For our Bold Bites issue we asked Northeast Florida writers, creatives, foodies, and personalities to dish on the boldest bites they’ve taken of late. Dig into Part III of that feature below. You can find Part I here. And Part II here.
Crème de la Cocoa | St. Augustine
Chef Nils’ tiramisu is a divine gift to one’s taste buds. It’s an adventurous, complex melding of chocolate, hazelnut, Meyer’s Rum, Kahlua, and espresso; Oh, also with mascarpone and white chocolate mousse! I have never had such an amazing blend of flavors in a food item, and I truly could not stop myself from sneaking extra slices from the party that featured this cake. This was by far the best thing I’ve ever eaten in Northeast Florida.
Public Relations, The Amp
Braised Chicken Empanada
1928 Cuban Bistro | Baymeadows
The dough of the empanada was soft and fluffy like a cloud, with a crisp outside that gave it a bite. The chicken filling was so flavorful that it tasted like it had been braised in garlic, onions, and tomatoes for hours. The filling was juicy and tender. To top it all off, it came with a mojo sauce that I would willingly take shots of. It was delicious and now, after talking about it at length, I really want one.
Author of Calli Marie Bakes and Chef, Brew Five Points
Restaurant Orsay | Avondale
The best thing I’ve eaten recently in Northeast Florida is definitely the Beef Wellington at Orsay. It has to be ordered 24 hours in advance so they can put it all together for you. What makes it so good is the lattice of pastry they wrap it in. It’s perfectly buttery and flaky: cooked perfect medium rare on the inside with golden brown pastry crust on the outside. I’m hungry now. I need this in my belly.
Chef and founder of Food Party Pop-up
Baja Fish Tacos
Nalu’s Tropical Take Out | St. Augustine
Honestly, I love Nalu’s. The baja fish tacos… oh baby. The perfect St. Augustine summer day is going to the beach, surfing all day, and then taking a lunch break at Nalu’s. The menu is full of so many different flavors and their ingredients are so fresh. The food and the food truck staff completely capture the island vibe and everybody is so friendly.
Owner, Tropicali Food Truck
Pinegrove Market and Deli | Avondale
The best thing I’ve eaten? Hands down the camel rider from Pinegrove Market the day Hurricane Dorian passed by us. A simple, traditional camel rider—pita bread stuffed with a triple threat of ham, bologna and salami, plus lettuce, peppers and Italian dressing—made with this local institution’s signature top quality ingredients. On a stressful day with few food options beyond hurricane supplies, it was pure Jax comfort in a pita.
Writer, editor, The Jaxson
Hapa Li Food Truck | Various Locations
The Luau plate from Hapa Li food truck at Springfield’s Porchfest was remarkable (and filling!); pieces of juicy shredded Kalua pork meet fluffy grains of white rice, creamy Hawaiian-style macaroni salad, crisp slaw, comforting pancit-like noodles, plus a crispy fried lumpia. Homestyle Hawaiian cooking at its best.
Florida Times-Union Restaurant reviewer
Fried Seafood Platter
OP Fish House & Oyster Bar | Orange Park
If you love seafood, there are so many options available in Northeast Florida that it’s almost impossible to make a bad choice. OP Fish House & Oyster Bar opened up at 636 Kingsley Avenue just last year, and they have quickly jumped into the top tier among their peers. Nathan Stuart, who started the business with his wife, Margot Klar, is a third-generation pro whose grandfather Louis once ran the legendary Intracoastal Fisheries, and whose father Russell has been running Seafood Kitchen since 1985. So, they know their stuff, and they know what to do with it.
The fish house is literally a house, or at least it was, and now they have expanded into the house next door. It’s fresh, fast and fabulous, with no frills to weigh down the price. Tuesdays feature crab legs at $12 a pound (which is less than you’ll pay at the grocery store); Wednesdays feature 60-cent oysters, and Thursdays feature lobsters at $15 each. That’s all great, but personally, my go-to is the fried platter of shrimp, scallops and oysters, with a side of the crab meat stew, which has so much jumbo lump in it that you could eat it with a fork, or your hands, which I have actually done. With a full bar and litany of craft beers and imported wines, the only way you can go wrong is if you don’t go.
These entries originally appeared as part of the feature “The Best Thing I’ve Ever Eaten (Recently)” in Void Magazine’s February 2020 issue.
More From our “The Best Thing I’ve Ever Eaten (Recently)” feature
Part I (From duck quesadillas to sourdough pancakes to street food esquites and more)
Part II (Dim Sum, enchiladas, brownies, etcetera)
Anticuchos from Llama Restaurant
Roots Biscuit from Southern Roots