JACKSONVILE, Fla. – It’s that time of year when the weather is warming up, and if you’re like me (and Richard Nunn), that means you’re looking for a place to enjoy a cold one while you soak up some rays.
Good news: There’s plenty of rooftop restaurants and watering holes in Jacksonville where you can sit back with a locally brewed beer and take in the sights of the city.
Just don’t forget your sunglasses.
Intuition Ale Works
The first stop on the list is one of the first rooftop bars in Jacksonville: Intuition Ale Works. Some may remember when Intuition first started pouring brews in 2010, setting up shop in a small taproom in Riverside.
How the times have changed.
Now, Intuition is sitting downtown in the heart of the entertainment district on the corner of East Bay and A. Philip Randolph streets. Head upstairs and enjoy the view of the St. Johns River and the home of the Jaguars, TIAA Bank Field. You’ll also want to take a gander at the state-of-the-art brewing facility (which you can reserve for a party) and taproom downstairs, where more than 20 beers are on tap.
It also gets a thumbs up from News4Jax sports anchor Cole Pepper, who informed me he is in the Intuition mug club. Perhaps you’ll see him enjoying a brew should you venture inside.
Nick’s recommendation: Intuition I-10 IPA -- Yeah, I enjoy the really bitter stuff, and this one nails it. It’s not only my favorite Intuition beer, it’s my favorite beer. Period. If IPAs aren’t your thing, there’s a large variety, so sample one first. If you’re feeling peckish, Black Sheep is serving up some munchies in the taproom.
River & Post
This could be my favorite view of the downtown skyline. Just look at it.
Then you take the elevator all the way to top. The rooftop bar has outdoor couches and fire pits, and if there is rain in the area, there’s a retractable roof.
Beers on tap are a variety of local brews, and some are from bars across Florida. While you can count me in for a tall frothy, River and Post isn’t wrong when it says, “You’ll come for the view, but you’ll come back for the flavor.” The dishes (which you'll need to venture downstairs to enjoy) are really good and won’t break the bank.
Nick’s recommendation: Seared top sirloin au poivre -- Let’s just say, it’s a magical combination. Crispy onion rings, creamy spinach and confit potatoes spells COMFORT. I always go for the ribeye, but not here, and if you love mussels as much as me, you gotta get those as an appetizer... with some extra bread. Regardless, you’ll be happy.
Side note: The cocktails are all fantastic.
Overlooking the St. Johns River and located on Bay Street, the Cowford Chophouse is a hop, skip and a jump from Intuition Ale Works. It's locally owned by restaurateur Jacques Klempf.
The view is pretty sweet from there too. See for yourself:
And just in time for the warmer weather, the Chophouse on Wednesday made its entire menu available on the rooftop.
That means you can start with a Southern Sling cocktail, work your way up to a bone-in ribeye (rare for me, and I'll take a foie gras butter add-on) and finish with a Pistachio Baked Alaska -- all on the rooftop.
Side note: Visit Jacksonville called the restaurant a "a crown jewel among the best new restaurants in Jacksonville."
Black Sheep 5 Points
Just around the corner is Black Sheep -- another great spot to grab a cocktail and some sweet views of downtown, Riverside and the St. Johns.
The restaurant was named one of Visit Jacksonville's top five restaurants with views.
The cocktail menu is extensive, and the beers are local. Perfect. For dinner, you can expect American-style food with southern flare.
Nick's recommendation: Wild Georgia shrimp & grits -- It's my favorite spot for some shrimp and grits. Count me in for an appetizer of the Prince Edward Island mussels, and a side of creamed collards.
Side note: This is a great date spot. Enjoy your meal with a special someone on the rooftop.
Hoptinger Bier Garden
With more than a cajillion beers on tap, I'd say you're probably covered at Hoptinger regardless of what style beer you prefer. That means, if you're like me, you're probably having one, two and a third just to sample the variety (and then call an Uber).
Taking the walk upstairs to the Garten Rooftop reveals an open air bar as the centerpiece. There's also a number of outdoor games including billiards, foosball and shuffleboard as you overlook the 5 Points neighborhood.
Head back downstairs for dinner, and look in awe at the number of taps on the wall. Just shy of a hundy. True story.
Nick's recommendation: Chorizo mac & cheese bratwurst -- No, it's not just a brat, and, yes, it really is that good. If not that, get the bacon grinder burger (or if you're feeling lucky, play burger roulette).
Side note: Bring your friends late night, or if it's earlier in the evening, it's a fun place to take Mom and Dad too.