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Table of Contents

restaurant features 14




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12 amici Italian Kitchen 14 Vue on 30a 18 Fish Out of Water 20 Seagrove Village MarketCafé 22 Surfing Deer 24 Chiringo 26 Vin’tij Wine Boutique & Bistro 28 Restaurant Paradis 34 Wine World, The Wine Bar and The Craft Bar 36 Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood 46 George’s at Alys Beach 52 La Crema Tapas & Chocolate 54 La Cocina Mexican Grill & Bar 58 Bijoux 62 Café Thirty-A 66 Stinky’s Fish Camp and Trebeaché 70 Bud & Alley’s Restaurant 74 The HUB 30A 78 The Great Southern Café 80 The Bay 84 The Red Bar and Louis Louis 88 Caliza Restaurant


food &


guide for South Walton Owner/Publisher Phil Heppding

EDITORIAL Managing Editor Michelle Farnham Contributing Writers Stephanie Burt, Laura Holloway, Matthew Keith, Jordan Lacenski, Sarah Robertson, Kimberley Sabens, Melissa Vidaurre

DESIGN Creative Director Mark Kerley

SALES Phil Heppding

2017 FOOD & WINE GUIDE FOR SOUTH WALTON HNH Media Holdings, LLC P.O. Box 1441, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459 850-687-3776 Copyright June 2017, HNH Media Holdings, LLC All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Table of Contents

Chef Profiles

From the editor

Finding Delight in Every Bite

16 Chef Giovanni Filippone Vue on 30a


y journey to working on the 2017 Food & Wine Guide began – ironically enough – over a slice of pizza. While attending a Food For Thought fundraiser last summer, I just happened to strike up a conversation with Publisher Phil Heppding and his lovely wife, Ann. What started as a discussion over pepperoni led to a passed business card and the rest is history! There are a lot of important details that come in to play when editing a publication such as this. By “important,” I really mean things only the people named within, a handful of retired English teachers, and I care about. For example, which restaurant names use a lowercase “a” verses a capital “A” in the writing of 30A? How many different ways can we come up with to say the words “local” and “restaurant”? Which letters do you double in the spelling of Chef Giovanni Filippone’s name? And remember: the water we see from our dinner tables is the gulf, not the ocean. It’s a delicious job, but someone’s got to do it. Going in to the project, I thought I knew quite a bit about the local dining scene. My husband and I consider dining out to be a hobby of ours, and we felt fairly well versed in the South Walton offerings. As I reviewed the 120-plus listings of our restaurant guide (starting on page 91), however, I realized we’ve hardly scratched the surface. Challenge accepted! I’d like to thank Phil, Creative Director Mark Kerley, our advertisers, and all the writers, photographers, and graphic artists who contributed to this publication. This is an ever-changing, ever-expanding market that really kept us on our toes. Late-breaking business partnerships, personnel changes and new restaurants threatened the sanctity of the almighty deadline. Then of course, we had to make room for Emeril! As Yoko Ono said, “The thing that would most improve my life is 27 hours in a day. I could meet all my deadlines.” Sounds about right, Ms. Ono. I can only hope you – our readers – enjoy this dining publication more than I enjoy Yoko’s singing. Welcome to South Walton. May your sunsets be magical, your table waits brief and your desserts plentiful. Maybe I’ll see you there!

30 Chef Mark Eichin Restaurant Paradis Page 16

40 Chef Kevin Korman Roselie Dining & Seafood Bar 42 Chef Adam Yellin Local Catch

Page 40

50 Chef Camille Withall George’s at Alys Beach 68 Chef Jim Richard Stinky’s Fish Camp and Trebeaché

Page 68

72 Chef Phil McDonald Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar 82 Chef Jim Shirley The Great Southern Café and The Bay

Page 89 6

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89 Chef Tim Creehan Cuvee 30A

Michelle Farnham Managing editor

The Master Distiller’s Master Distiller


t 83 years young, Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell has more than a career’s worth of tales to tell, cultivated over 63 years in the rickhouse. Russell was on hand for the 2017 Craft Beer & Spirits Jam April 28, part of the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival. He poured samples from the bottles that bear his name: the Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel 10-Year and the 6-Year-Old Rye. When asked which of Wild Turkey’s products he enjoys most, Russell didn’t miss a beat. “One of each.” Photo by Michelle Farnham 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Table of Contents

editorial features



21 21 Top Breakfast Options 31 Top Wine Lists of South Walton 39 Top Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Bud & Alley’s


55 Top Dessert Options 65 Top Sushi Options



69 Dishes of 30A: Vue on 30a Scallops 76 Top Live Music Locales La Crema


87 Top Water-View Dining 91 Food & Wine Guide’s Restaurant Guide VILLAGES OF SOUTH WALTON 10343 EAST COUNTY HWY • 30A UNIT C112 • 850.213.4037 • SMALLCAKESCUPCAKERY.COM

98 Top Coffee Options 2017 Food & Wine Guide • Bay 8 The

2017 Food & Wine Guide •


and restaurants are the number two reason people come here. For those of us who have been in the business a long time and owned restaurants, we know that he’ll raise the bar because everyone’s going to have to step up a little bit. That’s only going to make our restaurant scene better, by him being here.” Chef Kevin Korman, owner of Roselie Dining and Seafood Bar, thinks it’s no coincidence Lagasse chose South Walton for his next venture: it’s the next big thing. “That exactly why we decided to open a restaurant here,” he said of Roselie, that opened at Inlet Beach in June of 2016. “We thought about a lot of other locations ... but ultimately we decided here for that reason: it’s about to pop.” Lagasse’s dining empire includes Emeril’s Orlando and Emeril’s Tchoup Chop in Orlando; Emeril’s New Orleans, NOLA Restaurant, Emeril’s Delmonico, and Meril in New Orleans; Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House, Delmonico Steakhouse, Table 10, and Lagasse’s Stadium in Las Vegas; and Emeril’s Chop House, BAM (Burgers and More by Emeril), and Emeril’s Fish House, all at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pa.

Emeril Lagasse: The Toast of the Coast!

Famous chef opens 14th restaurant at Grand Boulevard

Looking Beyond The Kitchen

| By Michelle Farnham


he winning formula for many a business magnate is to capture the market, capture the awards, capture the hearts of fans, and then capture the beautiful beach home in which to retire. If you’re world-renowned chef, author and television star Emeril Lagasse, however, you do all that, then open a restaurant in that beautiful beach town and get back to cooking. The news of the upcoming restaurant Emeril’s Coastal Italian created a shockwave heard round the culinary world. Located in the Grand Boulevard Town Center at Sandestin, Lagasse said the fare will draw influence from the area. “It’s going to be Italian – very coastal – not just spaghetti and meatballs ... It’s going to be damn good,” Lagasse said in a private interview. Diners can expect seafood – a popular cuisine option in the South Walton area – but Lagasse’s not concerned. After all, it’s a big ocean, and he’s Emeril Lagasse. “I want to play off the Gulf, you know, right there is the ocean,” the chef said with a gesture toward the water. “I don’t know if a lot of people have played off that enough, but I’m going to.” He also stressed the importance of taking care of the area’s fulltime residents. “I told my wife I would never open a restaurant here because we live here and … that changed. I’m just going to try to be as much a part of the community (as possible), to take care of the locals. I want to be a local restaurant,” he said. In fact, wife Alden (Lovelace) Lagasse has a hand in shaping the look of the new space. Teamed with her cousin Susan Lovelace of the Miramar Beach-based design firm Lovelace Interiors, the duo


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

Photo by Sara Essex Bradley

is creating a look described as an earthy mix of textures. The end goal is something coastal, casual, and elegant. Custom-made “food graffiti” will adorn the walls, courtesy of an authentic New Orleans mural artist.

A chef isn’t named the 2013 Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation simply for creating amazing food. Lagasse’s good works are numerous and widespread. This spring, he cut the ribbon on the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden in Orlando, giving kids the chance to learn about their food, from growing to plating. A little closer to home, he hosted the Taste of the Race culinary event March 3, leading up to the Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K Run. Not only did carb-loading athletes get to “pregame”

Creating A Scene So are other South Walton chefs concerned about the new guy on the block? Quite the contrary; most see it as a way to shine the national spotlight on the grass roots foodie scene already at play here. “It really puts us on the map as a restaurant destination,” said Jim Richard, owner of local favorites Stinky’s Fish Camp and Trebeaché. “You can look at our tourist development numbers,

wish I could come to school here!” Money raised over the entire race weekend goes to supplement the school’s state funding, and is used for technology, music, arts, and the gardening program. With the help of the Lagasses, school executives, Seaside founder Robert Davis, and local chefs, the pre-race meal has evolved over the years from a simple pasta dinner to one of the great food and beverage events on the coast. More than 20 local chefs came together to make the night a sold-out success. “There’s so much love here it’s unbelievable, and it gives people a taste of the Panhandle,” Lagasse pointed out. “You know what? We have so much talent here, we have so much great food and great chefs and restaurants, but nobody knows about them. To be able to tie that in with the school – to make the community even better – makes me really happy.” David Slater, chef de cuisine at Emeril’s New Orleans, was on hand that evening to create Florida grouper hummus with Cajun caviar and pita, and Cuban duck sliders.

And The Winner Is…

Emeril Lagasse gives a wave to the crowd from the Emeril’s New Orleans table.

Located at 435 Grand Boulevard in Miramar Beach, dining enthusiasts waited all spring for news of the opening of Emeril’s Coastal Italian.

A former musician himself, Lagasse joined the band Masterpiece on stage at the Taste of the Race event, and jammed along with the crowd.

with the likes of Lagasse and the top culinary players in the South Walton food scene, proceeds benefitted the beachside town’s public charter school. The Lagasses have two children currently attending Seaside. It’s that drive as a father and neighbor that inspires the famous chef to lend his time and talents to the cause. “As a resident of the community, I just want to see things evolve at Seaside,” Lagasse said. “It’s amazing for the community. I mean, I

Getting back to the James Beard Award, Lagasse’s legacy continues to grow with each new accolade. Already the recipient of the 1991 JBAF Best Chef: South/Southeast, Lagasse was awarded The Food Network’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009, and inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2013. With nearly 20 JBAF nominations to his name over the years, he received three in the 2017. His Amazon Prime Video show “Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse,” brought in nominations for Outstanding Personality/Host and Television Program: On Location. Emeril’s New Orleans restaurant earned a nod for Outstanding Wine Program. Emeril’s Coastal Italian joins more than a dozen eateries in the Grand Boulevard complex, including Another Broken Egg Café, Cantina Laredo Modern Mexican Food, The Craft Bar, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Bar, Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria, Kilwin’s Chocolates, Mitchell’s Fish Market, P.F. Chang’s, Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Café and The Wine Bar. Photos by Michelle Farnham except where noted 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


on fresh, local ingredients. With plenty of gluten-free options on the menu, there’s truly something for everyone. amici translated to mean “friends,” has large, custom-made wooden tables that are perfect for family dinners and gatherings, offering both indoor and outdoor seating. The exhibition-style kitchen provides a dramatic focal point, where eyes – both young and old – will be in awe as they can watch the chefs creating their dinners. The bar at amici is an ideal spot for grabbing a drink after work or for a couple looking to relax in a casual atmosphere while enjoying a handcrafted cocktail. With large televisions perched above the bar, it also makes amici a great place to catch the game. amici features a variety of beers on tap, including local favorites from Grayton Beer Company, Idyll Hounds Brewing Company and Fairhope Brewing Company of Alabama. amici offers a daily happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Guests can enjoy $2 off all wines by the glass, $2 off draft beers, $1 off bottled beer, and half off all well liquors.

amici Italian Kitchen

If you have a sweet tooth and are looking for the perfect way to round out your meal, the menu at amici also has a variety of coffees, teas, specialty drinks and desserts, such as cannoli, limoncello mascarpone cake, and gelatos and sorbets. amici opened its doors to the public in 2016 and Amy says they haven’t looked back since, as business has been booming. For the Corchis family, being involved in the community is very important, so they use their platform as restaurant owners to give back in a variety of ways. “We are all about family, so we wanted our restaurant to reflect that,” Amy said. “It’s an environment that’s perfect for families. We wanted it to feel like you were walking into our home.” amici Italian Kitchen is open daily, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and located at 12805 U.S. Highway 98 E, Suite R101 at 30Avenue in Inlet Beach. For more information visit or call 850-909-0555.

| By Matthew Keith

A Family Affair with Flair


hen you walk into amici Italian Kitchen in Inlet Beach, there’s a welcoming vibe that radiates throughout the 2,600-plus square foot restaurant that’s reminiscent of your grandmother’s kitchen. There are familiar faces, tantalizing smells radiating from the kitchen, and warmth that’s undeniable. amici is the passion of the Corchis family: husband and wife, George and Amy, and their four children, Jordin, Nathan, Alyssa, and Lily. Amy says it was actually her kids’ idea to open the restaurant. They had pitched the idea as a way for the family to invest in the community and spend some quality time together. “For most of our marriage, George has been traveling for work and has only been home about one day a week,” she said. “The kids really wanted him closer, so that was kind of the beginning of our research and our decision to open a restaurant.” The Italian-inspired menu, which is executed by Chef Manolack Vongsouvanh, more commonly known as “Chef Lock,” is a smorgasbord of flavor, bursting with a large array of salads and 12

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“We are all about family, so we wanted our restaurant to reflect that … We wanted it to feel like you were walking into our home.” – Amy Corchis, Co-Owner small plates to kick your taste buds into gear. The meatballs, arancini and mussels certainly don’t disappoint. Dishes such as the chicken parmigiana and the amici 30A signature pasta – grilled free range chicken breast, cherry peppers, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, San Marzano tomatoes, cream, parmigiana reggiano, and rigatoni – practically dance on your tongue, while the margherita pizza, and a variety of other pies, are fired to perfection in the restaurant’s Marsal pizza oven. The amici team – which is incredibly detail oriented – places a premium 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Vue on 30a

| By Kimberley Sabens

Swept Away by the Venue and the Menu


oasting one of the best views for dining in South Walton, Vue on 30a is Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club’s signature restaurant, located on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. The restaurant serves lunch, dinner and happy hour throughout the week, as well as a stellar Sunday brunch. Voted “Best Waterfront Dining” by Florida Travel + Life Magazine and “Best Place to Watch a Sunset” by Destin Magazine, Vue on 30a offers an impressive culinary experience. The restaurant is captivating and chic, adorned with sleek and modern black and white furniture in the bar area, with chandeliers enticing the gulf breezes. The open floor plan of the restaurant creates immensity, while the south side wall is floor-to-ceiling windows, offering panoramic views of the surf. While refined, there is a relaxing quality to Vue on 30a. It is welcoming and warm and the menu aims to please with selections for everyone. They offer vegetarian and gluten-free options, as well as seafood, lamb, beef, and duck. At the helm in the kitchen is Executive Chef Giovanni Filippone, who knows dining at Vue is about the total package. “Our guests have the unique opportunity to dine just steps from the Gulf of Mexico, and our menu captures that experience,” Filippone explained. “Each dish tells a story using what the eyes see in the view


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

“Each dish tells a story using what the eyes see in the view and what the palate tastes, creating an integrated dining experience.”

– Giovanni Filippone, Executive Chef

and what the palate tastes, creating an integrated dining experience.” The Pistachio Crusted Grouper is accompanied by a sweet pistachio cream sauce and a risotto that is simply spot on every time. Chef’s Fruits de Mer – a sauté of shrimp, fish, mussels, clams, calamari and half a lobster tail over angel hair pasta – is served in a tomato white wine broth “Vue on 30a’s water front atmosphere reminds me a bit of being at home as a young kid and cooking with my family,” said Filippone. “I am able to focus on specialty dishes and really get creative with all of the fresh ingredients available in our area.”   From the starters menu, the Lobster Macaroni and Cheese with Truffle Oil is hearty and indulgent. The Pork Loin entree with a Marsala curry sauce is paired with fluffy and lush mashed potatoes. Vue on 30a also offers impressive wine and beer selections, with

reserve and draft options for gastronomers with a more persnickety palate. The Justin Sauvignon Blanc enjoyed with the grouper did not disappoint. It was aromatic and light, with commanding lemon and pineapple notes that paired well with the fish. “The restaurant is simply like none other in our area,” said Sarah Brazwell, marketing director for Vue on 30a. “Guests can enjoy a casual night on the outdoor, covered terrace; savor in an intimate table for two indoors; or for the most romantic spot in town with an unobstructed gulf view, reserve a table on the desirable, outdoor west terrace. No matter the choice, every table comes complete with a panoramic gulf-front view, a spectacular sunset and a delicious menu to boot.”

Michael Bickett, general manager for Vue on 30a, echoed that sentiment. “Vue on 30a showcases exquisite culinary creations, highly touted wine and craft cocktail selections, and the most amazing view along Scenic Highway 30A,” Bickett added.   The restaurant is open to the public, but is locally owned by the more than 320 Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club Equity Members who live and own homes in the community. ClubCorp – the largest owner and operator of private golf, dining and country clubs in the country – manages the property.   Vue on 30a is located at 4801 W. County Highway 30A. For more information, visit or phone 850-267-2305. 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


INSPIRED Chef Giovanni Filippone

| By Stephanie Burt

Finding the Fun in Flavor


hef Giovanni Filippone has been at Vue on 30A for years, but he still feels like his main job is to teach the community that it is more than just a restaurant for the country club members. “We aren’t just serving country club food, and we aren’t just serving the public,” he said. “We want to serve both our members and our guests and keep everyone happy.” Throughout his tenure, he’s created a following with dishes such as his scallops and creamy risotto or grouper, dishes that he once tried to change on the menu. “The guests made me change back on those,” he said. “They love those dishes.” He also focuses on classic crowd pleasers like his shrimp alfredo, filet mignon, or crab cakes. Guests love the view at the restaurant as well, as much a part of the experience as the food. As a result, Vue on 30a has become a location for special occasions, including weddings, marriage proposals, and birthday celebrations. The chef takes a simple approach to feedback; Filippone says that he doesn’t need to read the reviews online to know how he’s doing. “All I need is the plate to come back empty,” he quipped. That focus on guest experience is really what “Chef Gio” is about. He wants Vue to be a place for special events, but in short, he just wants each guest to feel special through the experience of a great meal. He still loves to cook on the line, so much so that he was a participant on the popular television show Hell’s Kitchen doing just that. Working a station wasn’t just for TV; once or twice a week he leaves his position as expediter and jumps over to the grill or sauté position at Vue. “I love to cook. That’s what it’s about. I tell my guys that cooking is the best part of the job. It’s like being in high school or college and you don’t know how good it is, how you don’t realize this is the best time of your life until it’s over. That’s the way it was when


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Ward Images


“Cooking makes me happy, and when I’m back there, I’m dancing around and having a good time.”

– Chef Giovanni Filippone

I was a line cook,” he said. “Back then, all I had to think about was cooking good food and getting it to the customer on time. There’s something so satisfying about that, so simple, you know? Cooking makes me happy, and when I’m back there, I’m dancing around and having a good time.” Speaking of college, Chef Gio received his formal training from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, but the passion for creating amazing food is in his blood. He grew up in a close family in New Jersey where his parents always had a garden, always were cooking. “I first watched my mom, who was from Europe, and I got involved in food that way,” he explained. “There was always something going on in the kitchen.” Originally from Sicily, the family understood the connection that happens when food is a part of the fabric of everyday life. Filippone has taken that approach throughout his career, including local spots Beachwalk, Copper Grill, Marina Café, Café Rendezvous, Tuscany, and now Vue. Since he’s been in the area for years, he is very used to the gorgeous, natural setting of 30A and the availability of fresh seafood, but even he was taken aback the first time he strolled into the restaurant he now calls home. “When I walked in here the first time and saw this view, I knew the potential this place had,” he said. “We are just trying to meet those standards every day, to be the best we can be.”

RESTAURANT • LOUNGE • WEDDINGS & EVENTS Named “Best Waterfront Dining” by Travel + Leisure magazine, Vue on 30a is open to the public and showcases one of the best views for dining in all of South Walton. It is a great place for lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch or special occasions with family and friends. Ask us about planning your wedding or special event today.

ENJOY 2 FOR 1 DINNER ENTRÉES EVERYDAY FROM 5 P.M. – 6 P.M.* CONTACT US TO LEARN MORE. 850.267.2305 | 4801 W Hwy 30A | Santa Rosa Beach, FL *Offer valid from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Complimentary entree must be of equal or lesser value. Offer excludes alcohol, service charges and applicable taxes. Other restrictions and exclusions may apply. See club for details. 0517 NP

restaurants. They have received the coveted AAA 4-Diamond Award, and are a recipient of the Florida Trend Golden Spoon Award. “We focus on quality of food and service; all of the accolades will follow that. We let our guests speak for us,” Pardeshi said. Frequent wine dinners aim to educate guests and showcase new wines that the ordinary diner might not know. These events entice guests to stay for dinner, ordering the wine they sampled. In the off-season, these meals are held weekly, featuring four wines paired with charcuterie, at $15 a person. “Adventurous diners want to try different things, so we always try to go bold and make that statement,” Pardeshi said. “For the adventurous diners, we have seafood from New Zealand and Hawaii. We try to educate our guests on the different cuisines and ingredients and are in the works to be comparable to The Pearl in having a type of culinary academy to educate our guests. We also do a monthly wine Wednesday.” If you’re looking for a wedding or reception venue, WaterColor Inn and Resort is home to the largest indoor banquet space on 30A, and a very popular choice for brides and grooms. They see 80 to 100 weddings annually. Customizable celebration experiences and packages are created to suit 2 to 225 guests in their various spaces, including Fish Out of Water, WaterColor LakeHouse, and WaterColor BoatHouse. Chef Pardeshi reminisced on an Indian wedding held at the

Fish Out of Water

“Our cost does not matter to us. We are not going to give our guests frozen halibut. If it is not in season, we do not serve it.”

– Preetam Pardeshi, Executive Sous Chef

resort in 2014. “It was a four-day event and a great experience for us and WaterColor. It was a very colorful and traditional procession. That was a big achievement for me, that we showed the couple their dream and made that dream possible … in WaterColor. Our wedding coordinators really do an awesome job. Seamlessness is the goal.” Glistening gulf views, modern decor with beautiful blown glass accent pieces, the work of local artists like Justin Gaffney on display, a sommelier, and notably executed dishes as well as a dedication to service are just a few of the things diners adore about WaterColor Inn and Resort’s Fish Out of Water. Fish Out of Water is located at WaterColor Inn at 34 Goldenrod Circle in Santa Rosa Beach. The attire is resort casual and they are open for breakfast and dinner, accepting reservations at 850-534-5050.

| By Kimberley Sabens

First-Class Southern Fusion in WaterColor


outhern coastal, avant-garde and always evolving, Fish Out of Water offers a modernistic American fine dining experience. Boasting intimate dining, stunning gulf views, and international influences, the restaurant promises guests something unique and out of the ordinary. Executive Chef Christopher Mayhew and his staff really strive to make guests feel welcomed and at home, following the ASAP philosophy: As Southern As Possible. This mantra – fused with Executive Sous Chef Preetam Pardeshi’s roots in Mumbai – adds a saucy and artistic adventurousness to the WaterColor area. Pardeshi takes great pride in being detail-oriented, making certain the food they serve is representative of the team. He says they don’t focus on just one category, but like to blend cultures and fuse them to wow and please everyone. “It is about the diversity and the unity. We try to bring many flavors to the table. A lot of our homeowners live in Europe and they have high expectations, so the food has to represent that. We try to up our skill levels by using modern techniques. It is about tasty and beautiful food and getting that genuine feedback from our guests,” he said. Their menu is short and simple, featuring a wide array of fresh options. Their crab cakes are phenomenal and a staple of the menu. The uniqueness is that they are gluten-free and dairy-free and paired


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

with a Florida citrus organic basil aioli that is simple and balanced, yet impressive with immense flavor. For a specialty cocktail, try their signature Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. This amazing martini combines honeysuckle vodka, lemon, jalapeño, and fresh mint. Meow! Fish Out of Water is dedicated to that farm-to-table and dockto-table experience. Chilton farmer Robert Wheeler, of Wheeler Farms, is one of their passionate growers. “His product is amazing … whether it is organic garlic or organic arugula. We give him a list and he will grow it for us. We are extremely lucky to have such great growers. We always plan for the next season while in season. We need to plan ahead so we can seek sustainable and mostly local sources for our products,” Pardeshi explained. Staunchly supportive of the sustainable dining, Pardeshi strives to make certain that their seafood is fresh from the gulf. “Our cost does not matter to us. We are not going to give our guests frozen halibut. If it is not in season, we do not serve it. We also try to do as much locally as possible,” he said. FOOW gets scallops fresh from Maine and local seafood from Tarpin Dock Seafood Market in Panama City Beach. Only high-end food makes it onto their plates. Fish Out of Water is well-awarded and they have once again been recognized as one of Forbes Travel Guide’s four-star rated 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


TOP Breakfast Dining Options in south walton

Seagrove Village MarketCafé By Sarah Murphy Robertson

Back and Better Than Ever


e’ve all heard the phrase: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Much to the delight of generations of Seagrove Village MarketCafé loyalists, the beautiful new location kept a great deal of the charm and decor from the original restaurant. Restaurateurs George and Ann Hartley have owned the Seagrove Village MarketCafé since 1999 and when the first restaurant closed, their goal was always to bring its vibe, feel and charisma into the new space. The brand new building lets in a lot more sunshine but let’s be clear, the food is still what lights up those faces. You’ve probably got your own personal go-to order. For me I rarely waver from getting the fried grouper po-boy and fries. Rest assured you can still get your yummy comfort food groove on. All those delicious po-boys and burgers are still prepared exactly as they always were. What you may not realize, however, is the new space has upgraded the menu a bit – adding even more variety to the party. At dinnertime, the Seagrove Village MarketCafé now offers appetizers, including whole fried okra. These are served with a smoky remoulade and these tasty guys are everything fried okra fanatics crave. The pimento cheese is house made, too. Insider tip: go ahead and get the Nibble Trio – it greatly helps with what can be a serious struggle in decision-making. A side of golden french fries are always a solid choice, but should you get adventurous now you have a bigger variety of options to accompany your sandwich or burger. Try the collards, house made mac n’ cheese, cheese grits or fried green tomatoes. Hungry yet? Other new menu items include George’s Grilled Meatloaf. This well-seasoned entree is first made from scratch, chilled overnight and then sliced and griddled to order. The result is a delicate outer crust on the meat. Served with collard cheese grits, Texas toast and one other choice of side. This is one satisfying splurge of a meal. 20

2017 Food & Wine Guide •

Another Broken Egg Cafe

Grand Boulevard, Baytowne Wharf, Grayton Beach

“We kept the favorites we’ve always been known for, but added some healthier options, too.”

The Great Southern Café | Seaside

– George Hartley, Owner

Two more words grace the new menu: chicken and waffles. Three fried or grilled tenders (regular or “painted” with hot sauce) are perched on a warm, fluffy Belgian waffle. George shared that this new menu item may have been contingent upon the building’s loan being approved. Smart banker! One of the best parts of being a longtime local institution is the stories behind how the recipes come to be. Take Señora Anna’s Fish and Shrimp Tacos for example. Locals may remember during offseason the Hartleys would host Mexican-themed nights on Thursdays. These festive dinners found Ann as head chef and her fish tacos, flautas, fajitas and sangria were always big hits. “Ann would put on an apron and she was in charge of the kitchen those Thursdays,” George recalled with a laugh. As times changed, the Mexican nights ended, but those fish tacos are still on the menu for all to enjoy. The new restaurant boasts some lighter fare, too. “We kept the favorites we’ve always been known for, but added some healthier options, too,” George explained. Take the Market Salad for example. Its many textural components like field peas, beets and corn keep it interesting. Diners can also order it topped with grilled chicken or shrimp or even a crab cake. If you can find a little space left for dessert, their Homemade Key Lime Pie and Ann’s Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie are equally delicious choices. Continued on page 44

Bud & Alley’s | Seaside

Grits & Grind Breakfast & Coffee | Seacrest

Cowgirl Kitchen | Rosemary Beach, Seagrove

The Donut Hole | Santa Rosa Beach, Inlet Beach 2017 Food & Wine Guide •



Surfing Deer

| By Sarah Murphy Robertson

Sailing Onto the 30A Scene


ince opening in the fall of 2016, Surfing Deer has received rave reviews for its keen skill in the art of balance. Offering guests an authentic fine dining experience in an approachable way requires adept coordination and practice. Luckily this hardworking team includes seasoned restaurant owners George and Ann Hartley and esteemed Executive Chef Gregg Smith. Most assuredly this means diners are in good hands and their visit to Surfing Deer is guaranteed to be a swell ride. Smith has lived in the South Walton area since 1986 when he took over The Wheelhouse restaurant in Seagrove. Through the years he has perfected his craft at Watercolor Inn, George’s at Alys Beach and The Pearl in Rosemary Beach, and is happy to be back in Seagrove where his 30A culinary career started. Chef credits the culinary credence found on 30A to unprecedented access to gulf seafood, but also to our area’s abundance of locally grown produce. He values his relationships with local farmers and the products they provide inspire his menus. When asked his favorite summer ingredients to cook with, he didn’t hesitate. “Peaches and summer corn - I’m a southern boy after all,” Smith said. You’re sure to see those beauties pop up in some features this season. “I’ve put a lot of thought into our food’s style and I would say we are coastal cuisine with lots of global influences as well,” he explained. This is reflected in much of the menu, including the Short Rib Bao Buns. This delicious starter is layered with traditionally Korean components including kimchi, crunchy pickled daikon, and gochujang – a fermented condiment made from hot peppers – lending the dish those complex sweet and sour notes. Another globally inspired dish Smith enjoyed concepting is the Harissa Lamb Tenderloin. The lamb is marinated with a housemade spice rub. If you aren’t familiar with Harissa, it is a North African paste made from peppers, herbs, garlic and others spices.


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

“I want people to come in here and enjoy the food, have that wow factor, but always feel comfortable and relaxed.”

– Chef Gregg Smith

The result is meat with a uniquely aromatic and punchy kick. This stunner of a dish is then served with cooling curried yogurt and sits atop tender pearls of Israeli cous cous to offset the peppery heat. It was first served as a special at Surfing Deer this spring, and its popularity made it a menu mainstay. In addition to great food, Smith stressed he wants diners to know they’ll get exceptional service at Surfing Deer. “I want people to come in here and enjoy the food, have that wow factor, but always feel comfortable and relaxed,” he shared. In keeping with this goal, Surfing Deer offers one of the few true vegan options in the fine dining arena of 30A. The Garden of Vegan entree includes a pecan crusted sweet potato, sundried tomato and avocado smash, smoky baked cranberry beans and tart blackberries. Two salads on the menu are vegan as well. The kitchen’s focus on creativity and attention to detail is apparent in these plates. With so many courses to experience, guests of Surfing Deer might not prioritize dessert, but that would be a big mistake. Surfing Deer’s pastry chef, Rachele McCulley, is a masterful artist and her creations take familiar recipes and make them modern and new. The summer menu showcases her take on a classic: strawberry shortcake. A delicate layer of cake is spread with strawberry preserves, rolled, sliced, carefully dipped in beignet batter and fried to airy, golden perfection. This irresistible hybrid of a shortcake and a beignet is then served with chantilly cream. It’s a treat you’ll find Continued on page 44

Where Memories Are Made 625 Grand Boulevard, E102, Miramar Beach, Florida | 850.837.9445 |

2017 Food & Wine Guide •


have some pretty major specialty cocktails, including the frozen Billy Ocean: a true Caribbean queen freshly made with mango, pineapple, Captain Morgan rum, and ginger. Also worth a try is the Cloud Nine, a delightfully refreshing temptress made with Hendrick’s Gin, St-Germain, fresh cucumber, fresh lemon juice and a splash of soda water. Now, let’s get to the food. I started with the red beet hummus that is fragrant and garlicky, with hints of nutty chickpeas and topped with mango jam. This is all balanced nicely with the crisp crunch of bell peppers and cucumbers. The grouper bowl is beautifully presented on a tricolor sprouted quinoa and topped with that tantalizing mango jam and a coconut sauce. This dish is served with fried plantains, zucchini and sweet potatoes. The fried sweet plantains are perfectly and lightly fried to a sweet and savory excellence – they made my day! Chiringo is making some cool new additions, adding convenience options for beachgoers. Packaged salads, fresh juices, cleaner-eating items like blackened shrimp wraps and fresh celery for munching are being added to their summer takeout selections. The kids’ menu offers choices of a burger, chicken fingers, or shrimp. Improvements to the outdoor area include additional green space with beanbags to chill on beneath Florida’s endless blue skies. With summer tones and tunes on high, the green space is fantastic


“If we run out of something, we run out. None of our food is frozen – ever. The only thing in our freezer is ice cream.”

– Lance Jaglarski

for all ages and pups alike. Also included in the new additions, Chiringo has teamed up with Rent Gear Here to provide guests food delivery options, paddleboard and bike rentals, and other conveniences to take the worry out of eating, staying, and playing. Easily an unrivaled hot spot, Chiringo is quickly becoming another feel-good subculture of the 30A way of life. It has that island feel, grab a day drink vibe. The partners are knowledgeable, health-focused, and geared toward creating that island-style legacy in Grayton. With a seating capacity of 100 inside and 35 to 40 outside, Chiringo can accommodate most any party size at its 63 Holtz Ave restaurant. Chiringo is open seven days a week 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the summer season and they accept all major credit cards. Any questions, give them a call at 850-534-4449 or check out their site,

| By Kimberley Sabens

Spanish beach vibe captured in Grayton


nspired by a trip to southern Spain, business partners Lance Jaglarski and Andy McKoski ventured to our eclectic Grayton Beach to open Chiringo in April 2016. With fresh and organic ingredients in mind, these guys set out to bring something truly unique to 30A. With a laid back communal sensibility, paired with the ingrained village vibe of Grayton Beach, Chiringo has the flavors and funky coolness to fit right into this quirky beachside community. There is an unmistakable open-air vibe that will add flare to your beach stay or average 30A day. “Our inspiration was to have that laid back type of atmosphere like we discovered in Spain,” McKoski explained. “We’re concerned with lots of things, but primarily we want to focus on how people feel. Are we adequately creating what we felt in Spain? We’re trying to make vacations memorable for people. We want you to visit us and enjoy yourself. We’re always trying to do it right.” Jaglarski said Chiringo opened with a good team – a secret to restaurant success – and they’ve retained about 85 percent of their crew from opening day. They’ve even added a third business partner in Travis Matney. It all seems to be a winning combination. “People are no longer coming to an address in Grayton, they are coming specifically to Chiringo because that’s where they want to be, in open-air and eating healthier food,” Jaglarski said.


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The idea of a chiringuito – or a small beach restaurant and bar – serves as a traditional Andalusian gathering place renowned for fresh tastes and caught-from-the-sea-focused food. Theoretically simple but harder to encapsulate, Chiringo is an eclectic and perfect addition to Grayton Beach’s Hotz Ave. There is a warm breeze of swaying flirtation to this place. Chiringo is inclusive and diverse with a menu that offers a varied mix of colorful and fresh vegetables and healthy proteins to get you fueled for a beautiful 30A beach day. “There’s a lot of logistics that go into having fresh grouper and fresh produce every day, so it’s a calculated risk. If we run out of something, we run out. None of our food is frozen – ever. The only thing in our freezer is ice cream,” Jaglarski said. That devotion to freshness means someone is in the Chiringo kitchen every morning between 7 and 8 a.m., chopping up the day’s fries’ supply. “If you’re in Grayton super early, swing on by and lean your ear to the door; you’ll hear the pounding of the fries being cut,” Jaglarski joked. Word on the street is that the most popular menu item – hands down – is their margarita, made with fresh-squeezed lime juice and homemade sweet and sour mix. And just so you know, they also 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Vin’tij Wine Boutique & Bistro

| By Melissa Vidaurre

Stylistically Comfortable, Warm and Kind of Funky


in’tij Wine Boutique & Bistro is South Walton’s quintessential “hole-in-the-wall” destination where tourists and locals alike go to wine and dine. Unassumingly located on Emerald Coast Parkway in a shopping plaza across from the Silver Sands Premium Outlets, this funky little spot transports you from the bustling highway of sights to see, into an oasis where wine reigns supreme. At Vin’tij, the wine selections are just as important to the dining experience as the mouth-watering creations featured on the menu. The establishment is a joint effort through and through, as partners Todd Reber and Chef John Jacob brought their respective knowledge of wine and food together 18 years ago to create the perfect culinary pairings. Reber, who serves as the general manager and resident wine expert, describes it as, “Stylistically comfortable, warm, kind of funky... a place that releases all outside stress or undoings.” With its purple walls and art displayed all around, this is a unique bistro right down to the name. It was with wine in mind that Reber and Jacob thought of naming the bistro “Vintage,” honoring the importance of the year in which wine is produced. Upon researching the word in the dictionary, however, the first thing they saw was the phonetic spelling. This altered spelling of “Vin’tij” captured the quirky twist that brought their vision to fruition in 1998. 26

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One of these anarchy-worthy dishes is the famous and most frequently ordered Pan-Fried Oyster B.L.T. Sandwich. Featuring “the super trifecta from flavor town” (pan-fried oysters, applewood smoked bacon, and brie cheese), it is held together with toasted golden brown bread and accompanied by a side of greens and a chilled balsamic pasta salad. Other favorites include the Pecan Roast Chicken, served with Parmesan grits, pickled vegetables, and smoked tomato chutney. The Mango Ginger Glazed Salmon that is served over a bed of vegetable couscous. Also wildly popular is the Grape, Walnut, & Blue Cheese Tart appetizer. The blue cheese makes it creamy, the wine crust makes it crumbly, and the grapes matched with the slight sweetness of the balsamic reduction make it memorable. The tart almost begs to be paired with a glass of wine. Though the dining experience at Vin’tij is elevated, the atmosphere remains eclectic, casual, and friendly. On any given day, patrons can mosey into the extensive wine library to learn about the possibilities each bottle has to offer. They are able to make a selection for their table or several to take home. This collection has been carefully curated by Reber, who makes himself available to guests for questions and suggestions. “I started our wine library out of a desire to sell the wines when they are ready to drink,” Reber said, explaining the concept behind this unique feature. “We have a trend of release, open, and enjoy. Not all wines are created that way. Too many times guests have opened a wine with great anticipation and are somewhat left

“My shelves are lined with wineries who are stewards to the land, and I will always use this as an operating philosophy.”

– Todd Reber, GM

unsatisfied, but when the wine has had a few years to mature in the bottle, a totally different experience is had.” In addition to choosing bottles from the wine library, guests can also enjoy wine by the glass or in a tasting flight. Tasting six samples of wine side-by-side becomes an educational experience to discover preferences and expand palates. This is the best method, Reber explained, for discerning differences between similar wines. “Learning is continuous,” Reber said. “I love to see what’s new in food, wine, and technology in our industry!” Vin’tij also hosts regular wine tastings to expose guests to unique selections they have not yet experienced or would like to learn more about. Reber and Jacob agree it’s important the staff remains knowledgeable as well, so they can share information and maintain their ability to suggest perfect pairings. The eatery takes reservations at 850-650-9820 and is open seven days at week, serving lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Visit them online at or in person at 10859 Emerald Coast Parkway, Suite 103, Destin.

Photos courtesy of Vin’tij Wine Boutique & Bistro

Chef Jacob has a lengthy culinary background, having prepared seafood in Bar Harbor, Maine and Seattle, Wash., so the fresh local catch in Destin is a natural fit for his talents. As a result, daily fish presentations are considered Vin’tij’s signature dishes. The fish is one of the daily lunch specials along with a soup, salad, and pasta, all determined each day based on the ingredients available within the local market. Nothing is ever purchased in bulk with a “here today, gone today” mentality to ensure only the freshest food is served. “Chef and I are constantly talking about and seeking food products, and (we) continue moving towards fresh, non-GMO, hormone- and antibiotic-free products,” Reber said, noting the importance of working with integrity. “Likewise, I select wines from wineries with the same discernment. My shelves are lined with wineries who are stewards to the land, and I will always use this as an operating philosophy.” Vin’tij is open for lunch and dinner, offering many of the same dishes that have been featured since they first opened. These offerings have become highly-requested classics through the years that guests return for time and time again. “It would be really hard to do a complete menu change. People come specifically to have (certain menu items.) We would have a revolt if we ever took these items off the menu… we won’t!” Reber assured. 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Restaurant Paradis

82 South Barrett Square, Rosemary Beach 850-534-0400 • | By Laura Holloway

East Meets West in Paradise


ach beachside town along 30A creates its own eclectic hum, purring with a beach vibe unique to its crowds and varying in style and structure of appearance. Each is special in its own way, and most visitors have a favorite. For many, that place is Rosemary Beach, a charming, upscale community located on 30A’s easternmost side, existing as a collection of large cottages and ocean views. Within the town are several wonderful choices for dining, including Restaurant Paradis, whose slogan “Coastal Feel, Local Charm” perfectly sums up the charming beauty and delightful menu of Paradis. The name, of course, means Paradise, and the hope is that those dining there understand why with their first bites of the artfully crafted cuisine. When co-owners and operators Danny and Monica Cosenzi opened Restaurant Paradis in 2009, they brought their combined restaurant experience of more than 45 years into the heart of the eatery. This included carefully choosing thoughtful décor and atmosphere touches, and hiring a qualified, dedicated staff – including Mark Eichin as Executive Chef. The dining experience can be enjoyed at Paradis inside their dining area or outside on the patio during the balmy summer and spring seasons, or whenever weather allows. “It’s upscale casual fine dining,” Eichin explained. “Whenever I ask anybody, we hit almost everybody’s aspect of what they are looking for to eat. It’s a friendly atmosphere. We’re casual, but we’re high on our service standards. Everyone is personable, interacting with the guests.” The restaurant opens every day at 5 p.m., and the attire is described as ‘smart casual.’ The focus of the food is inarguably coastal, with menu options such as a Peach and Cucumber Gazpacho or the Shrimp and Lobster Linguini. A Gulf Coast Snapper served with fried plantains, conch, okra, red bell pepper and chorizo collard greens with a spiced rum passion fruit beurre


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

Photos courtesy of Tommy Crow

“We’re casual, but we’re high on our service standards. Everyone is personable, interacting with the guests.”

– Mark Eichin, Executive Chef

blanc offers unique combinations. The Tomahawk Pork Chop includes chicharron and bacon encrusted with roasted fingerling potatoes and cauliflower with an apple bourbon demi-glace. Eichin said patrons enjoy that they change the menu constantly, offering new choices for returning patrons and continually updating and refreshing their menu to align with current trends and beloved standbys. His favorite item on the menu to cook? The scallops or the filet, which is seared and served with Yukon gold mash, broccolini, and a black truffle demi. The reason for the success of Paradis is simple, according to the chef. “It’s the quality and consistency of the food, the price points, and the amazing staff itself,” Eichin admitted. “We always give a great feeling to everyone that comes in.” The menu is unique from other area restaurants in that it is a hodgepodge of origins and flavors. “We try to do a little bit of fusion of everything. We have an Asian flair, like the tuna dish. We take a European sauce and mix that with a Southern, Floridian flair,” Eichin added. If a full meal isn’t in the plans, the bar area of Paradis is a destination in itself: artfully decorated, tastefully lighted, and filled with a collection of intimate seating areas that inspire meaningful connections and deep conversations. Chef Eichin says that there is new focus on specialty gin drinks (“It’s en vogue”), as food and fashion is taking a turn back to 1920’s inspiration, and the drinks Continued on page 44

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TOP wine lists in south walton Chef Mark Eichin

45 Central Wine Bar | Seaside

| By Stephanie Burt

Stirring the Southern Melting Pot


estaurant Paradis is a small restaurant, and that is just how Chef Mark Eichin likes it. “I like actually hearing feedback from the person instead of having to go to a place like Yelp for it,” he explained. “Here, I am able to have more contact with the guests, and I love being able to accommodate their requests, their feedback. Some people will even call ahead and request a favorite they had here, and if I can, I’ll try to do it for them.” Those favorites can include fresh-caught snapper prepared in a variety of ways, a pork chop with an apple-bourbon demi-glace, or the creamy and decadent lobster mac n’ cheese. Eichin can do it all. He graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in Orlando and originally worked at Bistro Bijoux, so he was a natural fit for executive chef when Paradis opened. Eichin grew up in East Tennessee, traveled the country and worked in many different styles of food. Here on 30A, however, he is creatively inspired by the fact that in many ways, this is a Southern melting pot. So-called Floribbean and coastal styles play side-by-side with Southern comfort food, Louisiana spice, or traditional French preps from some of the region’s best kitchens. “I like to bring Southern aspects into the food here, little accents or ingredients such as collard greens or biscuits, into the menu,” he said, weaving those traditional Southern elements into a focus on fresh seafood, wild caught shrimp, and seasonal ingredients. The chef likes to incorporate organic ingredients where possible, and he’s also spearheaded a program allowing the restaurant to craft its own filtered still and sparkling waters. Although food and beverage is definitely his focus, for Eichin, it comes down to creating an environment that people want to be in, and that includes his staff. The restaurant itself has a very comfortable neighborhood feel, and “family” is a word that might be an apt description of the staff. Many have been with him for


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

Café Thirty-A | Seagrove

“I like to bring Southern aspects into the food here, little accents or ingredients such as collard greens or biscuits, into the menu.” – Chef Mark Eichin years, a testament to the restaurant and the chef in a tight labor market with a seasonal flow of guests. “I really like the teaching process in the kitchen, and I try to instill the idea of being mindful and that bottom-line of respect for each other,” he explained. “Sure, there are times when it gets intense, but we spend so much time together back there, it should be like a family atmosphere as much as possible.” And throughout the year, Eichin keeps it interesting for the staff. During the busy times, of course, it’s about striving for perfection, for consistency, for the best food they can put on the plate. But when the quieter season comes, Eichin really likes to engage his staff in some cross training to keep their minds sharp and invested in the staying put. For instance, the restaurant butchers all the steaks in-house, and when the time is right, Eichin has fun training how to properly do it. He’ll also leave the kitchen each fall with select members of his prep team to cook at the annual Savor the Season event to benefit the Taylor Haugen Foundation, where this year he prepared a Barbecue Pork Belly paired with a Santa Barbara Pinot Noir. Special events are a way to keep things interesting, creative, and ideas flowing. “We are trying to do our own little thing here, and we have fun and love to create for our loyal following,” he said. Perhaps he’s found a home in this melting pot paradise after all.

Cuvee 30A | Inlet Beach Cuvee Kitchen + Wine Bar | Miramar Beach Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar | Grand Boulevard The Bay | Santa Rosa Beach The Great Southern Café | Seaside The Wine Bar | Grand Boulevard, WaterColor Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood | Sandestin Vin’tij Wine Boutique and Bistro Miramar Beach

2017 Food & Wine Guide •


for 15 local children’s charities, for a grand total of over $15 million donated in 12 years. Cox refers to this as one of his proudest achievements. He has a passion to help troubled teens make positive life choices and receive industry training. He values experience, and the need for trained kitchen staff in our area is always growing.

Getting Better With Age

Chan Cox

| By Jordan Lacenski

A Career Aging Like a Fine Wine


f your community doesn’t have the wine you want, bring the wine you want to your community. That was the motto of local entrepreneurial success story Chan Cox, owner of Chan’s Wine World. Cox grew up in a dry county in southern Alabama. In the early ‘70s, there was very little wine in our market; the real money was in spirits. After graduating from Troy University, he went to work for a wholesale distributor in Pensacola. Cox took a special interest in wine as he studied the history, the winemaking process, wine regions and varietals. He became the “wine expert” among his colleagues. As his interest in wine and his love for travel continued to grow, he went on to teach wine classes in west Florida and progressed to management with Standard Distributing. It was in these 10 years that Cox learned the business in a deeper way. He optimistically pursued an emerging wine market and wanted to be the first to bring it to Northwest Florida. In 1979, he struck out on his own, opening what he refers to as “a modern day craft bar.” With the support of his family, and his mother’s willingness to remortgage their family home, he opened Chan’s Saloon & Eatery. Half of the store was devoted to retail and the other to the eatery and saloon. This began a long journey of developing and learning on-premise. The move took courage, and Cox describes himself as a risk taker. “I’m pretty aggressive about that. I tend to think that everything is possible,” he said. With dedication to push through, he started to expand his business, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Like most ventures,


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

there have been some painful lessons along the way. “I have had some successes, and I have had some failures,” he admitted, adding that each failure came with a valuable lesson, and that when these roadblocks arise, he soul searches and explores what he can learn from the situation. As his partner Bob Montgomery often says, “There’s no lesson like a bought lesson.”

A Wine Festival Emerges

Feeling like you haven’t worked a day in your life is a distant luxury to most, but “It’s literally fun for me,” Cox admitted. With a constantly evolving business model, his attitude everyday is fueled by what he can do to make his business better. Building a team he is proud of and continuing to invest in that team, he is convinced again that working with people is the most fulfilling. He has created a culture of education, development, and relationship building. His team cares about its customers and knowing them, their likes, their dislikes, their tasting progression. Chan’s Wine World recently launched an e-commerce feature on its website. Noticing the pressures on brick and mortar stores, Cox felt the need to continue to sell the Wine World way of life to people all over the country through online sales. One of the things that sets Wine World apart is the Winery Direct business offered. Cox and long-time friend Michel Thibault travel the world visiting wineries in Italy, France, California and beyond. They visit conventions and trade shows to find brands they believe in and they offer them exclusively to the Wine World consumer. Cox teaches his staff about each brand, so they can relay the story to you, the buyer. By eliminating the importer and distributor in these instances, Wine World is able to “offer a rare experience, a small producer’s product, to our market at an affordable price.”

“I tend to think that everything is possible.” – Chan Cox, owner Personally, Cox admits his palate has changed – as happens to most Americans. As he learned more, he found that he truly enjoyed Old World wines, drier wines with balanced tannins. This makes sense, considering that he describes his wine consumption as highly influenced by food. He enjoys a glass of wine each night with dinner and focuses on the pairing of the two. As far as beers, he went from drinking mass domestic products to light and flavorful craft beers, such as Cigar City’s Florida Cracker. He has now explored the world of sours. As he reminisced on all that has changed through the years he has been in business, Cox commented on people’s desire for quality. People are drinking better but they are drinking less. Instead of drinking six Bud Lights, they are perusing the tap selection for something they haven’t had. They may drink two craft beers instead. There is a demand for higher-end products, and people are willing to invest in a better taste. As a member of The Wine And Spirits Guild, he enjoys the company of the top independent retailers all over the United States. His success continues and he aims to constantly improve. When asked about his business goals, he simply answered, “I want to continue to build a business I can be proud of.” He shares the story of an admirable man in the industry who continued to work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday through the age of 90. On the day he died, he worked the same schedule, and passed in his sleep that night. He describes building a company as part of your life in that way: it’s memorable, it’s motivating, it’s fulfilling.

Photos courtesy of Chan’s Wine World

Cox has been influential and passionate about the Emerald Coast Community since the day he stepped into the business world. Founding a wine festival made perfect sense to allow people to try things they had never dreamed of trying before. What is now the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival began over 30 years ago. Offering an impressive lineup of food, wines, spirits, and – most recently – craft beers, the festival continues to grow and entertain. This long-standing festival has been an industry staple and it lives right here in our backyard, bringing people from all over the United States. From the festival grew a desire to create something more intimate that would benefit the next generation of our area. Thirteen years ago, Cox and a few close friends decided they would create a foundation – one that attracts wine enthusiasts in our area – and gives back to children in need. Thus, the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) was born. In its first year, DCWAF raised $80,000 and has continued to grow every year. Always held the last weekend in April, the 2017 event raised over $2.7 million 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


The Craft Bar

Wine World, Wine Bar, & Craft Bar

| By Jordan Lacenski

Beyond Beer, Burgers and Bordeaux


ust as your palette evolves, Wine World rises to meet it. With an unmatched selection, Wine World offers an impressive inventory including exclusive wines from their winery direct program. What started as one location in Destin in 2000, has grown into six locations all around Northwest Florida, with two more in the works. Wine World has now become the perfect food and beverage trifecta, offering gourmet cheeses, an overflowing selection of wines, the highest-rated allocation of tasty brews on tap, handcrafted cocktails, and one of the best grass-fed beef burgers you will ever experience. The Wine World retail experience is accompanied by The Wine Bar and The Craft Bar, with each restaurant boasting high quality in different ways.

The Wine Bar The Wine Bar was awarded the Best of the Emerald Coast “Best Wine List” in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Always rotating with new exclusive wines, their famous daily happy hour brings in crowds for carafes and perfectly paired cuisine. Each Wine Bar location offers sophisticated food but a comfortable setting for date night, ladies, night, or business lunches. The Destin, Grand Boulevard, and WaterColor locations on 30A each have cozy indoor seating as well as patio options. An ever-evolving menu features delicious and fresh salads, small plates, dinner plates such as their fresh gulf fish entrees, and a variety of impressive cheese boards featuring warm baked baguettes, assorted nuts and fruits, and copious amounts of cheese choices from all 34

2017 Food & Wine Guide •

over the world. If you are in the Destin location, expand your cheese knowledge with their in-house cheese expert. Fridays are for feasting at the Wine Bar with farm-to-table specials. All vegetables and proteins are sourced from local farms and fisheries. It’s no surprise that a wine selection so diverse would be accompanied by a menu to match. “My wine consumption is all about food,” said founder and owner Chan Cox. From large protein dishes to small plates for sharing, the menu rotates regularly, always taking the wines to pair in to consideration. Wine Bar often features ticketed wine dinners and other special events that allow you to approach higher tiered wines at an affordable price. With a winery principle typically in attendance, you are taken on a journey from the vineyards to the bottle. Exclusively prepared plates are placed in front of you, complementing the flavors and aromas as they swirl around your glass. As you approach new wines in the restaurant, you can just as easily take them home. “Our bars are creating energy for our retail stores,” said Cox. “We see it every day. Customers ask where the wine is that they just had in the restaurant. They buy it and take it home with them.” Setting them apart is the opportunity to purchase wines directly from producers all over the world. “Michel Thibault and I travel all over to meet with producers ... to bring this experience to people exclusively in this market,” explained Cox. “We like to be the first to bring things to our communities.”

Out of the continued demand for more rare beers, featured craft cocktails, and a menu that goes far beyond “bar food,” a Florida Gastropub was born. The Craft Bar’s first location launched in the summer of 2014. Now with four locations and a fifth coming soon, you can enjoy craft spirits, craft beers, and craft food from Pensacola to Panama City. Cox said he saw an opportunity, a niche he could develop with The Craft Bar. Guests are immediately greeted with an impressive cypress wood bar framing over 30 taps and shelves upon shelves of craft whiskeys, tequilas, vodkas, and rums. All mixers include house-made ingredients, such as hand-pressed juices, homemade syrups and infusions, and fresh herbs and produce. The Craft Bar has every right to boast about their beef, all sourced locally from Heureux Farms, where cows are grass-fed and raised on pastures. Each generously sized burger is served with your choice of cheese, a buttered bun, and a variety of other delicious burger fixins’ so it’s just the way you like it. Even the ketchup is house-made with a little secret kick. At lunch and dinner, the plated specials feature your choice of several southern-style sides with fried or grilled fish, chicken, or Craft Bar meatloaf. If you haven’t tried the fried chicken, you are missing out. Sink your teeth into perfectly crisp fried batter and juicy white chicken. This southern plate is so good, you will think you are at Grandma’s.

“Michel Thibault and I travel all over ... to bring this experience to people exclusively in this market. We like to be the first to bring things to our communities.”

– Chan Cox, Owner

One of The Craft Bar trademarks is the “Crowler.” For those not familiar, Growlers are typically 64-ounce glass jugs you take to your favorite microbrewery and fill with fresh beer. At the beach, we like cans, so the Craft Bar has designed its own 32-ounce aluminum togo vessel. After being filled with your on-tap beer, the can is sealed so you can pop open a fresh draft-style beer on your next deep sea fishing excursion, picnic on the beach, or just watching the game from home. Whether you are at The Wine Bar, The Craft Bar, or perusing the Wine World aisles for something new, the staff at each location is committed to your experience. Each is knowledgeable and passionate about the products they carry. Every location has set the bar for others in the industry in our area and they are constantly rising to meet the demands on the horizon. From farm-to-table to sold-out festivals, these locals’ favorites offer more than beers and burgers or wine and cheese. They offer “a way of life.” Visit for details on all the locations.

Photos courtesy of Chan’s Wine World

2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Since 2000


Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood




| By Jordan Lacenski and Michelle Farnham

From Surf and Turf to Wine Divine!


eagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood has been cooking up the Emerald Coast since 1998. Its reputation of excellence is well maintained, as it is the longest-standing AAA Four-Diamond Restaurant in Northwest Florida. Located within the largest fullservice beachfront resort in Northwest Florida, Seagar’s serves as the premier dining destination for both locals and visitors on vacation. Bringing a New York-style steakhouse experience to the beach, Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood proudly offers 100 percent USDA Prime Black Diamond steaks and chops. Select seafood creations match the highly acclaimed steak options. In a low-lit, intimate setting with impeccable service, you can choose from over 600 wines on their list, earning them the “Best of Award of Excellence” from Wine Spectator Magazine. With over 3,700 bottles kept on site, Seagar’s has landed the recognition for the last 10 consecutive years. Reserving the wine room allows you to admire a portion of this fine selection for a night of celebration or private dining. Seasoned Seagar’s Sous Chef Laurie Graupner was promoted to executive chef earlier this year, but understands you don’t mess with perfection. “Seagar’s has an excellent reputation and I plan to stay true to its


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

New York style,” Graupner said. “I will continue to work with local farms and fishermen to get the freshest seasonal products for my menus.” Graupner, who has worked at Seagar’s for five years, takes the reigns from her mentor, renowned chef Dan Vargo, who was named the executive chef of Hilton Sandestin. “I feel honored and very blessed to be Seagar’s executive chef. Chef Vargo has fully prepared me for this position, and I am looking forward to the future of Seagar’s and my role in it,” Graupner assured. “I have learned a lot from the former Seagar’s executive chef, including the many wonderful ingredients that Florida has to offer.” At the front of the house, the Seagar’s staff truly delivers a fivestar experience, with every detail overseen by the captain of service, including signature tableside food preparation. Your server greets you with extensive knowledge of the menu and wine list, allowing him or her to walk you through the perfect wine to pair with each course. For the techies in the house, your wine list is presented on an iPad, giving diners the chance to explore each wine’s Continued on page 38

The Emerald Coast’s only AAA Four-Diamond Steakhouse RESERVATIONS

850-622-1500 | 4000 Sandestin Blvd. South, Miramar Beach, FL 32550 | 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


recommended menu offering with the touch of a finger. Different from other steakhouses, the menu is locally inspired with all seafood sourced fresh. Each entrée is paired with familystyle sides of your choice. Steak selections all receive the highest of eight grades given to beef by the U.S. government and can be customized to your liking. Choose your temperature and preparation, whether it is topped with blue cheese, bacon, Oscar or au poivre. Graupner’s culinary education began in her home state of Wisconsin, including a desire for locally-sourced foods. “Being from Wisconsin means that there is always a farm nearby. There was never any question where our food came from,” she said. “I developed a strong appreciation for fresh heirloom produce, homemade comfort food, great steaks and cheese curds.” The chef points summer diners to the Seared Scallop Appetizer for that super fresh flavor. “The fresh scallops are amazing and I pair it with hand-made orange gnocchi, asparagus, fennel and a little house-made pancetta. The dish has a light and fresh feel,” she said. Recommendations outside of filet mignon, ribeye, porterhouse, New York strip or tableside-prepared Steak Diane would include the American Red Snapper and the Bourbon Glazed Pork Belly.

“Chef Vargo has fully prepared me for this position, and I am looking forward to the future of Seagar’s and my role in it.”

– Laurie Graupner, Executive Chef

Be sure to save room for dessert and order the signature Bananas Foster, prepared tableside. With multiple private rooms, Seagar’s can also serve as an ideal setting for any celebration, accommodating up to 40 guests. The venue has hosted events such as the Destin Charity Wine Auction Patron Dinners, and its location in Miramar Beach is perfect for visiting winemakers and patrons. Seagar’s participates in many of the local non-profit events, including hosting celebrations in the private room or cooking hors d’oeuvres at no cost. Located at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, diners can reach Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood at 850-622-1500 or check out Dinner is served Monday to Thursday, 6 to 9 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, 6 to 10 p.m.

Photos courtesy of Seagar’s

TOP kid-friendly Dining Options in south walton

The Hub | Watersound

Pizza by the Sea | Gulf Place, Watercolor, Seacrest Beach

Airstream Row | Seaside

Pompano Joe’s |

Miramar Beach

Roselie Dining & Seafood Bar | Inlet Beach

VKI Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar Santa Rosa Beach 38

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2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Chef Kevin Korman

| By Stephanie Burt

The Start of Something Delicious


oselie Dining & Seafood Bar opened its doors in the summer of 2016, and it’s been a family affair from day one. While diners come to taste the food of acclaimed Chef Kevin Korman, the chef humbly admits wife, co-owner and operations manager Angela Korman is just as vital to their success. “There wouldn’t be a Roselie without Angela,” Korman said, adding that since opening their new spot, he’s really enjoyed building it together as a team. “It’s not nearly as bad to work with your spouse as I suspected it might be,” he chuckled. “I really enjoy working with her.” Truthfully, there wouldn’t be a Roselie without the couples’ two daughters, Rosalyn and Eleanor, whose combined names make the restaurant’s moniker. The idea of family permeates Roselie and fills a void in the local dining scene. Although the dining room might have guests thinking they need to dress up, a child’s play area offers some whimsy and a relaxed vibe to the space. Even Eleanor helped Dad out with writing the kid’s menu. “30A – this area as a whole – is a lot more than just a tourist destination,” Korman said. “It’s a family destination, and being at Alys Beach, I was able to see the gaps, that there would be these whole families visiting, but there was a space missing between a family restaurant with casual, often fried food, and a date night place. “It’s a difficult space to hit, that space between family-friendly and fine dining. We have these tasting menu nights, and then the best burger you’re ever going to have in your life. For the children, Eleanor helped me come up with kid-friendly options that aren’t just fried. We wanted something good, but something that children actually eat. And something not too expensive.” Korman received his formal training from the Baltimore International College. He began his cooking career in Baltimore under the watchful eye of Rudy Speckhamp, one of the very few certified master chefs in the United States. Within a short time he


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“I want Roselie to be the place for foodies, and the place you can bring your kids if you’re foodies.”

– Chef Kevin Korman

was promoted to sous chef and began managing and training those around him. He then worked at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation in Eatonton, Ga., and at one point moved back to Maryland to accept a position as instructor at the Lincoln Culinary Institute, adding yet another dimension to his repertoire. While Roselie is a new venture, Korman is no stranger to the area, having served as chef of Caliza Restaurant and eventually being promoted as the executive chef of all the Alys Beach restaurants. Those familiar with his work there will know that for this chef, it’s about creativity too, and at Roselie he’s found a way to incorporate that alongside the welcoming family atmosphere. “I present a tasting menu every Friday night, and it’s very interactive,” he said with a smile in his voice. “You get to hang out with me while I cook, which is fun, and I get to offer you all kinds of things, to let my creativity really come out. In the process, often I get to introduce guests to some food or technique they haven’t seen before.” It’s the best of both worlds for Korman, who is just beginning to hit his stride. He sees a growing culinary culture in the area, and frankly, he wants to be at the forefront of it. It’s not just about the tourists, or just about the locals; he cooks for all of them. The local music, local art, and local food all meld to create a community he is happy to call home, and that’s just what he wants to offer at Roselie: a place to feel at home. “As I work to continue to bring attention to the great food beginning to happen here, I want Roselie to be the place for foodies, and the place you can bring your kids if you’re foodies.”

Chef Adam Yellin

| By Matthew Keith

Serving Up Big Personality, Fresh Eats


implicity is key at Local Catch Bar & Grill. “A lot of the items here have no more than five ingredients, and that’s by design,” says Chef Adam Yellin, a New Orleans native. “I want you to taste the freshness of what you are eating, so we keep it very simple.” Yellin, along with his co-owner and buddy Jimmy Hasser, opened Local Catch March 1, 2012, along Scenic Highway 30A. When you look at the restaurant’s exterior, as well as the interior, it’s unassuming and casual, which is exactly the vibe Yellin envisioned. Yellin, now in his 30s, vividly remembers the flavors that tantalized his palate growing up in the Big Easy and draws culinary inspiration from his early life, where his grandfather owned a restaurant, and gravy and dressing were staples at every meal. But food wasn’t the chef ’s first path. He attended the University of Alabama and studied to become a veterinarian. It wasn’t to be though, as the hard-working Yellin soon found himself enrolled in hospitality management where he could earn college credit on the job. From dishwasher to head line cook, Yellin saw his stock quickly rise at DePalma’s Italian Cafe in Tuscaloosa. His quick success was due to his work ethic and attention to detail, another remnant of his childhood. “Our dad definitely wanted us to work hard,” he says. “It didn’t matter what you did, but you had to put your heart into it.” In fact, Yellin’s father – who is a doctor – didn’t want his son to work in the restaurant industry at all. But it’s safe to say Yellin’s decision worked out in his favor. “Years later, he called me and said, ‘Adam, you are much smarter than me,’” Yellin says with a chuckle. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas, attributes a lot of his culinary influences to his time in San Diego, where he worked at Coco’s Bakery and World Famous, and


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“We like to take fine dining and put it on a common man’s level. It’s not like it costs more money to use fine dining techniques, it’s just caring enough.”


WITH A SOUTHERN TWIST 833 Harbor Blvd #19, Destin 850-867-2801

– Adam Yellin, Co-Owner/Chef

in New Orleans, where he worked at Commander’s Palace. “A lot of the items we serve at Local Catch come from that BahaMexican cuisine in San Diego,” he said. The Emerald Coast of Florida shares a lot of the same qualities as San Diego, so it’s only natural that Yellin would feel a certain level of comfort along the sugar white sands of the Gulf of Mexico. With a group of friends living along 30A, Yellin found himself immersed in the kitchens of Old Florida Fish House and Fire. Not only did he learn to roll sushi and embrace a variety of cultural experiences and techniques, Yellin would meet his now fiancée, Leigh. The menu at Local Catch infuses New Orleans roots, mixes them with Baha-style flavors, and showcases the bountiful seafood and fresh produce available locally. “We like to take fine dining and put it on a common man’s level,” he says. “It’s not like it costs more money to use fine dining techniques, it’s just caring enough. You have to put your foot down and say ‘This is how we are going to do things.’” The Caribbean Shrimp Tacos perfectly represent Local Catch and Yellin’s vision. The shrimp are pre-marinated in a Cajun seasoning before they are caramelized on the grill, then coated with a Caribbean marinade before they kiss the grill again. A raw, thincut cabbage adds texture and pineapple salsa lends sweetness. Top Continued on page 44

3711 W County Highway 30A Santa Rosa Beach


Live Music Every Sunday 4 to 7

Seagrove Village MarketCafé Continued from page 20

Back and Better Than Ever

Surfing Deer

| Continued from page 28

East Meets West in Paradise

follow suit. For those looking to gratify the sweet tooth, Paradis’s dessert selection offers such choices as the Seasonal Keylime Cheesecake with ginger snap crust and a white chocolate and mascarpone ganache topped with raspberry compote. Or try the Chocolate Espresso Bacon Torte topped with a mocha whipped cream and bacon. For those staying in Rosemary Beach, Paradis is a natural choice for cocktails or upscale dining, and for those staying elsewhere, it’s certainly worth the drive for the eclectic, celebrated menu, inviting atmosphere, and friendly staff who are waiting to create a memorable dining experience, just for you. Situated at 82 S. Barrett Square in Rosemary Beach, you can reach Restaurant Paradis at 850-534-0400. Visit them online at

Chef Adam Yellin

Serving Up Big Personality, Fresh Eats

Sailing Onto the 30A Scene

2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Book Direct and Save! the tacos off with Yellin’s homemade white sauce and you’re all set. For Yellin, a chef doesn’t have to be the founder of a new craze or style to be darn good at what he does. “I don’t believe that I’m going to reinvent the wheel,” Yellin says. “I just try to use techniques from the geniuses that came before me.” After spending the majority of his young career in restaurants and kitchens, Yellin has certainly learned a few lessons about life and business. The businessman in Yellin always kept his political leanings to himself, as not to offend anyone. But the longer he’s been in the business, he’s realized that there’s no way of escaping politics, so now he is an active participant. “While I wanted to ignore politics and focus on food, I quickly found out you have to be involved and active in the community that gives you so much,” he said. “You have to do it, not only for your restaurant, but for the people who work there and rely on you.” Local Catch Bar & Grill is located at 3711 W. Highway 30A. Visit to view the restaurant’s menu.




Why pay more to stay there?

| Continued from page 42

| Continued from page 22

has a certain “je ne sais quoi” factor. Surfing Deer’s team endeavors every night to present an atmosphere that is upscale without being overly formal. They know that many of their diners are here on vacation and after spending a day at the beach will seek that same relaxation within their dinner experience. With every service, this restaurant executes on the lovely ambiance, personalized service and killer food that could only come from 30A’s most stand-up pros. Surfing Deer is located at the corner of 30A and SR 395; their address is 2743 County Highway 30A, Seagrove Beach. Open Monday through Saturday for dinner service from 5 to 9 p.m. For more information, visit or phone 850-213-4200.

You’re going to the same place...

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“When we first opened we would make a couple Key Limes a day, now often we have to do more than a dozen,” George pointed out. They also offer their whole pies for sale for family dinners or hostess gifts. There is something very special about a restaurant that serves up both the food and the backdrop behind so many families’ memories. The Hartleys have always cherished their role as the gatekeepers of this iconic Seagrove spot, and this 30A legend lives on just a few feet north up 395. Seagrove Village MarketCafé is located at 2976 S. Co. Highway 395 in Santa Rosa Beach. Open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. and Sundays 10:30 until 2:30 for lunch. Contact them at 850-231-5736 or visit their website at

Restaurant Paradis


Charges You Excessive Service Fees

OWNER Gulf Coast Vacation Rentals 1-877-574-7701

The relaxed vibe of George’s shows through in the not only the food, but in the way the staff harmonizes together like an aria. Word of mouth reports Withall is the calmest chef a lot of folks have ever worked with. “In the kitchen, I do not yell or lose my cool,” she admitted. “I like to educate, too, teaching my cooks, showing them new things. I am straight to the point, but not about hurting feelings. You’re only as good as your weakest employees. We all look out for each other; we are a small restaurant but like a family.” George’s is an understated and charming staple with that gusto people expect from a 30A dining experience. With a history on 30A of being a fantastic brunch, lunch, and dinner spot, George’s is an excellent choice for all appetites. The staff excels at capturing

George’s at Alys Beach

“Food-wise, we like to appeal to both the health-conscious eaters and those people who just really love to eat.”

– Executive Chef Camille Withall

the universal 30A spirit of coastal elegance in an approachable and casual way. George’s is located at 30 Castle Harbour Drive, off 30A in Alys Beach, and available by phone at 850-641-0017. Visit them online at

| By Kimberley Sabens

There’s No Place Like George’s


n the heart of a beautiful palm-lined neighborhood sits George’s at Alys Beach, a fantastic slice of everything 30A. George’s truly embraces a love of cuisine and a passion for their specific brand of coastal casual, with a healthy dose of refinement. From their creative and dynamic menu to the friendly service, George’s is an essential element to 30A culture. This delightfully carefree little spot is a local and visitor favorite. The ever-popular fish tacos feature grilled or fried fresh grouper with a poblano-lime tartar sauce and lime cabbage slaw. They also have incredible salads, burgers, wraps, and an inspired po-boy with your choice of fried shrimp or oysters, served with a mouthwatering jalapeño slaw. For a gourmet twist on an old favorite, the menu features a lobster quesadilla with a chipotle drizzle. Executive Chef Camille Withall said George’s is the perfect place to please small or more indulgent appetites. “Food-wise, we like to appeal to both the health-conscious eaters and those people who just really love to eat. We have two sides to the menu, Behave and Misbehave … so we really try to cater to everyone,” Withall said.


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

Menu items are seasonal and purvey what’s freshest. Spring and summer menu changes are effective in April and incorporate those flavors we all desire in the hot months. “We like to do seasonal corn and tomatoes and more vibrant and light dishes, like the watermelon tuna poke, a typical dish from Hawaii with a Japanese influence. That’s really good and it looks really cool because the presentation is just gorgeous,” said Withall. It has #1 Yellowfin tuna and avocados with cubed watermelon and is drizzled with a perfectly balanced miso dressing. In the fall and winter months, more hearty choices are integrated into the menu, like the pumpernickel and apple tartine, featuring Saint André triple cream cheese, arugula, and warm chili-infused honey. For lunch, the sesame crab avocado salad with fresh greens and a tamari-sesame vinaigrette served with pita, is one of their bestsellers. At dinner, the more popular choices are the salt and pepper shrimp and their jerk-crusted snapper. “Those actually have been on the menu for at least four years,” Withall said. “If people love it, we keep it on the menu. We’re here to please.” 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


rema C a L Tapas & Chocolate

George’s can serve a lot of guests with completely different palates. How do you craft a menu to meet the needs of guests who may have special dietary needs or those who may be health-conscious? “George’s is known for the ‘misbehave’ and ‘behave’ menus. There are always items for people that want to indulge and guests that are more health conscious. When I create the menu, I try to have a good mix of both. I try not to add too many allergens so if there are issues, they can be easily omitted for our guests. It’s easier to do that since all our dishes are made from scratch and made to order.” What excites you the most when thinking about food and restaurants? “I get excited about food. We enjoy planning and preparing our holiday meals. Whenever we plan a meal together at home, we always end up cooking for 10, so our neighbors love us!” What methods and resources do you use to stay current with the latest trends in food? “My husband and I plan our travel around great restaurants we want to try. I also keep in touch with chefs I have worked with in the past to continue to learn from them and the things they are doing. I also read a lot about trends and chefs all across the country.”

Chef Camille Withall

| By Phil Heppding

International inspiration, South Walton supplies


rowing up in the Philippines, Chef Camille Withall – like a lot of people – thought of one thing when she heard about Florida: Disney World. But this executive chef at George’s at Alys Beach has found “a whole new world” and a home here in South Walton. After completing culinary school in 2007 and finishing an internship at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, Withall joined the team at the restaurant Fire in Grayton Beach. She traveled further down 30A in 2013 to become the sous chef at George’s at Alys Beach, and the rest – as Walt Disney might have said – has been a culinary fairy tale. We caught up with her for a few minutes to chat about George’s, her influences and what we could expect at Chef Camille Withall’s table.

You’ve got a couple of seasons under your belt as the executive chef at George’s at Alys Beach; what has been the best part? “I think learning how to manage people and learning about myself. I think becoming comfortable putting my own touch on the food and menus. Every season I try to improve on the last season so that our guests have an even better experience when they come to the restaurant.” 50

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You have guests from Chicago, New York or Washington, D.C. They are visiting from some of the great culinary cities in the world. What can they expect from Chef Camille’s menu? “A lot of regular tourists are familiar with the fried shrimp or fried grouper. I want to steer guests to something new and flavors that they may not be used to, like the apple tartine on our menu. (I like) letting guests try something new. We are lucky that we get so many

“Every season I try to improve on the last season so that our guests have an even better experience when they come to the restaurant.”

– Chef Camille Withall

fresh ingredients, especially our seafood. You really can’t get this quality of seafood anywhere else! We make use of our fresh local ingredients and we do it extremely well.” The 30A Food and Wine team joins you for dinner. We want to learn all about Chef Camille in five courses. Would you set that table for us? “For someone that may have tried a lot of things here in the area, I would probably serve something where I get my inspiration from, what I grew up eating and I love: plates that are inspired from the Philippines or Spain. The first course would be a beef salpicao; it’s a beef tenderloin stir fry with garlic and olive oil. For the second course, I’d have to go with a take on sotanghon… a Filipino dish that is a broth made with pork or shrimp or fish. The third course would be a paella; I love paella. Where I grew up there is a mix and match of flavors. It’s not just salty or sour, but salty and sweet or sour and spicy. Fourth course? A grilled pork belly. We cook pork belly a lot in the Philippines. For the final dessert course? Since we are so full at this point, I’d serve something with chocolate. Everybody loves chocolate. Let’s call it chocolate on chocolate!”

George’s at Alys Beach is a favorite of tourists and locals alike. How do you put your own signature on the food while staying true to the traditions of George’s? “George’s is known for always having very fresh food. Our menu is familiar but I always try to add new flavors from where I grew up. I really enjoy sharing and educating our staff and guests about new flavors and dishes we add to the menu. I can use the flavors and influences of Asia and Spain to bring a new taste and experience to the table for our guests.” In three words or fewer, how would you describe your food? “Made with love.” A lot has been written about the farm-to-table and gulf-to-table movements. While those terms can seem overused at times, what does that mean for you and how you craft the menu at George’s? “All year round we have fresh seafood. For example, we might have different flavors for the scallops depending on the time of year. Personally, my favorite fish is snapper. I like to roast it whole with just some lemon and herbs. We sometimes take for granted how easy it is to get such great, fresh seafood in this area.” 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


like a waltz, effortless as it dances around the palate. The notes of chili married beautifully with the creaminess of the velvety dark chocolate. You could be thinking to yourself, “Sipping chocolate? You mean hot chocolate, right?” Well, yes and no. Sipping chocolate is prepared a bit differently, melting dark chocolate down and beautifully blending it with milk until it reaches a consistency nothing short of silky and bewitching. Never served too hot, sipping chocolate is an experience unlike any other and just one of the many transformative options to order from La Crema’s assorted and impressive menu. Embracing their vision, yet with expansion in mind, the Spells hope to see La Crema’s true potential realized when dining room renovations are completed in 2017. “We are adding a really cool bar – larger than the current one – and the new space will provide us an additional 36 seats,” said Managing Partner Christy Spell. “At the end of 2017 we will work on expanding the current kitchen’s existing space.” Whether you are at the newbie, enthusiast, or gastronomer

La Crema

“It’s just a place you want to be all day: its outstanding reputation on 30A, the large crowd of very loyal and loving regulars, and of course the food is awesome.”

– Andrew Preble, General Manager

level, La Crema Tapas & Chocolate devotes itself to satisfying your appetite, no matter the size. It is a truly metamorphic culinary experience. Spanish sipping chocolate infused with anything from hot chili to velvety and creamy hazelnuts, diversely inspiring wine pairings, and tantalizing tapas await you at this European-style street-side dining adventure. La Crema is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays). It is situated next to Town Hall, at 38 Main Street in Rosemary Beach. Visit them online at or call 850-534-3004.

| By Kimberley Sabens

Indulge in the Luxury of Tapas and Chocolate


omantically ensconced in the heart of bustling Main Street in Rosemary Beach, rests an ethereal culinary experience that beckons you to savor the flavors of Spain. Dine curbside or inside to experience the charming and simply divine La Crema Tapas and Chocolate. La Crema is owned by the Memphis-based Spell Restaurant Group. The Spells were charmed by the restaurant’s passionate and coastal Mediterranean tastes. They wanted to maintain the eatery’s unique take on food: that escape to Barcelona without leaving the United States sort of sensibility. New General Manager Andrew Preble wants guests to experience authentic Spanish soul food at its finest. He is impressed with what he’s seen so far. “What attracted me to La Crema was the atmosphere,” Preble admitted. “It’s just a place you want to be all day: its outstanding reputation on 30A, the large crowd of very loyal and loving regulars, and of course the food is awesome. Really, who wouldn’t want to work at La Crema?” The menu here is diverse, uncomplicated and split into sections including Tapas, Grand Tapas, Chocolate, Coffee,


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

Sipping Chocolate, and Kiddie Tapas. They also have organic hot teas and extensive beer and wine selections. The presentation of menu items is truly artistic and the whole vibe here feels effortless. La Crema sets the tone for tapas-style bites. It aspires to seamlessly and deliciously incorporate Spanish-style dining into local South Walton culture. If you’re unfamiliar with tapas, they’re essentially just smaller plates of food meant for sharing. Dining experiences should be affable, a communal experience for everyone involved. Tapas can actually help you enjoy the meal more because you have so much variety, meaning you don’t have to be overly concerned with making the perfect choice with just one dish. Nosh on small plates that will satisfy those continental cravings, like Brussels sprouts, Serrano-wrapped figs, empanadas, or lamb lollipops with rosemary. Their most popular dish – the smoky and delicious paella – comes in several scrumptious varieties including seafood, country, and veggie, all served with their fluffy and buttery saffron rice. For your sweet tooth, choose from chocolate fondue, churros, chocolate soup with toasted cinnamon croutons, ice cream, and the notable sipping chocolate. The latter is smooth and elegant, 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


TOP desserts in south walton Smallcakes: A Cupcakery | Seacrest Beach La Crema Tapas & Chocolate | Rosemary Beach The Donut Hole | Santa Rosa Beach, Inlet Beach La Cocina

| By Kimberley Sabens

Bienvenido a La Playa (Welcome to the Beach)


a Cocina Mexican Grill and Bar is a colorfully vibrant and festive Mexican restaurant, serving up fresh and impressive fare with a touch of that South Walton magnetism. Owned by Memphis-based Spell Restaurant Group, the eatery is able to accommodate large groups, and has figured out how to provide amazing food, paired with bubbly bartenders and exciting libations, regardless of party size. General Manager Sarah Hampton – a 20-plus-year restaurant veteran – has been with owners Rick and Christy Spell for 12 years. She worked with them in their sister restaurant, Brookhaven Pub & Grill, in Memphis. “Our bar manager Danice Gomez is extremely creative and is continuously experimenting with new and ever-changing fresh cocktails for our menu. She is always ready to create a delicious libation for any guest,” said Hampton. A favorite potent potable is the Caliente Margarita, with housemade jalapeño-infused premium tequila, triple sec, fresh squeezed lime, sour mix, and fresh jalapeño slices. It also has the option to add pineapple – a choice few regret. It is sweet heat in a glass, yet balanced and refreshing. Notable, even if possibly obvious menu mentions are the limitless fresh tortilla chips and their authentic Mexican salsa, prepared every morning using freshly roasted tomatoes and chilies. The Ensalada La Cocina, which is their chopped salad with mesclun greens, apples,


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

La Loba’s Bakery | Blue Mountain Beach Blue Mountain Beach Creamery Blue Mountain Beach

“Our most popular dishes are the fish tacos, Seacrest ceviche, and our homemade chicken tortilla soup.”

– Sarah Hampton, GM

avocado, shredded jicama, carrots, black beans, cucumbers and tomatoes, served with a lime vinaigrette. Diners might request to add chicken or some extra jicama, a refreshingly crunchy and sweet inclusion that adds a remarkable texture to the salad. “Our most popular dishes are the fish tacos, Seacrest ceviche, and our homemade chicken tortilla soup,” Hampton said. The soup is a homemade pasilla chili soup with chicken, avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream and crispy tortilla strips. The pasilla – a type of mild, dried pepper similar to an ancho – is essential to traditional Mexican cuisine. It is often used in red and black mole sauces and to spice anything from soups and sauces, to lamb and vegetables. La Cocina Mexican Grill & Bar is a fun and fast-paced restaurant serving up 30A with full-flavored, appetizing Mexican dishes in the heart of Seacrest Beach. They pride themselves on using only quality ingredients and fresh seafood. This shows in the time spent Continued on page 90

Moo La-La Ice Cream & Desserts Baytowne Wharf

Heavenly Shortcakes & Ice Cream | Seaside Dawson’s Yogurt & Fudge | Seaside Frost Bites | Seaside 30A Pop Stop | Seagrove Mr. Freeze (The HUB on 30A) | Watersound 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


concept saw its 59th franchise open in 2016. There are restaurants in 14 states, stretching from California on the West Coast to Ohio and Indiana in the Midwest, with the largest concentration of franchises in the Southeast. Ultimately, Green wants to expand into the Northeast. “For me, I don’t think fast growth is the way to do it,” he said. “I think slow, steady, methodical and well-planned restaurants are the way to go. There has to be a great training program for the franchisors.” While there have been some failures over the years, Green knows that’s part of being in the restaurant business, so you learn from your mistakes and move on. “I’ve really worked hard to mitigate my mistakes, I’ve brought in people with restaurant experience, and read a lot of books on customer service and quality food,” Green said. “We use a great computer program that gives us insight on where we should go.” Green said the employees and culture at Another Broken Egg play a large part in his success. Honestly, he feels his franchise wouldn’t be what it is today without a great team buying into his training and standards. “My idea was that nothing short of right is right,” Green said. “I visit every table I can touch, I took kids back into the kitchen to show them how pancakes were made, I would take care of our guests like they are part of my family.” “We’ve also decided we are going to go out and buy the highest

Ron Green • Another Broken Egg Cafe | By Matthew Keith

Staying Humble in the Face of National Success


lot has changed since Ron Green opened his first restaurant, Broken Egg Cafe, in Old Mandeville, La., in November of 1996. “It was an old summer home,” Green recalled of the humble, century-old cottage built of barge wood. “That house was the home where the original doctor of Mandeville lived.” Green bought the old home in 1994 and he and his son spent two years renovating the structure and converting the space into a restaurant. His future was uncertain, but the risk was well worth it. “When I opened on Nov. 21, I had $1,100 in the bank,” Green admitted. “Our payroll was $6,000 and I had at least $40,000 in credit cards that I owed. The only way I was going to stay open is if I made $4,000 a day, Monday through Friday and that was with closing on Thanksgiving Day.” Needless to say, it all worked out. Green was able to pay his staff and order food for the next week. Looking back, he admits he “left it all in God’s hands.” Prior to opening his restaurant in Mandeville, Green was living in San Diego where he was working for Lockheed Martin doing engineering work as part of a super collider project. The concept behind the project was to use electromagnetic energy as an alternative energy source. Ultimately, funding for the project was cut. While a jump from engineer to restaurateur may seem like a strange one, Green’s love of food and childhood memories contributed to his new path. “Growing up, my mom always loved to please people,” Green says. “We lived in DeFuniak Springs and my mom ran the country club there and my dad ran the golf course. I helped her do things with food while she was in the kitchen, so that was a memory we had from being young.” 56

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As a teenager, Green had worked in a couple of restaurants, so there was some familiarity with how the industry worked, but his initial mindset was really to make people happy. “I really think what I got from those experiences was that food pleased people,” he said. As he looks back at the early days of Broken Egg Café, Green will admit that he never imagined he would get into the franchising business, but the popularity of his concept would say otherwise. Within six months, his Mandeville restaurant had two-hour waits on the weekends – business was booming. “We paid really close attention to the colors we used, we had custom furniture made and had some local artists come in and paint on some of the larger walls,” he said. “It was this charming, really cool restaurant.”

“My idea was that nothing short of right is right.”

– Ron Green, owner

quality products we can,” he said. “We want to upscale everything we do. We want to have a menu that’s different than anyone else.” At 63 years young, Green still loves what he does, but thoughts of retirement have entered his mind, to some degree. He swims and does Pilates, which is evidenced by his physical appearance. He does plan, within the next three to five years, to step back a bit, as he has a full team in place to run the day-to-day operations of his Miramar Beach-based company. As for success though, Green is proud of what he has accomplished in his restaurant career. He has seen many long-time friends and colleagues enter his life and restaurants throughout the years. “I’m a very lucky guy and don’t take any of this for granted,” he said. While it doesn’t seem like it’s been more than two decades since he first launched his high-end breakfast concept, Green will jokingly admit the mirror tells him a different story. “The fun thing is that I’ve never chased money,” he says. “I’ve only chased the legacy of having a great restaurant.”

Photos courtesy of Another Broken Egg Cafe

The business grows Green knew it was time to expand. So during a visit to Destin – where Green’s brother Tommy lived – he pitched the idea of opening a second location. Tommy and his wife were hesitant, but after they took Ron up on an opportunity to run his restaurant in Mandeville for a short bit, they were hooked. Another Broken Egg in Destin opened its doors in August of 1998. Tommy operated this location for more than a decade before moving to its current location in the 98 Palms Shopping Center. With a second location successfully in the books, more and more potential operators came calling. “I had over 1,500 inquiries over a five-year period of people who wanted to open restaurants,” Green said. Another Broken Egg began franchising restaurants in 2004. The 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


South Walton Beaches

Wine & Food 2017

Festival Bijoux

| By Sarah Murphy Robertson

The Emerald Coast’s Very Own Jewel


ust a precious stone’s throw from 30A, Bijoux is nestled within The Market Shops in Miramar Beach and is recognized as one of our area’s most treasured fine dining restaurants. The French word “bijoux” means small jewels or gems and this well-established spot certainly has a fitting name here on the Emerald Coast. Open for dinner seven nights a week, Bijoux serves Modern American fare, finding inspiration in many styles of regional and global cuisines. Guests relish their fresh Gulf seafood dishes, skillfully cooked prime steaks, creative cocktails and enjoy Bijoux’s extensive and diverse wine list. Since 2005, Executive Chef Jack McGuckin has led a staff poised and ready to provide meal experiences that excel. “We always aim to maintain the highest level of service,” he said. Throughout his career he has endeavored to lead by example. McGuckin would never ask someone to do a task he wasn’t willing to do himself. “I’ve been told our work environment is different here,” the chef proudly shared. This teamwork culture at Bijoux has fostered a familial feel. They are very selective when brining on a new team member and the staff tends 58

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to stay put. Their many awards over the years many be attributed to this keen sense of camaraderie. Bijoux has regularly received esteemed local accolades, including winning the “Best of the Emerald Coast” for French Restaurant and Most Romantic Restaurant. The Bijoux lounge area is comfortable and spacious and features a full bar as well as a selection of specialty martinis, including the spicy but thirst-quenching jalapeño watermelon version. Happy Hour food and beverage specials are also offered nightly. Savory and silky, the Blackened Brie starter is perfectly paired with freshly baked toasted walnut bread, house made pickled grapes, and local honey. The Tempura Fried Asparagus is another popular small plate. These golden spears are luxuriously topped with sweet jumbo lump crab and rich Hollandaise sauce. Summer months often bring dishes composed with produce like Florida-grown sweet corn, tomatoes, and okra; and the winter offerings frequently contain heartier root vegetables. While the dynamic menu does change seasonally, a few favorites can always be found at Bijoux. The 8-ounce Black Skillet Filet Mignon is prepared using a cast iron pan and sautéed in duck fat – a Continued on page 60

The 2017 South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival returned April 27 to 30 at Grand Boulevard Town Center. With over 100 tents and 800 kinds of wine, beer, and spirits, distributors were lining up to pour at what USA Today calls “One of the South’s standout food and beverage festivals.” The accompanying Destin Charity Wine Auction raised over $2.7 million for 15 children’s charities. Next year’s event is scheduled for April 26 to 29, 2018. – By Michelle Farnham

Lot No. 1 in the Destin Charity Wine Auction, the famous “Magnum Force,” was comprised of over 50 autographed magnums from DCWAF vintners past and present. This single lot brought in $55,000.

quintessential French technique. This adds tons of flavor while yielding a steak with that much-desired outer crust. The Grouper Almandine is another dish that stays on the menu year round. The deftly cooked fish is served with Carolina Gold rice alongside perfectly seasoned haricot verts. Guests also enjoy Bijoux’s Fried Oyster Salad time and time again. Tempura fried oysters top tender baby spinach and are accompanied by chopped egg, crispy bacon, and roasted red peppers. Finally, the salad is dressed with a creamy bacon and balsamic aioli. So much of the heart and soul of a restaurant comes from the cooking style of the executive chef. With a nod to his Southern roots, McGuckin admitted his favorite dish to prepare – and a favorite to eat – is gumbo. “It reminds me of my home in Louisiana and I enjoy the preparation process being about slowly building upon flavors,” he said. The culinary team at Bijoux prioritizes attention to detail as they know this mindset makes meals shine. Fine dining is the compilation of many pieces dovetailing to make an impressive experience, so they treat each ingredient with precision and care. The pastry chef bakes bread daily – creating different kinds weekly – including an airy focaccia, buttery brioche, savory sourdough, and their signature walnut bread. Several times monthly, Bijoux offers wine dinners in their private wine room. This intimate experience seats 14 people and includes

“(My favorite part is) expressing myself through food and seeing our guests enjoy what we create.”

– Chef Jack McGuckin

a well-curated 4-course meal with wine pairings from a rotation of esteemed vineyards. McGuckin takes great care when concepting unique dishes suitable for highlighting each varietal. This is a fun way to learn about wine and make new friends, all the while savoring custom Bijoux creations. The restaurant also hosts many special events with several private dining spaces to choose from, including outdoor seating options on their courtyard and lawn. The spirit of a restaurant is often shaped by the leadership of its executive chef. McGuckin clearly cares about putting forth an exceptional dining experience with each service. “(My favorite part is) expressing myself through food and seeing our guests enjoy what we create,” he said. Bijoux is open nightly from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Located in The Market Shops at 9375 US Highway 98 W Suite 22, Miramar Beach. Reservations are recommended; contact them at 850-622-0760 or email at info@




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2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Consistently Delicious since 1995!

Café Thirty-A

3899 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Seagrove · 850.231.2166 Open Daily At 5

| By Matthew Keith

A Casual, Fine-Dining Delight


afé Thirty-A’s beach chic décor and contemporary, eclectic menu have been delighting diners along Scenic Highway 30A in Seagrove Beach for more than 20 years. The casual fine-dining restaurant, which was designed by architect Phillip Spann, opened on Memorial Day weekend in 1995 and seats about 280 diners between its main dining room and party room on the first floor and upstairs bar area. When owner Harriet Crommelin – who previously called Birmingham, Ala., home – decided to open a restaurant along the Gulf of Mexico, she knew she wanted to be near the town of Seaside. “When we opened, there was Bud and Alley’s, Criolla’s and us,” she recalls. “Rosemary Beach, and a lot of the things on that side of 30A, were not there yet.” Needless to say, development along 30A has picked up a bit since the mid-90s. The menu at Café Thirty-A spans all flavor profiles and palettes. Take the Small Plates & Starters menu, featuring the ever-popular Grilled Georgia Quail with creamy grits and sage fritter; poached lobster; beef carpaccio; or the tuna poke with cucumber noodles, avocado, Aji Amarillo, toasted peanuts and cilantro. From the


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

entrees, there is an ever-changing variety of fresh fish, steaks, venison, duck and wood-fired oven pizzas. Crommelin is no stranger to the restaurant business, having operated the well-known Kat & Harri’s in Montgomery for many years. She says a few of the menu items at Café Thirty-A – such as the quail and grits, and the tuna – came along for the ride from Alabama to the Gulf Coast. “These are things that will never leave the menu,” she says, although the menu does change on an almost-daily basis depending on the availability of fresh seafood and produce. The wine list at Café Thirty-A is quite impressive and allows diners to find the perfect bottle to complement their meal, whether they prefer a Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley or a bold Merlot from Sonoma County. Café Thirty-A also showcases an expansive list of reserve wines, as well as half bottle options. Café Thirty-A’s bar boasts a wide selection of spirits for the cocktail lover. Every Tuesday and Thursday is ‘Tini Night in the bar area, where guests can enjoy $5 martinis. There’s something for everyone, whether you are a fan of the classic cosmopolitan, an appletini aficionado or Continued on page 64 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


prefer a James Bond-inspired gin martini. The bar at Café Thirty-A is the ideal space for a rehearsal dinner or corporate function. Looking back at more than 20 years of business, Crommelin is proud of the restaurant she opened and the staff that has kept the ship floating. It hasn’t always been easy, though. Café Thirty-A’s story is one of determination. Not only has it endured hurricanes, an economic recession and an oil spill, the restaurant had to close shortly after opening. “We had a fire 10 days after Hurricane Opal,” Crommelin recalls. “The hot water heater on the roof caught on fire and we were closed until March of 1996.” At the time, it was a “no-brainer” the restaurant would re-open. “The word failure was not in my vocabulary,” Crommelin says. “Thank goodness.” Just like the perfect recipe, Café Thirty-A has all the necessary

“It all goes back to treating people the way you want to be treated.”

– Harriet Crommelin, Owner

ingredients for success, from an eclectic, diverse menu to craft cocktails, a picture-perfect setting, a committed staff and some good old Southern hospitality. “It all goes back to treating people the way you want to be treated,” Crommelin says. Café Thirty-A – located at 3899 E. Scenic Highway 30A in Seagrove Beach – is open daily for dinner at 5 p.m. and offers 2-for-1 entrees from 5-6 p.m. Reservations are encouraged and can be made on the restaurant’s website or by calling the restaurant at 850-231-2166.

TOP sushi Dining Options in south walton VKI Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar Santa Rosa Beach

Marie’s Bistro | Santa Rosa Beach Basmati’s Asian Cuisine | Blue Mountain Beach Royal Palm Grille | Miramar Beach Sushimoto | Miramar Beach

Old Florida Fish House | Seagrove The Gathering Spot | Watercolor The Bay | Santa Rosa Beach 64

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2017 Food & Wine Guide •



Stinky’s Fish Camp and Trebeaché

| By Matthew Keith

Given the success of Stinky’s, Richard and his team have recreated the magic at Trebeaché, a fine-dining gem located in Redfish Village. Trebeaché opened its doors Jan. 13, 2016 and has quickly caught on thanks to its creative menu, gorgeous venue, and laid back atmosphere. “If you look into the name, we are at the beach, so we are a very casual fine dining restaurant,” Richard said. “Myself, Todd Misener and Brannon Janca have spent our whole lives training, working and learning classical technique for really fine dining.” “We now get to re-imagine those skills and hone those skills in a new setting,” he added. “To slow down a bit and put some more time and accentuated presentation into the food is great.” Trebeaché, which was awarded a Golden Spoon award for Best New Restaurant by Florida Trend Magazine, serves from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. The menu emphasizes quality and freshness. Davis said they were looking for a venue to offer more red meat and to have a steakhouse-type of vibe. So when you peruse the menu, options such as the 7-ounce center cut beef tenderloin filet, served with blistered Brussels sprouts and shaved onion rings, or the 16-ounce prime New York strip, served with grilled asparagus and gratin potatoes, are welcomed sights. But don’t shy away from the slow cooked lamb shank with white bean cassoulet and green beans, either. Trebeaché also offers Sunday brunch, a variety of Happy Hour

“(Stinky’s is) basically a bait shack that serves five-star food. The food that comes out of this kitchen is the best thing you are going to eat every single time.”

– Lexi Davis, Marketing Director

Specials, as well as menu specials like Tuesday’s Steak and Chop night and Friday’s Crab and Chardonnay night. But Trebeaché is so much more than a restaurant, as it can play host to your business gathering or wedding reception with its massive upstairs event space. The venue boasts six versatile, one-of-a-kind event spaces, as well as a state-of-the-art sound system and lighting where they showcase some of the Emerald Coast’s top musicians. “It’s all about creating different experiences for people all under one roof,” Davis said. “It’s a full sensory experience.” Interested diners can visit Stinky’s Fish Camp at 5960 W. County Highway 30A in Santa Rosa Beach, or online at stinkysfishcamp. com. Seating is on a first-come basis Monday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday brunch is served 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations are accepted at Trebeaché at 850-937-7793 and In the summer, Monday to Saturday lunch is served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner runs 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday brunch is offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner goes from 5 to 10 p.m

Chef-Driven Gems Deliver on Flavor, Fun


fter a lifetime in the restaurant industry, Louisiana native Jim Richard and his cohorts have brought two dining options – one established and one just wrapping up its first year – to the South Walton dining scene.

Stinky’s Fish Camp With a name like Stinky’s, it better be good. That’s the saying of Chef Jim Richard, who along with his business partners at Word of Mouth Restaurant Group, opened Stinky’s Fish Camp in 2007. “Everything I learned in school and life told me not to name my restaurant something dumb,” Richard says with a laugh, “but I did it anyway.” The name Stinky’s comes from his time spent honing his skills in the famed Commander’s Palace. Not everyone would take the time to learn their colleague’s names, so they would call them “Stink.” Stinky’s Fish Camp came from the ashes of The Lake Place, which originally called the parcel of land along Scenic Highway 30A home before burning down. Richard had fully intended to re-open The Lake Place, but after serving food from a small bait shack on site, The Lake Place project was pushed aside and Stinky’s was born. As they say, the rest is history. Stinky’s Fish Camp is a chef-driven restaurant which showcases a family-friendly atmosphere and casual, comfortable vibe. 66

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“It’s a ‘Hey, y’all come on in’ type of place,’” said Lexi Davis, marketing and advertising director for World of Mouth Restaurant Group. With a quick look at the menu, there’s no shortage of options to choose from, whether you are a lover of all things seafood or crave a good ole burger. The ever-popular Stinky’s Stew is a beautiful marriage of shrimp, mussels, fish, oysters, snow crab legs, corn, potatoes, and tomatoes in a luscious basil butter broth and is served with a wedge of Memaw’s Pressed Crab Po’ Boy. “We really focus on our fresh fish program, which features five to seven different fresh fish in house on a daily basis,” Richard said. “When the fish is gone it comes off the blackboard. This gives us the ability to feature a variety of fish that people may not have tried before, while still maintaining freshness.” Stinky’s, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary on April 1, 2017, is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and offers first-come, first-serve seating. Sunday brunch is offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features staples like French toast and omelets, beignets and the Grillades and Grits, the latter being pounded beef smothered in tomato gravy. So what makes Stinky’s special? It’s easy, Davis said. “It’s basically a bait shack that serves five-star food,” she said. “The food that comes out of this kitchen is the best thing you are going to eat every single time.” 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Chef Jim Richard

| By Stephanie Burt

Can’t Keep a Good Chef Down


he loss of a beloved restaurant might be the end of many a chef’s career, but when The Lake Place burned down in 2006, Chef Jim Richard immediately began thinking of his next step. The small, white tablecloth restaurant in Santa Rosa Beach had a loyal following, so after mourning its passing, Richard set out to create its alter ego concept. And thus, Stinky’s Fish Camp was born. New Orleans eatery Trenasse came along in 2014 and Stinky’s sister restaurant Trebeaché followed in 2016 over in Redfish Village. Stinky’s is different from anything Richard has ever done – and he’s a man with a long career in fine dining. He grew up in Louisiana where his grandfather Leon Mayers was a caterer. As the youngest of five, much of his childhood was spent watching during meal prep. “It was a lot of old classic French techniques and dishes,” Richard explained. “South Louisiana has a lot of French influence, and I had exposure to these old classic patés and spreads. My grandmother ran the artistic side of it, and when I was small, my mom worked with him for a while. I got the bug.” After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, New York class of 1988, he went to work in hotel kitchens and learned knife skills, professionalism, and the hotel mentality of “never saying no to a guest.” He spent years in fine dining, including serving as sous chef at New Orlean’s Commander’s Palace and Palace Cafe in the early 1990s. The skills and work ethic are still evident in his work at Trebeaché today. He moved to Florida and became executive chef at Flamingo Café, but through his time building Blue Mountain Catering Company, Richard became more and more enamored with the great seafood coming out of local 30A waters. “There are so many great fish swimming beside that grouper,”


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“I really wanted to focus on not buying fish that got on an airplane to Atlanta then took a truck back here, so I started working with local fishermen.” – Chef Jim Richard he explained. “I really wanted to focus on not buying fish that got on an airplane to Atlanta then took a truck back here, so I started working with local fishermen.” Stinky’s was really built around that local fish program. There are five to seven fresh local fish on the board most nights, from tilefish to Florida tripletail, and he loves educating guests on how to prepare the protein simply and well. Guests responded – many wait in line for hours to get a bite. So many, in fact, that Stinky’s Bait Shack was born so they’d have a great place to enjoy a beer while waiting. But for Richard, it still all comes back to the food. To know him, maybe you have to eat his crawfish pie. It was originally a family recipe that Richard shifted, changed, and refined through his lens of classic training. He made a pastry dough instead of a pie dough, he created a more refined sauce, but taste it and you know where Richard’s career has been and where he’s going. It’s not a family recipe any longer – it’s all his. “I cook from the heart,” he said. “Stinky’s is a little more rustic and full, and Trebeaché is a little refined, and Trenasse, it’s a very deep dive into South Louisiana French-influenced culture. I love being able to do all those.”

Dishes of 30A: Sea Vue


y job at can often seem more like a privilege. In exploring the finest dishes offered along Scenic Highway 30A, I have the opportunity to sample some really special creations and meet the talented chefs behind them. The Vue on 30A’s Pan Seared Scallops is a longtime guest favorite and after tasting this dish, I surely know why. Chef Giovanni Lucio Filippone is proud of the products they use to create this entrée and he kindly shared his techniques and vision behind its preparation. Chef Giovanni explained the restaurant uses U10-sized Maine scallops that are dry-packed when shipped. Beyond their impressively generous size, the dry-packed scallops allow the sear to be picture-perfect. The edges are caramelized expertly and the protein is cooked to an optimal medium to mediumwell internal temperature. Next, the subtle sweetness of the scallops is echoed in a tropical

| By Sarah Murphy Robertson

mango-scented beurre blanc sauce. Chef Giovanni has taken the classic beurre blanc – a smooth and creamy warmed butter sauce with French origins – and added his own modern twist with mango. It is served atop a creamy risotto with garlic-sautéed seasonally fresh vegetables. A bright drizzle of orange-infused balsamic reduction adds a delicate touch of acidity. Applewood smoked bacon finishes the dish, adding texture and a crunchy, salty component. It is a standout, sublime plate and will wow any diner. It is clear that The Vue on 30A is committed to providing an outstanding experience for their guests. The gorgeous views of the emerald waters draw folks in and then the food they are served is equally as impressive. Chef Giovanni divulged he wants his guests “to truly dine, not just eat.” His modern take on this timeless dish will achieve this goal skillfully. This writer recommends you make plans to visit them very soon – and order the scallops! 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Expanding horizons – and flavors

Bud & Alley’s

| By Sarah Murphy Robertson

A Perfected Balancing Act


hat were you up to 31 years ago? Luckily for hungry and thirsty patrons of 30A, Dave Rauschkolb was establishing a partnership and setting out on an adventure poised to become a Seaside, Fla., must-stop destination. In January of 1986, the spot known briefly as The Bistro became Seaside’s flagship: Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant and Rooftop Bar. Its winning formula comes from a clear vision, consistent dedication, and a deliberately balanced approach to living life fully. Back then, Seaside was in its infancy. Incredibly, the budding beach town had fewer than a dozen houses. It was on the way to Panama City Beach to catch some of the gulf’s much sought-out waves, Rauschkolb was asked by his surfing buddy Scott Witcoski to meet with Robert Davis, Seaside’s founder, about opening a restaurant. You’ve heard of a perfect storm. How about when stars align? Both seem like suitable analogies here. Witcoski had sizable chef chops and experience working alongside Rauschkolb in his father’s restaurant Les Saisons in Destin. For a 24-year-old Rauschkolb this opportunity also meant the work-life balance he was seeking. When the surf came up, he and Scott could still have “board meetings” and back then, 30A had a definitive high season lasting only three to four months of the year. In surfing, it’s all about balance. Fittingly, a fundamental element to a beloved passion could echo throughout their business as well. Together the two were yin and yang: Witcoski as chef was the 70

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The last 10 years have seen Bud & Alley’s expand to include their Taco Bar and Pizza Bar. These two quickly became mainstays in 30A’s food scene. They focus on casual yet impeccably prepared and authentic cuisines that are rare in this area. The Taco Bar is beloved for its margaritas and fresh, flavorful Latin-inspired fare. Once you decide on ordering tacos or a burrito, the next choices are more difficult. Varieties include grilled shrimp or fish, spicy pork chorizo, steak, chicken or veggie. Sooner or later you’re going to want to order them all – just sayin’. The Pizza Bar is led by the talents of Chef Phil McDonald and its menu is as imaginative as it is comforting. Starters like fried Brussels sprouts will whet your appetite. Their wood-fired pizza pie selection includes the Farm Egg, which is topped with a sunny side egg and when one cuts into that rich yummy yolk, this ‘za goes to a whole other level. As 30A’s longest established restaurant, Bud & Alley’s has come to be a touchstone for many, according to General Manager Kirk Williams. “We’ve seen folks married here, have kids who grow up to work here, and eventually themselves get married here,” Williams shared. Talk about full circle. Bud & Alley’s is the literal backdrop for generations of families’ treasured memories! Creating an environment which nurtures happy and loyal employees is a priority of Bud & Alley’s. Williams has been with the restaurant since 2006 and enjoys his work now more than ever. Executive Chefs Dave Bishop and Phil McDonald have also been longtime central figures to Bud & Alley’s excellence.

“We were farm-to-table before that was a buzz phrase.”

– Dave Rauschkolb, owner

Ninety full-time staff members fuel the engine year-round and guide the temporary summer crews which reach 340 people! Characteristically, Rauschkolb also insists his managers only work five-day weeks, again, placing emphasis on the value and importance of balance. When you talk to Rauschkolb, you can tell he’s reverent regarding his role in Seaside’s history. Over three decades, countless Bud & Alley’s guests have benefited from his hard work and dedication. When asked what’s next, he says he is looking forward to “the next 30 years” and one day introducing the business to his two young daughters. Bud & Alley’s nightly sunset celebrations signal the end to each day here in paradise. No two are ever alike, and rain or shine, Bud & Alley’s honors the sun with a send-off. A cast-iron bell from a 19th century steam train resounds joyfully, reinforcing a sense of tradition that can only be found at Bud & Alley’s. Like the town bells of eras gone by, that familiar sound resonates with guests. It is as familiar as the restaurant itself. From the views that stop you in your tracks, to the meals spent peppered with festive, nightly chatter, Bud & Alley’s well-known motto “Good Food, Good People, Good Times” effortlessly says it all. Bud & Alley’s is located at 2236 E. County Road 30A in Seaside. Reach the main restaurant at 850-231-5900, the Taco Bar at 850-2314781, or the Pizza Bar at 850-231-3113.

creative artist in the kitchen and Rauschkolb served as exuberant tour de force in the front of the house. They rode this tasty wave for 20 years together and after two decades as successful business partners, Witcoski sold his half to Rauschkolb in order to follow other pursuits. Few restaurants along 30A feature waterfront views and Bud & Alley’s has skillfully played that ace card – but they never wanted to rely on location only. Among many other accolades, Bud & Alley’s has been recognized as one of the top 20 restaurants in Florida and with each meal service – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – diners are reminded why. The intent from the get-go was to serve fantastic food with European and Southern influences, prepared using the highest standards, all in an unpretentious setting. Rauschkolb’s favorite order is their pan-fried crab cake; confiding he gets it almost every time! Dedicated to the ideals of New Urbanism, Bud & Alley’s supports local and regional vendors whenever possible, including Mac Farms, GreenMans Garden, Covey Rise Farms and Dreadknot Charters. “We were farm-to-table before that was a buzz phrase,” Rauschkolb insisted. Famed American restaurateur Alice Waters was a big inspiration for their vision for Bud & Alley’s. “In the early days, we even spent time in Birmingham at Highlands Bar and Grill with Frank Stitt and his wife Pardis, learning from the best,” Rauschkolb said. 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Good Food. Good People. Good Times. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. 850.231.5900

Chef Phil McDonald

| By Stephanie Burt

Fired Up About Pizza


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

“hungry” to be creative in the kitchen. “In the kitchen, before service, I’ll run testers to check the elements. It’s a great way to keep quality high and teach cooks about developing consistency and a good palate, and then once they train with us for a while and are really ‘all in,’ I sometimes give (the cooks) a chance to get creative themselves,” McDonald explained. During the quieter times of the year, the chef likes to run fun menu specials to find out what appeals to the locals. He experiments in the kitchen as well, preserving and curing, creating unique toppings to be used later, from pickled vegetables to cured pork cheeks. He works with a variety of local farmers and fisherman, including Covey Rise Farms and Cool Fish Seafood, and his passion is really incorporating their ingredients as they hit their peak. That means that one week he might have an ingredient, and the next it is no longer available. That kind of flexibility seems natural for a man who honed his skills on daily menus and who spends at least part of the year “going with the flow” on surfing trips to Nicaragua or El Salvador. There he’s sure to keep the “palate education” going with plenty of plantains and pupusas, a Salvadoran stuffed corn tortilla dish. McDonald enjoys creating a wine list to match his menu, and he’s always interested in what he can experiment with next when it comes to wood-fire cooking. “The other day, we threw a whole butternut squash in the fire, and once it came out and we scraped the charred outer skin off, the flavor of the flesh was unbelievable,” he said.




n a place that is nearly perpetual summer, Chef Phil McDonald decided that working and cooking over wood fire was what he would do. That’s right: hot, unpredictable, glowing wood coals are his cooking method of choice nightly at Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar in Seaside, where the glowing sunset colors meld with flames. “It’s elemental,” McDonald explained. “You get to start a fire every day. It’s very fun.” McDonald first started working with wood-fired cooking at Flour + Water in San Francisco, and he honed his skills at Reynard in the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn. “At Reynard, the level of product from top to bottom just blew my mind,” he said. “The quality was exceptional and everything – every element – could change every day depending on what products were coming into the kitchen.” It was the intense culinary education he wanted, and something he learned well and brought with him to Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar. He and his staff focus on making Neapolitan-style pizza in one 11-inch size, topped with seasonal ingredients ranging from roasted beets to fresh clams from Cedar Key. All those seasonal toppings are cooked on house-made yeast dough, from an in-house sourdough starter named “Blob.” The dough is then shaped for individual pies, which end up thin and slightly crispy in the middle, covered with toppings, with crust that often bears a nice char from those hot coals. He admits that this style of pizza and prep has been a little bit of a learning curve for his staff and guests on 30A, but he also has great rewards, including being able to hone a staff and find people

since 1990

Delightfully delicious food served in a great, charming atmosphere Try our wonderful food today and we are sure you’ll be back for more. Choose from our wide variety of dishes with portions sure to satisfy your appetite. Join us for dinner!

SEAFOOD • LAMB • STEAK • ICY MARTINIS 850-231-5202 • 13741 E. U.S. Highway 98, Inlet Beach • 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


delectable barbecue sandwiches and platters of brisket, barbecue pork, chicken, sausage, and ribs. “We like to utilize those slow and low, old-school methods because we want to create the most delicious and authentic style of food for everyone,” Bucalo said. Some of the more notable menu items are the Spicy Nashville Hot Grouper Bites, served with a honey lime vinaigrette and a cilantro jalapeño garnish. Perfectly fried, these phenomenal little bites were a great way to start this tasting of Chef Bucalo’s seriously good food. Of all the delectable and savory sides, the creamy cheddar jack mac and cheese is smooth and blissful. The brisket was smoky and simply put: perfection. They also have this amazing 48-hour brined honey, thyme, and orange smoked halfchicken that was tender, fragrant, and mouthwatering. Their ribs are dry-rubbed and the taste is nothing short of supple and succulent. An exciting newer item is their brisket biscuit, featuring 5 ounces of sliced brisket, a buttermilk biscuit, aged cheddar, and an egg folded or fried. It is a menu full of sweet Southern comfort. Does a smoky rib garnish on a Bloody Mary do anything for you? We can confirm that this meal in a glass is worth every single detail of its delicious existence. The HUB offers onsite and offsite catering and their menu is reflective of that backyard feel. It’s a causal and laid-back atmosphere, ideal for a party or event. Live music fills the air, and Ashley Grimes, director of marketing and events, clued us in that this summer’s lineup includes Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal on June 26, and something big is in the

The HUB 30A

“Almost everything is made in-house in our kitchen. We are a chef-driven, scratch-made, family-farmed kind of place.”

– Stephen Bucalo, Executive Chef

works for Fourth of July weekend! Throughout June and July, The HUB welcomes Hugh Mitchell & Friends every Friday. It’s Funky Taco Tuesday every Tuesday, which includes taco specials and funk music by Boukou Groove. Breakfast is served all week long. Brunch is available on Saturdays and Sundays, with an extra-special Jazz Brunch on Sundays. Jessica Plowden is the director of group sales, and mentioned that The HUB can accommodate parties, wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, corporate events, and birthday parties throughout the day, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hour, and cocktail receptions. “We just like to have a lot of fun and provide a quality experience for our customers,” Plowden said. The HUB is a gathering place for your family and friends to enjoy live music, a movie marathon, brunch, lunch, dinner, sports, the holidays, and most of all: each other. Check out the website for more information at or give them a call at 850-213-0782. The complex is located at 7000 E. County Highway 30A in Santa Rosa Beach.

| By Kimberley Sabens

Festival Feel, Serious Eats


t the edge of Watersound and Prominence, along Florida’s unforgettable 30A, resides a lively slice of Americana. Heavily rooted in backyard barbecue and fried chicken, The HUB 30A is an ideal choice for folks looking for a spacious indoor/outdoor venue capable of pleasing everyone in the group. Whether it is enjoying live music on the stage, or football and a film on the custom-built 25-foot LED Jumbotron, The HUB truly offers guests what we all seek most out of life: choices. Opened in May of 2015, The HUB not only specializes in mixing up the culinary experience entirely, it excels at this ambitious concept by providing seven restaurants, craft libations, and shopping all in one complex. It also provides heaters for our cooler Florida weather, sun shades that can shield guests from the heat of our summers, and an outdoor flatbread pizza station that features a wood-burning pizza oven. With several restaurant options, diners do not have to be as concerned with picking between having pizza or a burger. At The HUB, you can have both – and some fried chicken, Mexican food, drinks of choice, hot dogs, seafood or ice cream. You name it, they’ve probably got it. Their culinary offerings include Crave Roadside Burgers, Red’s Chicken Shack, Mile Marker 15 74

2017 Food & Wine Guide •

(Mexican), Local Smoke (barbecue), Mr. Freeze (ice cream), The Rolling Dog (hot dogs), Dion’s Bar, MM15 Bar and Al Forno Pizza. The Hub’s Executive Chef Stephen Bucalo is possibly the friendliest and most down to earth dude on the Emerald Coast. He was formerly the executive chef at Fox Brothers BBQ and the executive sous chef with The Georgian Terrace – both in Atlanta. He spent the majority of his culinary career in Lake Tahoe at the notable jazz club and bistro, Moody’s Bar & Lounge. Bucalo has lived all over America and has gained a slew of culinary inspiration and experience from his travels. He is stoked about finding a home on 30A at The HUB, and is all-in on the concept. “Almost everything is made in-house in our kitchen,” noted Bucalo. “We are a chef-driven, scratch-made, family-farmed kind of place.” Artisan breads are shipped fresh every other day from H&F Bread Co. in Atlanta and the po’ boy rolls are from New Orleans’ famous Leidenheimer Baking Company. “At The HUB, we like to have fun with a culinary twist,” Bucalo added. “We want that backyard barbecue touch on things … to keep it simple, approachable, and made our way.” Take for example the Local Smoke stand, which features 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


TOP live music Venues

a unique shopping experience on 30A

in south walton

Stinky’s Fish Camp | Dune Allen Beach The Red Bar | Grayton Beach Local Catch | Santa Rosa Beach Trebeaché | Redfish Village The HUB | Watersound The Bay | Santa Rosa Beach Vue on 30a | Dune Allen Beach

DESIGN A F ull S ervice i nterior D eSign F irm

Rum Runners | Baytowne Wharf 32 E County Hwy 30A, Grayton Beach, FL 32459 76

2017 Food & Wine Guide •

(850) 534.0700

spinach, Portobello mushrooms, and cream on a bed of smoked Gouda cheese grits. “It’s the ultimate comfort food and the sustaining dish for Great Southern,” said Shirley. While many restaurants caution diners to “save room for dessert,” at Great Southern, definitely save room. With Key Lime Pie, Chocolate Mousse, and Cheesecake with Praline and Pecan Sauce for the taking, no sweet tooth will go unsatisfied. There’s a reason it’s called the Great Southern Café, paying homage to the irreplaceable flavors of the South. Staples include the likes of fried green tomatoes, grits, black-eyed pea hummus, fried oysters and hush puppies. Other favorite menu items include Fried Crab Claws, the Seafood Celebration, a Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon, and Mac & Cheese with Bacon and Shrimp. Great Southern is the kind of restaurant you can enjoy every day of a vacation and never run across the same flavor twice. If the drink menu doesn’t rival the food, at the very least it perfectly complements it, inviting guests to linger in conversation for just one more sip. Wines by the glass, beer on tap, and 10

Great Southern Café

“Great Southern is Seaside’s living room, the place you gather with the family, friends and future friends.”

– Jim Shirley, Owner/Chef

different mojito choices – including coconut, mango and guava – ring in the beginning of vacation or happy hour each and every day. Shirley and his staff invite those who haven’t yet been treated to the flavors and atmosphere, to come visit them “in the heart of Seaside in a 100-year-old cracker cottage, (with) great people and modern Southern cooking.” Seating at Great Southern Café – located at 83 Central Square in Santa Rosa Beach – is on a first-come basis. Breakfast is served 8 to 11 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and dinner from to until at least 9:30 p.m. Call 850-231-7327 for more information or visit http://www.

| By Laura Holloway

Building a Legacy from the Grits On Up


hen friends come to visit South Walton, the first question is typically, “Where do we go for dinner?” A popular answer is The Great Southern Café, or Great Southern, as it’s called by most. This eatery might remind you of the beloved bar from “Cheers” – while everyone may not know your name, you will run into several people you know, even those from out of town. No reservations are accepted, putting everyone on the same playing field. The restaurant’s indoor dining and outdoor dining areas have completely different atmospheres. Inside, fine dining feels more of an adequate description, and dimmer lighting and the clinking of wine glasses offers a romantic overture for special nights out. Outside, the patio is a very popular spot for people-watching, football-cheering, and Mojito-drinking. During the summertime, the wait for either table location can be lengthy. Fortunately, Seaside isn’t a bad place to kill some time. “Great Southern is Seaside’s living room, the place you gather with the family, friends and future friends,” explained owner and chef Jim Shirley. The restaurant’s central Seaside location gives you a great chance to put your name in for a table and peruse the books at Sundog or 78

2017 Food & Wine Guide •

the records at Central Square. During the summer, when Seaside shows family favorite movies on the big screen, the deck of Great Southern offers a wonderful vantage point. Located in the midst of Seaside’s Central Square community with plenty of shopping options, it gives a nice resting place to grab a bite, catch up with friends, and plan the rest of the day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available, and each menu is bursting with options. For breakfast, try the Veggie Frittata or the Steak and Eggs, and be sure to wash that down with a mimosa or famous Great Southern Bloody Mary. The Crab Cake and Fried Green Tomato Benedict needs no introduction. The Biscuits and Gravy – hot biscuits covered in house-made sausage gravy – are served with “a giant helping of love,” according to Shirley. Lunchtime is an occasion in itself, with Flash-Fried Calamari, Ginger Chicken, Balsamic Grilled Salmon Salad, Frog Legs, and Soul Rolls (chicken, collard greens, crisp wrapper, peach chutney, and Creole mustard-horseradish). Dining with friends allows you to sample an array of dishes, but if only one choice is possible, make it the Grits A Ya Ya, Great Southern’s signature dish. To create this masterpiece, the kitchen calls upon blackened shrimp, sauté of applewood smoked bacon, 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


S I P .

S A V O R .

S O C I A L I Z E .

| By Laura Holloway

Inspired Dining for Any Occasion


ust north of 30A on Highway 331 and right before the bridge into Freeport sits the last great stop of any vacation: The Bay. From the same chef who brought Great Southern Café to the South Walton scene, The Bay is an eclectic mix of menu items with a view that just doesn’t stop. Live music, great drinks, unusual and delicious menu choices, and a place to gather around a bonfire with toes in the sand make The Bay a favorite gathering spot. Owner and Chef Jim Shirley said the idea for The Bay originated from his desire to offer some unique flavors to the area. “I was looking for a venue to play with more international flavors. One look at the view from the dock, the spectacular old trees in the back courtyard, and I knew we had a new home!” he explained. The sight from the back deck and dock area – especially at sunset – is rivaled by few, with expansive views of Choctawhatchee Bay from every angle. The atmosphere of the restaurant, in what Shirley describes as “a spruced up old shanty, filled with cool food, music and good people,” invites casual lunch meetings, lively happy hours, intimate dinners, and gatherings with family and friends. The menu offers varied choices across brunch, lunch and dinner, such as Point Washington Rolls (spring rolls filled with alligator tasso and poblano peppers, served with Hog Island dipping sauce), Pesto Snapper and Crab Cake, fried oysters, and several sushi options. The infamous Bomber Burger can’t go unmentioned. According to the menu, it’s an 8-ounce burger served dripping with super and street sauces, with caramelized onions, Asiago cheese crisp, and roasted tomato loaded onto a toasted bun. “We’ve snuck in all the rich flavors we can in every ingredient, all the sauces have multiple layers of flavor, and we piled it on. That’s why it’s the bomb,” Shirley said. 80

2017 Food & Wine Guide •



Open Daily 2 p.m. in Seaside, Fla. (850) 231-4545 |

“I was looking for a venue to play with more international flavors. One look at the view from the dock, the spectacular old trees in the back courtyard, and I knew we had a new home!”

– Jim Shirley, Owner/Chef

Brunch options include Pork Belly Benedict (crispy pork belly, two poached eggs with hollandaise served on a house-made cheddar, herb, and bacon biscuit, with villa tasso potatoes); a Bacon Cheddar Omelet, and the Chicken and Waffles. This family-friendly restaurant is open seven days a week and has large gathering tables and outdoor relaxing areas, along with a hopping bar scene with a 12-draft beer system, wines by the glass, sake and “inventive bar cocktails.” Live music is a regular theme among South Walton restaurants and The Bay is no different, presenting such local favorites as the Forrest Williams Band and special Sunday jam sessions, called ‘Sunday Pickin,’ when weather permits. And because The Bay is situated right on, well, the bay, it’s not an unusual occurrence for guests to arrive by boat. An outdoor bonfire area was built right on the sand and is a favorite place for the kids to play during dinner. Games and corn hole tournaments are held during happy hours, and late-night conversations take place over glasses of wine or cold beer. The Bay is also a typical place for local events and happenings, including the Continued on page 90




The Bay






850-231-7327 ·

GREAT SOUTHERN CAFé new-fashioned southern cuisine

breakfast · lunch · supper · catering


83 Central Square (In Seaside, Fla.), Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


As a writer, author of a cookbook and food columnist for many years, do you have an approach to writing recipes? I always aim to take the intimidation factor away for home cooks. It is important to me to showcase the recipes people enjoy in an accessible way. I usually pare them down to make them easier for a home cook to follow. Many on 30A are familiar with the term New Urbanism. Tell me about New Ruralism and how they intersect. The two really go hand in hand and are similar philosophies. It is about an innerconnectiveness. New Ruralism is about championing sustainable agriculture and knowing one’s farmer, baker, butcher. So sourcing food locally is just a continuation of the ideas behind New Urbanism. What is your favorite local special event? Emeril’s Taste of the Race event benefitting the Seaside Neighborhood School. That evening is always a lot of fun. What are you working on now? Mobile kitchen applications that will help with our space constraints. We have several pieces of new equipment that will allow us to bring new dishes to our restaurants. What are some of these new tools? We have a new commercial ice cream machine and we’re currently testing savory ice cream applications. If you think about

“Consistency is definitely key. I would say that we all believe in hard work and loving what you do impacts the final product.”

– Chef Jim Shirley

it, ice cream is just a solid cream sauce. So we’re dreaming up ideas like avocado sorbets for sushi preparations or salads or concepts like bacon demis for topping steaks. We also have a new tandoori oven and will be making our own fresh naan bread. What is the best part of the off season? In the off-season I enjoy recipe testing. That isn’t possible when we are serving 1,500 people a day at the Café. What is your favorite dish to cook? The first catch of the season of any given fish. Also, anything I manage to catch myself! Would you be willing to disclose a favorite junk or comfort food? Pig skins. Do you have time for hobbies outside of the culinary scene? Reading, occasionally boating and fishing, and wrangling my kids are about all I have time for outside the restaurants.

By Sarah Murphy Robertson

The Nitty Gritty: Q&A with Chef Jim Shirley


ne would be hard pressed to find a frequenter of 30A who hasn’t enjoyed a delicious meal from one of Jim Shirley’s restaurants. He owns The Great Southern Café, 45 Central, The Meltdown on 30A in Seaside, The Bay, and The Baytowne Melt in Sandestin. Chef Jim’s culinary style is self-described as Modern Southern. As the son of a Navy pilot, he moved many times, and his dishes are often also influenced by cuisines from a wide variety of cultures. He has an innate knack for combining familiar and unique ingredients and utilizing new preparations. Chef’s skills have afforded him many opportunities and garnered him national successes. But despite all of his professional achievements here’s the nitty gritty: Chef Jim Shirley just loves good food and all the twists and turns involved in creating beloved recipes. What do you attribute to your super successful career? Oh I’d just say dumb luck ... but also hard work. When I started out, 100-hour work weeks were the norm. You have received many professional accolades and have been a part of so many incredible experiences. Any of which you’re most proud? Traveling to New York City and cooking at the James Beard House was a huge honor.


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

What is the wildest special event you’ve experienced? When I represented Florida in the National Seafood competition it was unlike anything I could have expected. Cameras and sound booms in your face, it was as close as I’ll ever get to playing in a Super Bowl. Your restaurants are all must-visit destinations when dining on 30A. Do you think there is a secret to their success? Consistency is definitely key. I would say that we all believe in hard work and loving what you do impacts the final product. How would you characterize the food scene on 30A? From the wine lists offered, to the chefs this area attracts, there has always been a lot of sophistication to dining on 30A. I’ve known that to be true since opening Great Southern in 2006. Are 30A’s guests becoming more adventurous? Most noticeably the kids are more adventurous eaters. What would be the best piece of advice you’d give young people who aspire to become chefs? They need to understand how physical the work in a kitchen really is. A home cook has one onion to chop. A kitchen doing 1,500 covers in a day will require a 50-pound bag of onions to prep. 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


The Red Bar & Louis Louis

850.267.1500 • 35 Musset Bayou Road, Santa Rosa Beach Open 7 days a week, 5 to 9 p.m.

| By Laura Holloway

More than the Music


pair of South Walton restaurants will have you seeing red – and that’s a good thing.

The Red Bar Perhaps it’s the red glow cast over everything inside The Red Bar that draws a continuous stream of tourists and locals. Maybe it’s the sounds of the infamous Red Bar Jazz band drifting up past the rusted tin roof through the Grayton Beach air that lures people inside. Or it could be the simple menus of delicious fare that continue to create a nationally-recognized appeal to this time-tested beach restaurant – one that earns a waitlist most nights during the season, and sometimes even during the off-season. Whatever the reason, The Red Bar is a staple of the South Walton community. The presence of t-shirts and stickers seen all around the country gives credit to its long-lived and much-celebrated reputation as a must-visit eatery (and watering hole) during any length of stay along 30A. Most visitors and even some locals don’t know that The Red Bar is not the actual name of the restaurant, which instead identifies the bar location of the restaurant as Piccolos. Founder and owner Oliver “Oli” Petit attributes the success of the restaurant to simply being “at the right place at the right time.” Since the time the restaurant opened its doors in 1995, it has been heralded as a dining experience staple in the South Walton community. Louis Petit, Oli’s brother and co-owner of local restaurant Louis 84

2017 Food & Wine Guide •

Louis – along with sister-in-law Kyle Petit – says there’s no one reason for the eatery’s fortune. “It has a great menu that is delicious and is served quickly,” Louis explained. “The ambiance is very unique, between the decor, the live jazz band playing and the hustle and bustle on a busy night.” But if he had to pinpoint the secret to the success, it might just be the restaurant’s proprietor. “Oli is one of the best at what he does. His determination to be successful was a huge driving force behind the success of the Red Bar, and is why it is the institution that it is today,” Louis said. You can’t discount the importance of The Red Bar’s seasoned staff members, most of whom have been there for years and have a real passion for the place, its food and every person who takes a seat at a Red Bar table. “To me, it just feels like I am on vacation when I go there,” Louis continued. “You can let your worries go away for a couple of hours and enjoy yourself.” Enjoy yourself you will, with daily and nightly live music, a famous Sunday brunch, and a regular menu that, while only offering a few items each day, is far from small or limited. Patrons and critics alike laud the flavors of The Red Bar, including such favorites as Panne Chicken with mashed potatoes; thick, steaming Seafood Gumbo served in a bread bowl; Smoked Salmon Salad; or Eggs Benedict and Belgian Waffles during brunch. The restaurant is also known for its Bloody Marys, of which local Continued on page 86

Dine Daily on 30a on The Porch • 11AM Dinner • 5PM

Live Check Music weekly our website

Seafood, Sushi, Steaks & Sunsets

for complete lineup

25% OFF All entrees 5-6PM Daily

Seafood • Sushi • Steaks • Sports • Lunch • Sunsets • Large groups • Happy Hour

5235 E County Highway 30A • (850) 534-3045

fisherman Captain Larry calls “the house salad.” Other notable menu items draw favoritism as well, such as the Shrimp and Crawfish Pasta and Baked Eggplant. If the food, the drinks and the staff don’t give you reason to return, the music will. The Red Bar Jazz Band, which plays almost nightly, features John “Jabo” Starks, a former James Brown drummer. The band has been a fixture at the restaurant for years and adds a flavor to the room that compliments each meal like a fine, aged wine. Every Sunday, local favorite Dread Clampitt takes the stage with its unique bluegrass, rock & roll, blues, jazz and Louisiana Bayou funk sound. When the party opens up in full force, you can often find DJ Vladi – a former Red Bar server turned award-winning DJ – spinning beats and drawing crowds onto the packed dance floor. Forrest Williams, Sam Bush, Heritage and other local crowdpleasers regularly take the stage as well, and it’s not entirely rare to walk through the doors and see music celebrities behind the mic, drawn into the irresistible air of The Red Bar.

Louis Louis Brother restaurant Louis Louis comes from the same bloodline and vision, and is owned and operated by the Petit brothers (Philippe, Olivier, and Louis) and their father Louis. Similar to The Red Bar in atmosphere and style, Louis Louis has its own unique flavor and following, and is a popular eatery among locals and tourists. Located only slightly north of 30A, Louis Louis portrays the same red glow and funky feel as The Red Bar, but offers menu items such as Blackened Grouper – which Louis said is his favorite item on the menu – Grilled Pork Tenderloin Steak, and Crab Cakes. “It’s hard to beat that great flavor combination that this dish has,” Louis said of the grouper, which is topped with brown butter sauce and served with a bacon cheddar grit cake. Louis Louis, like The Red Bar, is a long-lasting fixture in the community, which Louis attributes to the strong history of both restaurants in the area. “We are a family-owned and operated establishment, and that is hard to find these days. Also, a big part of our success at both locations is our staff. Both locations have had some of the same

“To me, it just feels like I am on vacation when I go (to The Red Bar). You can let your worries go away for a couple of hours and enjoy yourself.”

– Louis Petit, Louis Louis Co-Owner

staff members since we opened our doors, and they are as much a reason for our success,” he said. Louis also attributes the popularity of the restaurants to his father, Louis, who has been in the business for 60 years. “He is one of the best Maître D’s around, and a constant professional,” Louis said of his father. “Our head server, Melanie Mosley, has been with the family a very long time, and treats the business as her own. We are very lucky to have her as well. Also, our head Chef Cesar Roesch has been with us a long time, and is very good at what he does. Honestly, everyone from our bussers to the dishwasher and everyone in between are excellent at what they do, and are the main reason for our success.” How do you describe Louis Louis to someone who has never been there before? “I would tell them that we are a casual restaurant with fine dining service and food,” Louis explained. “You can come in dressed in board shorts and a T-shirt, or you can come in dressed to the nines, and we will treat you equally great. You will have been taken care of from start to finish, and enjoyed a fantastic meal all at the same time.” Planning on visiting The Red Bar or Louis Louis? Plan ahead, as the wait can grow lengthy during the season. After putting your name in for a table at The Red Bar, you can take a Bloody Mary to go and stroll the funky streets of Grayton Beach, or grab a cocktail at the bar at Louis Louis and catch up with friends, all while waiting for possibly the best meals of your vacation. The Red Bar can be found at 70 Hotz Ave. in Grayton Beach, call them at 850-231-1008 or visit Louis Louis is open daily at 35 Mussett Bayou Road in Santa Rosa Beach and can be reached by phone at 850-267-1500 or online at

TOP water view Dining Options in south walton

Vue on 30a |

Dune Allen Beach

Bud & Alley’s |


The Beach House |

Pompano Joe’s |

The Bay |


2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Miramar Beach

Santa Rosa Beach

2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Chef Tim Creehan

| By Jordan Lacenski

Putting Passion Into Every Bite Caliza Restaurant

| By Matthew Keith

Distinctive Architecture, Tantalizing Treats


o most, poolside fare welcomes thoughts of hot dogs, hamburgers and grilled chicken, but that’s not the case at Caliza Restaurant where the menu explores Southern sensibilities with a focus on freshness. Dining at Caliza is a breathtaking experience, as guests are surrounded by uniquely blended architecture which boasts gorgeous limestone (Caliza is the Spanish word for limestone), bubbling fountains, inlaid beach pebble “rugs,” marble mosaic facades, Cuban tile wall panels, and stainless steel curtains. “You look around and see we are right by the pool, and the architecture helps make this restaurant what it is,” says Hugues Le Berre, the director of food and beverage for Alys Beach. “The architecture speaks Mediterranean, as well as Moroccan and Greek, so there are quite a few elements to take inspiration from. We want the food to speak to the place.” Both Le Berre – who is originally from France and has honed his skills from the U.K. to Charleston – and Executive Chef Drew Dzejak – a Florida native and graduate of Johnson and Wales University in Charleston – are the new kids on the block along 30A, having arrived in August 2016. The duo previously worked together at the Montage Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina, as well as other locations around the country. They came to Alys Beach as a package deal. “As the director of food and beverage, you have to be able to trust your right-hand-man, which is your chef,” Le Berre said. “I respect


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

“We are taking the inspirational cues from other places and tying them into our local ingredients.”

– Drew Dzejak, Executive Chef

him as a friend and as a chef for what he does. For Dzejak, whose culinary career has taken him from the Sunshine State and New Orleans – where he cooked at The Grill Room in the Windsor Court Hotel – to Grand Cayman and South Carolina, there’s a tremendous excitement and a few obstacles when it comes to taking on a new position. “One of the challenges is going to be new taste profiles,” he said. “What worked in Charleston – you can create the exact same thing here – might not go over the same way. People are definitely pockets of flavors and seasoning levels, so you have to treat them differently.” Since arriving in Alys Beach, Dzejak and Le Berre have hit the ground running while delighting diners’ palates with delectable options, like the Fall Root Vegetable Salad, which showcases faro piccolo, goat cheese from Alabama, apple cider vinaigrette, and a bounty of perfectly roasted veggies. The Red Snapper, on the other hand, draws inspiration from a Southern shrimp boil, infusing an Continued on page 90


im Creehan grew up in a home surrounded by savory Italian food. Enjoying homemade pasta from scratch and taking in the aroma of homemade wine in their basement, his Sicilian grandmother and great-grandmother were responsible for his developed palate and desire for authentic taste. “I had no idea what frozen foods or prepared foods were or what they tasted like. Everything in our house was homemade,” said Creehan. His interest in cooking began as a Boy Scout, then took a serendipitous turn. In the late ‘70s, he was spending Mother’s Day with family at the local Steak & Ale restaurant where his sister was a hostess. Desperate for help, management hired Creehan on the spot to work as a bus boy, and thus began his climb up the culinary ladder. With a passion for fine dining, Creehan started as a bus boy and worked his way up to executive chef at Joey’s, one of the renowned white tablecloth restaurants in Baton Rouge. There he began what would become a long working relationship with Jim Altamura, owner of Destin’s Marina Café. “Jim took a chance on me. He offered me five days in the kitchen to try it. If it didn’t work, I would be let go. Thankfully it worked out,” said Creehan. He went on to work with Phillipe Parola, whom he credits as his most influential mentor. Creehan soaked in all of the Parisianinfluenced training Parola provided. “He taught me different methods of cooking, and I taught him English,” said Creehan. He was thrilled to learn techniques that no one in the United States was using. He began to marry his classical training with Creole flavors and went on to travel the world to cook for celebrities, athletes, and presidents. In 1992, The American Culinary Foundation named Creehan one of the “youngest and

“You can always reinvent, improve, and you never know what opportunities will come your way.”

– Tim Creehan, Owner

most accomplished Certified Executive Chefs in the U.S.” Even with all his success and accolades, Creehan describes himself as competitive. “I don’t know if I will ever actually reach my goals,” he admitted. “You can always reinvent, improve, and you never know what opportunities will come your way.” As he vacationed in the Destin area, he fell in love with the beach, sailing, and this small community of people. He moved here permanently and served as executive chef and founding partner of Marina Café for 10 years. It was here that he developed gulf coast seafood dishes. He opened Beach Walk Cafe and spent 13 years there, moving the eatery to its current location in the Henderson Park Inn. He has performed live, was featured on many TV shows, published three cookbooks, and developed his own patented marinade and cooking sauce, GrillPlus®. The sauce is so savory that it was recently acquired by Kinder’s, the fast-growing Walnut Creek, Calif.-based organic sauce company. This expansion will allow Creehan to work on product development and operations management at the company’s new southeastern division. The chef opened his very own restaurant, Cuvee Bistro, in 2010. The signature Grouper Vince entree remains on the menu, named after the dish that impressed Vince Gill and Amy Grant so much, Continued on page 90 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


La Cocina

| Continued from page 54

Bienvenido a La Playa

preparing each of their signature items, from the fresh-squeezed lime juice for the house-made margaritas, to the Gulf of Mexico red snapper in their delicious fish tacos. Adam Dennis, La Cocina kitchen manager, takes pride in keeping their food at the highest quality possible, while balancing the demands of a busy kitchen on 30A. La Cocina is located on 30A at 10343 E. County Highway 30A in Seacrest Beach, between Rosemary and Alys Beach. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Reach them by phone at 850-231-4021 or on the Web at

The Bay

| Continued from page 80

Inspired Dining for Any Occasion

Nashville Songwriters Tour, Low Country Boil gatherings, Cinco de Mayo parties, and celebrations like New Year’s Eve, Mother’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. The Bay is the kind of place you can truly gather for any occasion, with any type of companion, and the memories to be made there are many. Whether an after-church gathering with family, a latenight meeting with friends, or a romantic sunset dinner with a special someone, The Bay offers every opportunity for good food, lively music, cold drinks, and great conversation. Visit The Bay online at or in person at 24215 Highway 331 South, Santa Rosa Beach. Dine with them seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., including Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The eatery does not accept reservations, and the phone number is 850-622-2291.

Caliza Restaurant

| Continued from page 88

Distinctive Architecture, Tantalizing Treats

Old Bay broth with Gulf shrimp, clams, new potatoes, corn and Andouille sausage with the protein. “We really look toward the local seafood from the Gulf of Mexico and the great farmer’s markets,” Dzejak said of his inspiration for designing a menu. “We are taking the inspirational cues from other places and tying them into our local ingredients.” 90

2017 Food & Wine Guide •

Happy Hour runs Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and dinner service is offered Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. “It’s about using the menu to tell a story,” Le Berre says. “We also have to remember that we are at the beach and people are here on vacation, so that adds another layer to what we are doing.” As Dzejak and Le Berre plan for Caliza’s future, they certainly will bring new elements to the open-air restaurant, such as intimate wine dinners and tastings with visiting wine makers and chefs from around the country. Caliza will be become more than a restaurant, but a destination along the Emerald Coast. Given the restaurant’s architecture and ambiance, Le Berre knows the sky is the limit and the potential is endless. Now, the goal is to craft a menu and concept that fit their surroundings. “It’s a unique experience,” he said. “There’s nothing like it on 30A.” “I like the fact that it’s not cookie cutter,” Le Berre adds. Both Dzejak and Le Berre are incredibly accomplished and have spent years perfecting their craft, which should make your mouth water with anticipation. So what does success look like though? “It would be bringing to life the new concept here at Caliza, to tie everything together as one identity and have people come here for that,” Le Berre says. For Dzejak, it would be sitting back “three years, five years down the road and saying ‘It’s working.’” Caliza Restaurant is at 23 Nonesuch Way in Alys Beach. For reservations or more information, phone 850-213-5700.

Chef Tim Creehan

| Continued from page 89

Putting Passion Into Every Bite

they hired Creehan as their caterer for their 500-plus guest wedding. The original Cuvee Bistro location in Destin is now Cuvee Kitchen + Wine Bar, with new ownership. The Savory Restaurant Group – co-founded by longtime locals Tyler Jarvis and Christopher Ruyan – also includes Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi as well as Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer. They plan to carry on Creehan’s lineage with a few of the Cuvee favorites still included. Creehan will still be cooking up the coast at his 30A location, Cuvee 30A. Launching the 30Avenue complex in 2015, Creehan’s restaurant holds on to the same Cuvee charm in a new, beautiful space. Just weeks after the grand opening, Bryan and Tina Corr hosted the 10th annual Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation Patron Dinner at Cuvee 30A. With his entrepreneurial spirit still burning brightly, Creehan noticed new industry demands and trends. As more people in our market started hosting dinner parties, hire private chefs, and cook at home, he was motivated to open a retail store where he could provide the same quality in the kitchens of 30A. In 2016, he opened Destin Ice Market 30A, selling fresh seafood, prime meats, gourmet cheeses, fine wines, and craft beers. To someone who has never been to a Tim Creehan restaurant, prepare to be surprised, and for your expectations to be exceeded. From dishes like their signature grouper to their delectable venison entree, you can taste the chef’s passion for this craft in every bite.

Restaurant Guide

out and about in south walton B = Breakfast | L = Lunch | D = Dinner | LN = late night


Aegean Greek Restaurant – B, L, D Open daily $$-$$$ Mediterranean, Greek, 11225 US Hwy. 98 W., Miramar Beach (850-460-2728) Barefoot’s Beachside Bar and Grill – Seasonal hours, Grill on the pool deck of Hilton Sandestin Beach Resort, 4000 S. Sandestin Blvd., Miramar Beach (850-267-9500) Bijoux – D, LN Open daily $$$$ Seafood, French, American, Gluten Free Options, 9375 US Hwy. 98 W., Suite 22, Miramar Beach (850-622-0760) Carrabba’s – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ Italian, Gluten Free Options, 10562 US Hwy. 98 W., Destin (850-837-1140)

Cheeseburger in Paradise – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, 10562 US Hwy. 98, Miramar Beach (850-837-0197) Cuvée Kitchen + Wine Bar – D Fusion, American, Bar, Gluten Free Options, 36120 Emerald Coast Parkway, Destin (850-460-2909) Don Pedro’s – L, D, Open daily $$$$$ Mexican, 12889 Emerald Coast Parkway, Suite 114-115B Miramar Beach (850-837-1696) Fat Clemenza’s – L, D Open daily $$$$$ Italian, Pizza, 12273 US Hwy. 98 W., Miramar Beach (850-650-5980)

$ = $5-10 | $$ = $11-15 | $$$ = $16-20 | $$$$ = $21-25 | $$$$$ = $25 & up

Fireside Café – B, L, D Closed Monday $ 122 Poinciana Blvd., Miramar Beach (850-650-6800) Melting Pot – D, LN Open daily, $-$$$$ American, 11394 US Hwy. 98 W., Destin (850-269-2227) Pompano Joe’s – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ Caribbean, American, Bar, Seafood, 2237 Scenic Gulf Dr., Destin (850-837-2224) Royal Palm Grille – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ Japanese, American, Bar, Seafood, Sushi, Asian, 1096 Scenic Gulf Dr., Miramar Beach (850-424-7300)

Bijoux Seagar’s – D, LN Open daily $$$$ American, Steakhouse, Seafood, 4000 Sandestin Blvd. S., Miramar Beach (850-622-1500) Surf Hut – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, Gluten Free Options, 551 Scenic Gulf Dr., Destin (850-460-7750) Sushimoto – L, D, Closed Sunday, $$-$$$ Asian, Sushi, Japanese, 11394 US Hwy. 98 W., Ste H, Miramar Beach (850-424-5977) The Beach House – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, Pub, Vegetarian Friendly, 4009 S. Sandestin Blvd., Miramar Beach (850-608-6300) The Ocean Club – D Open daily, $$$$$ Seafood, 8955 U.S. 98, Miramar Beach, (850-267-3666)

Bud and Alley’s

Vin’tij – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Wine Bar, Gluten Free Options, 10859 US Hwy. 98 W., Ste 103, Destin (850-650-9820) 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


The Craft Bar – L, D Open daily $$$$$ American, Bar, Pub, Brew Pub, Gastropub, 655 Grand Blvd., Suite D 102, Miramar Beach (850-608-6226) The Wine Bar – Grand Boulevard L, D, Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Pub, Wine Bar, Gluten Free Options, 655 Grand Blvd., Suite D 101, Santa Rosa Beach (850-622-0804) Tommy Bahama – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Caribbean, Seafood, Bar, Pub, Gluten Free Options, 525 Grand Blvd., Destin (850-654-1743)


Elmo’s – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ American, Seafood, 6931 Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach (850-267-2299)

Cafe Thirty A Whale’s Tail – B, L, D Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, 100 Seascape Dr., Destin (850-650-4377)


Acme Oyster House – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, 140 Fisherman’s Cove, Destin (850-622-1900) Another Broken Egg Café – B, L Open daily $$-$$$ American, 9100 Baytowne Warf Blvd., Suite A-4, Sandestin (850-622-2050)

Baytowne Melt – B, L, D Open daily $$ American, Soups, 117 Cannery Lane, Miramar Beach (850-460-7866)

Marlin Grill – D, Open daily $$$$ American, Seafood, 9100 Baytowne Wharf Blvd., Destin (850-351-1990)

Hammerhead’s Bar and Grille – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, Cajun & Creole, Pub, 137 Fisherman’s Cove, Destin (850-351-1997)

Poppy’s Seafood Factory – L, D, LN Open daily, $$$$ American, Seafood, 137 Fisherman’s Cove, Destin (850-351-1996)

Hartell’s Diner – L, D $ American, Baytowne Avenue (850-654-9453)

Roberto’s Pizza – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$$ Italian, Bar, Pizza, American, Pub, 110 Cannery Lane, Destin (850-351-1998)

Lumpy’s Wine Bar and Bottle Shop – D, Open daily, Beverages, Appetizers, 9100 Baytowne Ave. N., Destin (850-267-2526)

Rum Runners – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, Pub 130 Fisherman’s Cove, Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort (850-351-1817) Village Door – L, D Open daily $$$$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, Pub, 136 Fisherman’s Cove, Destin (850-502-4590)

Fleming’s Steakhouse – D Open daily $$$$ American, Steakhouse, Wine Bar, 600 Grand Blvd, Suite M105, Sandestin (850-269-0830) Grimaldi’s – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ Italian, Pizza, Gluten Free Options, 780 Grand Blvd., Suite 100, Miramar Beach (850-837-3095) Mitchell’s Fish Market – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Seafood, Soups, 500 Grand Blvd., Destin (850-650-2484) P.F. Chang’s – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ Chinese, Sushi, Asian, Gluten Free Options, 640 Grand Blvd., Destin (850-269-1806)

Stinky’s Fish Camp – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ 5960 West County Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach (850-267-3053) Vue on 30a – B, L, D, LN Closed Monday $$$$ 4801 W. Co. Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach (850-267-2305)


Growler Garage – Closed Monday, Wine Bars, Food & Drink, Nightlife, 4368 W. Co. Hwy. 30A, Suite 101, Santa Rosa Beach (850-660-1965) La Playa – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Caribbean, Seafood, 37 Town Center Suite C8, Santa Rosa Beach (850-660-1617)

Fish Out of Water Pizza By the Sea – L, D Open daily $$$$$ Italian, Pizza, Gluten Free, 95 Laura Hamilton Blvd., (above Resort Quest) Santa Rosa Beach (850-267-2202) Preacher’s Kitchen – D $$-$$$ American, Café, 7 Town Center Loop, Santa Rosa Beach (850-419-2937) The Perfect Pig – B, L, D Open daily $$-$$$ American, 7 Town Center Loop, Santa Rosa Beach (850-660-1591)


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

98 Bar-B-Que – L, D Closed Sunday $$ American, BBQ, 5008 Hwy. 98 W., Santa Rosa Beach (850-622-0679) Basmati’s Asian Cuisine – L,D Open daily $$-$$$ Japanese, Sushi, Asian, 3295 W. Co. Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach (850-267-3028) Blue Mountain Beach Creamery – L, D Open daily $$ American, 2129 S. County Road 83, Santa Rosa Beach (850-278-6849)

Borago – Open daily 5 p.m. to close, $$$-$$$$ Italian, 24200 U.S. Hwy. 331 South, Santa Rosa Beach (850-231-9167) Crust Artisan Bakery – L, D Closed Sunday $$-$$$ Italian, 4821 Hwy. 98, #101, Santa Rosa Beach (850-622-1022) On Facebook: Crust Artisan Bakery Donut Hole – B, L, D, LN Open daily $ 6745 US Hwy. 98 W., Santa Rosa Beach (850-267-3239) On Facebook: The Donut Hole Cafe & Bakery Goatfeather’s – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ American, Seafood, 3865 W. Co. Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach (850-267-3342) Johnny McTighe’s – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Pub, Irish; 2298 W. Co. Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach (850-267-0101) On Facebook: Johnny McTighes Irish Pub




Another Broken Egg Café – B, L Open daily $$-$$$ American, 755 Grand Blvd., Miramar Beach (850-424-3416)

Local Catch Bar and Grill – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, 3711 W. Co. Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach (850-622-2022)

Cantina Laredo – L, D Closed Sunday $$-$$$ Mexican, Southwestern, Latin, Spanish, 585 Grand Blvd., Sandestin (850-654-5649)

Louis Louis – D, LN Open daily $$$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, Pub, 35 Mussett Bayou Road, Santa Rosa Beach (850-267-1500)


George’s at Alys Beach

2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Chiringo – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, Pub, Vegetarian Friendly, 63 Hotz Ave., Grayton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach (850-534-4449) Chanticleer Eatery – L, D Closed Sunday $$-$$$ American, Soups, Gluten Free Options, 55 Clayton Lane, Santa Rosa Beach (850-213-9065) Grayton Corner Café – L, Closed Sat. and Sun. $$-$$$ American, International, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options, 14 Clayton Lane, Suite 16, Grayton Beach, Santa Rosa (850-213-0401)

Great Southern Cafe Los Rancheros – L, D Open daily $ Mexican, Southwestern, 3906 Hwy. 98 W., Santa Rosa Beach (850-622-0754) Marie’s Bistro – B, L, D Closed Monday $$-$$$ Japanese American Fusion, 2260 W. Hwy. 30 # A, Santa Rosa Beach (850-278-6856) Sally’s By the Sea – L, D Open daily $ Deli, American, 2320 W. Co. Hwy. 30A Santa Rosa Beach (850-267-2016) Thai Elephant – L, D, Open daily $$-$$$ Asian, Thai, 3906 US Hwy. 98, Suite 5, Santa Rosa Beach (850-837-5344) On Facebook: Thai Elephant Authentic Thai Cuisine


Abrazo Latin Kitchen – D Open Monday-Saturday 5 p.m. to close, Latin, Tapas, 80 E. Hwy. 30A, Grayton Beach (850-213-4156) AJ’s Grayton Beach – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ Seafood, American, Steak, 63 Defuniak St., Santa Rosa Beach (850-231-4102) AJsGraytonBeach/ Another Broken Egg – B, L Closed Monday $$-$$$ American, Cafe, Gluten Free Options, 51 Grayton Uptown Circle, Santa Rosa Beach (850-231-7835)

Grayton Seafood Company – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ American, Seafood, Bar, Pub, 50 Uptown Grayton Cir, #1, Santa Rosa Beach (850-213-3683) Hurricane Oyster Bar – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, 37 Logan Lane, Santa Rosa Beach (850-231-0787) Roux 30a – L Friday 11-3, Sun 11-2 $$-$$$ Diner, 114 Logan Lane, Santa Rosa Beach (850-213-0899) The Red Bar – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, 70 Hotz Ave., Santa Rosa Beach (850-231-1008)

Twin Oaks Farm Stand – $$-$$$ American, 26 Logan Lane, Grayton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach (850-547-5636)


Fish Out of Water – B, D, LN Open daily $$$$ American Contemporary, Seafood, At WaterColor Inn, 34 Goldenrod Cir, Santa Rosa Beach (850-534-5050) Pizza By the Sea – L, D Open daily $$$$$ Italian, Pizza, Gluten Free Options, 88 WaterColor Way, Seagrove Beach (850-231-3030) The Candy Bar – L, D Open daily $ Candy, 1777 E. Co. Hwy. 30A Ste 101-B, WaterColor, Seagrove (850-231-1149) The Wine Bar – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Wine Bar, Pub, Gluten Free, 1735 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach (850-231-1323)


45 Central – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ Wine Bar, 45 Central Sq., Santa Rosa Beach (850-231-4545) Amavida Coffee – B, L, D Open daily $$-$$$ Café, Breakfast, 2236 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Seaside (850-213-1965)

La Crema Barefoot BBQ – L, D, LN Open daily $$$$$ American, BBQ, 2235 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Seaside (850-534-0313)

Pickles – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Fast Food, 2236 Scenic Hwy. 30A, Seaside (850-231-5686)

Bud and Alley’s – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, 2236 E. Co. Road 30A, Suite 8, Seaside (850-231-5900)

Raw and Juicy – B, L Open daily $$$$$ American, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options, 2236 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Seaside (850-231-0043)

Bud and Alley’s: Pizza Bar + Trattoria – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ Pizza, Salads, 2236 E. Co. Hwy. 30-A, Seaside (850-231-3113) Bud and Alley’s: Taco Bar – L, D Open daily $ Mexican (850-231-4781)

The Bay – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, Sushi, Fusion, 24215 Hwy. 331 S., Santa Rosa Beach (850-622-2291)

Dawson’s Yogurt & Fudge – L, D Open daily $ American, Dessert, 121 Central Square, Seaside (850-231-4770)

Trebeaché – L, D Open daily $$$$ Steakhouse, Bar, Seafood, American, Soups, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options, 2052 West Co. Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach (850-937-7793)

Heavenly Shortcakes – L, D Open daily $$ Desserts, 63 Central Square, Seaside (850-231-2029)

VKI Japanese Steakhouse – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ Japanese, Sushi, Asian, Steakhouse, 4552 US Hwy. 98, Santa Rosa Beach (850-267-2555)

Meltdown on 30a – B, L, D Open daily $ American, Fast food, 2235 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach (850-231-0952) Modica Market – B, L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, 109 Seaside Central Square, Santa Rosa Beach (850-231-1214)

La Cocina


2017 Food & Wine Guide •

The Great Southern Café – B, L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, Pub, Gluten Free, 83 Central Sq., Santa Rosa Beach (850-231-7327)


The Perfect Pig – B, L, D, Open daily $$-$$$ American, Vegetarian Friendly, 4281 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach (850-213-0701) The Seagrove Village Market Café – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ American, Seafood, Diner, 2976 S. Co. Hwy. 395 (850-231-5736)


Bruno’s Pizza – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ Italian, Pizza, 6652 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Suite 100, Santa Rosa (850-231-1452)

The Hub on 30a – Multiple restaurants in one location: Mile Marker Fifteen, Local Smoke, Mr. Freeze, The Rolling Dog, Red’s Chicken Shack, Crave Roadside Burgers, Dion’s Bar, and Pizza, 7000 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach (850-213-0782)


Grits & Grind – B Open daily $-$$ American Breakfast/Brunch, 10343 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Suite 119, Seacrest Beach (850-231-4021)

723 Whiskey Bravo – L, D Closed Mon and Tues $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, Gluten Free Options, 3031 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Seagrove Beach (850-213-0015) Cowgirl Kitchen – B, L Open daily $$-$$$ American, Café, Gluten Free Options, 3005 Scenic Hwy. 30A, Seagrove Beach (850-231-1120) Old Florida Fish House – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, Sushi, Soups, Pub, 5235 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach (850-534-3045) Surfing Deer – D, Closed Sunday $$$$-$$$$$ 2743 East Co. Hwy. 30A, Seagrove (850-213-4200)

Paradis 2017 Food & Wine Guide •


Havana Beach at the Pearl Hotel – B, L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ Bar, Gluten Free Options, 63 Main St., Rosemary Beach (850-588-2882) havanabeachbarandgrill La Crema Tapas & Chocolate – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ Spanish, Gluten Free Options, 38 Main St., Rosemary Beach (850-534-3004) Restaurant Paradis – D, LN Open daily $$$$ American, Seafood, Contemporary, Gluten Free Options, 82 S. Barrett Sq., Rosemary Beach (850-534-0400) Summer Kitchen Café – B, L Open daily $$-$$$ Café, 78 Main St., Rosemary Beach (850-213-0521) summerkitchencafe

Louis Louis La Cocina – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ Mexican, Southwestern, 10343 E. Hwy. 30A, Bldg C Unit 116, Seacrest Beach (850-231-4021) Pizza By the Sea – L, D Open daily $$$$$ Italian, Pizza, Gluten Free Options, 10343 East Co. Hwy. 30A, Seacrest Beach (850-534-0044) Seacrest Sundries – B, L Open daily $ American, Café, 10343 E. Co. Hwy. 30A Suite F108, Seacrest Beach (850-588-4860) Smallcakes: A Cupcakery – L, D Closed Sunday Dessert, 10343 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Unit C112 Seacrest (850-213-4037)


Caliza – D, Open daily $$$$ American, Contemporary, Seafood, 23 Nonesuch Way, Alys Beach (850-213-5700) Fonville Press – B, L Open daily $ American, Café, 147 W. La Garza Lane, Alys Beach (850-213-5906) George’s at Alys Beach – L, D, LN Closed Sunday $$-$$$ American, Seafood, Fusion, Gluten Free Options, 30 N Castle Harbour Dr., Scenic Hwy. 30A, Alys Beach (850-641-0017)

NEAT Bottle Shop – L, D Closed Sunday Wine Bar, 11 Castle Harbor Dr., Alys Beach (850-213-5711)


Cowgirl Kitchen – B, L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Southwest, Bar, 54 Main Street, Rosemary Beach (850-213-0058) Edward’s – D, LN Open daily $$$$ American, Seafood, International, 66 Main St., Rosemary Beach (850-231-0550)

Wild Olives – L, D, Closed Monday $$-$$$ American, Mediterranean, Wine Bar, 104 N. Barrett Square, Rosemary Beach (850-231-0065)


amici 30A Italian Kitchen – L, D Open daily $$-$$$ Italian, 12805 US Hwy. 98, Suite R101, Inlet Beach (850-909-0555) Barbacoa Mexican – L, D, Open daily $ Mexican, Southwestern, Fast Food, 12805 Hwy. 98 E., Suite T101, Inlet Beach (850-909-0123) barbacoa30avenue Cuvee 30A – L on Sunday, D Tues-Sat. Closed Monday $$$$ Fusion, American, Bar, Gluten Free Options, 12805 US Hwy. 98 E., Inlet Beach (850-909-0111) Freshii – B, L, D Open daily $$ Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Juice Bar, 12805 US Hwy. 98 E, Inlet Beach (850-213-2313) Roselie Dining & Seafood Bar – L, D Open daily $$$$ American, Seafood, Contemporary, Fusion, 12805 US Hwy. 98, Inlet Beach (850-909-0400) Shades at the Loop – L, D, LN Open daily $$-$$$ American, Bar, Seafood, 10952 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Panama City Beach (850-231-9410)



2017 Food & Wine Guide •

The Terrace Restaurant – D Closed Sunday-Monday $$$-$$$$ Seafood, 13741 E Emerald Coast Pkwy., Panama City Beach (850-231-5202)

Wedding and Portrait Photography by Megan and Brianna

Profile for 30afoodandwine

2017 Summer Edition- Food & Wine Guide for South Walton  

The full 2018 Summer Edition of the Food & Wine Guide of South Walton. The only print publication devoted to the food, wine and chefs of 30...

2017 Summer Edition- Food & Wine Guide for South Walton  

The full 2018 Summer Edition of the Food & Wine Guide of South Walton. The only print publication devoted to the food, wine and chefs of 30...