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Hidden Gems: Checker BBQ & Seafood

Derrick Richardson's "Hidden Gems" is a web-only series checking out some of the great places in Jacksonville you may not know exist.

Looking for a taste of North Florida cooking? Checker BBQ & Seafood is the place to be. 

Owner Art Jennette has been at the location for seven years. Jennette was raised in the restaurant business; his parents owned  Palms Fish Camp for 40 years until the city purchased. It was turned back over to Jennette after it being such a hit with tourists. 

The restaurant offers expect a family-oriented environment, and according to Jennette, by the end of the meal everyone knows each other and are all talking. Two signature menu items are the crab cakes with real crab meat and the authentic North Florida blackened cajun shrimp.

The cuisine is described as "southern cracker style" cooking.

"Cracker is a term from the Irish to describe southerners meaning entertainer," said Jennette.

"That's why its called cracker style cooking, because you get a show with your meal".

It is quite the show as Jennette walks around and mingles with the guests. It gets packed quickly, so make sure you make reservations for the Friday and Saturday dinner buffet and arrive between 6 and 7 p.m.

There is plenty to eat, and what you don't eat you can take home, because saying no to the food is not an option. There is one rule you must know that they stress at Checker BBQ & Seafood, bring your appetite.