Explore your city - Jacksonville
What better place to start a day of wandering than Vagabond Coffee. What started with a vintage camper has spawned two locations in Jacksonville. One in Riverside and the other in Murray Hill. I love a bright coffee house as opposed to the darker gloomy decor paired with the inevitable Bon Iver playing overhead. Vagabond is happy and colorful without being overtly trendy or anyone else. You can watch as their in-house baker hustles in the front of the house right next to the coffee counter. No back of the house pre-packaged secrets here.
The staff was warm and welcoming to the strangers from another Florida city and offered suggestions of places to visit on our day trip. The coffee was good, the vibe was chill, and what else can you really ask for on your first stop in Jax.
We made sure not to eat breakfast or eat any snacks on the two hour drive so we could enjoy as much food as possible. After our first coffee stop we hit up the Cool Moose Cafe, a very casual spot in the Riverside neighborhood to get a late breakfast.
I couldn't help but be drawn to the Desayuno Costa Rica dish. Two eggs scrambled with chorizo and cheddar cheese placed between grilled corn tortillas and topped with salsa verde. I switched out one of the sides for sliced tomato. The food was good, the service felt very hometown diner (in the best possible way) and the place was packed. It definitley felt like a place loved by the locals.
Superhero Hive Comics
Even though I was not traveling with my husband I still felt compelled to go inside Superhero Hive and report back my findings.
There was significantly more graphic novels and comics over merchandise here. Their Pop! Vinyl selection was small which to me is indicative of the owners being serious about selling the real goods over novelty items.
I didn't find anything to purchase for myself but there was a large collection to search through and the store was busy so the locals must love it.
Of course I had to find doughnuts while in Jacksonville, so I went with a current popular shop, Good Dough. It just happened to be National Doughnut Day and the shop was bustling with no where to sit, a line wrapped around their back wall, and barely any doughnuts in their display case. As I waited in line I watched through a viewing window as a woman dipped freshly made doughnuts into buckets of glaze. It was beautiful to watch so I didn't mind the line.
We didn't have a lot of options of what flavors we could purchase as the staff was selling doughnuts quickly as they were being brought out so I picked a mimosa and I believe raspberry doughnut. These were yeast doughnuts with flavored glaze. I've got to say the doughnuts were not great, but the glazes were delicious especially the mimosa. I'm giving them a pass on the somewhat dry consistency of the dough because it's clear they were in the weeds, so on my next visit I hope to find a better bite. They do have a beautiful well-branded space though as well as a friendly staff meeting the demands of lots of guests.
The afternoon thunderstorm came and soaked us while quickly flooding the streets. When I say soaked I mean it looked like I had just taken a shower with my makeup on. Despite liquid eyeliner covering my face and stinging my eyes we found Bold Bean Coffee and took a break to warm up and clean up. Despite looking like a drenched rat the woman at the counter was kind and took pity on us. Their location on Hendricks is one of three shops in Jacksonville.
My normal afternoon drink is chai and they had a deliciously creamy chai latte that I sat and enjoyed while 80's and 90's alt rock music played and we watched "kids" on their laptops doing their coffee shop thing. There was interesting art on the walls, and the overall vibe was pretty quiet; the perfect place to take a beat.
Just within one city block we found a large antique mall, the Cool Moose Cafe, the comic book shop but as if that wasn't enough we stumbled upon the Magic Sweet House. The self-proclaimed first spot in Jacksonville to serve Thai ice cream rolls and Hong Kong Waffles. My obsession with the sweet waffles has not subsided so I got one with mango ice cream and fresh fruit as a topping.
This was a no frills place, and while they sold trendy desserts the interior was anything but hip. A simple long counter, tables, and the longest most jam-packed menu board I've ever seen in my life. No real decor or branding, a bit bare bones; but if you serve a delicious waffle I don't really care what your interior looks like.
Hightide Burrito Co
It was very hard to chose a lunch spot because there were more restaurant options than I expected to find. My last trip to Jacksonville was several years ago for a Ben Folds concert and we struggled to find a decent place to eat. It's clear this is not the same Jacksonville. We chose Hightide mainly because it was in close proximity to where we already were and we wanted tacos.
I ordered two street tacos and two empanadas. The tortillas fell apart almost instantly so I just pushed them aside and focused on the meat (carnitas and steak) which was well seasoned, tender and juicy. For $2.50/$3.50 it wasn't a bad deal minus the disappointing corn tortilla. They weren't showstoppers, but for a couple of cheap tacos it wasn't a bad pit stop.
Four hours with an afternoon monsoon was not an ideal amount of time to explore Jacksonville so this is truly just a glimpse of a few places to check out or pass on. I have many more places on my list for the next visit and a lot more color I didn't have time to fully capture.
This exploration to Jacksonville was not sponsored and all expenses were paid for by me, supporting local businesses one trip at a time. #ExploreMore