Cinco de Mayo Around the First Coast: A Food Guide

Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862-however in the U.S. it has become a day to celebrate Mexican culture and cuisine. The First Coast has more than its fair share of delicious Mexican restaurants and we decided to highlight some of our favorite places to grab Mexican fare in honor of the holiday on Sunday.

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TacoLu- Jax Beach

Taco Lu in Jacksonville Beach is a popular locals place and a must try for visitors. This restaurant mixes a chill surfer vibe with an authentic Mexican flare. You can dine inside or outside on their cozy patios. Outside, enjoy the beautiful murals painted on the walls while sipping on a glass of one of their many tequilas. Inside you’ll find intimate tables with brick fire places nearby for colder evenings, beautiful sugar skulls throughout the restaurant, and a variety of Spanish themed décor. Tacolu is also versatile for those stopping in for happy hour with a lively bar area that includes a spin the wheel drink selection, a couple of sports TV’s, and a wall of tequila. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here. They feature a variety of different taco selections, all reasonably priced. The staff here is extremely accommodating and friendly. Another great bonus to dining here is their complimentary valet parking. This comes in handy on a crowded weekend or holiday night!

Flying Iguana Taqueria & Tequila Bar-Atlantic Beach

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photo credit: Flying Iguana Facebook

Flying Iguana Taqueria & Tequila Bar  is located in the heart of Neptune Beach and offers delicious food, craft cocktails and a lively atmosphere. We would highly recommend the queso fondito and their speciality tacos like their Farm to Taco, Flying Fish Taco or their Dirty South Taco. You HAVE to try their Mexican street corn appetizer- it’s delicious. They also have an extensive list of specialty margaritas and other craft cocktails.

Burrito Gallery- Jax Beach and Downtown

Burrito Gallery is a local favorite that serves delicious and affordable Mexican food in a colorful atmosphere. They serve craft Margaritas and other cocktails along with burritos and tacos with unique fresh flavors like the fried chicken tender BLT taco. We would recommend trying the cajun shrimp or mahi burritos. They also offer a great happy hour and late night happy hour. The Burrito Gallery is having a celebration for Cinco de Mayo at all of their locations.

Cantina Laredo- St. John’s Town Center/Southside

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Cantina Laredo is located in the heart of the St. John’s Town Center and serves gourmet Mexican cuisine with a modern twist and an upscale dining experience to match. They are a national chain but their Jacksonville location is a wonderful place to go for Mexican cuisine if you are looking for a nice night out. We recommend that you try their steak fajitas or fish tacos as well as their sopa de tortilla. They are also having a Cinco de Mayo party on the patio with prizes starting at 3:00 PM on Saturday.

Lola’s Burrito and Burger Joint- Riverside

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photo credit: Facebook

Lola’s Burrito and Burger Joint  is located in the heart of the 5 points in the Riverside area. They serve a variety of cocktails and beer from local breweries along with a diverse menu of Tex-Mex fare. We recommend you sample one of their gourmet burgers with yucca fries or one of their grilled burritos. Lola’s often has events such as Taco Tuesdays and they are having an all day Cinco de Mayo celebration with discounted food and drinks along with a raffle drawing.

La Nopalera- San Marco

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photo credit: yelp

La Nopalera is a local Jacksonville family owned chain that serves traditional Mexican food and classic dishes. Their San Marco location is the one to check out- it is a neighborhood favorite due to it’s whimsical, vibrant atmosphere. We recommend you try their fajitas along with their house margarita.

Mi Casa Café- St. Augustine

Mi Casa Cafe is a fantastic restaurant in the heart of historic downtown St. Augustine that has live music and a beer and wine garden. A local favorite with a small but excellent menu this restaurant is all about the great location and lively atmosphere. We would recommend you try their hot Cuban sandwich or black beans and rice.

Mr. Taco Food Truck- Various Locations

Mr. Taco is located in a quiet neighborhood plaza located just off Bowden road. This authentic Mexican restaurant features your classic dishes from tacos and burritos to tortas and tostadas with flare. The atmosphere is cozy with friendly staff making for an enjoyable dining atmosphere. Not located near the southside area? Don’t fret! Mr. Taco has a fleet of taco trucks posted around the city, making it convenient to get your taco fix on the go! For a list of their food truck locations, check out the page on their website here.

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Featured Places:

Flying Iguana
flyingiguana.com
207 Atlantic Blvd, Neptune Beach, FL 32266
(904) 853-5680

Cantina Laredo
http://www.cantinalaredo.com
10282 Bistro St, Jacksonville, FL 32246
(904) 997-6110

Mi Casa Cafe
micasacafe.com
69 Saint George St, Saint Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 824-9317

TacoLu
tacolu.com
1712 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
(904) 249-8226

La Nopalera San Marco
lanopjax.com
1434 Hendricks Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32207
904-288-0175

Burrito Gallery
burritogallery.com
Downtown:
21 E Adams St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 598-2922
Jax Beach:
300 Beach Blvd Ste 1, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
(904) 246-6521

Mr. Taco Food Truck
mrtacojax.com/food-trucks
6426 Bowden Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32246
Various food truck locations check website
(904) 438-5202

Lola’s Burrito and Burger Joint
lolasburritojoint.com
1522 King St
Jacksonville, Florida 32204
(904) 738-7181

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TOTC’s Shop Local Holiday Gift Guide

Here at Top of the Coast we love to #shoplocal and we wanted to compile a gift guide of some of our favorite local stores to find gifts for anyone on your list. We’ve narrowed our guide down to a handful of categories and crafted our guide to reflect some of our favorite stores and businesses in the area! Happy holidays and happy shopping!

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Congaree and Penn

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#iamamodernfarmer

I know, you didn’t think they still existed, especially in Jacksonville. Well, they do at Congaree and Penn on Old Kings Rd. Do the following statements ring true in your heart?

  • You are moved by the Slow Food -food that is produced or prepared in accordance with local culinary traditions, typically using high-quality locally sourced ingredients – movement.
  • You enjoy an evening out, away from the city lights, and out in nature. One that features other like minded people with great food and great conversation.
  • You are a person who appreciates the time, skill and creativity that goes into products that you use?
  • You appreciate #shoplocal and would prefer to spend your resources supporting local businesses verses large box stores.
  • You enjoy history and have a deep respect for those who take the time, energy and passion for the preservation of culture and tradition.

If any or all of these statements found you shaking your head YES – then take every opportunity to go and visit the farm, or their website. I promise you will not be disappointed. The owners live on the farm and are great to interact with and learn from.

Congaree and Penn is a farm located 20 minutes outside of Downtown Jacksonville and offers wonderful events and goodies for foodies. They have events year round and they also offer a unique assortment of gifts on their website that feature gourmet fresh flavors that any foodie will appreciate such as creole tomato jelly, pecan oil, a variety of rices from their farm and other unique and flavorful items.

Manifest Distillery

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credit: Manifest website

Manifest is downtown Jacksonville’s only full-scale distillery that opened up in the fall of 2016. They make craft spirits and offer a selection of vodkas, gins and whiskeys. They also have distillery tours where you  can go learn about what goes into making their craft spirits. The food and wine lover may enjoy making a cocktail with a bottle of their Florida Citrus Vodka, which is crafted with Florida grown oranges, grapefruit and lemon. You can check out more on their website here.

A Chef’s Studio

A Chef’s Studio is a local cooking studio for those looking to learn, share, discover and develop their cooking skills. If your gifting for a foodie who has got a passion for cuisine, give them this fun-filled and thoughtful gift where they’ll be able to sharpen their skills or learn a new technique. Choose from their popular guest chef taught, Home Chef Series, a group class, or their relaxed wine club! Check out the calendar here for upcoming classes!

Intuition Ale Works

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Photo Credit: Intuition Ale Works

Intuition Ale Works is a local brewery, located in the entertainment area of downtown, established by native Jacksonville resident Ben Davis.Intuition works to create quality, flavorful beers for you to enjoy at their tap room and across Northeast Florida. Pick up a pack for your food and wine lover or take them downtown for a drink where they’ll be able to enjoy a cold one while overlooking the St. Johns River. Intuition also has tours available for free when you visit their downtown location. Tours include a walk through the brewery, the brew process explained, and any questions you might have!

Green Room Brewing

Green Room Brewing is the first microbrewery located in Jacksonville Beach. They cater to the casual drinker and beer aficionado that call Northeast Florida home.This brewery does not serve food, but with it’s convenient location it is near all the staple restaurants of Jax Beach. Feel free to bring your own food while you kick back and relax at The Green Room.

Bold Bean Coffee Roasters

For the foodie that enjoys a good cup of Joe, a gift from Bold Bean Coffee Roasters is for them! Treat them to a latte decorated with unique latte art and a pastry at three of their convenient locations. Bold Bean hosts stores in Jacksonville Beach, Riverside and San Marco neighborhoods. What makes these coffee shops so unique is that they feature a variety of different type of coffee drinks all served by baristas that are courteous and welcoming. If your foodie loves coffee, this is the perfect gift!

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Snacks and a Show at the Sunray Cinema

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The art lover will enjoy heading to the five points area in Riverside to check out a film and have a snack. You two can catch indie classics and mainstream movies at Sunray and enjoy popcorn with the fixins bar or something more substantial like a Caesar salad, pizza, beer and wine or even a vegan (or regular) milkshake. Their website has their showtimes.

MOCA

The art lover will enjoy a trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville in downtown Jacksonville where they can attend one of their events, artist q & A’s or exhibitions. Afterwards you guys can head to their restaurant NOLA MOCA for a truly unique and delicious meal. The restaurant offers an eclectic menu and has a full bar that serves hand crafted cocktails. They are open late on Thursdays and Wednesday nights during Art Walk if you two want to make a night of it and have dinner there. You can check out the latest schedule of events and exhibitions on their website here.

Theater tickets from the FSCJ Artist Series

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According to their website, “The FSCJ Artist Series is Northeast Florida’s major presenter of national and international touring attractions and is the presenting arm of the Florida State College at Jacksonville. The FSCJ Artist Series presents Broadway musicals and plays, as well as concerts, at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts downtown and at the Nathan H. Wilson Center for the Arts on Beach Blvd.” Their next season has some great shows lined up including Hamilton. Get tickets here.

Classes at the Art League of Jacksonville

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The Art League of Jacksonville offers affordable art classes for children and adults. Get them tickets to an art class at their website here.

The Write Touch

The Write Touch is an adorable store in San Macro that has an assortment of stationary, gifts and accessories that they’re sure to love. You can pick up a gift at their San Marco store or online here.

Chamblin’s Bookmine

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Chamblin’s Bookmine is a local favorite and is located in Jacksonville’s downtown area-right across from Hemming Park. It offers a wide selection of books from all sorts of niche genres. You can spend hours browsing their large collection of books. The art lover will love anything from Chamblin’s or go together, treat them to coffee and let them choose their gift!

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St. Augustine Amphitheatre

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The St. Augustine Amphitheatre is a great place to catch live national acts and local music events. There are also several bars and restaurants that feature live music every night in downtown St. Augustine. You can also sometimes catch a few street musicians performing depending on the night.

Florida Theatre

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Is a great place to catch a show with your music lover. You can see all the upcoming shows on their website and plan your event.

Other Great Live Music Venues

You can take your music lover to see a show at other excellent venues for live music like the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall , Jack Rabbits , Murray Hill Theatre and 1904 Music Hall just make sure to check online for upcoming shows and events.

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Rethreaded  

Rethreaded was started by Jacksonville native Kristin Keen. According to the company’s website, “Rethreaded renews hope, reignites dreams and releases potential for survivors of human trafficking locally and globally through business.” Rethreaded has products that are made in Jacksonville and benefit their cause which make great gifts. Items like their Threads for Hope bracelets and Grace Scarves available here.

Liv-N-Grace bracelets

Liv-N-Grace bracelets are the perfect gift for those who like to give back. They are gorgeous and come in a variety of colors and styles. The bracelets can be purchasedhere. Proceeds from the bracelets benefit The McKenzie Noelle Wilson Foundation which goes to two charities. According to their website, they are MARC centers, which serves over 300 at-risk youth in two Jacksonville communities. McKenzie’s Academic Resource Center’s offer academic tutoring, mentoring and developmental programs for students of all ages. And “McKenzie’s Home” The Foundation built three homes at the Okoa Refuge Orphanage in Uganda, Africa and in partnership with Okoa Refuge, provides medical care, food, shelter, education and love to over 75 girls, boys and infants.

A Gift from BEAM thrift

BEAM is a great place to find fantastic pieces at a great price. It also offers an eclectic mix of vintage clothes, accessories and art-all at a discounted price. The best part about BEAM is that all of the proceeds go to a great cause: the Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry.

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Ellie Bing
Ellie Bing is a great local boutique that has beautiful one of a kind vintage and modern jewelry and accessories.  There are two locations one in Avondale and one in Jax Beach and there is a new store opening in Ponte Vedra Beach. You can also shop online.

Rosie True

Rosie True is a local clothing boutique with a variety of designs. The boutique features smaller brands with local flare. Browse their collection online or in store of flowing dresses, tunic tops and vivid prints. Conveniently located with a store in San Marco and Jacksonville Beach, it is the perfect place to find a cute dress or fun piece of jewelry to make for a fantastic gift.

Pineapple Post

The Pineapple Post is another great local shop that has almost every gift imaginable for the stylish person in your life. They are probably best known for their stationary and invitations. What makes them unique is that they have an awesome selection of “print it yourself” items. Most shoppers would describe the style as preppy meets beachy. From home décor to accessories to stationary, you can’t go wrong here.

Pearl Home 


Located in the heart of Jacksonville Beach Pearl Home offers hip, modern high-end designs. It’s the perfect place to pick up a gift for your stylish loved one to display at home. It has several great interior design gifts like chic bedding and small artisan furniture pieces.

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The Bark Boutique

Is a pet store in the 5 Points area in Riverside which offers treats, toys and more your pet!  They have baked treats and cakes for dogs, training classes and more! Check them out at their store or online here.

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The Green Alligator

The Green Alligator is a wonderful gem located in the heart of Jacksonville’s Avondale neighborhood where you can find unique and educational children’s toys and specialty gift items for all the kids on your list. 

The Cummer Museum Children’s Museum

The Cummer Museum located in the heart of Riverside’s five points also houses a unique interactive and educational children’s area. A section is set up especially for tots with all sorts of art-related installations, interactive games and educational displays. The museum brings history alive with various special children’s exhibits of art and art history.Two of note are Art Connections, which brings art to life with things such as video installations and life-sized cutouts of impressionist paintings and Creativity Timeline, a vibrant three-dimensional mural depicting the entirety of art history, which spans an entire wall. In addition, the Cummer offers seasonal art classes as well as educational tours for children. A gift of a visit to the Cummer museum will be both fun and educational for the kids-and their shop has unique gifts as well!

Lucy’s Sweet Shop Cookie Decorating Party

Lucy’s Sweet Shop offers handcrafted cookies, cupcakes and cakes in a variety of flavors. The shop offers cookie, cake and cupcake decorating parties and fun for kids of all ages. Their party packages  have a 6 person minimum and 14 person limit. 

Sweet Pete’s Candy

Sweet Pete’s is a unique gem that features a variety of different kinds of candy. They are available for sampling and purchase in a beautifully decorated and whimsical shop. Upon entering Sweet Pete’s you’ll find their assorted chocolates and truffle bar to the right. Head to the back of the home and you’ll find a flight of stairs that will lead you to the second floor which houses the ice cream parlor, candy shop and fully functioning candy factory where you can oversee the creations from the glass observatory. You can purchase gift baskets or create your own in the store or online. 

Top of the Coast Wedding Series: Part 1

Are you planning on tying the knot on the First Coast? We are happy to share with you a carefully researched and lovingly crafted list of excellent local venues and vendors for your big day! Whether you are looking for inspiration or to hire some of the best local wedding vendors, you are not going to want to miss the first installment of
Top of the Coast’s Wedding Series!

Venues

The Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island

First up on our list of top wedding venues on the First Coast is the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island. The Ritz-Carlton provides an atmosphere of elegance, sophistication and beauty, perfect for a luxury Southern wedding. You can choose from a selection of three venues for your ceremony, the beach, the oceanfront lawn, or the courtyard. Reception choices include, the plaza ballroom, the Ritz-Carlton ballroom, or oceanfront lawn. These venues can accommodate anywhere from 100-800 guests. The Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island also has catering and conference professionals available for you to use for assistance in planning your dream wedding. Check out their site here for more details.

The Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

The Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is an elegant beach side venue that has the potential to host the wedding of your dreams. With the beach as your backdrop and the early 20th century styled venues as your reception, your wedding will be one of elegance and sophistication. Choose from the spacious Grand Ballroom or slightly smaller Junior Ballroom to host your reception. Whether you are having your ceremony beach side or nestled among the immaculate grounds, you’ll appreciate the top notch service that the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club staff offers. Check out their site here for more wedding details.

The Treasury on the Plaza

Looking for a wedding with a more historical feel? The Treasury on the Plaza offers an elegant and luxurious wedding venue. This venue offers a gorgeous ceremony and reception space with high ceilings, elaborate architecture and the historic Vault Bar. The Grand Ballroom holds anywhere from 50-250 guests, giving it the versatility to a be a big celebration or more intimate affair. Some of the added perks of this venue are the option to add fun effects like a fog machine, choreographed lights, or live video streaming. Make sure to check out their events page here for all of the details and pricing. Special discounts can be applied to those who book a year or further in advance!

Plantation Oaks Farms

Experience the farm wedding of your dreams at the quaint Plantation Oaks Farms in Callahan, Florida. This venue can accommodate small or large gatherings. Couples may choose from three ceremony spaces as well as a 5,000 sq. foot event barn for their reception. Enjoy towering oaks and luscious Spanish moss as the back drop of your picturesque ranch wedding. Take advantage of the elegant and customized bride and groom suites to get ready for your big day. You will not want to miss the wonderful opportunity to make lifelong memories at this gorgeous Florida plantation. For more details on the venues and services visit their site here.

Gowns

Love: A Bridal Boutique is a Jacksonville Beach boutique that specializes in wedding gowns from unique high end designers. It is a local store that caters to brides on the First Coast. You can go to their website here to book an appointment and check out some of the designers they feature. They also host  events at their store like their annual  sample sale which is taking place July 20th and 21st and a Robert Bullock Bride Trunk Show from July 27th to August 11th.

Catering

Hire a Food Truck

 

Go the untraditional route and hire a food truck to cater your wedding. Hire a food truck to do the catering- it is a new trend at weddings and a less expensive way to serve delicious food to your guests. A food truck usually costs less than a traditional caterer because the set up is easier. In fact, the quality of the food may even be better due to the fact that everything is cooked to order on site. Food trucks come in a variety of styles and types of cuisines and you can tailor the menu to your taste and wedding theme.

Food truck finder USA has a service where you can find food trucks in the Jacksonville area that are available for weddings here. The website Roaming Hunger also schedules food trucks for events in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas and it has a section devoted to weddings. Go here to check out the various food trucks and to schedule one for your wedding or events surrounding your big day.

Invitations and Printed Items

Color Fusion Printing

 

Color Fusion Printing is a local printing service located in the Southside area in Jacksonville. They offer additional services such as creative and graphic design help as well. In addition to wedding invitations, they offer engagement announcements, save the dates, placemats and coasters, bridal shower invitations. You can see the various styles and order online here. There are also a wide variety of additional items available that you can purchase with custom printing and embroidery for your wedding festivities. You can see all the printing services they offer on their website here. 

Photography 

Sarah Hedden

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Sarah Hedden is a Jacksonville photographer and weddings are one of her specialties.  I have worked with her in the past and can say that she comes highly recommended. Sarah has a vast portfolio online and books up quickly so make sure to make her one of your first contacts when booking services for your big day. Check out her website here for more information and check out a portfolio of her work on her Instagram and Facebook or online here.

Bakeries

Cinotti’s Bakery

Jacksonville Beach locals favorite, Cinotti’s Bakery  is a bakery that never disappoints! Cinotti’s offers hand decorated cookies, cakes, cupcakes and donuts. The variety of flavors, colors and sizes of the goodies displayed in their bake cases when you walk into the shop is enough to send those with a sweet tooth into seventh heaven! Cinotti’s also creates gorgeous wedding cakes, tailored to fit your ideal wedding theme. In addition to your wedding cake, you can also choose to have their yummy cupcakes, cookies, or donuts catered for your guests on the big day!

Alley Cakes

Alley Cakes is another local favorite that also creates beautiful wedding cakes to celebrate your big day. They have three selections available to fit every bride and groom’s vision and budget. Each type of cake includes a phone consultation and voucher for their indulgent cake flavor samplings. By choosing Alley cakes, you’ll receive Alley’s personal touch and attention.

Sweet by Holly

Sweet by Holly is a cupcake store with locations in Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida. Owner Holly Wilder, winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, creates gorgeous cupcakes and cakes with fun flavors and beautiful decorations perfect for celebrating any occasion. Their wedding cakes can be ordered in sizes 4” to 12” and come in square and round sizes. They can also be single stacked or tiered to your preference. Rest assured that all cakes are made from scratch, decorated with their famous buttercream frosting. You can also go with the more recent trend of having cupcakes as your dessert of choice for your big day. This can allow the flexibility for guests to try different flavors with Ms. Holly’s famous 2.5 bite cupcakes. You can’t go wrong in choosing Sweet by Holly where you’re sure to get a dessert that fits your vision, tastes great, and impresses your guests.


Florist

Rose of Sharon Wedding

Since 1986, Rose of Sharon Florist has been providing gorgeous floral arrangements for the residents of Northeast Florida. They pride themselves in their attention to detail and truly being able to listen and share in the creation of the wedding couple’s vision for their big day. When getting started with Rose Sharon Florist, they encourage clients to share pictures and Pinterest pages to serve as a guide for creating the arrangements on your big day. Plan to sit down for your complimentary consultation 6 – 12 months in advance to begin planning and prepping for the floral arrangements on your big day. On your wedding day, Rose Sharon Florist will flawlessly execute the delivery, set up and breakdown of your arrangements, giving you the freedom to focus on what is most important. For more details on their services please visit their site here.

Featured Places:

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
4750 Amelia Island Pkwy, Amelia Island, FL 32034
(904) 277-1100
Ponte Vedra Inn and Club
200 Ponte Vedra Blvd, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
(866) 748-8083
Treasury on the Plaza
24 Cathedral Pl Ste 111, St Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 217-0077
Plantation Oaks Farms
45460 Hodges Rd, Callahan, FL 32011
(904) 524-3004
Rose of Sharon European Florist
2319 University Blvd W. Jacksonville, FL 32217
(904) 737-8655
Cinotti’s Bakery
1523 Penman Rd
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
(904) 246-1728
Alleycakes Bakery
1517 Atlantic Blvd Neptune Beach, FL 32266
(904) 372-7081
Sweet by Holly
4624 Town Crossing Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32246
(904) 564-2711
Love: A Bridal Boutique
434 3rd St N
Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32250
(904) 242-9800
Color Fusion Printing & Custom Apparel
3653 Regent Blvd. Suite 303
Jacksonville, Florida 32224
(904) 994-9040
Sarah Hedden Photography
sarah@sarahheddenphotography.com
(904) 504-1759

Roaming Hunger 
http://www.roaminghunger.com

Food Truck Finder USA 
http://www.foodtruckfinderusa.com

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!

National Ice Cream Day is on Sunday and there is nothing we love more than indulging in a cold, creamy dessert on a hot summer night. In the spirit of the holiday we decided to spotlight some terrific places to grab ice cream around the First Coast.

 

Cousteau’s Waffle and Milkshake Bar

Cousteau’s Waffle and Milkshake Bar in downtown St. Augustine offers a variety of gourmet Belgian waffles with delicious toppings and creamy, rich milkshakes as well as espresso and waffle bites.

Their milkshakes are made with their homemade soft serve ice cream and are blended with a variety of homemade goodies and toppings and topped with fresh whipped cream. We recommend you try the Papa Steve, which is a blackberry cheesecake milkshake with blackberry sauce, or an Air Kentucky, which is a Butter Pecan milkshake with real maple syrup and candied pecans topped with a bourbon whipped cream. You can view their menu here and don’t forget to try a waffle with your shake!

Sweet Pete’s


Sweet Pete’s is a must-see on this list of ice cream shops in Northeast Florida. Located in a brightly colored historic home in the middle of downtown, Sweet Pete’s is a unique gem that features a plethora of different kinds of candy. They are available for sampling and purchase in a beautifully decorated and whimsical shop. Upon entering Sweet Pete’s you’ll find their assorted chocolates and truffle bar to the right. To the left is their fully functioning bar and restaurant the Candy Apple. Head to the back of the home and you’ll find a flight of stairs that will lead you to the second floor which houses the ice cream parlor, candy shop and fully functioning candy factory where you can oversee the creations from the glass observatory. We highly recommend Sweet Pete’s ice cream while you are browsing through this magnificent candy shop. Choose from your standard ice cream flavors and a few other unique flavors that are created by the Sweet Pete team. Enjoy your sundae on their outdoor patio, decorated with string lights and oversized colorful chairs. You will truly feel like a kid in a candy store upon visiting this magical place!  Stop by this Sunday, July 15th from 12pm – 3pm to enjoy a free sample of the famous Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlors ZOO Sundae!

Five F(X) Ice Cream

Located in the Southside area Five f(x) Ice Cream is made fresh to order. They also have different types of milk you can choose from to make your ice cream and can accommodate anyone who might have a sensitivity to dairy but still wants to enjoy some ice cream. They have a unique selection of flavors which include exotic ones like Taro, Chai, Green Tea, Lavender and Nutella. Their ice cream comes with a choice of an assortment of different toppings as well as delicious homemade waffles.

Dreamette

Dreamette has three locations: One in the Riverside/Avondale area, one in the St. John’s Town Center and one at the beaches and it is known for it’s delicious soft serve ice cream. Dreamette is the place to go to get soft serve, dipped cones, shakes and sundaes. They have dipped cones in all sorts of flavors like chocolate, strawberry and blueberry as well as cones rolled in sprinkles. You can also get mixes or shakes in classic and featured flavors as well as sundaes with toppings like hot fudge, caramel and strawberries.

Chilled Flavors Old Fashioned Ice Cream

Chilled Flavors is a new old fashioned style ice cream parlor located just outside of Nacatee. They have ice cream, old fashioned style-soda fountain drinks like egg creams, Italian ices, waffle cones and other goodies. Their ice cream incorporates organic and locally sourced ingredients from Florida farms and comes in a variety of classic and unique flavors such as brown sugar cinnamon as well as dairy free and flavors just for adults like Maple with Bourbon Bacon Toffee. Check out their menu here to see more of their flavor options and make sure to keep them in mind for your next party because they are available for events like Birthdays and other celebrations.

Whit’s Frozen Custard

Although Whit’s is a national chain their local stores serve up some of the best frozen custard in town. Frozen custard is a creamy version of ice cream that is made with a slightly different recipe and process than regular ice cream. There are four Whit’s locations in the area, one in Jax Beach, Atlantic Beach, Mandarin and Avondale. Their frozen custard comes in a variety of flavors with a featured flavor of the week. According to their website this week it is Lemon Drop, which is lemon custard with crushed lemon cookies. Whit’s also has an endless list of toppings from cookies to candies to fruit and everything in between. One of the best things to order at Whit’s is the Whitser, which is frozen custard mixed with a variety of toppings. They also have shakes, sundaes, banana splits and floats. You can also take home a pint of their custard, ice cream sandwiches and custard cakes. Check out their menu here and plan on enjoying your custard at any of their four locations.

Florida Creamery 

The Florida Creamery is located in the historic Avondale area and serves ice cream and other frozen treats in a whimsical atmosphere.  Their ice cream comes in a choice selection of flavors and is served in sundaes, malts, milkshakes, floats and on homemade waffle cones. See all their flavors on their menu here. They also have something called a Florida Hurricane which is frozen custard mixed with your choice of toppings. They cater events and host parties at their shop so keep them in mind for your next party!

Nitrogen Creamery

Nitrogen Creamery is a unique ice cream experience that is perfect for National Ice Cream Day. Located in Jacksonville Beach, step into the uniquely designed shop to pick up your sweet treat. Nitrogen Creamery’s ice cream starts with a liquid base and the flavor of your choosing. From there the liquid nitrogen is added to mixture where it freezes the ice cream into an incredibly smooth textured ice cream. Nitrogen Creamery also has a food truck that can be spotted around town. This awesome business also caters for special events. Check their site out here. Upcoming events for Nitrogen Creamery include a featured vendor slot at the Beaches Freedom festival this weekend from Noon -10 PM, you don’t want to miss it!

The Hyppo

The Hyppo popsicle shop is a quaint popsicle shop with multiple location in Northeast Florida where you can enjoy a locally made, gourmet ice pop. With over 450 flavors, this cute little shop truly has something for everyone. Hyppo uses only the freshest ingredients. Their fruit ice pops fluctuate with the what is in season, giving the customer the guarantee of “fresh is best”. With locations not only in Florida, but throughout the Southeast, these one of a kind pops are easily accessible. You can also keep an eye out for their food truck at local events! For ice pop flavors and store locations visit their site here.

Kilwins

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Kilwins is a classic staple of the ice cream community here in Northeast Florida. With shops around the U.S. opening in the 1940’s, Kilwins has always been a familiar place where one can snack on high quality products ranging from gourmet chocolates, decadent ice creams and endless sweets. The in-store craftsmanship of their products make for a unique dining experience. You’ll be able to watch fudge and other treats made right before your eyes! This is a must visit if you’re celebrating a special event, stopping by on vacation, or just looking to satisfy a craving. You don’t want to miss this gem of nostalgic Americana. For locations check their site here.

Featured Places

Five F(X) Ice Cream
9802 Baymeadows Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32256 · ~2.3 mi
(904) 928-9559
http://www.5fxicecream.com

Sweet Pete’s
400 N Hogan St
Jacksonville, Florida 32202
(904) 376-7161
http://www.sweetpetescandy.com

Nitrogen Creamery
Truck check Facebook or contact through their website or at
nitrogencreameryjax@gmail.com
904-536-2988
http://www.nitrogencreameryjax.com

Florida Creamery
Avondale
(904) 503-0901
3566 St. Johns Ave
Jacksonville, FL 32205

Cousteau’s Waffle and Milkshake Bar
15 Hypolita St, Saint Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 342-5627

Chilled Flavors Old Fashioned Ice Cream
10930 US Highway 1 North
Ponte Vedra, Florida 32081

Kilwins
Jacksonville
10281 Midtown Parkway #125
Jacksonville, FL 32246

St. Augustine
140 Saint George Street
St. Augustine, FL 32084

Dreamette
Riverside
3646 Post St.
Jacksonville, FL 32205-5933
904-388-2558
Town Center
4663 River City Drive
Jacksonville, Florida 32246
(904) 994-7740
Beaches
309 Atlantic Blvd.
Neptune Beach, Florida 32266
(904) 746-7037

Whit’s
Jax Beach
1232 Beach Blvd
Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32250
(904) 595-5891
Atlantic Beach
38 Ocean Blvd
Atlantic Beach, FL 32233
904-853-5384
Avondale
3545 St. Johns avenue
jacksonville, FL 32205
904-551-5957
Mandarin
11362 San Jose Blvd, Suite 3
Jacksonville, FL 32223
904-634-7190

The Hyppo
St. Johns Town Center
4663 River City Dr
Jacksonville, FL 32246

San Marco
1432 Hendricks Ave
Jacksonville, Florida
(904) 551-7188

Riverside
90 Riverside Ave STE 605
Jacksonville, Florida
(904) 551-0361

Charlotte Street
48 Charlotte Street
Saint Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 217-7853

Saint George Street
70 Saint George Street
Saint Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 547-2980

The Hyppo Cafe
(Across from Cobblestone Plaza)
1765 Tree Blvd #5
Saint Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 342-7816

 

 

 

 

A Father’s Day Gift Guide for First Coast Dads

Father’s Day is on Sunday and we wanted to get a guide of great local places to go for wonderful gifts for all types of Dads. Here is our guide to Father’s Day shopping for First Coast Dads.

Bookworm Dad

Chamblin’s Bookmine
Chamblin’s Bookmine is a local favorite and is located in Jacksonville’s downtown area-right across from Hemming Park. It offers a wide selection of books from all sorts of niche genres. You can spend hours browsing their large collection of books. The bookworm Dad will love anything from Chamblin’s or go together, treat him to coffee and let him choose his gift!

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Snacks and a Show at the Sunray Cinema
The bookworm Dad will enjoy heading to the five points area in Riverside to check out a film and have a snack. You and Dad can catch indie classics and mainstream movies at Sunray and enjoy popcorn with the fixins bar or something more substantial like a caesar salad, pizza, beer and wine or even a vegan (or regular) milkshake. Their website has their showtimes.

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MOCA
The bookworm Dad will love a trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville in downtown Jacksonville where he can attend one of their events, artist q & A’s or exhibitions. Afterwards Dad can head to their restaurant NOLA MOCA for a truly unique and delicious meal. The restaurant offers an eclectic menu and has a full bar that serves hand crafted cocktails. They are open late on Thursdays and Wednesday nights during Art Walk if you and Dad want to make a night of it and have dinner there. You can check out the latest schedule of events and exhibitions on their website here.

Food and Wine Lover Dad

Manifest Distillery
Manifest is downtown Jacksonville’s only full-scale distillery that opened up in the fall of 2016. They make craft spirits and offer a selection of vodkas, gins and whiskeys. They also have distillery tours where you and your Dad can go learn about what goes into making their craft spirits. The food and wine lover Dad may enjoy making a cocktail with a bottle of their Florida Citrus Vodka, which is crafted with Florida grown oranges, grapefruit and lemon. You can check out more on their website here.

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credit: Manifest website

Congaree and Penn
Congaree and Penn is a farm located 20 minutes outside of Downtown Jacksonville and offers wonderful events and goodies for foodies. They have events like Blackberry picking every Saturday and Sunday in June where you and Dad can ride a wagon out to the Ouachita field and pick fresh berries. They also offer a unique assortment of gifts for Dad on their website that feature gourmet fresh flavors that your foodie Dad will appreciate such as creole tomato jelly, pecan oil, a variety of rices from their farm and other unique and flavorful items.

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credit: Congaree and Penn website

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Credit- Congaree and Penn website

A Chef’s Studio
A Chef’s Studio is a local cooking studio for those looking to learn, share, discover and develop their cooking skills. If you have a foodie Dad who has got a passion for cuisine, give him this fun-filled and thoughtful gift where he’ll be able to sharpen his skills or learn a new technique. Choose from their popular guest chef taught, Home Chef Series, a group class, or their relaxed wine club! Check out the calendar here for upcoming classes!

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Photo Credit: Intuition Ale Works

Intuition Ale Works
Intuition Ale Works is a local brewery, located in the entertainment area of downtown, established by native Jacksonville resident Ben Davis.Intuition works to create quality, flavorful beers for you to enjoy at their tap room and across Northeast Florida. Pick up a pack for Dad or take him downtown for a drink where he’ll be able to enjoy a cold one while overlooking the St. Johns River. Intuition also has tours available for free when you visit their downtown location. Tours include a walk through the brewery, the brew process explained, and any questions you might have!

Green Room Brewing
Green Room Brewing is the first microbrewery located in Jacksonville Beach. They cater to the casual drinker and beer aficionado that call Northeast Florida home.This brewery does not serve food, but with it’s convenient location it is near all the staple restaurants of Jax Beach. Feel free to bring your own food while you kick back and relax at The Green Room. They will be celebrating their 7th anniversary this weekend on June 16th. What better way to celebrate Dad and local business than with a drink from your local watering hole!

Engine 15 Brewing Company
Engine 15 is a local brewery that offers a rotating option of about 50 taplines at both their Jacksonville Beach and Downtown locations. At their beach location you can enjoy your beer with a tasty bite to eat from their pub menu. Selections include hearty sandwiches and snacks paired with their local beers. Their downtown location features local food trucks from Jacksonville, offering up everything you could imagine from tacos to pitas. Kick back and relax at either location!

Bold Bean Coffee Roasters
For the dad that enjoys a good cup of Joe, Bold Bean Coffee Roasters is for him! Treat Dad to a latte decorated with unique latte art and a pastry at three of their convenient locations. Bold Bean hosts stores in Jacksonville Beach, Riverside and San Marco neighborhoods. What makes these coffee shops so unique is that they feature a variety of different type of coffee drinks all served by baristas that are courteous and welcoming. If your Dad loves coffee, this is the place for him!

 

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Sporty Dad

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Photo Credit: Schooner Freedom Charters

Sunset Sail
If your dad is more on the sporty side and enjoys the wide open sea and sailing, he’ll love the gift of a sunset sail on the Matanzas River. What makes this gift so great is that dad can have a hands on experience, helping out with setting sail and steering the helm! Enjoy the beautiful sunset on the water that overlooks the St. Augustine skyline. Complimentary beer and wine is included in the price of the ticket. Sail dates are also flexible and can accommodate Dad’s schedule, making it easy to book a trip once tickets are purchased. At $50 a person, it is extremely affordable! Gift cards are available to those interested in purchasing a ticket for their special Dad!

Top Golf
Top Golf is a great gift for the dad who loves a game of friendly competition! This is a great gift where the whole family can join! Enjoy a private bay where you’ll be able to order food and drinks from your own private bay. Players may score points by aiming for the different target areas on the green. Your score is kept track of by the unique microchipped golf balls! This is a great activity that can include the whole family while combining it with something Dad loves! Pricing varies depending on the time of day that you visit, check out the different pricing options here.

Jags fans and Game Tickets
Head to the Jacksonville Jaguars website here to get game tickets, official merchandise and news. If your sporty Dad is a jags fan you can’t go wrong with getting him something here. If you want to take your sporty Dad to a game other than the Jaguars you can get him tickets to a Jacksonville Armada soccer game here or a Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp baseball game here.

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photo credit: jumbo shrimp website
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photo credit: jaguars website

Music Lover Dad

St. Augustine Amphitheatre
The St. Augustine Amphitheatre is a great place to catch live national acts and local music events. There are also several bars and restaurants that feature live music every night in downtown St. Augustine. You can also sometimes catch a few street musicians performing depending on the night.

Florida Theatre
Is a great place to catch a show with Dad. This weekend they happen to have Brit Floyd headlining a show there which is an act I actually saw there with my music loving Dad in 2014 and had a fantastic time. You can see all the upcoming shows on their website and plan your event.

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Credit: Ponte Vedra Concert Hall Facebook

Other Great Live Music Venues
You can take Dad to see a show at other excellent venues for live music like the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall , Jack Rabbits , Murray Hill Theatre and 1904 Music Hall just make sure to check online for upcoming shows and events.

Pet Lover Dad

The Bark Boutique
Is a pet store in the 5 Points area in Riverside which offers treats, toys and more for the pet lover Dad. They have baked treats and cakes for dogs, training classes and more! Check them out at their store or online here.

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Featured Places:

Bark Boutique on Park
1021 Park Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32204
904-356-4530

Bark Boutique Downtown
45 W Adams Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32202
904-516-7836

Congaree and Penn
11830 Old Kings Road, Jacksonville, Florida

Manifest Distilling
960 E Forsyth St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 619-1479

Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville
A Cultural Institute of the University of North Florida
333 North Laura Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32202
904-366-6911
Please call 904-224-0113 to make reservations for NOLA MOCA

Jacksonville Jaguars
1 EverBank Field Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 633-2000

Jacksonville Armada
Hodges Stadium at UNF
Matchday parking $5 in Lot 18
1 UNF Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32224

Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Bragan Field Ballpark
301 A Philip Randolph Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32202 (904) 358-2846

Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
1050 A1A N
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
(904) 209-0399

1904 Music Hall
19 N Ocean St, Jacksonville
(904) 361-3297

Murray Hill Theatre
932 Edgewood Ave S, Jacksonville, FL 32205
(904) 388-3179

Jack Rabbits
1528 Hendricks Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32207
(904) 398-7496
1904 Music Hall
19 N Ocean St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 361-3297

Florida Theatre
128 E Forsyth St Ste 300, Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 355-5661

St. Augustine Amphitheatre
1340c A1a S, St Augustine, FL 32080
(904) 209-0367

Intuition Ale Works
929 E Bay St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 683-7720

 

Cinco de Mayo Around the First Coast: A Food Guide

Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862-however in the U.S. it has become a day to celebrate Mexican culture and cuisine. The First Coast has more than its fair share of delicious Mexican restaurants and we decided to highlight some of our favorite places to grab Mexican fare in honor of the holiday on Sunday.

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TacoLu- Jax Beach

Taco Lu in Jacksonville Beach is a popular locals place and a must try for visitors. This restaurant mixes a chill surfer vibe with an authentic Mexican flare. You can dine inside or outside on their cozy patios. Outside, enjoy the beautiful murals painted on the walls while sipping on a glass of one of their many tequilas. Inside you’ll find intimate tables with brick fire places nearby for colder evenings, beautiful sugar skulls throughout the restaurant, and a variety of Spanish themed décor. Tacolu is also versatile for those stopping in for happy hour with a lively bar area that includes a spin the wheel drink selection, a couple of sports TV’s, and a wall of tequila. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here. They feature a variety of different taco selections, all reasonably priced. The staff here is extremely accommodating and friendly. Another great bonus to dining here is their complimentary valet parking. This comes in handy on a crowded weekend or holiday night!

Flying Iguana Taqueria & Tequila Bar-Atlantic Beach

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photo credit: Flying Iguana Facebook

Flying Iguana Taqueria & Tequila Bar  is located in the heart of Neptune Beach and offers delicious food, craft cocktails and a lively atmosphere. We would highly recommend the queso fondito and their speciality tacos like their Farm to Taco, Flying Fish Taco or their Dirty South Taco. You HAVE to try their Mexican street corn appetizer- it’s delicious. They also have an extensive list of specialty margaritas and other craft cocktails.

Burrito Gallery- Jax Beach and Downtown

Burrito Gallery is a local favorite that serves delicious and affordable Mexican food in a colorful atmosphere. They serve craft Margaritas and other cocktails along with burritos and tacos with unique fresh flavors like the fried chicken tender BLT taco. We would recommend trying the cajun shrimp or mahi burritos. They also offer a great happy hour and late night happy hour. The Burrito Gallery is having a celebration for Cinco de Mayo at all of their locations.

Cantina Laredo- St. John’s Town Center/Southside

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Cantina Laredo is located in the heart of the St. John’s Town Center and serves gourmet Mexican cuisine with a modern twist and an upscale dining experience to match. They are a national chain but their Jacksonville location is a wonderful place to go for Mexican cuisine if you are looking for a nice night out. We recommend that you try their steak fajitas or fish tacos as well as their sopa de tortilla. They are also having a Cinco de Mayo party on the patio with prizes starting at 3:00 PM on Saturday.

Lola’s Burrito and Burger Joint- Riverside

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photo credit: Facebook

Lola’s Burrito and Burger Joint  is located in the heart of the 5 points in the Riverside area. They serve a variety of cocktails and beer from local breweries along with a diverse menu of Tex-Mex fare. We recommend you sample one of their gourmet burgers with yucca fries or one of their grilled burritos. Lola’s often has events such as Taco Tuesdays and they are having an all day Cinco de Mayo celebration with discounted food and drinks along with a raffle drawing.

La Nopalera- San Marco

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photo credit: yelp

La Nopalera is a local Jacksonville family owned chain that serves traditional Mexican food and classic dishes. Their San Marco location is the one to check out- it is a neighborhood favorite due to it’s whimsical, vibrant atmosphere. We recommend you try their fajitas along with their house margarita.

Mi Casa Café- St. Augustine

Mi Casa Cafe is a fantastic restaurant in the heart of historic downtown St. Augustine that has live music and a beer and wine garden. A local favorite with a small but excellent menu this restaurant is all about the great location and lively atmosphere. We would recommend you try their hot Cuban sandwich or black beans and rice.

Mr. Taco Food Truck- Various Locations

Mr. Taco is located in a quiet neighborhood plaza located just off Bowden road. This authentic Mexican restaurant features your classic dishes from tacos and burritos to tortas and tostadas with flare. The atmosphere is cozy with friendly staff making for an enjoyable dining atmosphere. Not located near the southside area? Don’t fret! Mr. Taco has a fleet of taco trucks posted around the city, making it convenient to get your taco fix on the go! For a list of their food truck locations, check out the page on their website here.

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Featured Places:

Flying Iguana
flyingiguana.com
207 Atlantic Blvd, Neptune Beach, FL 32266
(904) 853-5680

Cantina Laredo
http://www.cantinalaredo.com
10282 Bistro St, Jacksonville, FL 32246
(904) 997-6110

Mi Casa Cafe
micasacafe.com
69 Saint George St, Saint Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 824-9317

TacoLu
tacolu.com
1712 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
(904) 249-8226

La Nopalera San Marco
lanopjax.com
1434 Hendricks Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32207
904-288-0175

Burrito Gallery
burritogallery.com
Downtown:
21 E Adams St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 598-2922
Jax Beach:
300 Beach Blvd Ste 1, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
(904) 246-6521

Mr. Taco Food Truck
mrtacojax.com/food-trucks
6426 Bowden Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32246
Various food truck locations check website
(904) 438-5202

Lola’s Burrito and Burger Joint
lolasburritojoint.com
1522 King St
Jacksonville, Florida 32204
(904) 738-7181

Our favorite Jacksonville DIY Couple

Any HGTV addict will tell you that there is something about couples who DIY and flip homes that is particularly charming. Just try to sit and watch one episode of Fixer Upper With Chip and Joanna Gaines or Flip or Flopped (and the multiple spin offs) during a marathon without wanting to binge watch!

One of the things Top of the Coast is particularly passionate about is DIY home projects and we found a young Jacksonville couple who have turned their love of DIY and real estate into an exciting new business.

After they were married two and a half years ago, Dror and Brooke Mida decided they wanted to start saving up to start a business flipping houses. At the time Mida was a 5th grade teacher and her husband was in flight school. They began saving up and planning ahead for their business which they have now turned into a reality.

“One of the things we’ve always been passionate about together is the real estate industry,” Brooke says. “We had to really kind of pinch our money together really tight and we had to be really committed to our financial goals so we could have that cash to invest in a property. We were very goal oriented and two years into our marriage we finally felt comfortable investing in our first property. We moved back to Jacksonville and Jacksonville has a great market for investors my Dad’s currently an investor in the city and he has a bunch of properties so we leaned on him for his knowledge of the areas as well,” she continues.

Today Dror is a commercial pilot and Brooke sells real estate full time. Brooke explains the process of how her and Dror chose the property they have recently flipped in Murray Hill.

“We chose an area and got a property that literally needed everything…I mean we kind of went in full force…it needed plumbing, electrical…you name it. We are currently working on it together. We do a lot of the work ourselves…the work that’s safe for us to do,” she says.

According to Brooke, Murray Hill is one of the hottest areas in Jacksonville for investors looking to flip houses.

“Our house is in the Murray Hill area close to Riverside. I personally have a passion for that whole area so Riverside, Murray Hill and Avondale… and I think that has been a hot market for a few years and it’s continuing to be and now that trend from Avondale to Riverside over to Murray Hill is kind of pushing that direction. Murray Hill is one of those areas where it’s still a little rough but I think investors are really starting to see the potential there because of its vicinity around those historic districts,” Brooke says.

Brooke has been able to develop an expert knowledge of the market in Jacksonville for real estate investors.

“Where we chose to invest and where our property is lies right on that line [historic Jacksonville districts]…and you have a lot of investors that are pouring into that area and starting to put money into the older properties,” she says.

Brooke says Murray Hill and the surrounding areas is transforming into a hot location in Jacksonville for young professionals and local businesses. This is due in part to investors like Dror and Brooke who are putting time and money into restoring the homes in the area.

“I think  what they are trying to accomplish is to follow in the footsteps of Riverside and kind of become that artistic, young neighborhood where people feel like they can invest in a lot of businesses and we’ve seen some of the restaurants and businesses that are going in there kind of mirror the same vibe as Riverside…so you’ve got local bakeries and bars going in and hip local businesses…so now a lot of people are investing in those historic homes and making them really nice,’ she says.

Brooke has some advice for people interested in flipping homes:

“First of all if somebody wants to get into an investment property that’s something you really have to plan for financially and you really have to be committed to saving for it because you’re not just talking about purchasing the property you have to know what money you need in reserve to fix it,” she says.

Brooke also gives some advice about how to search for the right property to flip,“When you’re looking for a property it’s important to remember you’re going to see something that is very distressed, it needs some love and you have to be able to see past the flaws and have the creativity and ability to say ‘Wow! What can I do?’ and ‘how can i make this my own?’ and you have to love it because you’re going to get down and dirty, you’re going to rip things apart and you’re going to come across things that you didn’t expect,” she says.

Brooke says that it’s also important to be prepared for surprises-her and Dror found this out during their last project.

“When we pulled up some of our laminate floors we found that some of the sub-floors were just rotted and that was something that we didn’t expect but you know that’s why it’s important to have that cash…so you’re ready to say ‘OK. I know that this house needs this, this and this so I have that money saved but then I actually have an additional 25% so if I run into a bump it’s there for me,” she says.

When it comes to how her and Dror split up their DIY duties Brooke says there are certain roles taken on by each of them.

“I’ve leaned on him more for knowledge when it comes to the construction end of things and he’s really leaned on me more for the artistic end of things such as picking out paint colors and putting up back splash against counter tops and knowing they’re good together. I would say that we’re a good team in the sense that we trust one another and kind of lean on each other’s skills,” she says.

 

Brooke explains that her Mom is the inspiration behind many of her home design ideas and that to stay on trend she usually goes online. “My parents have a bunch of properties in Jacksonville and they kind of work the same way as Dror and I. My Mom is really the eye for design. She really inspires me because she can just walk into a space and be like ‘boom! I know what I’m going to do!’ and she can have all the colors picked out and they all go together perfectly and it’s flawless so she really inspired me. There are also so many resources online that I go to stay current on modern design trends,” she says.

One of her favorite modern home design trends is a big, open kitchen. “I know that in the past kitchens weren’t really a focal point- you can see that in older homes, they were kind of a blocked off space…but now people really love having a kitchen as a social space and it opens up into the living area. So one of the things we did in our home is that we knocked down walls to make the kitchen as open as possible and we really incorporated the kitchen into the living space so it’s just a free, open floor plan” she says.

Brooke says she was able to incorporate two of her favorite modern design trends into their Murray Hill project. “As far as color trends are concerned: one of the things that we saw and I fell in love with it because it is very elegant is the color scheme of having light grays on the wall, like a blueish gray with white trim and then gray hues on the flooring. So our flooring is something that is really popular right now- a cooler toned, grayish-brown hardwood that has hints of blue in it as opposed to a more golden hued hardwood floor,” she says.
The Midas are preparing their Murray Hill home to be put on the market and are ready to move on to their next investment property soon in the Murray Hill area. Brooke also focuses on helping other buyers find the right investment property in the city through her real estate business, “Jacksonville is huge and there are so many different neighborhoods that are hot for investors there are other areas like near the airport that are starting to come up too but Murray Hill is where our heart is right now but down the road we may start to move into other areas, too,” she says. 

If you have any questions for the Midas on any of their projects or are looking for more advice about investment properties you can reach Brooke on her Facebook page or shoot her an email at Brooke@thebillsharpteam.com.