Over the past few years, the craft beer scene has taken the spotlight in the River City. While I’m proud to see us embracing higher quality alcoholic beverages, the wino in me still longs for the comforting experience of enjoying a fantastic glass of wine. Thankfully, there are still plenty of great places around town to sit down, relax and sip on some reds, whites and bubbles. The following are my five favorite spots in Jacksonville to do just that.
Le Bar at Bistro Aix
A perpetual favorite of mine, San Marco’s Bistro Aix has long been a fixture on the Jacksonville wine scene. Their menu features more than 50 wines by the glass and over 250 available in the bottle. Not only do they have beautiful outdoor seating, their recently revamped Le Bar is a chic spot to sip on some bubbles. I absolutely adore the beautiful chalkboard map that serves as a wine list hanging on the wall of Le Bar. With a weeknight happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. and live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, what’s not to like?
Shopping can be exhausting, and Ovinte at St. John’s Town Center is the perfect way to take a break. I love stopping in for a bottle of $18 prosecco during happy hour or one of their over 75 by-the-glass options. Ovinte boasts unique features like their bocce ball court, outdoor seating, and WineEmotion – an adult vending machine that dispenses 1, 2 or 4 ounce pours of 25 varieties of wine that’s perfect for those looking to try something new.
If a view is what you’re looking for, then Black Sheep should be at the top of your list. Located in 5 Points, their rooftop bar boasts sprawling views of Riverside, Downtown, the St. Johns River and San Marco. Black Sheep also gets bonus points for the bar food menu that includes locally sourced meats, cheeses, vegetables, and of course, poutine.
San Marco seems to be the spot for renovations. Taverna recently renovated and expanded their space along the Square. Their well-curated wine menu features 19 varieties by the glass and over 70 by the bottle. During happy hour, their house wines are just $5. If you’re in the mood for lunch with your wine, their new fast-casual lunch service is a delicious option.
Pele’s Wood Fire
Easily one of my favorite places to drink and eat in Jacksonville, Pele’s Wood Fire is consistently one of the best places to grab a glass of wine without breaking the bank. Located in Riverside, Pele’s has a wine menu featuring 26 wines by the glass and nearly 50 by the bottle with bottle prices starting at just $19. Their daily happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. includes $4 house wine, and you can’t go wrong with one of their pizzas.
Alas, my five picks aren’t the only spots in town with stellar wine lists, happy hours and atmospheres. Some honorable mentions include Riverside’s Orsay, San Marco’s The Grotto, St. John’s Town Center’s Capital Grille and Southside’s III Forks.
Devon Stiles is a food writer, recipe creator, baker and wine drinker. You can find more of her work at thefoodbitchblog.com.