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About 4:30 p.m. I received a text message from a friend. “Where haven’t we eaten yet that would be a good a place to try?” Considering I’ve dined at many Jacksonville restaurants, that was a hard question to answer. After a text or two, we decided to venture out to Clark’s Fish Camp. I’d heard of it but hadn’t had the opportunity to experience it.

We headed out a little after 6 with a little help from car navigation system. The restaurant is located at 12903 Hood Landing Road in a residential neighborhood. As we headed down a dead end road, passing home after home, the navigation system alerted us that our destination was on the left just ahead. We saw the cars before we saw the restaurant itself. This place was packed! The unpaved parking lot was completely full and patrons had begun to park on the shoulders of the road. We grabbed our spot on the shoulder, parked, and headed in for this dining experience.

Clark’s Fish Camp is very rustic, with flaming torches outside and statuesque gators lurking in the waters. Our wait time was 40 minutes. I grabbed a Cosmo and a seat at the high top table at the bar and waited while watching the game on the flat screen. The couple at the table with us was making their first visit as well; being drawn in by all the great reviews.

Lions and tigers and bears – oh my!

The time passed quickly and before you know it we were seated. Entering the dining area itself was quite an experience. Clark’s Fish Camp houses the largest collection of privately owned taxidermy in the country. I felt as though I was back in Africa or possibly on an Alaska adventure as I passed the massive lion catching its prey and the large bear that looked a bit angry. As we were seated, above us were monkeys, impala, orangutans, snakes, badgers and a host of other creatures.

Great food and festive atmosphere

The menu is quite exhaustive. From frog legs to gumbo; fresh fish cooked in a variety of ways, pastas and the best cuts of steak. Food portions are large and prices are very reasonable. The atmosphere is festive and upbeat; a great place to celebrate special occasions. You’ll want to take a picture or two in front of the animals while you wait for your meal to be served!

Clark’s Fish Camp is a rustic, one-of-a-kind dining experience that you don’t want to miss! If dining on the weekend, be prepared for a wait. Reservations are accepted and recommended. If the weather is nice, dine outdoors. If you’re visiting the Jacksonville, FL area, don’t miss this one.

 

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