83 Central Square
Seaside, FL 32459
Proving it’s worth the wait
Ask anyone where to dine in South Walton and most will offer the same suggestion: The Great
Southern Café. The first in Jim Shirley’s local restaurant endeavors, Seaside’s Great Southern is
well worth the wait you may encounter upon arrival. Everyone wants a seat at the table, and
it’s the combination of sumptuous menu offerings and the restaurant’s ability to offer both a
quiet date night as well as a lively get-together that makes it able to stand the test of time, a
favorite year after year for residents and visitors alike.
Great Southern opened in 2006 and hasn’t seemed to slow for a moment since.
“Our crew at Great Southern makes sure you feel at home, and proven fresh Southern comfort
food makes you think of us when you are away,” Shirley said of his eatery’s success. Luckily, the
hankering for Great Southern fare can be satisfied at any meal, with breakfast, lunch and dinner
available every single day of the year. Located smack dab in the middle of Seaside’s picturesque
town center, the restaurant is ideal for delicious cuisine with friends, happy hour meetups with
groups, and special nights out with that certain someone.
A great start
The breakfast menu has something for everyone, including a veggie frittata (made with fresh
eggs, zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, and red pepper), grits and grillades (with slow-roasted
beef in a natural rich wine broth on a bed of Gouda cheese grits), avocado toast (topped with
two eggs your way or with West Indies marinated jumbo lump crab), or five different kinds of
Benedict, including a fried green tomato benedict and corned beef hash benedict.
Traditional breakfast favorites are also available, though they are anything but ordinary, such as
biscuits and gravy or a pancake plate (with vanilla pancakes, scrambled eggs and choice of
breakfast meat). And, of course, no Great Southern breakfast is complete without an order of
beignets and a Bloody Mary (made with horseradish, spiced beans and pickled okra, available
with or without vodka).
The lunch bunch
Jimmy Buffet’s song “I Wish Lunch Could Last Forever” may very well have been inspired by the
menu at Great Southern. Even appetizer items could quickly become a very satisfying meal,
such as a baked oyster trio (Acadian, Rockefeller and Bienville styles), Duck Calls (duck confit,
poblano, onions, peppers, tomatoes and crisp wrapper with Billy’s Spicy Mustard and pepper
jelly), and Soul Rolls (Shirley’s favorite menu item), made with chicken, collard greens, crisp wrapper, peach chutney and Creole mustard-horseradish. Don’t forget to celebrate your true Southern side with a side of frog legs.
Entrée items quickly induce hunger pangs, including ginger chicken (with horseradish-spiked
marmalade, or Jezebel sauce as it is called at GSC), balsamic salmon (with balsamic glaze, feta-
caper relish, sautéed green beans and mashed potatoes), and even a surprisingly satisfying
vegetable plate, with your choice of four Southern sides and a corn muffin.
A ‘Quick Bites’ menu rounds out the lunch offerings, with such favorites as pimento cheese
(served with warm pita wedges), and a West Indies crab martini, made with jumbo lump
crabmeat, tomato and avocado.
An evening feast
The dinner menu glistens with flavorful choices, including the much-loved Grits a Ya Ya
(blackened shrimp, sauté of Applewood-smoked bacon, spinach, Portobello mushrooms, and
cream served on a bed of smoked Gouda cheese grits).
“’Travel and Life’ called Grits á Ya Ya the best Southern dish in Florida,” Shirley said of his
restaurant’s most glowing review.
For something even heartier, there’s the bacon-wrapped filet mignon (served with mashed
potatoes and sautéed green beans), or mac and cheese with bacon and shrimp (with Havarti,
aged cheddar and grand cru cheeses). Salads that serve as full meals are also available,
including a balsamic grilled salmon and a Caesar salad with blackened shrimp.
A hearty wine list, draft beer selections, and fully stocked cocktail menu complete the
experience. A kids' menu – with choices such as shrimp (grilled or fried), cheeseburger, or
breaded chicken fingers – is sure to satisfy even the pickiest of palates.
The Great Southern Café is located at 83 Central Square in Seaside, and reservations are not
accepted. Breakfast is served each day from 8 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.,
and dinner from 4 p.m. to “at least 9:30 p.m.” More information can be found by calling 850-
231-7327 or by visiting www.thegreatsoutherncafe.com.