Jacksonville, a city with over a million residents of myriad cultural backgrounds,  offers food to tempt the palate and satisfy the soul. Whether you're in the mood for down-home, southern-fried soul food, or gourmet treats for special occasions, you'll find it here. These are a few that may be of interest to you:

AMERICAN

  • b.b.'s 1019 Hendricks Ave., San Marco (904) 306-0100. Serving prosciutto-wrapped pork chops, crab cake sandwiches, polenta sticks with bleu cheese, sandwiches and decadent desserts. 50 wines by the glass. Warning - this restaurant tends to be a bit loud, especially at lunch.
  • Biscotti's 3556 St. Johns Ave., Avondale (904) 387-2060. Located in the heart of the charming neighborhood of old Avondale, Biscotti's serves beef tenderloin, roasted sea bass, grilled pizzas, fresh mozzarella bruschetta. Sumptuous array of desserts. 40 wines by the glass.
  • Cafe Carmon 1986 San Marco Blvd., San Marco (904) 399-4488. This trendy bistro is a San Marco landmark, hop but not pretentious. The menu is made up of casual American meat and potatoes fare, usually presented with a twist. The sidewalk covered patio makes for great people-watching in the European tradition. The dessert selection is famous for decadent chocolate creations. Open for lunch and dinner.
  • Gallery Bistro 9753 Deer Lake Ct., Tinseltown Shopping Area (904) 997-8320 and 900 Sawgrass Village Dr., Ponte Vedra Beach (904) 280-5858. Serving blackened tenderloin, China Town New York Strip, grilled meat loaf provolone and Peking crispy duck. Corporate dining room available. Many extraordinary works of local artists on display and for sale. This one is a favorite.

CONTINENTAL

  • Bistro Aix & Lounge 1440 San Marco Blvd., San Marco. (904) 398-1949. Recently expanded to seat about 200. New lounge area features crystal globe light fixtures and 26-foot onyx bar. Serving grilled seafood and steaks, wood-fired pizzas, homemade angel hair pasta and warm Belgian chocolate cake for dessert. Outdoor patio dining and martini bar. If still on the menu, you can't beat the French-style Steak and Frites!
  • Wine Cellar 1314 Prudential Dr., Southbank. (904) 398-8989. This just might be Jacksonville's arguably best restaurant. A lot has changed in the neighborhood since the Wine Cellar opened its doors in 1974. The dining landmark consistently ranks among various "top" and "best" lists. The menu has a flair for items like jumbo lump crab cakes, escargot sauteed in garlic, grilled asparagus, peppercorn and parsley-seared tuna. Not surprisingly, the wine list is tops and the decor matches its Euorpean roots. Most dinner entrees range from $18 to $35. One great place for a special night out.

MEDITERRANEAN

  • Zaitoon Mediterranean Grill 13475 Atlantic Blvd. (located in the Harbour Village Shopping Center behind Fresh Market), Beaches/Intercoastal West.  (904) 221-7066.  Named One of the "Top 25 Restaurants" for 2008 by Jacksonville Magazine, Voted Jacksonville's "Best Mediterranean Restaurant" for the WJXT Channel 4 Hot List, and Ranked a "Gold Star Restaurant" by Arbus Magazine for 2008 & 2009.  Zaitoon's extensive menu reflects the rich, regional diversity of the Mediterranean and features culinary works of art that are inspired by Spanish, Italian, French, and Middle Eastern cuisines. Zaitoon redefines the Mediterranean dining experience by combining traditional family recipes with contemporary culinary innovation. Zaitoon's lunch and dinner menus are complemented by an extensive wine list representing vineyards of Spain, Italy, France, Greece and the United States with unique New World and Old World selections intertwined.  Zaitoon is open for lunch and dinnner, Tuesday through Sunday (reservations suggested).  Patio seating available.  www.ZaitoonGrill.com