By Rachelle Lucas
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 30A restaurants 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 restaurants on 30A.
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 Viki Street, Santa Rosa Beach
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
Taste: Lemon Chiffon or Blueberry Pomegranate Frozen Yogurt
3. Hibiscus Coffee House
Just one block off of 30A, you’ll find that of all the 30a restaurants, 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
Taste: Waffle Wonderful: a toasted whole wheat waffle topped with chunky peanut butter, fresh fruit, nuts, coconut, and honey.
FOOW—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
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
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
Taste: Paradise Burger and Fried Pickles
Stinky’s Fish Camp
Thankfully, this is one of the 30a restaurants 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 étouffée 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: 5994 West County Road 30A, Santa Rosa Beach
Contact: (850) 267-3053
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 delicious Florida 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) 267-2305
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
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
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 top choice out of the restaurants on 30a. 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
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 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 Gulf views of all the Seaside, Florida restaurants.
Location: 2236 Scenic Hwy 30A, Seaside
Contact: (850) 231-3799
Taste: The tender peel and eat deep water Royal Red Shrimp
With two locations in South Walton County, Amavida is dedicated to promoting love, life, and great coffee. Their name even expresses this 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 104 North Barrett Square, Rosemary Beach
Contact: (850) 231-1077
Taste: I know it’s a coffee house, but you must try their Turmeric Ginger loose-leaf tea.
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 and 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
Taste: Try the Jalapeno Pimento Cheese Fritters, Senora Anna’s Fish Tacos, and the Key Lime Basil Pesto Blue Crab Claws
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
Taste: Their brisket with a side of mac and cheese was my favorite!
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
Taste: Classic Cinnamon Twist. These sell out fast!
For a fine-dining experience in an casual atmosphere, Cafe Thirty-A 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
Taste: Grilled Hawaiian Butterfish in Vanilla Rum Butter Sauce.
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
Taste: For a southern-twist on Italian, try the grilled salmon with white cheddar grit cakes and peach barbecue sauce.
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
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.
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
Taste: Fried Grouper Po-Boy
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: 6652 East County Hwy 30A, Panama City Beach
Contact: (850) 231-1699
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.
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) 624-8272
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.
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
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. It's one of the top Seaside, Florida restaurants. Hungry yet?
Location: 83 Central Square, Seaside
Contact: (850) 231-7327
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
Taste: The Belly Ache Ice Cream Sundae. I dare ya.
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
Taste: Char-grilled chorizo burger topped with sauteed onion, provolone cheese and a jalapeno pepper relish.
Wine World At Watercolor
Chan's Wine World isn't you're typical wine store. Not only do they have over 1000 wines from around the world, there's also a wine bar and cafe with delicious Mediterranean-style food and tapas-style sharing plates including gourmet cheeses, cured meats, pepper-crusted filets, and fresh grouper. On Friday nights they host tastings so you can try a few different varietals, learn more about wine, and sip a glass of your favorite vino while sitting outside at their quaint market tables. Wine World was featured on the Cooking Channel show, Emeril's Florida, so you know it's a hot spot!
Location: 1735 E County Highway 30A Santa Rosa Beach
Contact: (850) 231-1323
Taste: Roasted Corn & Crab Bisque
Meltdown on 30A
Meltdown on 30A is one of Seaside's famous food truck airstreams with a comfort food focused menu of gourmet grilled cheese. In additional to your traditional variety of gooey, melted cheddar on thick slices melted between thick slices of white bread, they also have a few fun combinations like meatloaf grilled cheese and their goat cheese, procuitto and arugula.
Location: 2235 E. County Hwy 30A Trailer C, Seaside
Contact: (850) 231-0952
Taste: Bacon & Brie Melt on cranberry walnut bread
Cowgirl Kitchen Market
Gourmet market where local foodies go to stock up on provisions, but they also have a quaint cafe offering homemade biscuits, soups, casseroles, salads, spreads, and jams. This Rosemary Beach restaurant serves gourmet, handmade pizzas and has six craft beers on tap.
Location: 3005 E. Co. Hwy 30A, Seagrove Beach
Contact: (850) 231-1120
Taste: Their legendary Cowgirl Salsa & Queso
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