Heading to Jacksonville, Florida for a family vacation?  You’re going to need to eat!  Do It All TravelingMom shares her favorite family friendly restaurants in Jacksonville, Florida From fresh seafood at the edge of Jacksonville Beach to Popsicle Mimosas downtown, Jacksonville restaurants offer a variety of tempting food and drink.  Find out which spots you can’t miss and which ones might not be the best choice for picky eaters.

Chicken and waffles at The Metro Diner in Jacksonville FL

Chicken and waffles at The Metro Diner. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll/Do It All TravelingMom


The fun in exploring a new vacation spot is scoping out delicious new places to eat, and that’s exactly my family did in Jacksonville, Florida.  We had plenty to choose from, starting with old fashioned southern food in the morning, a popsicle mimosa at lunch, and fresh shrimp with a waterside view in the evening. As long as grilled cheese was listed on the kids’ menu, the girls were happy too!

Breakfast Restaurants in Jacksonville, Florida

Maple Street Biscuit Company

We ate our first breakfast at the Maple Street Biscuit Company and discovered that this is the place to go if you like good old fashioned southern food.  The signature breakfast here is The Five and Dime, a flaky biscuit stuffed with fried chicken, fried egg, pecan wood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, and smothered in sausage gravy. It was a little too much for me that early in the morning but my husband gave it a go and enjoyed it.

Egg and gravy biscuit sandwich served at a restaurant in Jacksonville FL

The Five & Dime at the Maple Street Biscuit Co. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll/Do It All TravelingMom

There weren’t a lot of healthy choices, so I decided to give The Squawking Goat a try.  It’s a biscuit with fried chicken, fried goat cheese, and a very sweet pepper jelly. It was a big departure from my usual breakfast, but I did think that the goat cheese and fried chicken went well together.

My youngest daughter loved the Bam, a vanilla bean waffle with asiago and pecan smoked bacon baked right into it.  However, since there weren’t many traditional breakfast choices on the menu, my picky 9-year-old couldn’t find anything she liked.

TravelingMom Tip: This is a great place for good old-fashioned southern food, but if you have picky eaters or are looking for healthier options, you may want to skip it.

Metro Diner

My family absolutely loved breakfast at the Metro Diner. With locations across six states, this restaurant has even been showcased on the Food Network show, Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. There were so many amazing choices that it was hard to narrow them down to just one. Fortunately, we were there with a group of people, so everybody ordered something, and we ate family style.

Blueberry stuffed French toast at a restaurant in Jacksonville FL

The Yo Hala at The Metro Diner. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll/Do It All TravelingMom

My favorite dish by a mile was the Yo Hala On The Square! They prepare challah bread like french toast, then stuff it with bananas, cream cheese, brown sugar, and hazelnut syrup.  To top it all off, it’s covered with a sweet blueberry/strawberry compote. This definitely wasn’t the most health conscious choice, but I was on vacation, after all.

The breakfast pizza was also a big hit and disappeared faster than any of the other entrees. The traditional chicken and waffles were pretty good too.  The fried chicken was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside and the waffles were delicious. The scoop of strawberry butter on top of the waffles gave it a little something extra.

This menu had plenty to choose from, including indulgent extravagances to more healthy choices.

Lunch & Dinner Restaurants In Jacksonville FL

The Candy Apple Cafe

Located adjacent to Sweet Pete’s Candy Shop, The Candy Apple Cafe was another big hit. I started my meal with the Popsicle Mimosa, which featured a delicious “popsicle” of frozen fruit. Next time I’d like to try the Pop Rockadopolis, a cocktail made with actual pop rocks.

While the entrees were delicious, the appetizers stole the show. We started with Sweet Potato Frites with an Orange Sesame Cream that complemented them perfectly. Then we moved on to the Petite Corn Dogs with a cheddar ale fondue. I don’t eat corn dogs very often, but I could probably eat these every day.

Tray of mini corn dogs at a restaurant in Jacksonville FL

Petite corn dogs at The Candy Apple Cafe. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll/Do It All TravelingMom

The Candy Cherrywood Bacon won’t fill you up, but it sure was good.

Candied bacon strips at a restaurant in Jacksonville FL

Cherrywood bacon at The Candy Apple Cafe. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll/Do It All TravelingMom

The baby arugula salad with chicken and goat cheese made for a perfect lunch.  It wasn’t nearly as fancy as the appetizers, but it was healthy and delicious, which was exactly what I was looking for. My hubby’s veggie burger was tasty as well.  The girls were happy to find grilled cheese sandwiches on the kids’ menu, so, once again, everyone was happy.

TravelingMom Tip:  If you’re planning to dine at The Candy Apple Cafe, try to make time for a candy making class at Sweet Pete’s.

M Shack

We also tried out M Shack, an old fashioned burger joint with a modern twist.The thing that struck me about this restaurant was the decor.  It had a very hip, urban look that gave it a fun vibe.

Booths set against a brick mural wall at a restaurant in Jacksonville FL

Hip, urban decor at MShack. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll/Do It All TravelingMom

We ate outside on the patio, at night, which didn’t make for the best pictures, but the Sweet Tot Brulee sounded delicious…sweet potato tots with bruleed marshmallows, maple bacon drizzle, and pecans.  They were so sweet that they actually would have made a better dessert than an appetizer.

For my entree, I chose the turkey burger with gouda, avocado, and cranberry relish, which was every bit as good as it sounds. Our portions were big enough to fill us up, and I wasn’t even able to finish my burger (too many tots, perhaps).

The highlight of dinner was actually the dessert. Ashling ordered a vanilla shake and Keira went for the marshmallow brulee shake, after both agreed to give mommy a few sips. They happily agreed to it, but then poor Keira had to share half her shake with me.  The marshmallow brulee was so good that I just couldn’t stop at just one sip! Luckily, she’s pretty sweet when it comes to sharing!

Safe Harbor Seafood Restaurant

My family and I love dining on the water and if it’s a seafood restaurant, even better! Safe Harbor Seafood Restaurant was just that, a family friendly seafood restaurant where we could enjoy a beautiful view while eating dinner.

Dusk in the harbor in Jacksonville FL

Enjoying the view at Safe Harbor Seafood Company. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll/Do It All TravelingMom

It’s a casual, order at the counter kind of place that serves locally sourced, fresh seafood. Four-year-old Keira is the only member of the family who doesn’t like seafood, but she was more than happy to order a grilled cheese from the kids’ menu, again!  Ashling and Jon went straight for the fresh peel & eat shrimp; they could eat shrimp for every meal and never get tired of it.

Seared tuna salad at a restaurant in Jacksonville FL

Enjoying fresh tuna on Jacksonville Beach. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll/Do It All TravelingMom

While the shrimp sounded tempting, I couldn’t pass up the seared tuna salad.  It was perfectly prepared and tasted every bit as good as it looked!

TravelingMom Tip:  If you go at dusk, you may want to spray yourself and the kids with a little insect repellent.  It’s fine if you eat inside, but if you dine at a table by the water, you may get a few bites.

We had a great time checking out all the restaurants in Jacksonville FL. Though we enjoyed them all, if you have limited time you should definitely try to squeeze in Metro Diner, The Candy Apple Cafe, and Safe Harbor Seafood Restaurant.

Do It All TravelingMom Lisa O'Driscoll shares her favorite family friendly restaurants in Jacksonville Fl. From fresh seafood at the edge of Jacksonville Beach to Popsicle Mimosas downtown, Jacksonville restaurants have a lot to offer.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida?