A Guide to Nightlife in Jacksonville Fl

On hot, sweltering Florida nights, nothing beats the air conditioned deep dark places of Jacksonville. Here are some of the best.

The Grotto
2012 San Marco Blvd
http://www.grottowine.com

Whether you bring a date or just want to hang out with friends, this romantic wine bar in the historic San Marco district has a special after-hours ambiance that is easy on the eyes. The Thursday wine tastings are an experience not to be missed. Even though the only non-alcoholic drink on the menu is water, the designated driver can still enjoy a tapas selection that is among the best in Jacksonville. Among all the bruchetta and bacon-wrapped figs, remember to try the baked mac and cheese. Made with gouda, parmesan, Vermont aged cheddar, and bleu cheeses blended with garlic, bacon, and some secret house ingredients, it will spoil you for mac and cheese forever.

Island Girl Wine & Cigar Bar
7860 Gate Parkway #115, (904) 854-6060
http://www.islandgirljax.com

Don’t forget to remove your sunglasses before you enter the Island Girl Wine & Cigar Bar, because the lighting is at cave levels. Maybe that’s the secret behind one of the finest humidors in Jacksonville, and maybe in all of Florida. Unlike many cigar bars, the ventilation here is good enough that non-smokers won’t find themselves backing away. Friendly service throughout the two large seating areas adds to the relaxed charm of this place.

InCahoots
711 Edison Ave, (904) 353-6316
http://www.incahootsjax.com

Although InCahoots is technically a gay bar catering to the younger gay crowd, straights are also finding it has just the right amount of edginess, without the in-your-faceness of Metro. The place is set up so you can choose your level of intimacy, from the crowded craziness of the large upfront bar and dance floor, to the quieter rooms toward the back. The dress code is so casual that jeans and jean cut-offs are common. Friday nights have all-you-can-drink specials: $10 for draft, $20 for cocktails.

Casbah Cafe
3628 St. Johns Ave, (904) 981-9966
http://www.thecasbahcafe.com

This authentic Middle Eastern bar features great Mediterranean food, a surprising range of tap beers, and, of course, a wide selection of hookahs. This gives rise to constant debate among its fans whether you should go there primarily for the food or for the custom smokes. Don’t expect fast service, because this is a place to relax and take your time. The Casbah Cafe is also hooked up for free WiFi. That is, if you can take your eyes off the belly dancers.