Most of us know the bars that are worth frequenting in Jacksonville. Every writer in town has given their two cents on the subject, but let’s just say not all opinions are created equally. There is something to be said about the neighborhood bars by the people who live down the street. An insider’s perspective is always best, so let’s peruse the poles of Jacksonville and see which bars are best and when.
In thinking about the beach bars, most minds wander to the trinity of Ritz, Shim Sham and Lynch’s. These are great, and definitely staples of the community. However, the new additions to the neighborhood are pretty badass, and should not be shrugged off.
It seems that everyone can agree that Hoptinger is the new hot chick in the hallways. With arguably the best happy hour, $2 select drafts and $3 brats in a blanket, who doesn’t want to start their night surrounded by alcohol and wieners? It can be pretty crowded at times, but that just means there is more fun to be had.
If you want to escape the crowd, Blind Rabbit is a solid choice. They have a full bar stocked with plenty of liquor, and a pretty well-rounded wine list. Not to mention, the food is killer and can help coat your stomach and ensure you don’t pass out before you dance at Shim Sham.
An overlooked place to drink is Wine Bar. A little birdy told us that they will let you sing Karaoke, essentially, whenever you want. They have happy hour from 5 to 9 p.m., which is usually unheard of. Guess they want to keep everyone happy when the live music starts at 8.
We all like a good dive, and Pete’s is that place. It is no secret that Pete’s has been a staple of Neptune Beach for 80+ years. In that time, they have kept the “smoke thick, drinks strong and the pool table at only 25 cents.”
Riverside, where the townies reign and we are pale year-round. This side of town has been overlooked for the last couple of decades, but now with recent development and an influx of new residents, the bars are always inhabited. If you are hanging out in Riverside, here are a few places the locals would suggest.
Not going to lie, Birdies is the shit on Monday nights. All you late ‘80s and early ‘90s babies, eat your heart out when May Day, one of our favorite drink slingers, is the DJ. She specializes in ‘90s alternative and the punk music we played when we were emotional and unstable teenagers.
Black Sheep’s rooftop is best during non peak hours, when the sun is setting and DustyBoots are only $6. On Friday and Saturday nights, it gets pretty wild on that rooftop. If you are single and ready to mingle, these nights are your best bet. For all you ballers on a budget, happy hour at Black Sheep includes snacks, too. You can never go wrong with happy hour pricing on poutine and mussels.
The bartenders at Orsay will treat you real nice. If you want to have a libation that is out of this world, hit up cocktail hour at Orsay from 4 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Riverside has dive bars, too, and the best-kept secret in Riverside is Wall Street. That’s where you can go to escape the loud music from the other bars, drink a PBR and smoke a cig (if you’re into that sort of thing). The best night to go is every night.
The oldest city in America is home to some pretty great places to drink. This is also one of those towns that has bars hidden amongst the coquina, so they can be pretty hard to spot. A couple locals were kind enough to tell us which places ensure the drinks are flowing.
The Tini Martini is definitely a place to hang. The bay front view is incredible at the right time, and they live up to their name by having the best martini around.
The bars that any local will bring their Jacksonville friends to include Dos Gatos, White Lion and “No Name” bar. These are those places where you can dance on any night of the week. Dos Gatos has a live DJ most nights and incredible drink specials every night.
Weekends at the Conch House are always a good time. It gets pretty crowded, but on the other nights, it is too slow to warrant the trip. They have a stellar view mixed with great cocktails. Locals and Jacksonville folks alike can agree on that combination.
Downtown has so many hidden gems. We all love Art Walk, but the bars really come to life on all the other nights of month. Whether you want live music, a margarita or a quiet place to sip some whiskey, downtown pretty much has it all.
Burrito Gallery’s bar is dark and always has Viceland playing. Margaritas on draft are constantly flowing, and they are only $4 during happy hour. This is the perfect place to end a bike ride and refuel.
If you work downtown, you know that Volstead is the place to catch a drink before you head home. Prohibition-styled bars are best when they offer PBR and whiskey shots (aka the “Volstead dinner” $5 for a shot of whiskey and a PBR). Their two happy hours are from 4 to 7 p.m. and 12 to 2 a.m., including $3 wells, $5 double wells, $5 house wine, $5 Titos, Tanqueray and Tullamore Dew calls, $2 PBR and Rolling Rock tall boys. They don’t skimp on the liquor either, as they tend to have some heavy hands.
1904 has quickly become a staple of the downtown area. Most nights you can catch some live music, but every night you can catch a great deal on booze. Just a little tip, they have throwback Thursdays on the 1904 patio. That means $2 domestics and free cider for all ladies. Ladies love free apple juice!
Drinking in Jacksonville can be complicated. Each area of town has its pros and cons, but no neighborhood is mundane. If there is one thing we have learned, it is that listening to the locals is best when bar hopping. We hope this guide serves you well in finding the best deals on the most ideal nights. Cheers!