America’s favorite food is served up fresh at Pickle’s by Susan Benton (30AEATS.com)
Just steps from the sugar white sand beaches where New Urbanism was founded, you will find the flashing light in Downtown Seaside, and to its south, Pickle’s Burger & Shake. The restaurant’s neon pickle sign attracts passers-by, along with the words “World Famous” on its marquis. But it is the smell of food grilling and fries sizzling, and the roar of the milkshake machine, that lures folks to get in line or grab a stool at the bar.
Owners Heavenly and Bill Dawson — who also own Dawson’s Yogurt & Fudgeworks, It’s Heavenly, Wild Bill’s Beach Dogs and The Shrimp Shack — clearly know a thing or two about good food.
Among their exciting array of eateries, Pickle’s is a classically designed space that sits in one of the first buildings ever erected in Seaside. More than two decades ago, the Dawsons approached Robert Davis, Seaside’s founder, about the concept of a hot dog and beer stand, and Pickle’s was created.
With tourism and foot traffic in 1993 lighter than it is today, Pickle’s opened successfully in just 48 square feet of space. As Seaside became splashed across national headlines as the place to be and be seen, the restaurant’s look and menu evolved over the years with the town’s burgeoning reputation and has now expanded.
Seating is available inside at the counter or tables, and outside on a dining deck surrounded by a vibrant living wall of ivy. Runners have been hired to conveniently deliver orders tableside. A mister system also activates during warm weather, creating a gentle mist that fills the dining area, cooling hungry guests and those meandering by.
Favorite food items are, of course, the world famous White Oak Pastures organic grass-fed burgers, often topped with pimento cheese or fried pickles, and the crisp cooked hand-cut fries. But, it’s the organic grass-fed chicken burger topped with Colby Jack and pickled okra that has customers doing a double take, or rather, diving in for a second bite. All of the burgers are hand-pattied, seasoned on site daily, and cooked fresh to order. But it was Will Harris who helped the Dawsons perfect the ground meat mixture.
“For more than three years we searched for the best product until we found Will Harris, a fourth generation cattleman and the owner of White Oak Pastures,” Bill Dawson says. “The 146-year-old family farm in Bluffton, Ga., is located just a few hours northeast of Seaside. White Oak Pastures is the largest USDA Certified Organic farm in Georgia, and received the Governor’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2011.
Heavenly Dawson, always seeking the best, looked to her Atlanta roots to find the buns for Pickle’s World Famous burgers, and focused on Asada Bakery, a 30-year-old artisanal bakery serving only certified organic whole grain breads that ships brioche buns to Pickle’s daily.
Keeping it local, Pickle’s brings the freshest produce to its customers via Farmer Paul from the Seaside Farmers Market. Heavenly says, “Though the term gets tossed around, we definitely and literally are farm to table.”
You can’t order a world famous burger without a cold, creamy and decadent shake, especially one with the perfect mixture of butterfat. “We make all of our ice cream onsite weekly, and flavor all of the ice cream ourselves,” Heavenly says. “Each shake is topped with whipped cream, a drizzle of special sauce and a cherry.”
If a burger is not on your radar, other menu items at Pickle’s will be, including hearty sandwiches like the BLT, club, and Philly cheese steak, all made with Boars Head meats, hot dogs that can be topped with house made chili, cheese, and grilled onions, a variety of fresh salads, as well as refreshing drinks that include unique sodas, bottled water, beer, wine and fun cocktails.
In addition, Pickle’s serves breakfast daily with morning devotees ordering the Hangover Omelet, packed with sausage, cheese, tomatoes, bacon, jalapeños and a mixture of bell peppers.
The Dawsons put an extensive amount of time, thought, and dedication into creating the best burger for the beach. “I measure our burger’s success on the crumbs left behind,” he says. “And I haven’t found any yet!”
Pickle’s is located at the flashing light in Seaside and serves breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and lunch from 11 a. m. until close. For more information, call (850) 231-5686 or on facebook at Pickle’sburgersandshakes.
Susan Benton is a freelance food and travel writer with published articles, recipes and photography in many local, regional and national publications. Her website is 30AEATS.com where she writes about the secrets of Gulf Coast food.