Susan Benton is the go-to resource for foodies visiting Pensacola to Panama City Beach. She is a food and lifestyle writer with published articles and photography in many local, regional and national publications. Her website is 30AEATS.com where she writes about the secrets of Gulf Coast food.
Most people have a go-to sandwich spot that never fails them, a place where a simple meal brings anticipation and satisfies deep cravings. Finding the most delicious sandwich that elicits these feelings, whether it's a deli classic or seafood special is, well, priceless.
I’ve narrowed down a list (in no particular order) of Seaside favorites based on my own experiences, and word-of-mouth recommendations from locals.
Up first is Barefoot B-B-Q, which was established in 2009 and is located on Airstream Row. It's a casual spot, but they have the best barbecue in the county and tops in the country.
Specializing in hormone-free, steroid-free, and antibiotic-free beach-side food in a retro, tiki-style atmosphere, owners Jenny and James “Murph” Murphy have come up with creative Southern, Texas, and Caribbean fusions, while remaining eco-friendly.
Though the barbecue pork nachos are a stand-out, the sandwich to order is the beef brisket that’s nestled between two buttery slices of Texas toast. Make sure to order the Bloody Mary, also a 30A favorite.
Bud & Alley's Waterfront Restaurant is South Walton’s oldest gathering spot, opened by owner/surfer Dave Rauschkolb and former partner Scott Witcoski 35 years ago. Today, Bud & Alley’s is Seaside’s flagship restaurant, offering the best rooftop views of the Gulf of Mexico and the perfect spot to savor seafood. Order the fried shrimp po boy that arrives with jumbo wild caught shrimp and tangy remoulade sauce (an ode to New Orleans), and let the salt air kiss your cheeks. Though the sandwich is served with a bag of chips, order the sweet potato fries to round out the meal.
Kelli Castille and her partner, Chef Jim Shirley, know a thing or two about good food, and that includes the comfort type as well, like grilled cheese. The duo opened The Meltdown on 30A in 2009, also located on Airstream row.
The Meltdown specializes in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches made with locally sourced ingredients. Order the Smokin’ Turkey smothered with melted jack cheese, bacon, avocado, and a touch of Albuquerque sauce, and ask them to combo it to receive a cold drink and bag of chips. It’s the perfect meal for a beach picnic or to enjoy on the amphitheater.
Nestled in a charming white cottage on the beach side, Cocina Cubana opened in 2019 with owners Liz and Jay Eichelberger at the helm along with Chef Rob Masone. Jay’s mother, Lupe Eichelberger, is originally from Havana, Cuba, which inspires the menu as it’s influenced by family recipes.
My top pick is the traditional Cuban sandwich filled with pulled pork, swiss cheese, pickles, and spicy chile mustard. Add a side of tostones (savory fried plantains with dipping sauce), and a cafecito (small but mighty Cuban coffee), and enjoy your meal on their outside patio.
Mr. Gyro Hero is the newest Airstream to open as of March 2020, but its owners are not new to the community. Olga and Burak Akkan, who specialize in healthy Mediterranean recipes using organic and locally grown ingredients, are beloved by locals and visitors alike. The couple has been selling unique salads, hummus, and other tasty mezes at the Seaside Farmers Market for the past 10 years.
Loyal customers were eager for them to sell full-time in order to get their falafel fix. Order the gyro wrap on grilled pita bread, packed with lamb and beef gyro meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and the best homemade tzatziki sauce. It’s a foolproof meal to eat on the go.
Modica Market is a family-owned business that opened in 1989 after Charles Modica Sr., and his wife Sarah, moved south from Bessemer, Ala., where they had run a grocery store for 50 years. They planned on retiring to Seaside in 1988 but were the logical choice to open a market when the town came calling.
Now run by their children, Modica Market gets high praise for their made-to-order muffaletta that comes as close to the original served at Central Grocery in New Orleans.