Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar: So close you can taste it

Fish asparagus lemon
The grouper is served atop fresh asparagus with plenty of citrus.

April 25, 2020
By Pam Windsor

GULF PLACE – Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar has become a popular spot since opening at the corner of Highway 30A and 393 in Santa Rosa Beach just a little more than two years ago. The restaurant, which got its name from the fishing reef off the coast, offers fresh, locally sourced seafood. It’s a kitchen where just about everything is made from scratch, with a spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico.

“We’ve got probably one of the best views you can have here on 30A so it’s nice to enjoy your grouper sandwich knowing it came from right here in the Gulf.” – Tyler McMahan, executive chef

“We’ve got probably one of the best views you can have here on 30A,” said Executive Chef Tyler McMahan, “so it’s nice to enjoy your grouper sandwich knowing it came from right here in the Gulf. We’re 100 percent true about ordering seafood as close to home as possible.”

That grouper sandwich he mentioned – topped with coastal slaw and homemade tartar sauce – has become a guest favorite. It goes well with their famous Duck Fat Gulley Fries which are hand-cut potatoes fried in duck fat, then tossed in truffle oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese. 

The menu features oysters and other seafood served in a variety of ways, but offers plenty of non-seafood items, as well. McMahan says while they keep some of their much-loved entrees year round, he likes to add new dishes that showcase the fruits and vegetables in season. He also has a lot of fun creating the “specials” they offer.

“I look forward to walking in every day and seeing what we can do to spice things up a bit,” he said. “People love to walk in and ask about the specials and I like to do something new and exciting and see how it goes.”

And just as the seafood is locally-sourced, many of the items on the beverage menu also have a community connection. 

“Our cocktail menu, beer menu, and wine list are locally driven,” said restaurant co-owner George Barnes. “We’re all supporting each other to make a better community.”

The Shunk Gulley team supports a number of local charities and last year kicked off the inaugural Shunk Gulley Oyster Festival to raise money for the South Walton Fire Department and Sheriff’s Department. It’s now an annual event.

Watermelon shrimp salad
The watermelon shrimp salad at Shunk Gulley offers a refreshing twist on greens.

Room to groove

The restaurant is set up to take advantage of its close-to-the ocean view. Since it focuses on casual dining, it doesn’t take reservations, but if there’s any wait at all, it’s designed so guests won’t even mind.

“Once you get here, there are very comfortable outside areas and spaces at the bar if there is a wait for a table,” Barnes said. “Guests may find themselves having such a good time, they’ll wind up eating right where they are.”

From the day it opened, Shunk Gulley has been dedicated to providing a neighborhood go-to restaurant where locals and visitors alike can enjoy an open, casual dining experience with excellent food, live music seven days a week, and a warm and welcoming staff.

“Our team is driven by hospitality,” noted Barnes, “so when somebody comes in they’re greeted with a smile and we’re ready to do whatever we can to make their experience better and exceed expectations.”

Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar can be found at 1875 S. Hwy 393 in Santa Rosa Beach. Open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., they do not accept reservations, but you can reach them at 850-622-2733 or online at