Eat Like a Local on 30A
August 3, 2023
The allure of 30A is undeniable, captivating visitors with its unique charm, pristine beauty, and laid-back lifestyle. Nestled along the breathtaking Gulf of Mexico in Northwest Florida, this scenic stretch of coastline is dotted with charming beach communities, each with its own distinct character.
Through the years, the landscape evolved, and so did the food scene. Today, local 30A restaurants dot the landscape, with restaurants, cafes, and bistros incorporating locally sourced, farm-to-table ingredients and serving award-winning Southern cuisine with a coastal flair.
Get a taste of 30A’s local flavors with our foodie’s guide, featuring insider tips on exploring the area’s culinary hotspots.
Where Do Locals Eat on 30A?
Santa Rosa Beach
The perfect mix of natural beauty and relaxed charm, Santa Rosa Beach is an architectural mix, with rustic beach houses sitting alongside contemporary homes. The largest community in South Walton, Santa Rosa Beach, has several local 30A restaurants worth a mention.
North Santa Rosa Beach
- A vibrant eatery and the ultimate family-friendly spot, The Bay offers delightful lunch, brunch, and dinner options, and it’s a great choice if you have kids in tow. You’ll love the casual atmosphere, delectable sushi, wholesome pasta, and fresh seafood; they’ll love the live music and beachfront property with room to roam.
- For wood-fired pizza with rich, bold flavor, Pazzo Italiano does it right, but that’s not all they do. Pasta, calzones, salads, and chef specialties round out a menu filled with traditional Italian fare, including lasagna, ravioli, and spaghetti, offering the perfect environment to gather with family and friends.
- Dine in or take out, but swing by 98 Bar-B-Que for your favorite chicken, pork, and brisket platters and sandwiches. You’ll also discover ribs, sausages, cheesesteaks, and burgers to enjoy. Purists might stick with the combo platter, but adventurists should try the gator sausage po’boy for a unique twist on a Southern favorite.
- North Beach Social offers incredible views of Choctawhatchee Bay and plenty of outdoor seating. Sink your toes in the sand on the outdoor deck, enjoy live music, and indulge in the all-day drink specials, bonfires, and bocce games. The only thing better is the food, and we’d suggest the fish tacos, a poke’ bowl, or a pulled pork sandwich.
South Santa Rosa Beach
- Filled with vibrant artwork, a friendly staff, and a dog-friendly outdoor patio, the vibe at Chanticleer Eatery is chill. Serving a mix of Southern and Caribbean-influenced dishes, the smoked meats and sauces are made fresh daily. Try the pork nachos, shrimp and grits, or jambalaya, and don’t look back!
- Serving BBQ classics like pulled pork plates, brisket sandwiches, and spare ribs, 3 Sons Bar-B-Q takes it a step further by offering Brunswick stew, a guarded family recipe. Mac & cheese, baked potatoes, and BBQ beans top off any meal in all the right ways, with trailer tacos and voodoo bowls, delightful surprises on a well-rounded menu.
- Whether opting for the pappardelle al Porco, featuring pasta and braised pork shoulder in a mushroom cream sauce, or the gnocchi lobster carbonara, a lovely mix of gnocchi, lobster meat, and pancetta, every choice is the right one at Mimmo’s Ristorante Italiano, a family-owned restaurant known for great food and impeccable service.
Blue Mountain Beach
Named after the prevalent blue lupine flowers that once flourished here, Blue Mountain Beach is low-key, peaceful, and less crowded than other towns along this stretch. Situated between Gulf Place and Grayton Beach, locals here know a thing or two about good eats.
With beignets, chicken and waffles, and brisket hash served up at brunch, it couldn’t get any more Southern, which is why it’s one of our favorite local 30A restaurants. Swing by for lunch, dinner, or the daily happy hour, and try the 16-hour smoked brisket sandwich or the wood-grilled fish of the day. Top it off with a signature Blue Mountain gin and tonic made with Empress indigo gin, blueberry-rosemary syrup, and elderflower tonic, and call it a wrap!
One of the last remaining gems in these parts, Redd’s Fueling Station is an eclectic joint with a funky vibe. An old fueling station reinvented with live bands, dueling piano shows, and a singing bartender, it’s easy to see what keeps people coming back. Then there’s the food. We’re talking smoked gouda and bacon mac and cheese, fried green tomato BLTs, and BBQ simmered for 14 hours in beef broth and beer, as just a sampling. You can thank us later.
Johnny McTighes is one of our favorite local 30A restaurants and the only Irish pub for miles. A fun late-night spot with a game room, music, hearty food, and a fully stocked bar, it’s good food and a good time for the whole family. You won’t go wrong with classic pub fare, like corned beef and cabbage or fish and chips, but don’t overlook the other non-traditional dishes.
One of the oldest communities along 30A, Grayton Beach continues to enchant just as it did nearly 100 years ago when it first became a vacation destination. The casual, laid-back vibe courses through the people in this quiet community who enjoy time spent at their favorite local 30A restaurants.
For authentic Italian packed with bold, rich flavor, look no further than Trattoria Borago. Start with a signature cocktail made from fresh juice squeezed daily, then dive into the wild mushroom ravioli or the three-meat bolognese. We particularly enjoy the creamy seafood fricassee, a delicate dish with shrimp, scallops, lump crab, and leeks over cheese polenta, a delicious melding of flavors worthy of acclaim.
With indoor and outdoor seating, three incredible bars, two stages, and a fire pit, AJ’s is the ultimate destination for a memorable night out. What began as a scant menu of cold beer and fresh oysters back in the day has evolved into seafood platters, sandwiches, and po’boys. Start with the gumbo, a chilled dozen oysters on the half shell, and an ice-cold brew. If you can’t reach their Grayton location, look for them in Destin, Okaloosa Island, and Fort Walton Beach.
Celebrated for its innovative design and charming atmosphere, the architectural style of Seaside draws inspiration from coastal beach towns featuring cozy cottages, picket fences, and generous front porches. It’s also home to several of our favorite local 30A restaurants.
Merging international cuisine, down-home Southern cooking, and local flavors, the Great Southern Cafe’ has earned a reputation as a go-to spot for lunch or dinner in Seaside. Dishes like collard and artichoke dip, black-eyed pea hummus, and sour rolls made with chicken, collard greens, peach chutney, and creole mustard horseradish are just a sample of the flavor fusions you’ll find here.
Located in the heart of Seaside overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, Bud and Alley’s has served visitors and locals for over thirty years. The rooftop bar is the place to be when the sun sets, with beautifully prepared small plates, salads, and sandwiches made with the freshest ingredients. Start with the gumbo and crab cakes before moving on to the blackened mahi Reuben or grilled BBQ braised mini pork shanks. And no meal is complete without a generous helping of dark chocolate bread pudding with whiskey sauce, a must-try!
Nestled between Seaside and Seacrest, Seagrove’s prime location and laid-back environment make it a local favorite. Although the attitude is relaxed, the food is top notch with a few local 30A restaurants worthy of mention.
The fried grouper sandwich is a must, but you’ll find plenty of other items on the menu to tempt your taste buds. Try an andouille and shrimp po-boy, a half-pound market burger, or a fried seafood platter. Prefer something a little lighter? Top any salad with chicken, shrimp, grouper, or oysters, followed by homemade key lime pie.
Choose from sandwiches and salads for lunch and fresh seafood for dinner, with fabulous freshly made pork, beef, and chicken dishes rounding out the menu. Since you’re on vacation, why not start your day with a mimosa and a pork belly biscuit smothered in caramelized onions and bourbon molasses mustard? If you miss them in Seagrove Beach, you can find them at WaterColor and Gulf Place.
Rosemary Beach is a picturesque community located on the eastern end of 30A. Marked by charming pastel-colored homes, courtyards, and cobblestone streets, quiet pathways adorned by tall scrub oaks encourage exploration on foot or bikes and offer delightful local 30A restaurants to discover.
Crispy brussel sprouts, deviled eggs, and crab cakes are just a few tasty ways to start an afternoon at Edwards. Lunch entrees run the gamut from Mediterranean salads and chicken salad croissants to steakhouse burgers and Cuban sandwiches. Dinners are a little more upscale with seared scallops, double-cut pork chops, and grilled grouper, a few favorites. The
award-winning wine list, excellent kids menu, and exceptional service complement an elevated experience; all served in a casual, family-friendly environment.
For a no-frills meal brimming with flavor, the Cowgirl Kitchen delivers on both counts, making it one of our favorite local 30A restaurants. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you’ll find a wide range of mouthwatering eats when taking a break from the beach. Start with the smoked tuna dip, followed by a beachy shrimp roll, and finish with ice cream nachos. Sandwiches, salads, and pizzas round out a menu, sure to delight young and old.
A delightful tapas menu, delicious paellas, and handcrafted cocktails might bring you in, but the chocolate will keep you returning to La Crema. Salted caramel ice cream, hot chocolate molten cake, and chocolate fondue are the stuff dreams are made of and something both kids and adults can agree on. Top your meal off with a Sipping Chocolate, a luscious and thick Spanish delicacy infused with peppermint, mocha, hot chili, or hazelnut.
Of course, you’ll want to be near these local 30A restaurants, so browse our 30A vacation rentals for the perfect home away from home!
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