‘Cats Insider’s Guide To Storming Gator Bowl Country: Restaurant Edition!
Folks, meet Steve Rankin, a 1974 graduate of Northwestern, who has lived in Northeast Florida for the past 33 years with his wife Amy (a Rutgers grad so she is now officially a Big Ten insider). Both of their children, Lauren (2008) and Nicholas (2010) also graduated from NU, as did Steve’s uncle and first cousin, so Northwestern is a deeply-rooted tradition in the Rankin clan. Steve, a student manager for the basketball team during his years at NU (including a portion of the legendary Tex Winter’s stint as coach) has closely followed all NU sports since his college days, so he remembers all too well the depths of despair brought on during the “dark ages.” An avid reader and participant on Lake the Posts since its inception, Steve, now 60, lives in St. Augustine and spent most of his professional career as an executive with the PGA Tour in nearby Ponte Vedra Beach. He and his family welcome all LTP followers to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl, and he offered to provide some restaurant tips for Cats fans visiting for the big game.
Steve is a regular emailer to me as many of you are, always sending links, tidbits and the like to make sure I don’t miss anything. In an effort to make sure we appeal to MULTIPLE demographics of ‘Cats fans, Steve has kindly taken the Baby Boomer edition perspective and has the below commentary on good eats, which is of course ageless. Feel free to hit him up with questions in the comments section. THANKS STEVE! Take it away….
Thanks LTP! While this post is technically about Jacksonville, I’m particularly partial to St. Augustine, not only because I live there, but also because it is a quaint, scenic town that was the first city in what is now the U.S. It will celebrate its 450thanniversary in 2015 and is the site of Ponce de Leon’s mythical Fountain of Youth. Definitely worth the 35-minute drive south from Jacksonville. It’s also worth a similar drive north to Fernandina Beach, a rustic, picturesque town located on Amelia Island…stop in for a beer at the historic Palace Saloon, Florida’s oldest saloon established in 1903.
- Orsay – Really good French bistro in Avondale area…one of my favorites in the area
- Black Sheep – Just opened in the past month, but early reviews are excellent and it comes with fine dining chef/owner pedigree
- · Bistro Aix - One of Jax’s favorite upscale bistros for more than a decade in San Marco area
- BB’s – Another San Marco favorite, it features good seafood and great desserts
- Biscotti’s – Located in fashionable Avondale, it has a nice menu but its calling card is definitely its desserts
- Matthew’s – Very expensive (by Jax standards), it has been the top dining experience around for many years
- Indochine – Good Thai food in a convenient downtown location
- Taverna – Excellent quality for moderate prices in the heart of San Marco
- Mojo’s BBQ – Jax has many BBQ establishments, but Mojo’s is best…try the pulled pork!
Beaches Area Restaurants:
- Ragtime Tavern – A favorite drinking and dining establishment in Atlantic Beach for over 30 years
- Marker 32 – Upscale dining featuring excellent seafood dishes on the Intracoastal Waterway in Jax Beach
- Dwight’s – Haven’t been there myself, but this Jax Beach bistro has a good reputation for seafood and steaks…expensive.
- Ocean 60 – On Ocean Blvd in Atlantic Beach, eclectic menu with a continental leaning
- Restaurant Medure – Same owner/chef as Matthew’s, but more casual and less expensive…located in Ponte Vedra.
- Collage – In the heart of the historic district, Collage has an old-world, continental menu with a more modern touch
- Cap’s on the Water – Popular indoor/outdoor seafood place on the Intracoastal Waterway
- Columbia – One of several in Florida, Columbia is a Spanish restaurant (great paella), the first of which opened in the early 1900’s in the Tampa Bay area
- Tasting Room – Also in the historic district, you can choose to do tapas or order entrees instead…excellent wine list
- Bistro de Leon – Small French bistro next to main square in downtown St. Augustine…as in France, ask for the bill or you won’t get it!
- Le Clos – Intimate French restaurant with decent prices
- 29 South Eats – Eclectic casual dining spot with good food in downtown Fernandina
- Joe’s Second Street Bistro – Mainly seafood in a quaint garden setting…also seating indoors if the weather is bad
- Beech Street Grille – Reliable upscale dining establishment since the 1980’s