Here at Downtown Vision, Inc. our mission is to build and maintain a healthy & vibrant Downtown and promote Downtown as the place to be. As an intern at this organization, I was tasked with creating a post about the various bars Downtown, also known as The Core. This is my story.
It’s Friday night. I find myself off work and needing to relax after a hectic week. Deciding that a few drinks would help my cause, I set off into the night. Normally my route might take me to the Southside or perhaps if my patience is high, the beaches, but tonight I’m headed off to a different direction.
Word on the street is Downtown has some pretty awesome nightspots. Crossing the Mathews Bridge, I glance off into the distance and notice how Downtown illuminates the night sky. I pull over and with the aid of my GPS, punch in “Bars” and am surprised by how many dots populate the screen. Eager to start the night, I poke my finger at the closest dot and up pops Dos Gatos.
Cruising down Forsyth Street I spy a red brick façade. “Destination on right” speaks Jenny, my loyal guide. A whole 30 seconds passed until I found a parking spot; I always thought parking was an issue Downtown. Stepping out of my car I am immediately greeted by the humid night. I arrive to Dos Gatos and file myself to the back of the line. Not too long but not too short either. The kind of line where you know it must be good. My turn comes around to enter and a quick show of my ID gets me in.
My eyes are quickly drawn to the bar. It gives off a rustic feel with brick work lining up the wall. The center attraction is a painted woman, one that has the look of the pin-up girls who graced many World War II planes. Ever inquisitive, I continue inside. If only others were with me, the half circle leather booths would be inviting. I order one of their signature drinks, El Verano, which is a heavenly mixture of cucumber, agave nectar and tequila. I go over to some tables where a few people are happily chatting away. A half hour passes as do some exquisite conversations. Knowing that more dots await, I leave behind Dos Gatos.
I whip out my mobile Jenny and find my way to Dive Bar. I learn that this bar has recently changed its image and become a live music venue. “New Attitude, New Look, New Music, New Scene” reads a poster. Passing through the line and bouncer, I enter. My first impression is “wow.” The ambiance of darkness with candles lighting various areas intrigues me. I walk by a circular lounge seating area, which is very cool. I approach the bar and see a BIG chalkboard with custom creation drinks. My eyes go directly to a drink called The Pirate. I don’t even read what it is, I just know that any drink called The Pirate must be good. Let’s just say I was not disappointed. A local band does their thing, and the mood is very relaxing. Out of nowhere I spot some friends coming in. We greet each other and see this as an opportunity to seize that VIP lounge which is black lit and lined with band posters. As if around a campfire we sit and chat, music in the air and drinks in hand, a perfect night.
Now that I have a posse, it’s off to the next one. Will it be Mark’s Downtown Club/Lounge, LIT Downtown, Mavericks Rock N’ Honky Tonk, Burro Bar, De Real Ting Café, ClubTSIDiscotheque, Ivy Ultra Bar, Zodiac Bar & Grill, Café 331? At the moment, I’m not sure. But I do know one thing, the night is young. These bars fill the arteries of Downtown. The Core is where nightlife entrepreneurs are creating a new vibe in the epicenter of Jacksonville. From Bay, Forsyth and Adams Streets to the Jacksonville Landing, the nightlife and entertainment scene is happening in The Core. A collaboration between Downtown Vision, Inc. and local business owners are making the dream of having a vibrant nightlife in Downtown Jacksonville a reality.