Our eclectic beach community is known for some amazing culinary hotspots that satisfy both that beastly hunger growl and the more sophisticated palate. We foodie locals, and visitors alike, take every opportunity to curb both hankerings. As luck would have it, some hip hoppin’ new places to get your grub on have just landed on the scene. So pull up a bar stool and sample a few with us.
By now, most locals have heard about the North Beach Tortilla Co. that recently opened at the foot of the 331 South bridge overlooking Choctawhatchee Bay. But the newest buzz is just upstairs. North Beach’s sister restaurant, Farm & Fire Southern Pizzeria, is firing up its 800-degree coal burning oven to serve up mouthwatering pizzas made with locally sourced ingredients from farmers, fishermen, and artisans. Stepping into Farm & Fire’s modern hipster vibe means going along on their culinary adventure… each pizza ingredient pairing different from the next, each a different experience for the taste buds. Enjoy cocktails and wines, the sunset views of the bay, and pizza chock full of fresh ingredients right out of the coal oven… where the hot is spot-on.
Pop into this happening new local love in Inlet Beach and be greeted with Hawaii’s friendly surf culture shaka “hang loose” hand gestures, smiles, and all-around positive vibes. Located in the Shoppes at Inlet, Shaka Sushi’s clean earthy design elements create a light open feel and continue the Hawaiian atmosphere with its modern grassy light fixtures “hangin’ loose” overhead. Culinary team, Chef James Sargent and Ken Duenas, join forces to serve up classic sushi rolls, more adventurous rolls, sashimi and nigiri, creative noodle dishes, small-plate entrees, wine, beer, and (of course) sake. Happy hour is daily from 4p.m. – 6 p.m.. Go hang loose with sushi rolls, beachy moods, and yummy noods.
Just next door to the Black Bear Bread Co, in the Shops of Grayton, is its newest addition, the Black Bear Bar Room. With a chic black and white décor, the ambiance is inviting with a blend of cozy bar tables and casual chairs and sofas. The resulting vibe is relaxed, yet cosmopolitan and presents the perfect drink-sit-chat-stay-a-while scene. From brunch to happy hour, the menu enhances the current all-day items offered at Black Bear Bread with farm-raised oysters, a full wine bar, complimentary snacks and sharables, cheese, and charcuterie. The Bar Room exceeds expectations with wines that are naturally produced from organic and biodynamic grapes and offers exotic wines from Slovenia, Austria, and Canary Islands. No whine allowed with your wine.
Head to Blue Mountain Beach and get acquainted with Mabel Strickland, for whom Blue Mabel was named. A legendary rodeo cowgirl dating back to 1916, Mabel was gentle in spirit but able to pin a 345-pound calf to the ground with her girlish grit. In honor of Mabel’s accomplishments, this trendy industrial smokehouse is perfecting brisket, ribeyes, lambchops, tacos (with yum yum sauce…yes, please!), seafood, and tasty sauces made in-house. Also on the menu are Chef Steven Sandy’s wood-grilled jumbo prawns, chicken confit & dumplings, and wood-grilled ribeye nachos. Pair any of these delicious plates with wine, cocktails, beer, and even Kombucha. Mabel, may I?
Nothing says hip like powering up with clean superfoods in a contemporary industrial setting. Holding down a prime spot in Seaside Central Square, Ji•Shi Ki•chn serves up fast exotic superfoods and fresh sushi for breakfast and lunch. Think acai bowls or golden milk oatmeal topped with mulberries or bee pollen. Try the breakfast King (yes, this morning delight is indeed called the King), peanut-free butter with bananas, cacao nib dust, local Tupelo honey, and Riesling reduction. Ji•Shi also offers intimate full-service dining in the evenings with Chef Jim Shirley creating locally famous meals. With entrees prepared front and center and counter seating, it’s a great place to sip wine, indulge in good food, and watch the people, and the plates, pass by.
Sometimes a good beer is all the fix we need for what ails us. And this new hangout in Seacrest has 30 fixes from 30 taps. Bringing the people of 30A (who find their way here from all over the country) diversity in their beer selections, the 30 taps include beers from all over the U.S., Ireland, and Germany. With pub games, spirits, and good friends, Beach & Brew is brewing up a good time on the beach. What ales you?
With so many hip happening new spots, only one question remains. Where will your hip happen?
CHRISTY (CHICK) HUGHES is a freelance writer living in South Walton. She and her husband moved to the beach back in 2000. One sunset… and the couple never looked back. They’ve been 30A–lovin’ locals ever since.