I rang in 2022 with a food-related resolution: Try more new-to-me establishments. I get stuck and fall into a rut, often sticking to places I know and adore. But there are so many other places vying for attention — just begging for a chance to be discovered.
Started off the month trying The Tot Spot, a food truck set up downtown on Hogan Street at The Court Urban Food Park. My husband picked two bowls: one with warm, golden, crispy tots piled high with buffalo chicken and blue cheese dressing, and another smothered with rich sausage gravy, cheese, bacon and a runny yolk egg. Savory and filling, there was easily enough for two meals.
My second new-to-me spot was Daily Dose, a boba tea outpost on Beach Boulevard. I ordered a 50 percent (half sweet) taro boba milk tea, and the brown sugar milk tea. Both made for an excellent afternoon treat.
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A trip to the Westside led me to Social House Coffee. The small Fairfax coffee shop serves up a few bagel sandwiches, and I’d been urged to try the B.O.A. ("Between Ortega and Avondale" — where the shop is located). I added an egg to my homemade bagel with candied bacon, cheddar cheese, marinated balsamic tomatoes, arugula and a sweet sauce. Loved it, and stayed full for hours!
My sweet tooth urged me to try Crumbl Cookies in Mandarin. The new-to-town cookie chain is known for its warm, soft, made-to-order, cookie boxes. My four: chocolate chip, cinnamon bun (life changingly good!), M&M and chocolate peanut butter (too sweet). Verdict? I’ll be back.
A friend and I met for poke bowls at Tea Poke Spot on Belfort Road. I had a mix-and-match custom bowl with spicy tuna atop half rice, half lettuce. A nice assortment of sauces and mix-ins await. The newish eatery also serves Hong Hong bubble waffles and boba beverages, but we were too full to partake.
These cold nights call for soup, and while I don’t generally crave Chinese take out, Bamboo Express on San Jose caught my eye. I went with the egg drop wonton soup and vegetable fried rice and chowed down on the two.
Sometimes if I don’t try a new place, I’ll pick a menu item I usually wouldn't choose. On a recent lunch date with my mom at Full Circle Eatery off Baymeadows Road, I opted for the Rachel (a cousin of the Reuben, but with slaw instead of kraut and turkey instead of corned beef) and was not disappointed.
I learned that Murray Hill’s Vagabond Coffee is hosting a seafood pop-up with Brine Jax on Friday and Saturday evenings. I checked it out and ordered the cobia crudo with pomegranate, watercress and Persian lime, plus a panzanella salad and an orange cream crème brulee. Delicious. Next time I’ll do a dozen oysters.
A trip to the Neptune Beach led me to Cousin’s Maine Lobster. I wish I’d discovered this gem sooner! A concept birthed on "Shark Tank," its warm, buttery lobster roll (under $20 too!) stole my heart. Runner up? A tie between the chowder and fried clam basket. This small spot is worth the trip for lobster fans.
Caron Streibich is an avid food-lover who reviews restaurants every other week in the Life section. Follow her dining adventures at facebook.com/caroneats and #caroneats on Instagram.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Jacksonville restaurants worth a try: Daily Dose, Social House Coffee