As a fishing guide, I sometimes feel like a 30A tour guide. My clients ask me all the time what my recommendations are for dining in South Walton – everything from the best seafood restaurant to kid-friendly restaurants along 30A to simple places with good food and no fuss. Here’s my list of favorites and what I like to order.
This is located – you guessed it – on the Bay and is one of the few spots I can pull up to on the boat, so you can often find me here grabbing lunch after a charter or drinking a beer at the end of the day. It’s also a great family place and my girls and I sometimes come here more than once a week. There’s a big deck outdoors with a sandy beach for the kids to run around, frequent live music and my buddy Zach behind the bar outside. If you like sushi, they have some of the best around 30A. I always get the spicy tuna roll and my wife gets the Jon the 2nd roll. I also like the Thai Pork Tacos and Bay Burger, but the one item you can’t miss are the pork skins. If you’ve never tried any, these will convert you in one bite.
This is a great casual spot between Blue Mountain Beach and Gulf Place with lots of local flavor and live music, especially on the weekend. Jimmy and his crew know how to do it – nothing fancy, just good food and a fun atmosphere. I get the Roast Beef Debris, which is like a Po’ Boy piled high with meat and a cold beer. Definitely try the fried Oreos and stick around to listen to the tunes. It’s one of those spots you can stay for hours and enjoy.
Located in uptown Grayton, this little spot is the best seafood restaurant actually on 30A. It’s a little bit of a hole in the wall, but the menu has so many good options you’ll have a hard time deciding what to eat. The blackened shrimp with cheese grits are a favorite and if you want something truly authentic to old-school Florida seafood, you gotta go with the fried mullet. Add an Oyster City beer and Grayton Seafood is hard to beat.
Nick’s on the Bay
My buddy Trey Nick and the Nick family have been serving up the best seafood in the area for decades. Located on the Choctawhatchee Bay just west of Freeport, I can assure you it’s worth the short drive. When people ask me for the best REAL seafood around, I always send them here. Get a large ice cold Amber Bock and fried crab claws to start. I order this every time with extra lemons and it never disappoints.Check the chalk board for Trey’s fresh local catches and order from there. You can’t go wrong with the seafood platter, but if you’re not feeling fishy, their burger is another favorite.
For a low-key barbeque spot, 98 BBQ is where I go every time. It’s off of 98 in Santa Rosa Beach. I’ve been here so much, they greet me by name and there’s no telling how many pulled pork sandwich I’ve eaten over the years. Probably more than enough for a lifetime, but I don’t see me quitting any time soon. Try the ribs. Try the corn nuggets. Try the bread pudding. It’s all good.
Over on the east end of 30A in Inlet Beach, Shades is a local staple and a fun spot for any sports fan or beer connoisseur. They have a huge number of beers on tap and some pretty good eats. If you like pizza and wings, this is your spot. I like any of their blackened seafood or grouper tacos. Shades is also family friendly with a little game area outside and popcorn shrimp on the kids menu.