Just returned from my whirlwind trip to Jacksonville and found a place I wanted to make note of: Ed's Spanish Cusine (or something like it) right downtown, off the lobby of the Blackstone Building on Bay Street -- up a block from the river from the Adams Mark Hotel.
To put things in context; I found being a twenty four hour hotel guest in Jax a very frustrating experience in terms of finding good chow. It seems that everyone downtown has been instructed to direct out-of-towners to no place other than the Jacksonville Landing, which is nothing more than a glorified mall food court. Nothing even remotely interesting there. We took the water taxi across the river to the River City Brew Pub, which, while nicely situated with a view over the marina, had some of the most uninteresting and bizarrely conceptualized food I've seen in a while -- crab cakes with chipotle-lime mayonnaise and raspberry sauce -- no lie!!
Any way -- about Ed's -- It's a great lunch joint, recently opened and looking like they're trying to get some evening business going with a Happy Hour. Food is served cafeteria style and includes all the classic Latin dishes that translate well to US palates -- Picadillo, Cuban sandwiches, tostones, maduros, roast pork etc. The Cuban Sandwich was done just right -- meaty, slighlly fatty pork, ham, swiss cheese, plenty of mustard and pickles, all beautifuly smooshed in the sandwich press. The tostones were perfection -- crisp, hot, beautifully mealy inside, and the garlic sauce they slathered on was as authentic as i've had since sitting in a thatched roof beachfront joint in Puerto Rico.
Sadly, I had to depart for the airport right after lunch or I would have stayed and eaten my way through the entire menu.!!
If you live in Jax or are visiting, please make an effort to get to Ed's. It seems like the kind of place that will need some local support to stay open and stay delicious and I, for one, think it's worth the effort.