New sports bar opens on New Center Drive

Gabriel Sutton | Contributing Writer

If I told you that you could party on the deck of the USS North Carolina while drinking your favorite microbrew, eating delicious food and cheering your favorite team to victory, you’d probably think that I was lying. But thanks to Jax 5th Avenue, a recently opened sports bar on New Center Drive, this experience is only a short walk from UNCW.

Jax combines the food of a New York deli with the atmosphere of an alehouse. With Boars Head deli meats, unique bread selections and flavorful spreads, the restaurant is introducing the gourmet sandwich to the Port City.

“Our niche is our portion size,” said restaurant owner Jack Thompson.

And he wasn’t lying. The Philly cheese steak towers over the basket and is covered by a mountain of ruffled potato chips. I ordered the NY Pastrami. It had so much meat, I felt like I was chewing on a steak. Every sandwich comes with your choice of potato chips, chips and salsa, coleslaw, potato salad or macaroni salad. I tried the macaroni salad, which had bacon to create a sweet, smoky flavor. The menu also features wraps, pizzas and quesadillas. Jax also has a quirky custom of giving every group of guests a free jar of pickles when they sit down.

The interior of the restaurant is an exhibit of Wilmington history. The tables are built from reclaimed wood from the Cotton Exchange. The hardwood flooring is partly made from the deck of the USS North Carolina. The bar was crafted from logs that were submerged below the muddy bed of the Cape Fear River for more than 100 years. Over time, they developed a beautiful texture from water seeping through the wood, making them the perfect pedestal for a 16-ounce Hoptical Illusion.

The atmosphere of Jax changes throughout the day. On Fridays and weekends, the place can change from a family-oriented lunch venue to a rowdy sports bar at night. With 51-inch high-definition TVs, urban wall graffiti and green neon lights that span the building, Jax is giving a new meaning to the term casual dining.