Florida’s scenic panhandle not only offers pristine white-sand beaches and some of the South’s top resort areas, it’s also home to many incredible restaurants and watering holes. If business or pleasure takes you to Northwest Florida, here are the best 30A restaurants to enjoy in 2018.
The twenty-plus miles along highway 30A between Inlet Beach and Miramar Beach provide a variety of options from fine dining to great dive bars close to the water. With 30A’s explosive growth, more restaurants are bound to open or change hands this year.
The restaurants and bars are listed by location, starting on the east side of 30A and moving west.
Shades Bar and Grill, 10952 Hwy 30A, Daily, 11 am-2 am
This is a casual place; a combination of a Bennigan’s, Applebee’s and your local pub. The food is better than comparable chains with sandwiches, burgers, wings and lots of fried and grilled seafood options. Shades has a large selection of beer along with 17 TVs, making this a great place to watch your favorite team. Lines could be long at night during peak season as it’s a popular place to take the kids. Happy hour is 3-6pm, Monday-Friday.
Amici 30A Italian Kitchen, 12805 Hwy 98 E, Daily, 11 am-11 pm
One of 30A’s newest spots, this family-owned restaurant specializes in Neapolitan pizza pies cooked in a brick oven. Homemade pasta’s and larger plates are also available. Plenty of seating inside and out, small plates and a full bar are available.
Big Bad Breakfast, 10711 E Hwy 30A, Daily, 7 am-3 pm
Big, great and breakfast sum up this spot created by John Currence, the James Beard award-winning, Oxford, MS chef known for City Grocery, Boure, and the Snack Bar. You’ll find a mix of fresh Gulf seafood, homemade biscuits, and locally roasted coffee on the menu. To-go and poolside menus are also available.
The Terrace Restaurant, 13741 U.S. Highway 98, Winter hours, Thur, Fri, Sat, 5 pm-10 pm
A small, quaint location owned and operated since 1990 by the husband/wife team of Katherine & Thom Kindos, is a favorite of many locals. The dining area is small so large groups may have to split up. Grouper and Spanakopeta, a Greek spinach pie, are favorites. They offer an extensive wine list.
Edwards Fine Food & Wine, 66 Main Street, Tuesday-Sunday, 5 pm – 9:30 pm
One of my favorites, Edward’s assumed the location of the former wine bar in Rosemary Beach and quickly established itself as one of the best restaurants along 30A. Now part of the Spell Restaurant Group, both small plates and entrees are excellent and live music is featured most evenings. Children are welcome but the better idea is to feed them at Cowgirl Kitchen and let them play on the green nearby. Sit in the courtyard if possible.
La Crema Tapas & Chocolate, 38 Main Street, Daily, 11 am-9 pm
A small and fashionable place to people-watch along the community’s main street. Plates are small and the Chocolate Dipped Bacon is a must-order. Reservations are not accepted so place your name on the list and enjoy the town square until seated. (FYI, Edward’s, La Crema, George’s at Alys Beach, Grits & Grind and La Cocina are owned by the Spell Restaurant Group, the same Memphis family that owns Brookhaven Pub)
Restaurant Paradis, 82 South Barrett Square, Daily, 5 pm-10 pm, Bar til midnight
A gorgeous fine dining establishment, Paradis has a great bar with wonderful outdoor seating within view of Town Square and 30A. It’s a favorite of locals around happy hour. If you’re hungry between 5 and 5:45 each evening, you’ll find the prices to be a bit less expensive. There is better cuisine along 30A, but the atmosphere is nice.
Cowgirl Kitchen, 54 Main Street, Rosemary Beach, Daily, 8 am-9 pm
One of my favs, mainly because my kids have spent so much time and money there. Nikki, the owner, has done a wonderful job delivering beach favorites such as mac & cheese and the Drunken Cowgirl Pizza. Great place to feed the kids breakfast, lunch, and supper and to grab a few beers on the way to the beach. Also in Seagrove Beach.
Havana Beach Bar and Grill, 63 Main Street, Daily, 8 am-11 pm
Located within The Pearl Hotel, this upscale restaurant has added a new dimension to the community. A stylish venue, outdoor seating is available but the interior is warm and inviting. Belly up to the hand-carved mahogany bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. Their smoked Old Fashioned cocktail is a specialty. The rooftop lounge is also a wonderful place to start or end the evening. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served daily.
The Summer Kitchen Cafe, 78 Main Street, Daily, 7:30 am-9 pm (3 pm on Monday & Tuesday)
One of the original restaurants in Rosemary Beach, don’t look for it on the north town square because they’ve relocated close to the beach. A good place to find breakfast or lunch, but subpar for a fine dining experience after five. They’ve started serving local beers and are the closest spot to the water in Rosemary Beach.
Wild Olives, 104 N. Barrett Square, Rosemary Beach, Tuesday-Sunday, 11 am-9 pm
Known primarily as a local market, they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their offering of fine wine and cheeses is one of the areas best as they were voted “best little wine shop on 30A.” Check out their wine tastings each Friday evening from 5-7.
Amavida Coffee & Tea, 104 N. Barrett Square, 1A, Daily, 6:30 am – 6:00 pm
A local, family-owned business with another location in Seaside. A great selection of coffee and its roasted just a few miles away. They also serve pastries and bread and craft beer. The best cafe to work (and write) along 30A and the wi-fi is excellent.
Southside Slice, 74 Town Hall Road, Daily, 11 am – 10 pm
The newest eatery in Rosemary Beach, this family-friendly venue specializes in pizza by the slice while also offering salads, sandwiches, beer, and wine.
Pescado Seafood Grill & Rooftop Bar, 74 Town Hall Road, Daily, 3 pm – 10 pm
Also new to Rosemary Beach is this seafood grill and bar when guests can enjoy stunning views of the ocean and sunsets. Designed by Smith Hanes of Atlanta, the restaurant’s coastal colors compliment the town and captures the unique charm of this community. Chef Ken Duenas, well-known along 30A for his culinary skills, should create some amazing dishes. Seating is at a premium so arrive early or make reservations.
Caliza Restaurant, 9581 Hwy 30, Tuesday-Saturday, 5:30-9:30 pm
An upscale restaurant located beside the property’s fabulous pool, they feature contemporary American cuisine served al fresco. It’s not somewhere I would take children so plan on a romantic dinner for two or an all-adult night out.
George’s at Alys Beach, 30 Castle Harbour, Mon-Sat, 11 am-3 pm, 5-9 pm
A favorite among locals and tourists alike, they feature two menus; a “Behave” for those eating healthy and a “Misbehave” for when calories at the beach don’t count. Located on the east side of Alys Beach, you can’t miss the lovely cottage along 30A. They’ve recently added a beautiful viewing deck when you can have a cocktail and take in the coastline while you wait.
Grits & Grind, 10343 E Hwy 30A, Daily, 7 am-10:30 am
A new breakfast spot owned and operated by the Spell Restaurant Group. Located just west of LaCocina, it’s quickly become a hotspot for breakfast on 30A. The energy behind the restaurant comes from the style of basketball played by Tony Allen, formerly of the Memphis Grizzlies, the hometown of the ownership group. Come ready to eat your fill of omelets, waffles and other breakfast delights.
Seacrest Sundries, 10343 Hwy 30A, Daily, 7 am-7 pm
A cozy little market. If you wake up early, head down and grab a cup of coffee while you check email, read the news on your iPad or catch local events on their TV’s. Good place for a quick lunch and snacks for the kids. Update: the wi-fi speed is way too slow so if you’re needing to get real work accomplished, you may be better off elsewhere.
La Cocina Mexican Grill & Bar 10343 Hwy 30A, Daily, 11 am-3 pm, 5-9 pm
Locals say this is the best Tex-Mex along 30A. Dishes are prepared from scratch. Nestled between Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach, the convenience makes it a popular location. Word is the margaritas are great but we recommend you form your own opinion!
The Hub, 7000 Hwy 30A, Watersound, (Mile Marker 15 Tacos, Red’s Chicken Shack, Crave Roadside Burgers, Local Smoke, Pizza Al Forno, The Rolling Dog), Closed until March.
I stumbled onto this place in December of 2017. The Hub (a venue comprised of shops and food stations) consists of a large open area with a stage and large screen great for watching big games. Various shops line the front of the center. The open fire pits provide a toasty atmosphere on chilly beach nights. If you have young kids in tow, it’s a wonderful place to let them run around while the adults chat. What food I had was good. My only complaint was the bar. It’s woefully slow and the bartenders seemed to care less if you were there at all. Hopefully, it will improve as the spring and summer crowds grow or suitable management is hired.
Bruno’s Pizza, 6652 Hwy 30A, Daily, 11 am-9 pm
This 30A tradition moved to Watersound in 2017. The lunch buffet is always a hit and a great place for the kids. The delivery area is limited but you can call ahead and pick up anytime. Voted 30A’s best pizza for 21 years.
Café Thirty-A, 3899 Hwy 30A, Seagrove Beach, Daily, 5-10 pm
Hands down, one of the areas best and most well-known restaurants as it’s routinely voted a hotspot for fine dining. Get the “deal of the day” by arriving between 5-6 pm as you can get a two-for-one on entrees. Reservations are highly recommended. I understand it’s a favorite of Alabama Coach Nick Saban.
723 Whiskey Bravo, 3031 Hwy 30A, Wednesday-Sunday, 11 am-9 pm
Located in Old Seagrove and described as “cool, casual & coastal,” they specialize in American-style food. A good place to grab a beer and some lunch if you’re in Seagrove. Somewhat of a sports bar. Great view of the water from the 3rd floor.
Old Florida Fish House, 5235 Hwy 30A, Daily, 11 am-10 pm
A mainstay venue that has been known for their sushi and live music. Once a popular spot with the locals, it has lost some luster but overall a nice place to enjoy the band after dinner.
Seagrove Village Market Café, 2976 S. Hwy 395, Monday-Saturday, 10:30 am-8:30 pm, Sunday Brunch
Thought to be one of the oldest businesses along 30A. Garden & Gun says the Grouper Sandwich is a “must eat” before you die.
Great Southern Café, 88 Central Square, Seaside, Daily, 8 am-9:30 pm
Excellent, superb, outstanding; is there anything left to say? I would recommend the Grits a ya ya, the Balsamic Salmon and the Mac & Cheese with bacon & shrimp. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner served daily and they do not accept reservations. If you’re on the wait-list then check out the bookstore a few doors down.
Bud & Alley’s, 2235 Hwy 30A, Daily, 8 am til late
Named after the town founder’s dog and one of the owner’s cats, the restaurant/bar was founded in the late 1980’s by two surfing buddies. A favorite with locals and visitors alike, it’s an eccentric venue to enjoy a beachy frozen drink or a beer and sandwich while gazing at the gulf. The rooftop bar is popular from open to close.
Fish Out of Water, Watercolor, Tuesday – Saturday, 5:30-9pm
Nice upscale dining with a superb gulf view. A recipient of Forbes Travel Guide 4-star rating and AAA 4-diamond award. One of the areas hottest spots for fine dining. Corporate Executive Chef Todd Rogers and his culinary team provide guests with an unforgettable experience through a menu highlighted by fresh local fish and meats infused with Southern flavor.
Red Bar, 70 Hotz Avenue, Daily, 11 am til late
Ever wonder where old hippies hang out along 30A? Well, here you go. Kind of like a neighborhood bar you may find in New Orleans or Memphis minus the beach. Open from 11-10 daily, it could be the most authentic beach experience of your trip. Casual cuisine is the norm and things may get a bit rowdy after 7 or so. I recommend the grilled fish sandwich or the fried shrimp Po’boy. Great jazz music. Bring cash; credit cards aren’t accepted and no ATM is near.
Chiringo, 63 Hotz Ave., Daily, 11 am-11 pm
The definition of the name means a small enterprise, usually a bar selling drinks and tapas. That’s what it is. Good beach food such as burgers and fried chicken and seafood baskets. Plenty of organic stuff for the urban hippie. Open 7 days a week from 11 to 11.
Hurricane Oyster Bar, 37 Logan Lane, Daily, 11 am-10 pm
Described by locals as a “great hang out bar.” A good happy hour with lots of flatscreen TVs to watch the game. Shrimp, tacos, oysters and great bar food. Cash or check only!
Another Broken Egg, 51 Uptown Grayton Circle, Tuesday-Sunday, 7:30 am-2 pm
Hungry for breakfast on the west side of 30A? It’s hard to find a better traditional breakfast. Consistently voted as “a best breakfast spot,” there are two other locations in Baytowne Wharf and Destin. A rapidly expanding southeast chain. Expect to wait if you arrive after 9 am. The eggs benedict are to die for.
Grayton Seafood Co., 50 Uptown Grayton Circle, Wednesday-Sunday, 11 am-9 pm
Local, friendly and seafood pretty much sum up this place. Outstanding casual, beach dining known for their Sunday brunch.
RELATED: Tailgating SEC Style: Georgia
Pickle Factory, 38 Clayton Lane, Tuesday-Sunday, 4 till close
True to the area, this place is something you would discover in Thailand, described by locals as “laid back.” You can sit at the bar and watch your pizza being made while chatting about the prices of homes with a local realtor. Enjoy the Hookah lounge before you leave.
Santa Rosa Beach
Borago, 24200 Hwy 331 South, Santa Rosa Beach, Daily, 5pm-10pm
Another award-winning, local favorite. Hearty Italian food is their forte but the spot has lost some of its luster recently, mainly due to increased competition along 30A. Popular items are the three meat Bolognese and the penne with hot Italian sausage. Their wine list is extensive. My only negative is my credit card stolen by a waiter a few years ago. Thankfully, no major damage was done. If you haven’t been in a while they’ve moved so check the address before driving.
Café Tango, 14 Viki Street, Santa Rosa Beach, Tuesday-Saturday, 5 – 9 pm
Some say this is one of 30A’s best-kept secrets. Located in one of the oldest cottages in the area, it’s owned by a father-son team known for creating European inspired dishes with Spanish and Mediterranean flavors. Very intimate environment. Excellent wine list. Seatings at 5, 5:30, 7 & 7:30.
Louis Louis, 35 Mussett Bayou Rd., Daily, 5 pm-9 pm
A spin-off of the Red Bar, they try and maintain the “hippie” culture with some added flair. A favorite for locals, check out their beer list. Much to the tourist dismay, they do accept plastic for payment.
Trebeache, 2052 Hwy 30A, Santa Rosa, Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-9 pm
A new addition to the area, they feature Steak & Chop Tuesday and Crab & Chardonnay on Friday. Save with a 2 for 1 from 5-6pm. Nice upstairs bar. “Where coastal elegance meets classic beach.”
Vue on 30A, 4801 Hwy 30A West, Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-2 pm & 5 pm-9 pm, Sunday brunch
The signature restaurant of Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club, it was voted “Best Waterfront Dining” by Florida Travel + Life Magazine, the restaurant features Celebrity Chef Giovanni Filippone who is known for his role in the reality show, Hell’s Kitchen Season Five.
Blue Mountain Beach
Local Catch Bar & Grill, 3711 W Hwy 30A, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
A small seafood bar with great food. Shrimp and grits and crab cakes are favorites.
Basmati’s Asian Cuisine, 3295 W Hwy 30A, Lunch Mon-Fri, 11 am – 2:30 pm, Dinner Nightly 5-10 pm
A Blue Mountain institution for years, they’re known for their delicious and creative Asian cuisine and sushi. The Basmati’s candle-lit porch is popular.
Marie’s Bistro, 2260 W Hwy 30A, Tue – Sun, 11 am – 2 pm, 5 pm – 9 pm
Serving Mediterranean cuisine with a unique variety since 1984, Marie’s is a locally owned restaurant. There’s plenty of live music and catering options.
Our search for the best 30A restaurants won’t leave you hungry and my bet is you’ll come back and try others on your next trip.