11 Nov 11 Black-Owned Culinary Businesses to Visit in Jacksonville
Jacksonville is Florida’s largest city — and the most populous city in the Southeast, boasting over 500 neighborhoods. Located on the Atlantic Coast, the city has 22 miles of beaches, but people also call it “the River City” because it lines both banks of the St. Johns River.
Named after former US president and Florida Territory governor Andrew Jackson in 1822, Jacksonville today is a major military hub with a deep-water port. The city’s population is about 31% Black, with two African American weekly newspapers. Several authors have ties to this area, including James Weldon Johnson, the writer of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” who, in 1920, led the NAACP.
This “Bold New City of the South” hosts several sporting events, from the annual Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament with up to 1,000 boats to the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars games and college football staples, the Gator Bowl, and the Florida-Georgia game. The downtown Jacksonville Jazz Festival and “Springing the Blues,” which celebrates blues music, is among the largest music festivals nationwide.
Jax also has a lively street-art scene, eclectic museums, an extensive park system, notable craft breweries like the Jax Ale Trail, and delectable cuisine. Here are our picks for some of the top Black-owned restaurants in Jacksonville, from soul food restaurants to bakeries, seafood restaurants, and more.
518 Hollyberry Lane, Suite 104, Orange Park, FL
They say they’re tough, but these guys know how to craft deliciously soft cookies. Located near Oakleaf Village Elementary School, Tough Guys serves single cookies on up to a dozen, plus party packages and platters. Choose from M&M, peanut butter, macadamia nut, strawberry, sugar, snickerdoodle, oatmeal raisin, toffee, confetti, or chocolate chip with or without pecans. Want more than a cookie? Order a customized ice cream cookie sandwich, the towering Tape Measure Milkshake, or the Hot Cookie Sundae, available only on Sundays, which smothers a toasty cookie with ice cream, caramel or fudge drizzle, and your topping of choice.
Orange Park Mall Food Court, 1910 Wells Road, Orange Park, FL
LaTasha Kaiser and her husband, Lew, nurture this homemade plant-based and vegan restaurant in the Orange Park Mall. News4Jax named it the area’s #1 Vegan Restaurant in 2021 and 2022. If you’re looking for soul food in Jacksonville with a vegan twist, try the Fried Chik’n Dinner, featuring crispy jackfruit chik’n smothered in herb gravy; the Kravyback Ribz Dinner, the couple’s take on meatless ribs; “moxtails”; a pulled unPork sandwich; or a Kalamari Po-Boy featuring fried hearts of palm, lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and onions. Sides include black-eyed peas, collard greens, dirty rice, cucumber salad, coleslaw, and Mac N’Cheese.
2251 Oak Street, Jacksonville, FL
Located in Jax’s historic Riverside & Avondale District is one of the best bakeries in Jacksonville, specializing in sweet and savory pies. Since 2019, chef Natasha Burton has made flaky crusts with real butter in the rear of a building between a former garage and a stag-horn plant. Go around the back to find the speakeasy-style entrance — or follow your nose. Burton’s pie names are as memorable as her fillings. We like the Wake Me Up Before You Cocoa chocolate pie, Yippie Pie Yay! toasted pecan pie, Blurred Limes Key Lime Pie, and Seize the Day, a bacon and Cheddar quiche. No wonder the Florida Times-Union ranked it Florida’s top pie shop in 2022.
1833 N. Pearl Street, Jacksonville, FL
When you need to chill in Jacksonville — and who doesn’t in Florida’s heat? — check out what’s poppin’ at Icecapade. Inspired by the founder’s Caribbean heritage, Icecapade whips up artisanal ice pops featuring natural fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs. Also, try their salads, smoothies, and natural juices. Find it in the Springfield neighborhood, less than a mile from Florida State College at Jacksonville’s downtown campus. Local faves include the Banana Puddin’; CoCo Peachy, a blend of peach and coconut; Coolcumber with cucumber and lime; Tangy Ginger, a mix of ginger and lemon; or Tropical Swirl, a blend of mango, pineapple, and banana.
818 A. Philip Randolph Blvd., Ste 904, Jacksonville, FL
In the Eastside neighborhood about a quarter mile from A. Philip Randolph Heritage Park, The Avenue Grill boasts some of the best Jacksonville soul food and seafood, including fried chicken, lobster, salmon, and grits with extra butter. Open six days a week, it’s known for its wings; salads featuring grilled salmon, steak, shrimp, chicken, or lobster; homemade burgers; and tilapia platters with shrimp and oysters. News4Jax consistently ranks it as having the best fried chicken, best burger, and best breakfast, so any meal sounds like a win.
6315 San Juan Avenue, Jacksonville, FL
Owner Richard Jones, his wife, Cathy, and his brother, Thomas, have cooked up authentic Southern comfort food here since 2014, including fried chicken, meatloaf, smothered pork chops, fried pork chops, ribs, oxtails, and fish ‘n grits. Customers rave about the sides, including collard greens, cornbread, candied yams, potato salad, cabbage, and black-eyed peas. Find ’em about a quarter mile west of the Cedar Creek Apartment Homes, and save room for the banana pudding, peach cobbler, and sweet potato pie.
Crystal Israel, the owner of Little Black Box, knows her jam — and her jellies, chutneys, and other spreads, too. Give your toast and treats some extra zing with her Plum Orange Cardamom Jam, Pineapple Mango Pepper Jelly, Blackberry Brandy Cinnamon Jam, or Blackberry Bourbon Vanilla Jam, all of which are great on ice cream! While there’s no storefront for sales, you can find these artisan preserves online and at Winn-Dixie and Walmart locations in Jacksonville, Gainesville, and other cities.
Orange Park Mall Food Court, 1910 Wells Road, Orange Park, FL
Since 2014, owners Aaron and Lakita have turned loaded potatoes into full-blown meals, from a food truck to a spot at the Orange Park Mall food court. Both Northside Jax residents, the couple created their signature item, the Crab Pot Potato, based on Jacksonville’s love for blue crabs and crab pots — and it’s a feast. A baked potato cradles real crab meat, shrimp, pork sausage, seasoned kernel corn, a boiled egg, garlic butter, Old Bay seasoning, tots, and melted Cheddar cheese. Create your own specialty spud, or choose from other items such as the Sweet Veggie potato topped with zucchini, squash, bell peppers, and onions, or the Hog Heaven, featuring pulled slow-roasted pork. Look for new Jacksonville-area locations coming soon, in Jacksonville proper, on Phillips Highway, and in RiverCity Marketplace!
Regency Square Mall Food Court, 9501 Arlington Expressway, Jacksonville, FL
The Funnel Cake Queen believes that the best things in life are sweet — and that you don’t have to wait for a carnival to enjoy this hot, fluffy classic. Find her at the Regency Square Mall food court, where you can build your own funnel cake or choose one of her signature selections. The Oreo Earthquake tops a funnel cake with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and crushed Oreos, while the Strawberry Banana bliss adds the richness of strawberries and bananas to ice cream, funnel cake, and whipped cream. Craving other summertime food? Check out the Queen’s deep-fried treats, including Oreos, Twinkies, brownie bites, and cheesecake.
Beach Boulevard Flea Market, 11041 Beach Blvd., Snack Bar 2 A Row, Jacksonville, FL
This laid-back juice bar inside the Beach Boulevard Flea Market promises healthy, hand-crafted drinks and flavorful alternatives to fast food, such as the Build Your Own Plate Cracker Nachos. Pick up a drink by the 16-ounce bottle or the half gallon. We like the Sweet Green Lemonade, made with coconut water, celery, cucumber, apple, chlorophyll, lime, lemon, moringa, sage, and thyme. Try the Strawberry Vitamin C lemonade, featuring apple, orange, strawberries, peach, mango, lemon, and elderberry juices, plus vitamin C.
11. Team Love Seafood
1850 Emerson Street, FC1, Jacksonville, FL [Food Truck Home Base]
While this food truck doesn’t keep regular hours (check Facebook and Instagram for updates), Team Love Seafood has loads of satisfied customers who love its Cajun-style creations, such as egg rolls loaded with shrimp or crawfish and savory cheeses. Aside from fried shrimp and other favorites, check out its “7 Cheese Soul Food Mac,” which submerges elbow macaroni in an exclusive cheese sauce, then blends in either shrimp, crawfish, or brisket.