Tallahassee has a reputation for being one of Florida’s premiere college towns as well as the state’s capital city. Welcoming to both international students and progressive politics alike, the cuisine is nothing short of impressive. Whether on a business trip or visiting during a game-day weekend, we discover 10 varied and ethnically diverse restaurants to satisfy nearly any culinary craving.
Located in the Kleman Plaza on the ground floor of the popular Tallahassee Center, 101 Restaurant offers a mixture of big city style and southern hospitality. With a convenient downtown locale next to Capitol and a few blocks from the Florida State University campus, the restaurant changes the food scene in the area by bringing customers something they have never seen before. Executive Chef Jason Bruner, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is recreating the brand of 101 Restaurant by bringing customers some of the finest and freshest ingredients found locally in the Capital City. 101 Restaurant offers FSU athletes, professors, journalists, lobbyists, lawmakers and other celebrities an All-American menu for lunch and dinner, with their filet and wine pairing being a particularly popular choice.
Bella Bella is a mainstay Italian restaurant family owned-and-operated in Tallahassee for over fourteen years. Marc Schwartz and his sister Amy have been serving the satisfied locals of Tallahassee for more than a decade. The restaurant decor boasts a low-frill, modern yet classic vibe with fish tanks and dim lighting. Must-try menu items include the bubble bread stuffed with cheese, chicken gnocchi soup, chicken parmesan and spinach ravioli. Pair these items with a Caoba Malbec from Argentina.
With the help of his nephew, Jesus Carranza created El Jalisco. Currently with seven locations across Northern Florida, El Jalisco is regarded as one of the top Mexican restaurants in the state. Serving boldly flavored dishes made with fresh ingredients inspired by the tastes of Mexico, El Jalisco is nothing short of authentic. From the menu try the Guadalajara platter, which consists of chile relleno with beef and one cheese quesadilla, or the shrimp a la diabla, which is cooked in hot salsa and served with rice and beans.
The Front Porch
One of Northern Florida’s most sought after seafood restaurants, The Front Porch uses local farm-to-table produce to accompany fresh seafood for an interesting twist on Gulf Coast cuisine. Executive Chef Katie Septman captivates her audience by serving meals on a naturally landscaped porch beneath undulating oak trees draped in Spanish moss. The dog-friendly restaurant offers a ‘yappy hour’ on Thursdays from six to nine, where dogs are invited and served organic doggy treats, allowing their owners to enjoy the social atmosphere. From the menu, order the Gulf shrimp, soaked in bourbon gravy and layered on top of smoked Gouda grits.
Kool Beanz Café
Named Tallahassee’s best restaurant in 2013, Kool Beanz Café has created quite a fuss over its food. Diners can enjoy gourmet food with eclectic style, surrounded by pastel drawings and local art. With indoor and outdoor seating the restaurant is a welcoming retreat for groups of friends or a romantic date. From the menu, try the cilantro-cashew ‘pesto’ rubbed tuna, which is doused in miso vinaigrette and rests atop a vegetable stir-fry of shiitakes, sprouts and soba noodles. Accompany your meal with a hand-chosen wine or craft beer.
From experienced restaurateur Lucy Ho, owner of AZO – another Tallahassee favourite – Masa promises a midtown Tallahassee menu filled with Asian-fusion delights, where delicious Asian cuisine and modern decor come together in one space. When craving Asian flavors, Masa can accommodate, being a great venue choice for a business lunch or dinner party. Order the ‘Dirty Harry Roll’, the ‘Spicy Tuna Roll’, the ‘Pad Thai’ and the fried dumplings.
Pitaria offers Tallahassee the taste of Mediterranean cuisine, serving traditional Greek and Middle Eastern fare. A favorite ethnic restaurant of the locals, Pitaria serves quality food at a fast pace and affordable price – which suits the nearby college students. For a lunch special order the gyro royal combo, which consists of a gyro wrap, their famous Greek fries, hummus and sweet tea. Also on the menu is the kabob platter, which comes with rice, lentils, couscous, hummus, a Greek salad and baklava.
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