By Laura Holloway
July 8, 2022
GULF PLACE – A better location or more delicious oysters are difficult to find, and few restaurant names are more fun to say. Located centrally on 30A adjacent to Gulf Place where Highway 393 reaches the Gulf, Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar offers the kind of ocean breezes and fresh seafood that make 30A a coastal and culinary destination. The award-winning fare and daily live music have made this beloved restaurant a destination of its own.
Owner Thomas Gallion describes Shunk Gulley as “an open-air Gulf view experience specializing in fresh seafood and hospitality,” which summarizes it perfectly. He added that someone recently described it with the best compliment he’s ever received about the restaurant, “That Shunk Gulley feels like somewhere that has been there forever, even though we have only been open for four years.”
Fresh, fresh, fresh
Shunk Gulley is an example of the unique design and architecture for which 30A is so revered. A panoramic bar area and views of the white sands make the restaurant the perfect backdrop for any occasion, and the laidback, wear-your-flip-flops vibe encourages every day to be a worthy occasion. Add on daily live music and it’s clear why Shunk Gulley continues to win awards for its perfection.
A coastal restaurant is nothing if the seafood isn’t fresh, and at Shunk Gulley, it tops the priority list.
“We cut fresh fish daily,” Gallion explained. “Anyone that eats seafood regularly can tell the difference between frozen and fresh. We receive daily deliveries from our suppliers that ensure our guests are served the highest quality product, and our chef offers daily specials based on what is the freshest from our suppliers each day.”
Executive Chef Tyler McMahan echoes that desire for excellence in ingredients, and has created a flavorful and memorable menu, especially for those with a weakness for amazing oysters. Three ingredients he reaches for most in the kitchen? “High-quality salt, a top tier olive oil, and I love peppercorns.”
Caring for customers
The awards paid to the restaurant are testament to the kitchen’s skills, but McMahan admits the most meaningful compliment he’s ever been paid about his food was more personal. “I have a handwritten note a guest left me two years ago that I taped to the top of a cooler. It means the world to me to make a difference for people with our food.” The note is from a restaurant guest, explaining that she had dined that day with a friend in the late stages of Parkinson’s disease, who had struggled with having an appetite at all: “I haven’t been able to get her to eat as much as she did here today in weeks! What a great find with super flavor.”
The care for customers is equaled only by the irresistibility of the menu, which features a Crab Bisque (with lump blue crab, roasted corn, sherry, cream, butter, and seafood stock), Tuna Poke (with yellowfin ahi tuna, sesame soy, ginger ponzu, guacamole, and wontons), Crispy Yardbird Sandwich (made with sweet tea chicken breast, Gochujang pepper sauce, vine ripe tomato, coastal slaw and house-made pickles), Smoked Pork Chop (served with Spanish rice, black beans, salsa verde, and fried shallots), and not-to-be-missed Duck Fat Gulley Fries (made with garlic, olive and truffle oil, parsley, sea salt and parmesan, with spicy ketchup and garlic aioli for dipping). Of course, Shunk Gulley is an oyster bar, so don’t leave without sampling the cheddar jalapeño or Meyer lemon garlic varieties, available by the half or whole dozen.
Save room for beignet fries or key lime pie, and keep younger guests happy with a tasty kid’s menu, which features popcorn shrimp, chicken fingers, fried fish, and corn dogs. And stay for the live music, offered daily.
Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar is located at 1875 S. Hwy. 393, and a full menu and information about daily live music can be found by visiting www.shunkgulley.com. Reservations are not accepted, but to-go orders can be placed by calling 850-622-2733.