INLET BEACH – Shaka Sushi and Noodle Bar has expanded into the space next door to bring guests a Grab n’ Go market featuring build-your-own poke bowls, classic sushi rolls, salads, house made dressings and sauces, Asian market style snacks, and a full bar. Guests are invited to come in and put together a bowl to go or simply grab a roll or salad to go. Shoppers are welcome to use the outside tables as well. The market is open daily at 11 a.m. until the freshly prepared food runs out.
Shaka Sushi and Noodle Bar is located in the Shoppes @ Inlet, 13625 U.S. Hwy. 98 East, Suite 5, Inlet Beach.
SANTA ROSA BEACH – The Bay is Chef Jim Shirley’s popular, family-friendly spot overlooking the Choctawhatchee Bay. It’s the place to head to have fun, enjoy live music, and watch the sun’s rays glint off the water. But when you dine at The Bay, guests will also find its menu offers a variety of dishes not seen elsewhere in South Walton.
This innovative menu all comes from Shirley’s time spent overseas.
“The Bay is definitely Chef’s creative outlet,” revealed Dan Tinghitella, director of culture and operations. “Chef’s extensive travels inspired much of this cuisine.”
One of The Bay’s entrees came about during a trip to Europe. His oldest daughter was craving his signature dish, Grits a Ya Ya.
“Chef sourced what he could find in Italy in order to cook her favorite dish … and the result was making polenta cakes instead of grits, aka our Faux Ya Ya,” Tinghitella recalled. The Bay’s version of shrimp and grits consists of fontina cheese polenta cakes served over arugula with pancetta, prosciutto, crimini mushrooms, topped off with Gulf-fresh sautéed shrimp.
Sushi is another specialty at The Bay.
“We have a dedicated sushi chef and team, so we can create a good variety of rolls – something for any sushi lover’s taste,” Tinghitella offered.
Two guest favorites include the Kelli Roll and the Hot Mess. The Kelli Roll is comprised of ginger-seasoned shrimp, spicy tuna, avocado, eel sauce, cream cheese, and spicy mayo. Named The Hot Mess, this description is certainly tongue-in-cheek; this masterpiece is filled with jumbo lump crab, spicy krab salad, and avocado and then panko crumb-breaded, deep-fried, and served with spicy mayo, eel sauce, green onions and sesame seeds. It’s Hot Delicious.
But The Bay’s Asian-influenced dishes go beyond sushi rolls, with starters like the crisp and refreshing Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wraps, filled with savory shrimp and garnished with chopped peanuts, toasty garlic and fresh mint served in butter lettuce. The whole table will love their take on hummus: edamame puréed with tahini, garlic, and lemon and garnished with kicky wasabi peas and ginger, served with naan bread.
Diners are often eager to try The Bay’s Point Washington Rolls for a taste of a fairly novel ingredient: alligator tasso. Tinghitella explains the alligator meat is prepared as a tasso in a smoky-spicy style. The creole-inspired spring rolls are then filled with the tasso and poblano peppers, fried, and served with a Hog Island sauce.
As you can imagine, having over a thousand guests for dinner each night in the high season requires a huge team effort. Along with the talents of Executive Chef Michael Mix, The Bay requires the dedicated teamwork of skilled chefs, waitstaff, and front of house crew. Leading all these moving parts, Chef Mix is also consistently pushing the envelope himself.
“He loves the idea of using different flavors to perfect The Bay’s standout dishes,” Tinghitella said.
The Bay is a place where guests can find their sweet spot. Beautiful bayfront dining with fresh seafood and a place to try new twists on familiar fare, is a welcoming port of call.
The Bay is located at 24215 U.S. Highway 331 in Santa Rosa Beach. Open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily. Contact them at 850-622-2291 or online at baysouthwalton.com.
Story by Sarah Murphy Robertson
Photography by Phil Heppding
Marie’s Bistro, located in Blue Mountain, can sneak up on you. But once you discover this treasure, you won’t soon forget it. Owner Hanie Nasri and his wife Marie work tirelessly to create a dining experience that is sure to accommodate everyone. With a refreshingly diverse menu, exceptional customer service, and many other surprises, Marie’s Bistro has a great deal to offer both visitors and locals.
The menu at Marie’s boasts tons of variety and is definitively unique. One of their most popular offerings is sushi. It is fresh and authentic and includes specialty rolls like the Dragon Roll made with soft shell crab, avocado and unagi and the Christmas Roll with shrimp tempura, tuna and avocado. All rolls are crafted with precision and care, and here’s a good tip: custom sushi trays are always available for events and parties.
The juicy burgers at Marie’s have themselves become local legends and are a generous full 8 ounces of Angus beef. Their Angus steaks are cut in house by hand, and from salad dressings to desserts lovingly baked daily, Marie’s is an example of quality food that is affordable and accessible.
In keeping with their spirit of introducing unusual cuisine, Marie’s is showcasing a new menu item of gravlax – a Scandinavian dish of raw salmon that has been cured in salt, sugar, organic vodka and dill for four days. Gravlax is served as an appetizer and is similar to lox. It is a rare treat for this area and sure to be a fast favorite.
Hanie and Marie are keenly aware more and more guests these days have dietary restrictions. They gladly offer many vegetarian options as well as gluten free items. If you have a specific food allergy they will help create a meal you can safely enjoy. It is their priority to make diners feel comfortable and at ease.
Families will also be pleased to hear of their generous Kid’s Menu policy. For $7 including a drink, anything on the menu is available in a child’s portion: steak, pasta, pizza, shrimp; you name it. Hanie explained the goal is for parents to relax and know their child is guaranteed to find something they like. Happy kids equal happy moms and dads.
In addition to dining in, Marie’s provides excellent catering options. Party trays with sushi, wraps, salads, and sweet treats can be personalized to your specific event and they even have a drive-thru for ease in pickup! It is the only drive-thru on 30A and many locals don’t even realize this incredible convenience.
So let’s sum up Marie’s Bistro: If having a larger gathering, their catering is sure to fit the bill for any event or group size. They are open for breakfast, lunch, happy hour, dinner and late night dining until 2 am. Their menu is composed of a huge variety of freshly prepared cuisines and can easily accommodate special diets. Impressively, Hanie, Marie, and their helpful staff are taking customer service to a whole new level and we highly recommend you stop in soon to taste for yourselves.