No plans this weekend? Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. Time to get out and explore the world. A great place to start is the Five Points district in the historic neighborhood of Riverside Jacksonville.
Five Points is a nice throwback to the days when each neighborhood had its own commercial, dining and entertainment district; Remember when the main street was where neighbors got together; shopped together and dined at the local restaurant on Sundays after church?
The historic traffic light in Five Points marks the intersection of Lomax, Post and Margaret Street.
Brief History of Riverside Jacksonville
Due to a fire in 1901 that devastated downtown Jacksonville, people began migrating south of the downtown area. There was a need for better residential housing design after the fire occurred.
Before the fire, most buildings (including houses) were wood-framed. Architects flocked to Jacksonville to take advantage of the need for the city of Jacksonville to re-build from the ashes. Modern design and better housing construction were introduced.
One of the architectural styles you will recognize in the neighborhood of Riverside is Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie style. The neighborhood of Riverside has the largest collection of prairie style homes outside of the Midwest.
With the devastation of businesses downtown, Five Points was developed as a commercial area for the residents of Riverside and featured local commerce and entertainment.
Although the Riverside neighborhood and Five Points District has changed and evolved over the years to a more laid-back bohemian existence; Five Points is still the neighborhood hot spot. Visitors to the area welcomed. Don’t be surprised if you’re greeted with a smile and hello; it is the “south” after all with all the charm that word implies.
To quote my daughter, Five Points is “cute”. It has a lot to offer in way of entertainment, shopping, and good food.
Five Points’ Restaurants in Riverside Jacksonville
Derby on Park (1068 Park St)
It’s Happy Hour at Derby on Park. After a long week of work, “Happy” is needed. I choose to sit outside even though it’s a little warm. My favorite pass time is people watching while wine-sipping and I can’t do that well on the inside without feeling like a creep.
My waiter rushed over like he knew what my week was like. I ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio (Lumina, Italy 2015), and studied the menu. I was torn. Should I get the Fried Pickles and Creminis; a southern delicacy or the Spinach and Artichoke Queso Dip which is my usual go-to appetizer?
After conferring with my very knowledgeable and attentive waiter (with a voice that reminded me of Brad Pitt), I go with the Fried Pickles. An amazing choice and it did not disappoint.
Instead of the pickles being sliced in a circle like you would find in a jar at your local grocery store; these pickles were bite-sized chunks, perfectly battered and cooked to perfection.
While writing this part of the post, I decided to Google the word “creminis“. Ahhhhh….it was pickles and mushrooms battered together, hence fried pickles and creminis. No wonder I fell in love with that appetizer. The chef paired two of my very favorite side garnishes. Pickles are my undoing. Mushrooms make me swoon.
After ripping through most of the pickle and creminis, I forced myself to stop munching, sat the appetizer to the side; sipped on Pinot and patiently waited for my entree.
For the entree, I went with the Intuition Fish and Chips, teamed with the Sauvignon Blanc from Oyster Bay, New Zealand. My waiter suggested substituting Onion Rings for the Chips. I, again take his advice and go with the rings.
He reports that the redfish was from Mayport, a seaside town a few miles north of Jacksonville. The fish that I was about to bite in to was pulled out of the Atlantic this morning. I found this magical. I’m from the Midwest where fresh fish is almost impossible to find and very expensive. Anyone that argues that there isn’t a difference in taste has never experienced fresh versus frozen-fresh.
With the wind at my back, I close my eyes and savor every bite of fish dipped in Chipotle tartar sauce. The choice of wine paired well with my “crispy on the outside; light and flaky on the inside” redfish from Mayport.
And again, I’m not disappointed.
My experience at Derby on Park was, as the young folks like to say “on point“; both culinary and service. In other words, AMAZING. Don’t miss out on this spot.
Motion Sweets – Gourmet Desserts (1020 Park St)
Established in 2011, Motion Sweets specializes in delicious American and French sweets. You will want to get to this sweet shop early (opens at 9:00 AM) because the desserts go quickly. The Motion Sweets closes once everything is gone.
By the time I had arrived things were going fast. Standing in line I was praying that no one bought out the Vanilla Bean Cupcake and the last Brownie. I got lucky and was able to purchase both of those and the red velvet macaroon. Yum. The sweets were delicious. A nice touch is the free coffee bar, offering great coffee to the patrons of this sweet shop.
For the Organic Lover in you
For an organic quick bite or if you’re in need to fill up your picnic basket with goodies before heading to the park, check out Grassroots Natural Market (2007 Park St). Don’t leave without trying one of their deliciously healthy smoothies. It will change your whole life.
Tip: Be sure to obey the sign that says “Line Starts Here”.
While attempting to purchase a smoothie, I inadvertently cut in front of everybody. Interestingly, although I could tell I had irritated the soul of everyone standing underneath the sign including the person making my Tropical smoothie, no one said a word. Which I found both fascinating and amazing.
Anyway, I quickly paid for my smoothie (which was delicious) and embarrassingly muttered my apologies as I passed by them all.
For the craft beer lover in you
And if you love craft beer; be sure to check out Hoptinger Bier Garden (1037 Park St). All newbies to the art of craft beer can get educated at Alewife Craft Bottle Shop and Tasting Room (1035 Park Street).
For the Unique Shopper in you
I could spend hours roaming the Fans and Stoves Antique Mall (800 Lomax St). If you’re into antiques, don’t miss going in for a look. It’s amazing the number of vintage items from different decades I found in this antique store. Interior designers who are looking for period pieces will find some great stuff here. And if you’re nostalgic, as I am, some of these antiques will take you back to your childhood.
The aromatherapy smells coming from “Generation Us beckoned me to explore the interior of this shop. But it was the aesthetic atmosphere that drew me in, visually. I was fascinated by the collection of pop art items; reminding me of pieces in a contemporary art museum.
Festival Season in Riverside
The neighborhood of Riverside holds a number of celebrations in the area now that it’s festival season in Jacksonville. Riverside Park is the site of many of these festivals.
The park is conveniently located near Five Points and is the perfect resting spot after an afternoon of shopping. Or better yet, spread out a blanket and have a picnic feast of your favorite wine and cheeses.
This particular Saturday I was lucky to come across the VegFest at Riverside Park. The 11th annual VegFest celebrated all things eco-friendly, organic, healthy and humane.
Riverside Arts Market
Do what the local folks do every Saturday in Riverside, rain or shine, and head over to the Riverside Arts Market. The market is a mix of local businesses, artists, fresh home-grown food from farmers and local bakers; all selling or promoting their various talents and wares. Located under the Fuller Warren Bridge at 715 Riverside Ave, it runs from 10AM-3PM. Produced by Riverside Avondale Preservation, it is one of the best Farmer’s Market in the state of Florida.
Relax at the amphitheater located adjacent to the Market. The riverfront amphitheater seats about 350 people and will wow you with views of the St John River and downtown Jacksonville as you listen to hours of live music.
My recommendation: Get to the amphitheater at 9 AM for the morning yoga class, before Riverside Arts Market begins at 10 AM. The perfect way to get you in the mood for shopping and eating.
Oh, I almost forgot. Bring cash. Some vendors don’t accept credit/debit.