For more than 30 years now, The Loop Pizza Grill has been a regional mainstay for burgers, fries and milkshakes. The original location debuted in 1981, and now the franchise touts nine Northeast Florida locations. The St. Johns Town Center restaurant (near Total Wine & More), however, exhibits a newer concept. While still fast-casual, it's more modern, trendy and art-focused.
It maintains the same process as its predecessors: You order and pay, take a buzzer, fill your drink cup and grab a table or booth. On this trip, we were ravenous, so we ordered some bleu cheese chips ($3.99) to hold off the screamin' hungries. The chips were thick-cut and topped with ample melted cheesiness. The pile disappeared quickly.
We also ordered a Great American Cheeseburger with fries ($7.89). Burgers here have a thin, pink center, which makes for a juicy hunk of meat. The sesame-seed bun was a bit on the dry side, but the moisture from the lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo helped make up for what it lacked. The fries left something to be desired.
No Meat March! The Loop's got a veggie melt on ciabatta bread ($8.49) and a portabella mushroom melt ($8.99) complete with creamy garlic mayo, melted jack cheese and a smattering of grilled onions. Who needs a pink center?
Our eight-inch buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil pizza (8.49) was surprisingly good. It was easy to share, but I can picture getting it for a satisfying solo lunch option. Whether you build your own or choose from the dozen offerings (some pesto-based, others with a traditional red sauce), a 12-inch size is also available.
There's beer (some local – hooray!) and wine, and a whole line of Coca-Cola products.
Yes, there are hand-dipped shakes and malts, too, but who can resist an old-fashioned root beer float – dubbed the Brown Cow ($4.25)?
Now, about that new look: Founder Terry Schneider partnered with daughter Hillary Tuttle, who owns Stellers Gallery Ponte Vedra, to create a place reflecting local art and design along with the menu. Creative types Rebecca Davisson, Matthew Stidham, Steve Williams and Kyle Cannon all had a hand in presenting "a funky burger brasserie" that's now a great place to feed the stomach and the soul.