WJCTNews.org's "Hidden Gems" is a new web-only series checking out some of the great places in Jacksonville you may not know exist.
It's tucked away in a nondescript strip mall on University Boulevard. There's not even any signage as you drive by. But the locals know it's here, and they keep coming back.
Hala Cafe And Bakery has a devoted following in Jacksonville, with great service, a fantastic Mideastern lunch buffet, and an adjacent grocery and bakery with an outstanding array of ethnic food products.
You can order off the menu, but for my money the best deal in town is the lunch buffet - with amazingly good homemade hummus, falafel, meats, rice and veggies. Everything's authentic, exotic, and tasty. By the way it's all very affordable, too. Jacksonville has one of the largest Arab-American communities in the country, and stopping by Hala Cafe is one way to enjoy this local flavor with truly authentic and delicious Mideast cuisine. It's definitely a hidden gem!