March 20, 2020
By Meredith Houston Carr
SEAGROVE BEACH – With its pure white sugar sands and crystal clear emerald waters, it’s no surprise 30A has grown into a sought-after destination that captures the hearts of millions, year after year. But with all the changing landscapes and dining options, some things never change – like the food, warmth, and welcome of Café Thirty-A.
Opening its doors in 1995 a stone’s throw away from those emerald-green waters, Café Thirty-A has managed to stay “consistently delicious since we opened our doors,” said owner Harriet Crommelin, who has watched the area burst with development.
With all that growth, Café Thirty-A continues to draw a crowd, and it’s not hard to see why: festive palm trees greet you at the front door, providing the idyllic coastal welcome into a dining experience that delights. White linen-covered tables bathed in warm, low light under spacious ceilings create an enchanting atmosphere for a decadent meal, crafted with patrons in mind.
“We know our customers, and we know them well,” acknowledged Crommelin.
Authentic beginnings, time-tested results
After 13 years in land-locked Montgomery, Ala., Crommelin packed up and headed South.
“I wanted to be at the beach,” she said, explaining how she sought out and found the perfect tract of land to build on. Soon after, Café Thirty-A opened its doors and began the journey to becoming one of 30A’s most established restaurants.
Through 25 years of operation, Café Thirty-A has remained steadfast in offering its highly acclaimed menu of contemporary eclectic seafood, steaks, and wood-oven pizzas, all complemented by an award-winning wine list and topped off with mouth-watering desserts, best described by Crommelin as “hedonistic.”
Whether you’re planning to celebrate a special occasion or looking to unwind over an exotic martini, you can count on “really good food and really good service,” Crommelin explained with confidence. “We’re a great fit for any special occasion. We also have a lot of locals who come for $5 martinis on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.”
Fine dining among the comfort of friends
While the quality of Café Thirty-A’s food remains constant, the menu changes almost daily to reflect the fresh seasonal bounty of the ocean, as well as the creative mind of Executive Chef Tim Williams.
Joining the team in July 2018, you won’t find Williams tossing pots or pans across the kitchen; rather, his laidback approach creates harmony in the kitchen and on the plate.
“He’s just a really good guy, and an excellent chef,” said Crommelin. With decades of experience and a resume brimming with variety, Williams unleashes his creativity on the fresh, local seafood to bring diners a menu that satisfies, night after night.
Some menu creations, however, are long-standing and simply non-negotiable – and for good reason.
“Our grits never touch water – they’re made with half and half, and they’re exceptionally good.” – Harriet Crommelin, owner
“Our grits never touch water – they’re made with half and half,” said Crommelin, “and they’re exceptionally good.”
And while everything on the menu is a hit, the tuna poke has been around since day one.
“We’ve had three chefs since we opened, but the tuna stays the same,” Crommelin said firmly. So too the crab cakes, a huge hit with diners and the result of Crommelin’s own recipe. “I’ve been making them with this recipe for at least 20 years. They are mostly crab meat and just a little bit of mayonnaise.”
No matter how 30A grows and changes, one thing’s for sure: Café Thirty-A will continue serving up delicious food and excellent service in a warm and welcoming environment.
“We have that neighborhood bar feeling,” she said with satisfaction – the kind of satisfaction that lets you know Café Thirty-A will continue to be a fan favorite for years to come.
Café Thirty-A is located at 3899 East Scenic Highway 30A, Seagrove Beach, and is open daily for dinner at 5 p.m., with “Buy One Get One Free” entrees from 5 to 6 p.m. Reservations are recommended and accepted online or by phone. For more information, call 850-231-2166 or visit www.cafethirtya.com.