The days are getting shorter as we head into early fall here on the Gulf Coast, but for working locals and those on vacation with time to spare, all can appreciate the addition of happy to their afternoon hour. Once a sleepy little village, Seaside now boasts a celebrity clientele and a bustling shopping and dining scene. But the relaxed atmosphere remains, including the best places to kick back and enjoy a refreshing libation before the sun dips below the horizon.
Many Seaside restaurants celebrate happy hour with specialty drinks, appetizers and entrées. Here are a few to quench your thirst, and your belly, too.
In the heart of the Merchants of Seaside, Great Southern Café is a flagship restaurant with a side porch where the locals gather about 3 p.m. to make certain they will find a seat for one of the best happy hours around.
Billy McConnell, operations manager, says, “It gets pretty busy around here. Happy hour is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. all week long.”
I was onsite testing the famed mojito, which McConnell claimed to be a customer favorite. Perfectly refreshing, all cocktails are half-priced, as well as wines by the glass. Even more exciting is the $5 price tag on a dozen cold raw oysters, unheard of these days.
Heading east you can’t miss Modica Market, the charming purveyor for Seaside since 1988, and serving the finest mimosa this side of the Mississippi. For $12.98 you can purchase the hand squeezed orange juice and Champagne 32-ounce delight any day of the week, and at any time. I can attest to the fact that it pairs nicely with the hand crafted Belgian waffle, piled high with whipped cream and strawberries for brunch.
Carmel Modica says, “Our happy hour is all day, so enjoy!”
Join the club, the draft club that is, where an assortment of beers is offered with three different size pours. Bud Light is $4 for a 16-ounce pour, $5 for a 24-ounce, and $8 for a 32-ounce. Get you card punched each time, and the 10th 16-ounce pour is on the house. Don’t forget to add on a side of Ms. Lisa’s wings, an incredible side to snack on, especially with the hops. If wine is your thing, Modica Market has a wide selection of fine wines by the bottle or the glass. Come fall, you will find Friday lunch specials on the menu, and The Steeno’s playing their creative tunes
from 4 to 6 p.m.
Just a stroll south is Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant with its panoramic Gulf views and popular gathering place on the rooftop deck. Each evening, one lucky patron who guesses the exact time the sun sets will win a complimentary cocktail. But most enjoy the “Mogarita,” named after our longtime celebrity bartender Mo, or the Seaside Punch, a fan favorite as $1 of each purchase goes to Alaqua Animal Refuge, our Northwest Florida no-kill animal shelter. Whatever your pleasure, you are certain to find your happy place at any hour of the day, as long as you arein Seaside.
Great Southern Café
83 Central Square
109 Central Square
Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant
2236 Scenic Highway 30A
The Pizza Bar
2236 Scenic Highway 30A
Drink Responsibly! Sunshine Shuttle (866) 650-6333, sunshineshuttle.com