Goatfeathers: A distraction from the business of life
By Lauren Sage Reinlie
Sept. 19, 2022
SOUTH WALTON – In 1988, when Pat Miller opened a seafood market with a small cafe upstairs, it was one of only a handful of restaurants in South Walton. Today, Goatfeathers ranks as one of the longest-standing establishments in the area, which now boasts hundreds of dining choices.
Goatfeathers didn’t have its name back then, though. At first, the little cafe on the second floor of the seafood market was aptly named Over the Market Cafe. Miller came upon the Goatfeathers name while traveling to Austria. He discovered a quote from 1913 by a man named Ellis Parker Butler: “Goatfeathers are the distractions, sidelines, and deflections that take a man’s attention from his own business and keep him from getting ahead.”
That’s what Miller wanted his spot to be: a distraction from the business of life.
Thirty-four years later, Goatfeathers supplies some of the freshest seafood in South Walton and offers guests a little spot to let loose and enjoy life. Miller, now 76 years old, is still the first one in the market almost every day. He butchers almost all the day’s catch himself.
“And let me tell you, he shows no signs of slowing down,” said Patrick Barrilleaux, Goatfeathers’ general manager.
The original Goatfeathers Restaurant and Goatfeathers Seafood Market is located in Blue Mountain Beach, but the company now has two additional seafood markets, one in Seagrove Beach and one in 30Avenue, which has a sidewalk cafe as well. The markets provide fresh fish to local customers, including private chefs and some restaurants, but the Goatfeathers restaurants always come first, Barrilleaux said. “We have unlimited access to the freshest fish, straight off the boat.”
Grouper is their most popular selection. At lunch, diners can order it as a sandwich. At dinner, it comes in an oversized portion, grilled, fried, or blackened. They serve fresh, never frozen, diver scallops – a rarity in the area. Daily local catches are available, as are blue crab and even Norweigian salmon, which are also available at the seafood markets.
Barrilleaux said he is proud of their fried shrimp, which he thinks is the best in the area. At lunch, they serve the fried shrimp or fried oysters as a Po Boy, which comes on French bread straight from Louisiana, Barrilleaux’s home. Their steamer baskets include Alaskan snow crab and Colossal king crab. The Taste of Goatfeathers appetizer plate features boiled shrimp, fried oysters, smoked tuna dip, and a cup of seafood gumbo.
The menu branches beyond seafood and includes chicken, steak, pasta, and vegetables. Barrilleaux said they try to have something for everyone. He also noted their chef is always willing to try to accommodate any dietary needs or food allergies.
The restaurant has a full bar, with one highlight being the Hell Yeah margarita, made with tequila, agave nectar, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and a floater of Grand Marnier. (The story goes that a server once asked a customer if they wanted a shot of Grand Marnier on top, and they replied, “Hell yeah!” The name stuck.)
Dress is casual. As Barrilleaux said, come as you are and leave happy. It’s a bit of a motto for him.
“I like to think of this as my house,” he said. “I’m having a party at my house every night, and you are a guest in my house. That’s how we look at it.”
He noted that the restaurant usually closes around 9 p.m., but he will stay open later if it’s a busy weekend or holiday.
“I’ll serve until people stop coming,” he said. “I’m here to feed you. That’s my job. I’m from Louisiana; I can’t help it. That’s what we do. We feed people.”
Goatfeathers Restaurant and Seafood Market is located 3865 W. Co. Hwy. 30A in Santa Rosa Beach. The market is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The restaurant opens at 11 a.m. and closes around 9 p.m. The Seagrove Beach market is located at 4042 E. Co. Hwy. 30A in Santa Rosa Beach and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The 30Avenue market and cafe are located at 12805 U.S. Hwy. 98 East in Inlet Beach and is open from 11 a.m. until around 8 p.m. Reservations are not accepted. Check out the menu and more at goatfeathersseafood.com or call 850-267-3342 for more information.