Kickbacks Gastropub

gas·tro·pub noun [ˈgastrəˌpəb] – A pub that specializes in serving high-quality food. Kickbacks Gastropub in Riverside definitely has the “pub” part of this definition down; they boast over 600 different bottled beers and 84 beers on tap. With an impressive #1 restaurant in Jacksonville rating on Urbanspoon (and top 20 on Yelp), I was expecting a strong showing from the food too. In that area, I was disappointed.

I suppose a caveat here is that I am not much of a beer drinker, and didn’t order any on this visit. However, I have visited a number of gastropubs that do serve excellent food, so I find it difficult to give Jax a pass on giving this place a top rating. Cool hangout? Yes. Worthy of votes on websites that rank your eateries for out-of-towners? Probably not.

I was waffling on what to order from the extensive menu–which contains everything from typical bar food to pizza to chicken cordon bleu–before I found an item that combined two things I was interested in ordering. The French Mushroom Spread seemed like a nice appetizer, but I was sure I wouldn’t eat it all on my own (and Mario doesn’t like mushrooms), but behold! the Chicken Bistro Sandwich (focaccia bread filled with roasted chicken breast, mozzarella, fresh spinach and fire roasted red peppers) comes slathered in some of that very spread. I picked onion petals as my side:

Chicken Bistro Sandwich

Chicken Bistro Sandwich



This was a pretty decent panini and quite large for $8. I ate half the next day for lunch. However, the chicken could have used more seasoning and was approaching the dry side.

Mario ordered a burger that unfortunately wasn’t even worth being pictured. Another huge portion size, but from the first bite he found it dreadful. He had complaints about the texture of the meat, the seasoning (apparently a mix of Worcestershire and chopped onions), and the cooking temperature. A few more bites and he was no longer interested in eating it.

On top of the mediocre to bad food, we had at least a 30 minute wait (probably closer to 45) between ordering and receiving our food. I have since heard that this is par for the course at Kickbacks, but it seemed bizarre for an early evening when the place was not at capacity.

So Jax, what gives? How did I miss the magic of Kickbacks? Were my expectations just too high?

no website

Kickbacks Gastropub on Urbanspoon

  • Starfunktron

    I think for Jacksonville, you’re expectations may have been extremely high. Kickbacks is very busy usually because IMO it’s the only gastropub that either A)I know about or B) Is within a 5 miles radius of downtown. I have been there a number of times, the food and the service are definitely hit or miss. I have had friends order things they didn’t like, I personally never have. I like to think I have a knack for sniffing out what menu items are going to appeal to me based on what’s on the menu and what the atmosphere seems like. Meaning what i would guess people frequently order. I would not go in and order something like the meatloaf or the pork tenderloin because to me it’s not a place where I wouldn’t enjoy those kinds of food, I will leave that to me and momma. I have never tried wither of the items you have had. The Monte Cristo is AMAZING and the only place I know of that even serves them anymore that are true to form. The Green Bean Fries, again, amazing, the Mac and Cheese is eggy and DELISH. I have seen someone order the Fish and Chips, it looked incredible. The salads are huge. The flat bread pizzas are great. I even enjoy their soups. As far as Jacksonville fare goes around Riverside I think Kickbacks is a great place for food. I for one am just not a huge fan of the environment.

  • firstbite

    So you’re saying I should stick with the more typical “bar food” and keep my expectations as such. I can dig it! The environment really wasn’t bad to me, I could see myself enjoying hanging out with friends there. If there is a next time I just won’t expect great food…

  • shtooper

    Who cares about the beer selection? Any good bar can be stocked with three dozen different beers and meet everyone’s expectations. The food sucks plain and simple; average at best. I don’t get what where all that hype came from. Thank you for writing a genuine review rather than rubber-stamping like all others

  • firstbite

    Glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!

  • Carmen

    Y’all are crazy!! Lol ,!but to each is own

  • LemonGrassMint

    I’ve been here a couple of times, and it was never anything special. Went with a group on Halloween, it wasn’t crowded at all – which is nice. But it took over 90 minutes After my friend got her check to get her food! It was boiled shrimp, not breaded or anything “fancy” – just boiled shrimp that came over 1hr 30 min after the freaking check. They refused to discount it. Another friend had a hard time ordering beer, because the waiter would hardly ever come by and when he did, quickly walk away without taking and orders.