what you were looking for, then stay tuned. I am going to mention multiple types of restaurants in this article.

Gilbert’s Social is located right next to Brackridge in Jacksonville, Florida. Before eating here for the first time, I actually read a lot of great online reviews on Yelp and google. Most of them just commented on how good the food and service were, pretty generic stuff. The ones I was specifically looking for were suggestions for what to order, so I would know what to get. Unfortunately, there were so many different suggestions that I ended having to ask my waitress. She recommended the BBQ sampler, which has been my steady mainstay ever since.

It includes so much different great meat, and honestly, I don’t even remember all of the different things that are included. I usually eat it so fast that I don’t get the opportunity to see it on my plate. Keep in mind that a lot of the food is fried, but if you’re a vegan or you’re dieting there are plenty of things for you to order as well. I also really like the BBQ corn at Gilbert’s Social. Whatever they put in that seasoning is an absolute killer. It’s probably also terrible for my heart, but there’s nothing wrong with a cheat day here and there.

Everything here is amazing, from the brisket to the grilled chicken breast. Once you’re inside, you can look forward to some great interior decorating and lighting. Natural light has its benefits, but if a restaurant can pull off artificial lighting and make it look like real sunlight, I won’t complain. In addition, the music is always kept at a tolerable volume. Enough for you to hold a conversation, at least. I can’t stand eating in restaurants that blast music that I don’t even like, and it forces everyone else to raise their voices in turn.

I never knew this until recently, but a friend of mine who works in a commercial kitchen said that some restaurants like to keep the lights down because it hides the dirt on tables and people won’t notice it. Considering how bright the lights are, I’d say that Gilbert’s Social has nothing to hide when it comes to clean tables and sanitation. Earlier in the review, I mentioned that a lot of Southern food happens to be fried during the cooking process.

It would be vital for Gilbert’s Social to be in close contact with a Jacksonville hood cleaning business, as grease fires are one of the biggest dangers in a restaurant’s commercial kitchen. You might not take my word for it, but there are plenty of other reviews online that agree with me. My thoughts are more articulate and organized, plus I’m a pretty cool guy if I do say so myself.

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Next up, there’s Bread & Board. This restaurant has more in common with a diner than Gilbert’s Social, but that doesn’t stop the chefs from preparing amazing meals. Here, you’ll be eating somewhat close to Five Points in Jacksonville. I have some pretty boring and simple tastes, so I usually just end up ordering the pesto brisket burger.

It sounds like some weird burger, but the process of making it is simple and it actually involves very few ingredients. All of the ingredients taste super fresh, so I’m not even sure that I would ever want to order anything else. Plus I’m kind of a regular at Bread & Board, so they pretty much automatically order it for me. My wife typically orders the chicken salad sandwich, which she says is very good too.

I’d try some of hers, but pesto’s pretty filling. Both of us wrote very good online reviews after eating here for the first tie, and we definitely look forward to the next time we can find a spot in our schedule. The interior is very roomy and well-lit, so Bread & Board would make the perfect location for a business meeting. I love the breakfast food they serve in the morning. The perfect way to kick off the day.

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Finally, the last restaurant that I’ll be reviewing is The Bearded Pig. The name makes it sound like something you would see in a freak show or circus, but the food here is on par with the best restaurants in Jacksonville. The Bearded Pig is also only a few blocks away from the St. Johns River, so you’re in for some beautiful scenery.

This is yet another restaurant that serves BBQ food, but The Bearded Pig also serves a wide variety of sandwiches. I’m a sucker for pulled pork sliders, so I can never say no to the waitress. In fact, the waiters and waitresses are what set this restaurant apart from all of the others in Jacksonville.

All of the waiters are super friendly and helpful, and if you eat here enough (as I did) then they will come to learn your name. Restaurants that make you feel like you’re wanted automatically earn bonus points. Again, you’ll come to see that a recurring theme across all of my favorite restaurants is their mountains of positive online reviews.

In the end, I’m still having trouble deciding which restaurant was my favorite. There’s only three that I talked about, so it shouldn’t be that hard to decide, but each one of them is so great in its own special way. Sounds pretty corny, I know.