What to do in Jacksonville — Instagram Style*

Jorge and I are always on the road on weekends. We are either out of the state or back in Tampa where most of our friends/family still live. We have lived in Jax for a year now, but we really haven’t done too much exploring. So when New Years came around and we were going to be Jacksonville for the entire 3 days…it was time to do some serious exploring.

Pepe’s Hacienda!

It was a Friday night and I was craving Mexican food. Jacksonville has VERY little options when it comes to authentic Mexican food. So I turned to the internet and found Pepe’s Hacienda. I read the reviews and decided it sounded like it might be what we were looking for.

When we pulled up to a “hole in the wall” restaurant, I immediately got excited. In Texas, all the good Mexican restaurants are in strip malls. The restaurant being in a strip mall was sign #1 that we were in a good place. But when we walked in and saw all the piñatas hanging from the ceiling (sign #2), I got downright giddy.

Once we sat down, I realized I was one of the only gringo’s in the place (sign #3). Then our waitress showed up and she barely spoke any English (sign #4). And lastly I saw that they had my favorite drink in the entire world…Real Mexican Coke (sign #5). You know, the kind in the glass bottle with no HFCS and all real pure sugar?! It was like the angels were singing and telling me to order every single item off the menu.

So we did! And it was glorious! To be completely honest, it was not the best Mexican food I have ever had. But to be fair, my standards are extremely high and I consider myself to be quite the snob about Mexican food. While it may not have been the best ever, it was the most authentic Mexican food I have found since moving to Florida. And that is truly saying something!

Thankfully Pepe’s was a complete success and we didn’t have to turn to BuyEmergencyFoods.com with disaster food. I know we will be back!

P.S. If you ever get to go to Pepe’s Hacienda, make sure and check out the grocery store attached! I got so many of my favorite Mexican candies, spices, and vegetables that I can’t find at the regular grocery stores here.

Boutique Bowling at Cassats

We spent New Years Eve with some friends of ours who have also recently moved to Jacksonville. They are both originally from Miami and are also trying to acclimate themselves to the different “lifestyle” here in good ole’ Jax.

So we decided what better way to ring in the new year, than by going “Boutique Bowling”. You may be asking yourself “What the eff is that?!” …well so were we. But we had nothing better to do, and our jersey shore clubbing days are long over, so off we went to Cassat’s Bowling Alley.

Turns out, Boutique Bowling means you get to be VIP! Yes people, we were the VIP bowlers. For $70 total (for all 4!), we had unlimited bowling and were in a special lounge bowling room with fun couches and coffee tables made out of pins.

They even gave us a bag of NYE party hats and sound makers to bring in the New Year…which Adam and Jorge were more than happy to model for us. :-D

We were even given lovely necklaces and beads that we didn’t have to lift our tops for.

All in all Boutique Bowling was everything we could have hoped for and more. If you and your friends are a bunch of idiots like us, you will love it. Plus, you can’t beat the $70 unlimited bowling price (for up to 6 people)!

Sweet By Holly

Our last exploration in Jax was to visit Sweet By Holly. Holly was the winner of Cupcake Wars, twice! Visiting her cupcake (and frozen yogurt) shop has been on the top of my list for the past year.

When we got there, I was so excited to see all the bright colors and fun graphics on the walls. Cupcake shops are supposed to be fun! And thankfully Sweet By Holly totally didn’t disappoint.

Once inside we found out that it was Mini Monday! On Mini Monday the mini two-bite cupcakes are $1 each…which makes it perfect to buy 10 mini cupcakes with the $10 bill I had in my pocket. :-D

We tried: Boston Cream, Chocolate Puddin’, Cinnamon Swirl, Cookies n’ Cream, Creamsicle, Dulce De Leche, Heath Bar, S’mores, Tiramisu and Toasted Coconut.

They were all divine, but my favorite was the Cinnamon Swirl. It was pure deliciousness.

If you ever are in Jacksonville or Orlando, I highly recommend checking out Sweets By Holly! If for nothing else, but to smell the deliciousness of over 30 different flavors of mini cupcakes. :-D

*this post contains sponsored links*

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12 Responses to “What to do in Jacksonville — Instagram Style”

  1. 1

    Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups — January 9, 2012 @ 8:23 am

    I always go to the Sweet here in Orlando (probably a little too often). It’s so delicious, and they’re catering our wedding cupcakes. I’m so excited!

  2. 2

    Joan Nova — January 9, 2012 @ 9:17 am

    What fun photos!

  3. 3

    Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables — January 9, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

    looks like you had a great time! Your post has convinced me that I need to stop there someday :)

  4. 4

    Gerry @Foodness Gracious — January 9, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

    What an awesome trip, I can hear you about getting really good Mexican. I live in California and theres no shortage of tasty places but I’ve whittled it down to just a few, the rest pale in comparison. I like to taste all of the spices and flavors in every bite of pastor taco or enchilada. Now im craving it for my dinner agghh
    Take care..

  5. 5

    Lauren — January 9, 2012 @ 6:17 pm

    How fun! All those cupcakes look divine!

  6. 6

    Samantha — January 9, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

    Sweet by Holly! YES! I went to the one in Orlando a year or so ago.

  7. 7

    Joanne — January 9, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

    Between the Mexican food and all those cupcakes…I’m dying. I’m seriously eating dinner RIGHT NOW and my stomach is growling. Oy.

  8. 8

    Chiara @ The Wandering Cook — January 17, 2012 @ 5:43 am

    I’m addicted to Instagram… love your pics!

  9. 9

    Ashley — January 21, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

    I love this … where is that Mexican place?!

    • Jessica replied: — January 22nd, 2012 @ 9:46 pm

      Hey Ashley!

      If you click on the link for Pepe’s, it will take you to Urban Spoon for the address. :-)

  10. 10

    The Novice Chef » Food Blog Forum Orlando — March 20, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

    […] is me at 8 am with a real Mexican Coke. It’s an addiction, don’t […]

  11. 11

    Becky — June 4, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

    Ha Ha, I live right by pepes. It is really good. Glad you found it. I am a born and raised jacksonvillian. Let me know if you are interested in a particular cuisine and maybe I can recommend something.

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