30 Great Eats on 30A

By: Rachelle Lucas

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Connecting 15 beach communities in South Walton County is a scenic stretch of highway called 30A. For the locals, it’s more than just a road -- it’s a way of life. 

Running parallel to the Gulf of Mexico, 30A passes quaint beach side cottages, rare coastal dune lakes and ocean water that glistens like an emerald gem. 

There’s plenty to do, and so many great choices for food that you’ll find yourself wanting to vacation here again and again just to have the chance to experience it all. 

Whether your appetite calls for comforting southern foods, casual roadside stands, or an elegant setting to celebrate an occasion, I’ve got all the bases covered in this guide to my favorite eats along 30A.


Cafe Tango
Situated in a small cottage just off of 30A, dining here is like going to a friend’s house. Cozy and elegant, it’s a great place for a romantic date night or anniversary dinner.

Location: 14 Vicky Street, Santa Rosa Beach

Contact:  850-267-0054

Web:  http://cafetango30a.com/

Taste: Basque Fish topped with Gulf shrimp in a white fabada bean sauce with chorizo sausages.


Blue Mountain Beach Creamery
Located on the corner of Hwy 83 and 30A in Blue Mountain Beach, this local ice cream shop makes its frozen yogurt onsite daily with real yogurt, no powders. They also offer delicious green tea smoothies and sweet velvety ice cream.

Location:  2129 S. Scenic Hwy 83, Blue Mountain Beach

Contact:  (850) 278-6849

Web: Blue Mountain Beach Creamery

Taste:  Lemon Chiffon or Blueberry Pomegranate Frozen Yogurt


Buddha Lounge
An Asian-fusion restaurant with a groovy vibe, this local secret is known for having the best sushi rolls in South Walton as well as being the best place in town to listen to up-and-coming musicians.  With dinner and entertainment, it’s a great date night location!

Location:  2320 W County Hwy 30A, Blue Mountain Beach (Behind Sally’s By the Sea)

Contact:  (850) 267-0911

Web: https://www.facebook.com/buddhalounge30A

Taste:  Fresh Ginger Root Infused Sake


Hibiscus Coffee House
Just one block off of 30A, you’ll find this is the place to be for Sunday brunch, which includes mimosas and music while you sit in Adirondack chairs in their Backyard of Love. The antique Florida kitsch decor and vegan-friendly menu will have you feeling like you’ve stumbled into a yummy earth-day party.

Location:  85 Defuniak St, Grayton Beach

Contact:  (850) 231-2733

Web: http://hibiscusflorida.com/ and BE Fulfilled.

Taste:  Waffle Wonderful: a toasted whole wheat waffle topped with chunky peanut butter, fresh fruit, nuts, coconut, and honey.

 

Fish Out Of Water
Located at Watercolor Resort, this is one of my favorite places for beachside dining with a view. They’re best known for their fresh local seafood and locally sourced produce, but my favorite meal there is their southern breakfast.

Location:  Goldenrod Circle on 30A, Watercolor  

Contact:  (850) 534-5050

Web:  http://www.watercolorresort.com/

Taste:  Bourbon Vanilla French Toast and Low Country Gulf Shrimp & Grits


Dawson’s Yogurt & Fudgeworks
Just across the street from the beach, this is the best place to satisfy your sweet tooth and grab a hunk of homemade fudge or cool off with a frozen yogurt. It’s a popular place, so there might be a line. But it’s definitely worth the wait.

Location:  121 Center Ave, Seaside

Contact:  (850) 231-4770

Web:  http://www.sweetwilliamsltd.com/dawsons.asp

Taste:  Kalhua Frozen Yogurt

 

Pickles Beachside Grill
This retro 1950‘s style diner is a beachside burger bar famous for fried pickles. Mosey on in wearing your swimsuit and flip flops to refuel after a day of play in the sun. Their salty seasoned french fries are the best! Perfect for a snack fix at the beach.

Location:  2236 Scenic Hwy 30A, Seaside

Contact:  (850) 231.5686

Web:  http://www.sweetwilliamsltd.com/pickles.asp

Taste:  Paradise Burger and Fried Pickles

 

Stinky’s Fish Camp
Thankfully, this is one restaurant that doesn’t live up to its name.  If you’re in the mood for oysters, you’ll be pleased to discover they offer them 10 different ways. They’re also known for serving crawfish including crawfish hot tamales, crawfish hushpuppies, crawfish pie, and creamy crawfish etouffe with fried green tomatoes. The rustic cabin-like atmosphere feels pretty cozy and the floor to ceiling windows provide excellent views of one of Dune Allen’s rare coastal dune lakes.

Location:  5960 W County Highway 30A, Dune Allen

Contact:  (850) 267-3053

Web: http://www.stinkysfishcamp.com/

Taste:  Fried Brie with Memaw’s Pepper Jelly

 

The Vue On 30A
This place does live up to its name!  With floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows, all overlooking the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll be stunned by the view.  And if that isn’t reason enough to come for a visit, then the food will definitely convince you. Chef Gio’s culinary skills helped him make it to the top 6 on Season 5, Hell’s Kitchen. Yup, he’s a celebrity chef.

Location:  4801 W County Highway 30A, Dune Allen

Contact:  (850) 267-1240

Web:  http://www.vueon30a.com/

Taste:  French Toast Foie Gras and Pistachio Crusted Grouper

 

Bud & Alleys
Watching the sunset at Bud & Alleys rooftop bar has become a tradition for the oldest restaurant in Seaside. Since 1986, locals gather around to guess the exact time it will set. The bartender rings a bell when the golden orb finally sinks into the sea, and if you guessed the time correctly, you get a drink on the house.

Location:  2236 E County Highway 30A, Seaside

Contact:  (850) 231-5900

Web:  http://www.budandalleys.com/

Taste:  Their famous crab cakes and can’t-eat-just-one sweet potato fries with dijon mayo.

 

The Pizza Bar
Locals told me that when this establishment opened, they brought in Pizza experts to create the perfect dough and were offering taste tests until they got it just right.  Well, all those free pizzas paid off because it’s probably one of the tastiest slices in Florida.

Location:  2236 E County Highway 30A, Seaside (Right next to The Taco Bar)

Contact:  (850) 231-3113

Web:  http://budandalleys.com/menu_pizza_bar.php

Taste: The San Marzano Pizza with Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano & Local Arugula.


The Taco Bar
After a hot day in the sun, if you’re in the mood to kick the sand off your toes and relax with a cold beer or icy margarita, this is the place. Sink your teeth into their authentic Mexican-style tacos, or, if you’re really hungry, try one of their gigantic burritos. Swimsuits and flip-flops welcome, the Taco Bar is perfect for a quick and casual meal.

Location:  2236 E County Highway 30A, Seaside (Just downstairs from Bud & Alleys)

Contact:  (850) 231-4781

Web:   http://www.budandalleys.com/taco_bar.php

Taste:  The Chorizo Taco with pork sausage, cilantro, salsa verde, and onions.

 

The Shrimp Shack
You’ll be charmed by this tiny wood framed cottage with its chalkboard a-frame sign advertising a taste of Americana including fresh squeezed lemonade, corn on the cob, and Apalachicola oysters.  But don’t be deceived by its size, just a few steps behind this shack is their beachside dining pavilion with some of the best views of the Gulf.

Location:  2236 Scenic Hwy 30A, Seaside

Contact:  (850) 231-3799

Web:  http://www.sweetwilliamsltd.com/shrimp_shack.asp

Taste:  The tender peel and eat deep water Royal Red Shrimp

 

Amavida Cafe
With two locations in South Walton County, Amavida is dedicated to promoting love, life, and great coffee. Their name even expresses that in its translation with “ama” meaning love, and “vida” meaning life.  Here at this earthy coffee shop you’ll find an array of espresso drinks, loose leaf teas, wine, cheese, tapas, and an Authentic Latin Food menu with including arepas, empanadas, and tamales. In the mood for a traditional coffee house snack such as a crumbly pastry or chicken salad sandwich? They’ve got those, too.  If you’re a coffee aficionado, their Rosemary Beach location offers free coffee classes.

Location:  2236 E. Co Hwy 30A, Seaside and

04 North Barrett Square, Rosemary Beach

Contact:  (850) 231-1077

Web: http://amavida.com/

Taste:  I know it’s a coffee house, but you must try their Turmeric Ginger loose leaf tea. 


George’s
Amid the white stucco Mediterranean style homes in Alys Beach, you’ll find a quaint cottage with a friendly frog-faced logo welcoming you inside. This is George’s, where the menu is divided up into two categories: Behave, or Misbehave. I’d recommend behaving with the entree so that you can misbehave with one of their decadent desserts such as George’s brown sugar cheesecake with fresh cream caramel.

Location:  Corner of 30A and Castle Harbor Dr., Alys Beach

Contact: (850) 641-0017

Web:  http://www.georgesatalysbeach.com/ and misbehaving.

Taste:  Try the Jalapeno Pimento Cheese Fritters, Senora Anna’s Fish Tacos, and the Key Lime Basil Pesto Blue Crab Claws.

 

Charlie’s Donut Truck
Want a quick and delicious breakfast by the beach? This truck’s got it! Handmade, fresh baked German-style donuts are prepared daily and brought to this casual Alys Beach location. Parked just outside the amphitheater, you’ll see lines forming for these rich donuts as early at 6:30am. They carry traditional flavors as well as a few creative ones like red velvet cake, and maple glazed with bacon sprinkles.

Location:  North side of Hwy 30A, Alys Beach

Web:  http://www.alysbeach.com/

Taste:  Classic Cinnamon Twist. These sell out fast!

 

Cafe 30A
For a fine-dining experience in an casual atmosphere, Cafe 30A has an island-inspired menu full of surf and turf options and a wide selection of wines available by the glass.  They also have one of the most creative martini menus in South Walton. Winner of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2012 and Open Table’s Diners’ Choice Winner for 2012, your palate is sure to be pleased.  Whatever you order, be sure to save room for desert and try their Banana Beignets.

Location: 3899 East Scenic Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach

Contact:  (850) 231-2166

Web:  http://www.cafethirtya.com/

Taste:  Grilled Hawaiian Butterfish in Vanilla Rum Butter Sauce.

 

Borago
Locals always know best, and when I asked a Seaside resident of 20+ years where he likes to go out to eat, Borago was at the top of his list because, as he put it, the chef-owner consistently prepares meals that will “knock your socks off.”  And he was right! I recommend the three-meat Bolognese with cheese tortelloni and shaved parmesan cheese. 

Location:  80 E County Highway 30A, Grayton Beach

Contact:  (850) 231-9167

Web:  http://www.boragorestaurant.com/

Taste:  For a southern-twist on Italian, try the grilled salmon with white cheddar grit cakes and peach barbecue sauce.

 

Modica Market
This family owned gourmet grocery store will have you feeling like you stepped into yesteryear with quaintly stocked shelves and rolling wood library ladders. In the center of the store is a coffee and wine bar where you can order something to sip while you shop. The deli sandwiches and salads are so good that they’ve become a lunchtime favorite. 

Location:  109 Center Ave, Seaside

Contact:  (850) 231-1214

Web:  http://www.modicamarket.com/

Taste:  A slice of cake. The flavors change daily; it could be strawberry cream, carrot, chocolate, or caramel. The one thing I will guarantee you, though, is that it’s stacked high with layers and so moist and sweet your eyes will roll.

 

Barefoot BBQ
No trip to the south is complete without some good BBQ, and this Seaside Airstream’s got it. The meats are smoked on location and you’ll find a fun variety of unique house-made barbecue sauces including Hang Ten (tomato base with brown sugar and bourbon), Wipeout (vinegar base, light and tart), Pipeline (mustard base, sweet and spicy), and Hot Lava (spicy with a kick of cayenne and pepper sauce). Dine outside at one of their picnic tables or oder a picnic package to go.

Location:  2235 E County Highway 30A

Contact:  (850) 534-0313

Web:  https://www.facebook.com/barefootbbq

Taste:  Their brisket with a side of mac and cheese was my favorite!

 

723 Whiskey Bravo
From fun finger foods to elegant entrees, this is a great place to just hang out with friends or bring the whole family for dinner. The rooftop area has a cozy vibe with great ocean views and the menu has some tantalizing options, including their own twist on Gulf Shrimp and Grits with blue corn cheese grits and andouille sausage.

Location:  3031 Scenic Highway 30A · Seagrove Beach

Contact:  (850) 213-0015

Web:  http://www.723whiskeybravo.com/

Taste:  BBQ Glazed Pork Belly with grilled peach chutney.

 

Seagrove Market Village Cafe
If you’re in the mood for a golden fried fish basket, this is the place. Voted #1 for fried seafood on 30A and serving “deep fried love” since 1949, there menu hasn’t changed much in 60 years.  One national magazine named their fried grouper sandwich one of the “100 Things You Must Eat Before You Die.”

Location:  Corner of Hwy 395 & 30A, Seagrove Beach

Contact:  850-231-5736

Web:  http://seagrovevillagemarket.com/

Taste:  Fried Grouper Po-Boy

 

Bruno’s Pizza
This classic old-school pizzeria has been around for 20 years and still makes their own dough and sauce every day.  Their open kitchen is a great form of family entertainment where you can watch them hand-toss pizzas into the air.  Their menu includes traditional pizzas, calzones, garlic knots, and oven baked subs.

Location:  3723 E County Highway 30A, Seagrove

Contact:  (850) 231-1452

Web:  Brunospizza30A.com

Taste:  If you like spicy foods, the 4 Alarm Fire is unlike anything I’ve ever seen: green peppers, banana peppers, pepperoncini peppers, Jalapeno peppers, and crushed red pepper. 

 

La Crema

A chic tapas bar with a Mediterranean feel, La Crema is perfect for a girls-night-out of unhurried laughter, conversation, and tasty snack foods.  They’re best known for their selection of chocolate dishes, such as fondue for two or chocolate dipped bacon.  Everything here is made for sharing and the wine list is pretty extensive.

Location:  38 Main Street, Rosemary Beach

Contact:   (850) 624-4121

Web:  http://lacrematapas.com/

Taste:  Their warm Spanish drinking chocolate is like no other hot chocolate you’ve tried. It’s thick and decadent, like sipping a candy bar. 

 

Bentley’s & Maddogs

From big juicy steaks, to luscious lobster tails, and a wine list that’s sure to please, this is a fine dining experience you won’t forget. Check out their event list for live music on the weekends and if you’re in the mood for something different, take a look at the menu selections in “Maddog’s Corner” where the chefs have a little more wiggle room to play.

Location:  10343 County Hwy 30A, Seacrest Beach

Contact:  (850) 231-0747

Web:  http://www.bentleys30a.com

Taste: Southern Comfort appetizer with their famous fried green tomatoes topped with bentley’s lobster/shrimp/crab cake.

 

La Cocina

This colorful Mexican grill lures in diners with the scent of hot melted queso and grilled meats.  For a beachside twist on a traditional favorite, try the lobster quesadilla, or order one of their generous portions of enchiladas, burritos, tacos, and fajitas.  Pose in front of their hand painted mascot, the adorable LuLu, for a memorable vacation photo.

Location:  10343 E County Highway 30A, Rosemary Beach

Contact:  (850) 231-4021

Web:  http://lacocina30a.com

Taste:  Hector’s al Pastor, a grilled pork loin served over a black bean cake with mango salsa.

 

The Great Southern Cafe

Chef-owner, Jim Shirly is well-known throughout the state of Florida for melding world flavors with Southern comfort. His “Grits A Ya-Ya” is famous!  It includes sautéed shrimp with applewood smoked bacon, spinach, and portobello mushrooms served over smoked gouda cheese grits.  Hungry yet?

Location:  83 Central Square, Seaside

Contact:  (850) 231-7327

Web:  http://www.thegreatsoutherncafe.com and celebrity chef.

Taste:  Smoked Gouda Cheese Grits

 

The Sugar Shak

This little shop carries about every flavor and style of candy imaginable, but their ice cream parlor is what really lures in the beach goers. If you’re visiting with friends, try their signature dessert: The Belly Ache. It includes 16 scoops of ice cream, plus all their candy toppings, chocolate sprinkles, rainbow sprinkles, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, whipped cream, and two cherries on top.

Location:  5 Main St, Rosemary Beach

Contact:  (850) 231-3655

Web:   https://www.facebook.com/TheSugarShak and worth a bellyache.

Taste:  The Belly Ache Ice Cream Sundae. I dare ya.


Aqua Coastal Sushi

A turquoise light illuminates the sidewalk entrance in such away that you immediately feel immersed in an oceanside experience. This new urban chic sushi house offers a creative twist on Asian fare. Instead of east-meets-west, it’s more east-meets-beach with tropical fruits such as kiwi and banana tempura crunch.  They also have fun options for kiddos including a peanut butter and jelly roll.

Location: #5 Main Street, Rosemary Beach

Contact:  850-764-2782

Web:  http://aquacoastalsushi.com

Taste:  One of their Hot Rocks with the choice of thinly sliced duck, Waygu beer, or sashimi tuna to sear table side on a hot rock.

 

Shades At The Loop

Shades is a family-friendly sports bar that’s been a 30A tradition since 1994.  They have over 35 beers on tap, burgers, po boys, wings, pizzas, and fish fries.  All you need is your flip flops and shades.

Location:  10952 E Hwy 30A, Rosemary Beach

Contact:  (850) 231-9410

Web:  http://shades30a.com/

Taste:  Char-grilled chorizo burger topped with sauteed onion, provolone cheese and a jalapeno pepper relish.

 

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mike
mike April 3, 2014 2:45 PM
And not forgetting the Singing Bartender at http://www.reddsfuel.com its dinner and a show all in one and the food is great