Cafe Thirty-A: Having the dine of your life

By Pam Windsor
May 31, 2023

Editor’s note: The South Walton community lost one of its most well-known members with the passing of Cafe Thirty-A owner Harriet Crommelin Feb. 8. Considered an icon of 30A, Crommelin started the restaurant in 1995. She attributed the eatery’s long-running success to their devotion to being “consistently delicious.”

SEAGROVE BEACHCafé Thirty-A has been an Emerald Coast favorite since it opened nearly three decades ago. It’s a casual, fine-dining restaurant with an eclectic menu, fine wines, and an exciting array of craft cocktails. The restaurant has a reputation for spectacular food, and a lot of warmth and hospitality to go along with it.

“Our biggest thing is consistency, consistency with the quality of food and the quality of our staff,” said General Manager Dave Kessler. “We’ve had customers that have been dining here since day one and they flat out tell me the reason they keep coming back is because we have the best food in the area, in their opinion, and the best service. We have a phenomenal staff that is very attentive to our guests’ needs.”

Cafe Thirty-A

Much of that has to do with longevity, which is often rare in the restaurant business. Kessler has worked there 27 years, the bar manager for 24 years. Customers come back year after year, asking for people, by name, who waited on them in the past.

Signature dishes include grilled Georgia quail and creamy grits, fried oyster spinach salad (with cherrywood smoked bacon), and the arugula salad with lemon/garlic vinaigrette.

“My favorite item on the menu is the sesame-crusted yellowfin tuna,” said Kessler. “We’ve served it since we first opened and it’s my favorite of everything we do.”

“We’re also known for our crab cakes,” office manager Jackie Maliszewski added. “You’ll see numerous reviews from people saying it’s the best crab cake they’ve ever had – even people from Maryland.”

Side items, too, are a big hit with people coming back time and again for the creamy grits and the truffled “three cheese” mac and cheese.

The expansive menu is matched by a wide range of drinks to choose from at the bar. From an extensive wine list to a variety of popular cocktails with intriguing names such as the Thirty-A Old Fashioned, the James Bond, the Hummingbird, and the Pineapple Cosmo.

“The Pineapple Cosmo is one of our signature cocktails,” Maliszewski explained,” and we actually infuse the vodka here with fresh pineapple.”

Café Thirty-A is geared toward making every visit a memorable experience and Kessler said it’s always rewarding to get positive feedback.

“I enjoy walking up and talking to customers and hearing the good things about the staff, the food, and the restaurant. We also do a lot of private events and it’s so nice to be part of the special times in people’s lives and hear comments later about how wonderful everything went.”

He credits Café Thirty-A’s success to great people who stay focused on creating and serving exceptional food.

“The biggest thing for us – and it’s the reason we put it on the back of one of our t-shirts – is ‘consistently delicious,’ Kessler said. “That’s our motto. It’s something that really drives us.”

Cafe Thirty-A

Cafe Thirty-A is located at 3899 E. Scenic Highway 30A, Seagrove Beach. Reservations are required; visit them online at www.cafethirtya.com or call 850-231-2166.