Tag Archives: Lemongrass

New Tallahassee Tastes

The culinary scene in Tallahassee was bittersweet in 2017. We welcomed a host of new restaurants, including our first cat adoption cafe, but we also said goodbye to a few faves.

On the plus side, we savored new flavors, but also discovered we still love comfort food (and tacos).

Here are some of the noteworthy ups and downs in our restaurant world this year — with a look at what’s coming up. We realize there are a lot more newcomers, so please send along your recommendations to TallahaseeTable@gmail.com.

A treat for cat lovers: Customers can order a cup of coffee and pastry, then pay $7 an hour to enter a playroom and cuddle cats that need a home. The goal of The Fat Cat Cafe, and other similar venues opening around the world, is to spur adoptions — 35 cats have been adopted at the Tallahassee cafe since the place opened Aug. 11. There are also special events geared to kiddies and kitties. Fat Cat Cafe, 2901 East Park Avenue, Suite 2600; 850-402-9850. Another feline venue, The Tally Cat Cafe, is planning to open in 2018.

Ethnic cuisine: From Afghan kebabs to Vietnamese-style beef stew, several ethnic restaurants debuted in 2017.

  • Arepana Latin Grill: Viet and Nam Vu (Taco Republik, MoBi food truck) have opened two tasty additions to Tallahassee’s dining scene — Arepana and Izzy Pub & Sushi. Nam opened Arepana in April, featuring inexpensive dishes influenced by Colombian, Cuban, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan fare. Find arepas (corn cakes with a protein or vegetable filling), rice bowls with roast pork, carne asada (steak), chicken or vegetables, salads and sides like yucca fries and plantains. 1176 Capital Circle SE; 850- 597-9931.

    Joe Rondone/Democrat
  • Izzy Pub & Sushi: Viet Vu joined forces with chef Xinzheng “Alex” Fang to create the chill, Japanese-style gastro pub. Diners can devour an array of sushi, sashimi and small plates plus a choice of sake, including the first kegged sake in Tallahassee. Open since February, the pub is also bringing in harder-to-find fish from Japanese markets. 1123 Thomasville Rd.; 850-222-5000.
  • Chuan Cafe: The restaurant’s slogan is “Never Spicy Enough” but there are lots of milder choices at this urban College Town space. Just indicate your spice choices when you order. Dishes include hot and sour soup, dim sum, Kung Pao chicken and vegetarian choices. Bento combos are available until 5 p.m. 619 Woodward Ave. (across from Centrale); 850-727-0228.
  • Da Khyber Grill: The restaurant is an exotic addition to Tallahasee. The place touts a fusion of Pakistan-Indian and Persian flavors with a few items influenced by Afghanistan cuisine, including a kebab with rice. An inexpensive buffet is available at lunch daily and during dinner Friday and Saturday. Order off the dinner menu on other evenings. Open since September, Da Khyber Grill touts a menu that’s 100 percent Halal (foods permissible under Muslim law). 2819 Mahan Dr.; 850-320-6450.
  • Dao: Open since April, Dao is an upscale version of Azu, offering a large, pan-Asian selection in Bannerman Crossings. Owners are Masa Nagashima, who was the general manager of Lucy Ho’s restaurants for nearly 40 years, and Azu’s Kenny Fan, the nephew of Ho’s late husband. 3425 Bannerman Rd.; 850-999-1482.
  • Lemongrass: Savor Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese cuisine as well as sushi and sake at the serene restaurant, open since June in the Centre of Tallahassee. Specialties include Vietnamese beef stew, bánh mì sandwich (at lunch), curries and rolls. From the owners of the former Far East Cuisine. 2415 N Monroe St.; 850-765-0672
  • Tour of Italy:  You’ll find housemade pasta, pizza, calzones, favorites like chicken parmigiana and shrimp fra diavolo plus “mama kababs” at this homey eatery, which launched  Nov. 6. Indoor and outdoor dining.  3805 N. Monroe St.; 850-629-8203.

An eclectic bunch: These intriguing newcomers are offering a change from tacos, pizza and burgers.

  • The Bark: The restaurant has moved to a new, larger venue (formerly Perry’s Lounge) and it’s now a full bar and music venue as well as a cafe. Open since Sepember, The Bark serves fresh bread and a vegan/vegetarian menu, with Saturday and Sunday brunch. 507 All Saints St.; 850-900-5936.
  • Cafe Taverna: This is a new venture from the team behind Lucy Ho restaurants, touted as “Southern American cuisine with a Latin twist.” Dinners include small and large plates, with fried eggplant, rib-eye, pork tenderloin, charcuterie and a vegetable plate. Brunch choices feature breakfast fajitas, crab-filled crepes eggs Benedict and fried chicken and biscuits. 1019 Monroe St.; 850-999-8203.
  • Hawthorn: The elegant new restaurant is a white tablecloth establishment from Jesse Edmunds and the team behind Liberty Bar & Restaurant and El Cocinero. The menu, offering small and large plates, is inspired by the dishes of the American South and the south of Europe in an atmosphere Edmunds calls “refined dining.” 1307 N. Monroe St.; 850-354-8275.
  • Lucilla: The restaurant, in the former home of Sahara, has been serving breakfast and lunch, and just started offering dinner on Jan. 2. The fun menu, from owners Joe Richardson (the chef) and Lara Hooper, focuses on American comfort food with Creole and Southern accents. Dishes include pimento cheese fritters with a smidgen of bourbon peach glaze, fried oysters, root vegetable pot pie and bread pudding with white chocolate and pumpkin (scrumptious). 1241 E. Lafayette St.; 850-900-5117.

Sweet stuff: New bakeries and pastry shops are popping up (with more to come).

  • Lucy & Leo’s Cupcakery is moving to the second floor of Midtown Reader, at 1123 Thomasville Rd. (the pink house is where the shop’s story began) in late January.
  • Au Peche Mignon, at 1415 Timberlane Rd., has opened a second location at 220 N. Duval St.


– SoDough
  • SoDough opened in Midtown in September, baking doughnuts, kolaches, cookies and brioche bread. 1306 Thomasville Rd.; 850-765-8991.
  • The Goodberry, which opened in June, specializes in açaí bowls with a choice of other toppings and avocado toast. 1325 Thomasville Rd.; 850-778-5167.
  • Nothing Bundt Cakes, which also opened this summer, revives a nostalgic treat with these rich cakes, drizzled with a cream cheese-based icing. 346 S. Magnolia Dr.; 850-765-5188.
  • Southern Velvet Cafe, featuring coffee, tea and pastries, will be opening in 2018 in Frenchtown.

Taco madness continue

  • Locos Tacos & Bar: This  locally owned, mom-and-pop taco spot has been a star with foodies on the local Twitterverse since it opened in April.  With good reason. Go for tacos, burritos, quesadillas and much more. 1525 W. Tharpe St; 850-597-7741.
  • Tin Lizzy’s Cantina:  The  chain, part of a College Town mini restaurant boom,  was founded by FSU students Chris Hadermann, John Piemonte and Mike Evertsen. Open since August, the Tallahassee branch features a “FlexMex” style, with items like low country boil or Korean barbecue tacos and skillets including the Cowboy with fried chicken, bacon and baked beans. 619 S. Woodward Ave.; 850-558-5592.

Final course: We said goodbye to some standbys in 2017, including Old Town Cafe, Red Elephant Pizza and Grill (Midtown location) and Kitcho and Sidebar Gastrobar along with newbie Tequila Tribe. Yostie’s Chili Parlor was a casualty of the upcoming mixed-use housing development called Freight Yard. Owner Gary Yost served his last hearty dogs on the site on Dec. 29, but he’s looking for another site.

What’s next:

We expect Tallahassee’s dining scene to keep evolving in 2018. Here’s an idea, so far, of what to expect.

  • Debuting downtown: In a much anticipated opening, Sage business partners — chef Terry White and sommelier Craig Richardson — will open a high-end, Italian steakhouse on the ground floor of the six-story building owned by Brian Ballard, CEO of Ballard Partners. The building, under construction at Park Avenue and South Monroe Street, is expected to open late summer or early fall 2018.
  • The Hideaway Cafe: Coffee master Jason Card (Journeyman coffee) will be partnering with Midtown’s Waterworks to create Hideaway in the former Spaceport Lounge (the back part of the bar). “Coffee, food and interesting people” coming our way this month, Card said. 1133 Thomasville Rd.; 850-224-1887.
  • Grove Market Cafe: David and Elizabeth Gwynn, owners of Cypress, will be opening a breakfast and lunch restaurant in the former home of the northeast location of the burger joint, Vertigo, which closed just before Christmas. The flagship Vertigo on Lafayette will remain open. The new cafe, expected to open in early February, will incorporate produce from local farms and “concentrate on comfort foods,” said David Gwynn. The cafe will have sit-down service and a “grab-and-go” section. The menu will offer gluten-free and dairy-free choices. 1440 Market St.
  • McAlister’s Deli: The chain, known for its fat sandwiches and sweet tea, is expected to open a branch near Trader Joe’s in January. 3425 Thomasville Rd.
  • 3 Natives Tallahassee: Founded three years ago in Tequesta, this 3 Natives is expected to open Jan. 6, serving açaí bowls, cold-pressed juices, smoothies, wraps, salads and bagels. This branch will be the chain’s eighth location; the Tallahassee operation is owned by Kerry Nohle (owner of Which Wich and Smashburger franchises in Tallahassee and Destin). Walker Plaza, 3020 W. Pensacola St.

Rochelle Koff writes about food and dining at TallahasseeTable.com, on Facebook@TheTallahasseeTable. Instagram as tallahasseetable and Twitter @tallytable. Reach her at TallahasseeTable@gmail.com


New TLH Restaurants

Barbecue. Bundt cakes. Super berries. Tallahassee has a new spate of restaurants — including chains, dessert spots, a sub shop, ethnic restaurants and a food truck — that have opened in the past two months and a few more will be opening by summer’s end.

Most of these are smaller, casual places, not of the ilk of a Blue Halo or Table 23, which opened last summer. Still, these are new places to discover and Tallahassee loves to try new restaurants.

Keep in mind that all that love can overwhelm a new spot. Places used to be able to open quietly but that’s unlikely these days. One bad batch of beans can doom a restaurant. So the idea is, give a new location a chance.

Here are the spaces we’ve come across.We’ve likely missed some new gems or promising places to come. If so, please drop us a note at TallahasseeTable@gmail.com.

Chuan Cafe:   This College Town newcomer boasts authentic Chinese cuisine with the slogan “Never Spicy Enough.” But if you’re spice-averse, don’t cross this place off your must-try list. The super hot dishes are marked and there are plenty of other choices, especially the dim sum. The Szechuan category includes roast duck, beef tendon with chili sauce, and bean jelly with Szechuan-style sauce.  Another bonus: Chuan Cafe, with a sleek contemporary decor, is open for lunch and dinner daily. 619 S. Woodward Ave.; 850-727-0228.

– Joan-Manuel Pouparina

The Goodberry: This cozy nook, which opened June 17, specializes in popular açaí bowls. The South American berry, touted for its health benefits and its tart-sweet flavor, is the star attraction in sorbet, garnished with granola and a choice of other toppings, including fresh fruits, chia seeds, dates, bee pollen, Nutella and a Brazilian nut topping called pacoca. Owners Joan-Manuel Pouparina and Ariel Sonnino, both recent Florida State University grads, also serve smoothies and avocado toast with garlic, red peppers, feta, cherry tomatoes and a balsamic glaze. Sweet indeed! 1325 Thomasville Rd.; 850-778-5167.

Lemongrass: The pan-Asian restaurant, from the same folks who owned the former Far East Cuisine in the Carriage Gate, have moved to the Centre of Tallahassee. The new, classier digs offer lovely art work, a sophisticated soundtrack and relaxed lights. Vietnamese and Thai dishes and sushi dominate the large menu. Specialties include Vietnamese beef stew, a bánh mì for lunch, curries and rolls. Finish with a cold — or hot — glass of sake. 2415 N Monroe St.; 850-765-0672.

LOL Nachos:  This place is a nacho bar that also serves other Mexican fare like tacos and burritos, but why the LOL? The restaurant is also a comedy club with shows Tuesday and Saturday nights.    2401 West Pensacola St., Unit D;  850-597-8372.

Nothing Bundt Cakes: If the term “bundt cake” makes you feel warm and fuzzy, you’ll be happy to discover this new shop devoted to the nostalgic dessert. These rich cakes are drizzled with a cream cheese-based icing and come in varied sizes: an eight or 10-inch cake ($21 and $31, additional charge for decorations), $3.99 bundtlets and bite-sized bundtinis (available only by the dozen). Ten flavors are available, including a gluten-free version and flavor of the month. Marty Newman, who opened the Tallahassee branch of the franchise on June 1, said there are 40 design options for special occasions. Despite its name, the shop sells some travel mugs, cake plates and gifts. 346 S Magnolia Dr.; 850-765-5188.

OG Subs: The sub shop originally opened in the fall, closed briefly and reopened June 23, so we’re including it in this roundup. OG is quickly getting a reputation for having the best subs in the city. No argument here. If you’re from South Florida, you’ll be excited to hear that one of their owners and several employees used to work at the venerable LaSpada’s Original Hoagies in SFla. You’ll find the same quality meats here (and meat tossing — trust us, it’s fun). 444 W College Ave.; 850-553-1352.

Thai Kitchen: Amy and Alex Soonthonthom spent many years helping a relative open Thai restaurants around the country. On June 1, they opened their own establishment, a modest 32-seat storefront providing a range of traditional dishes like coconut soup, Pad Thai and assorted curries. Shoppers in the plaza will find lunch is a bargain, including an entree and cup of soup or salad (dine-in only) for $8, $10 if you pick shrimp. The couple, natives of Thailand, will eventually offer sushi as well. 1400 Village Square Blvd.; 850-999-8960.

Wild Cajun Seafood & Oyster Bar: Childhood friends and Louisiana natives Derreck He and Tim Tran opened the seafood restaurant July 5 in the former home of Zin. Wild Cajun specializes in low-country boils — “Dirty Buckets” with shrimp, snow crab, black mussels, sausage, crawfish, red potatoes and corn.  You’ll also find po boys, seafood by the pound, baskets and crawfish étouffée. 1225 N Monroe St.; 850-567-2992

– Rankin Tacos

Rankin Crunchy & Confused Tacos: On May 28, Roger Rankin left his seven-year job working in the state’s radiological emergency program, which is charged with planning the response to a nuclear power plant crisis. A month later, he was planning something entirely different: menus. Fulfilling a longtime dream, Rankin, with his wife, Bridgette, opened this food truck, featuring a beloved fried taco recipe created by his grandmother in West Texas. Rankin Crunchy & Confused Tacos prepares the dish the way his grandmother did, cooking the meat and shell together. The truck offers five or six signature tacos, including Southern fried chicken, chorizo, lamb or beef or you can build your own. Tacos are served with a side of Texas-style beans and flat tater tots. You can catch Rankin’s food truck Saturday at Deep Brewing or check his Facebook page.

Willie Jewell’s Old-School BBQ: Tallahassee’s newest barbecue spot, which opened July 19, is a spinoff of the historic Bono’s barbecue chain, born in Jacksonville in 1949, created by Joe Adeeb and Josh Martino. As for the intriguing name, Willie Jewell Daniels was a homeless girl who came to live with the Adeeb family and proved to be a fine cook. The Tallahassee branch, owned by Chip and Amanda Evans, features pork and brisket smoked for 12 or more hours over live oak. “All the meat arrives raw and we smoke it,” said Amanda Evans. Also featured: St. Louis-style ribs, turkey, sausage and chicken plus classic sides like mac ‘n cheese, Brunswick stews, fried pickles, fried corn, fried okra and baked beans. 5442 Thomasville Rd.; 850-629-4299.


Pappas Diner: If you love an old-fashioned Greek-American diner, with dishes like pancakes, pastrami and spinach pies, you’ll be eager to try this new eatery from Sprio Pappas, who previously ran diners in South Florida. Pappas is open in the former home of the Village Inn. We could use a Greek diner in Tallahassee so fingers crossed. 2531Apalachee Pkwy.; 850-391-9585.

Opening Soon

– SoDough

SoDough: Midtown is getting a new bakery specializing in quiche, donuts, cupcakes, muffins and other pastries (but no bread; not yet, at least) in the old Lenny’s Subs sites. The bakery is a project from For the Table Hospitality, the group that owns Madison Social, Township and Centrale in CollegeTown, specifically Matt Thompson, managing partner at Madison Social, and Lauren and Mike Poulos. We’re excited about their plans for specialty donuts. It’s expected to open in early August. 1306 Thomasville Rd.

– Tin Lizzy’s


Tin Lizzy’s Cantina: OK, it’s another taco joint but it sounds like a fun fit for College Town. Owners/founders Chris Hadermann, John Piemonte and Mike Evertsen all met while students at FSU and later opened their first taco restaurant in Atlanta’s Buckhead area in 2005. The Tallahassee branch will be the 14th in the chain, with other links in Atlanta and South Carolina. Don’t expect Tex-Mex or Mexican-style tacos. Tin Lizzy’s “FlexMex” style stars items like a low country boil taco with shrimp, chorizo, corn, tater tots; one with Korean barbecue; and skillets including the Cowboy with fried chicken, bacon and baked beans. Other items include quesadillas, entrees and salads. It’s expected to open near Township by the end of August. 619 S. Woodward Ave.

















Fall for new restaurants

Fall has arrived but Tallahassee’s dining scene is still hot. Since Sept. 1, at least seven restaurants have opened and more are on the way. Fortunately, this is a city hungry for new places to try.

Tacos spice up November with the opening of two new venues: El Cocinero Tacos & Tequila in the former Up in Smoke space on Tennessee Street, and Taco Bout It on Gaines Street.  Saki Sushi in Midtown is being converted to  Izzy Pub / Sushi Bar, offering  Asian-inspired small plates as well as sushi in late November/early December.

Other new arrivals in late 2016 or early 2017 include Asian spots (Dao, in Bannerman Crossings,  and Lemongrass, in the Centre of Tallahassee) and a sports bar (Dick’s Wings, in Bannerman). And, some old favorites (The Egg,  Lofty Pursuits and Village Inn) are branching out or on the move.

Recently opened

Bento Cafe: The casual Asian restaurant opened its ninth Florida location, near the Florida State University campus, on Oct. 11. The chain, which started in Gainesville in 2002, is known for its combinations or Bento boxes, build-your-own poké bowls (with chopped items), sushi, rice bowls, noodle dishes and boba teas. Pretty much everything is under $11.
1606 W Tennessee St.

Blu Halo: The swanky new restaurant opened Sept. 22 in Bannerman Crossings, bringing an upmarket venue to the northern burbs of Tallahassee. The menu offers high-roller items like a $98 bone-in ribeye (for two) and a $200 martini, but there are more affordable entrees priced under $25. The restaurant features brunch on Saturday and Sunday, patio seating and a private room.
3431 Bannerman Rd.

Centrale Italian Parlour: Open since Oct. 7, this stylish new venue, which touts “old-school Italian fare,” isn’t just a haven for students despite its College Town location. From the folks at Madison Social, Centrale’s menu includes charcouterie boards, salads, pasta and brick-oven pizza. Stop by during Benvenuti, Centrale’s version of Happy Hour, and sample the pizza.
815 W. Madison St.


Mission BBQ: The 37th location of this Baltimore-based barbecue joint, which opened Oct. 24, is the latest food spot at Magnolia Grove, offering brisket, pulled pork, smoked salmon, ribs and the usual ‘fixins.’ The name of the chain, which opened its first location on Sept. 11, 2011, relates to its support of the military and law enforcement through tributes and special events.
216 S. Magnolia Dr.


Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe: This local link in the Birmingham-based chain opened Oct. 4 in Magnolia Grove. The chain, with 60 restaurants, boasts “no fryers or freezers or microwaves” to prepare its menu of gyros, hummus, grilled vegetable plates and salads along with other Greek/Mediterranean dishes. But you’ll also find a pimento cheese sandwich.
216 S. Magnolia Dr.


Tequila Tribe: In the former site of the now-closed 101 Restaurant, the new eatery serves guacamole made tableside, main dishes like rib-eye with chimichurri sauce and rice bowls, along with typical Mexican-style fare. The restaurant, which opened Sept. 27, is a joint venture with El Jalisco, a group of Mexican restaurants, and Adam Corey and Ryan Grindler, the pair behind The Edison and the 101.
Kleman Plaza, 215 W. College Ave.


The Urban Food Market: The stars of the new Urban Food Market at Centre of Tallahassee are five Italian chefs and a sommelier, longtime friends who share their expertise in one urban market. The market, still evolving, offers fine-dining at +Trentanove (+39, the country phone code for Italy) plus the Digia pasta bar, Fiocco gelato cafe, Iolo Pizza, Becher Meat & Provisions, a wine and beer shop and wine bar, a sandwich counter and a rotisserie.
Centre of Tallahassee, 2415 N. Market St.



El Cocinero Tacos & Tequila: Jesse Edmunds, chef/owner of Liberty Bar & Restaurant, will be opening this new venture with a straightforward menu of tacos and tequila (plus other spirits). The place will have seating for 150 plus a small bar.  Edmunds said he’s not aiming for authentic Mexican food, but he’ll use authentic techniques to prepare his street fare, with an emphasis on local ingredients. The chef will use dried corn from Tallahassee’s Bumpy Road Farm for its homemade tortillas. A soft opening is planned for early November.
402 E Tennessee St.


Taco Bout It: This spot will focus on four types of gluten-free tacos: pork, pulled chicken, rib-eye and a vegetable/vegan choice with a mix of mushrooms. The emphasis is to be on simple and fresh, with minimal toppings, said chef and general manager C.J. Reilly, most recently chef at Wine Loft and Christoff’s. Customers will initially get their tacos from a pass-through window, with the dining room coming later. It’s expected to open in late November.
507 W. Gaines St.

Izzy:  Sushi chef Xinzheng “Alex” Fang is converting his restaurant Saki Sushi to Izzy, a pub and sushi bar, working with new partners, Viet and Nam Vu. The brothers, who attended Leon County High School and Florida State University, co-own Taco Republik (with a silent partner), located across the street. Izzy shares a patio with the new indie bookstore, Midtown Reader. Viet Vu said he and his brother, also owners of the MoBi food truck, will be offering a pub menu of Japanese-inspired snacks like (chicken) yakitori and pork belly skewers, bratwurst pot stickers and rice bowls among other small plates. Fang will run the sushi bar, which will include a tasting menu and some novel ideas, Vu said.Plans are for a soft opening at the end of November with a regular opening in early December.
1123 Thomasville Rd.

Lemongrass: The sign is in the window but it could be 2017 before this locally owned Vietnamese and sushi restaurant opens at the Centre of Tallahassee.

Details to come

Dao, an upscale space from the same owners of Azu, is expected to open in March at Bannerman Crossings. It will become the largest restaurant in the new shopping center. Also coming to the same shopping center: Dick’s Wings, a family sports bar setting, an Italian restaurant (name to come) and a Subway, to open by January.
6668 Thomasville Rd.

On the move

The Egg Cafe & Eatery: The breakfast and lunch restaurant, at 3740 Austin Davis Ave., is opening a downtown branch in the Plaza Tower in Kleman Plaza in spring 2017. The Egg also operates a small cafe in the Museum of Florida History but the downtown expansion will feature the same menu as the original location.
The new branch will be at 300 S. Duval St.

Lofty Pursuits: The ice cream shop has moved across the street (to the former Morelia’s and Shogun site) and is now offering traditional breakfast items in addition to its dessert menu.
1355 Market St.

Village Inn:  The new branch of the family restaurant, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, is now open in the Magnolia Grove Development. Village Inn closed its Apalachee Parkway site but still operates its  location at 3392 Lonnbladh Rd.onnbladh Road near Raymond Diehl Road and Interstate 10,
1225 Park Avenue East


Sizzlin’ summer openings

Tallahassee’s dining scene is heating up,  with a bunch of fun, new restaurants and more to come this summer.

Table 23 opened June 20 (see our post on the owner’s vision for the former Front Porch site), with a Southern-inspired menu and cocktails.

Christoff’s Bistro & Wine Bar (from the folks behind Wine Loft) is now up and running  in Market Square, serving regional fare, game and seafood with a Southern flair.

Fifth & Thomas, formerly Fifth Avenue Tap Room, is  serving  dinner as well as Sunday and brunch along with its musical lineup.  Expect acoustic guitars, harmonies and pleasing artists during meals. The loud stuff starts later, long after you’ve finished dessert and gone home. 

Backwoods Crossing, from the owners of Backwoods Bistro, opened on Mahan Drive on May 31 touting a farm (or garden)-to-table concept. (See our post for more details).

Spear It has opened at 609 Tennessee Street, serving American eats.

Chain outposts Chuy’s and Dreamland are both open.

The Southern theme remains popular in Tallahassee restaurants so we’ll have no shortage of fried chicken and shrimp and grits. But we also expect some innovative and fun dishes in these new kitchens.

A few other places are coming later this summer, and in case you missed them, a few other spots recently opened, including a cigar lounge and a seafood spot.  Here’s a roundup:

Blu Halo
3455 Bannerman Rd.

It’s billed as a swanky restaurant specializing in steak and seafood (including stone crab, in season) with a wine and martini bar, craft beer selection and private rooms. Blu Halo is expected to open at the end of August in the new, open-air Bannerman Crossing shopping center along Bannerman and Thomasville roads in Northeast Tallahassee. Full entrees will range from $30 to $50 according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Taziki’s Mediterranean restaurant
216 S. Magnolia Dr.

A branch of the Birmingham-based chain will be opening this summer at Magnolia Grove, serving Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. The chain specializes in freshly grilled meats, including lamb and chicken gyros, salmon and shrimp as well as Greek and Mediterranean salads and vegetarian entrees.


904 E. Lafayette St.

The festive, funky Tex-Mex chain just opened its first link in Tallahassee on Lafayette Street, its 75th restaurant nationwide. Expect a lively atmosphere, with colorful umbrellas and strings of Chuy's2outdoor lights brightening the outdoor patio. Looks like a party waiting to happen. Inside, you can chow down by the shrine to Elvis, check out the pet wall where you can post pictures with your pup and during happy hour, indulge in the free, unlimited, build-your-own nacho plates stationed in a classic car. Launched 30 years ago, the chain touts hand-rolled tortillas cooked all day on a traditional comal (flat griddle pan) and specialties including Elvis Green Chile Fried Chicken, chile rellenos, Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom enchiladas (named for its rich boom-boom sauce, what else?) and Texas-tinis (you choose the tequila and orange liqueur) served in an 18-ounce shaker.  Chuy’s is open daily for lunch and dinner and can seat 307.

2415 N. Monroe St., Suite 508

The Southern barbecue joint is now in Tallahassee, bringing its ninth branch to the Centre of Tallahassee (formerly the Tallahassee Mall.) Other spots are in Alabama and Georgia. Dreamland was founded in 1958 by Dreamland2brick mason John “Big Daddy” Bishop in Tuscaloosa. The place is known for its pork spare ribs cooked directly over a hickory pit covered with a grate (instead of in a smoker) and its signature sauce, served with slices of white bread. Barbecue chicken, pork, smoked sausage and traditional fixins’ will be on the menu. The Tallahassee site has counter service with seating inside and outside by the amphitheater. FYI: You can order your own picnic. The Memorial Day carry-out special offers three slabs of pork spare ribs, two quarts of sides, a loaf of bread and a jar of sauce packed in a cooler, feeding eight to 10, for $82.95.

Fifth & Thomas (Kitchen and Musichouse)
1122 Thomasville Rd.

The former Fifth Avenue Tap Room in Midtown has been transformed into a restaurant as well as a bar and music venue, with tables offering a view of the stage in the spacious room. The restaurant serves an impressive Sunday brunch and has added 5th & Thomas1a dinner menu on Thursday through Saturday nights.  From the owners of next door’s Finnegan’s Wake, Fifth & Thomas features acoustic musicians (or bands that won’t blast your ears) during meals. After dinner, the volume goes up in a more clubby atmosphere with live concerts. You might think the food would be pub grub but this place looks like a hidden gem. Chef Ryan Goreau, most recently sous chef at Sage for four years, is featuring an intriguing menu, limited at first (that’s OK with me), serving Southern-influenced dishes like andouille-crusted catfish and pickle-brined fried chicken as well as sweet potato pappardelle. And Goreau makes his own pasta.  Millennials can join their parents for dinner and stay to party.

Christoff’s Bistro & Wine Bar
1460 Market St. #3

The owners of Midtown’s Wine Loft have opened this new spot on Market Street with the focus on food, though it will also have an extensive beer and wine selection. Wine Loft manager and chef C.J. Reilly will also be at the helm of Christoff’s, which specializes in Southern favorites like fried chicken with veggies. The space features an antique oak bar, reclaimed wood and seat about 50, with a private room as well.

Table 23
1215 Thomasville Rd.

The former home of the Front Porch finally has new owners and a new identity. The menu will feature a Southern twist, reflecting cuisine from Texas to Virginia, with a big stop in New Orleans. New Table23 pdw1owners Mandy and Joe Lemons both have years of experience in the restaurant business. Joe Lemon, who worked for Bloomin’ Brands Inc. for 23 years, most recently was the managing partner for Bonefish Grill in Tallahassee. Top chefs will be Brian Knepper and Brandon Miller, Knepper was the executive chef at the Governor’s Club and former executive sous chef at Cypress. Miller’s career includes culinary manager at Bonefish Grill in Tallahassee.

The fast food spot, Chicago Chicken & Grill, on Adams Street,  is opening its second location on Apalachee Parkway in the former home of Black Bean.  You can’t miss it. The place is painted a bold red. 

At the Centre of Tallahassee: Aside from Dreamland, other restaurants are in the works at the mall, although we don’t have opening dates for those prospects. The Urban Food Market, modeled after Mario Batali’s Eataly (we can only hope!), will be a 15,000-square-foot space that includes several restaurants offering pasta, gelato, pizza, a butcher shop and Italian fine dining, featuring chefs and artisans from Italy. Canopy Roads Brewing is working on its new, 5,000-square-foot space near Dreamland and the amphitheater. Check the company’s Facebook page to keep up with its progress. There’s also a sign up for a new independent restaurant called Lemongrass that will serve Thai and Vietnamese cuisine and sushi. Details to come on these.

On the move: 

The Latin restaurant El Viroleño has just moved from its divey location on Tennesee to spiffier digs in the Northeast. Its new location is 2910 Kerry Forest parkway, Suite B-1;  850-906-0123. Be sure to try the pupusas!

Village Inn is closing its family eatery on 2531 Apalachee Parkway and moving to the nearby Magnolia Grove Development in the 200 block of South Magnolia Drive.

A few  other spots have expanded or will be adding locations.

Vertigo Burgers and Fries opened its second location at 1370 Market St #1. Expect some new burgers, salads and shakes.

The Florida-Alabama chain, Island Wing Company, is opening at 1370 Market St., next to the new Vertigo’s.

Lucky Goat  has opened  a new location in Midtown at 1370 Market St., near Bella Bella and next door to the new Fuma Cigar Social.


Neighborhood favorite Craig’s Killer Coffee closed its doors July 30. The place had been local gathering spot for eight years, serving home-baked goodies and killer coffee of course.

The owners of 101 Restaurant announced they were suddenly closing the restaurant on May 12 and were planning a new concept for the site. Their lounge, Mint,  remains open.

On April 30, Piggy’s BBQ announced on Facebook that the barbecue restaurant on Capital Circle had closed its doors. And Up in Smoke recently closed its doors.

More recent openings

Fuma Cigar Social
1307 North Monroe St.

Cigar aficionados will love this classy new Midtown lounge, with a large walk-in humidor with what’s described as a state-of-the-art air filtration system. Fuma serves beer, wine and a pretty good cup of Cuban coffee. (Check out the humidors made from ammunition cases, on sale.)

Saltwater Seafood Company
1926 Capital Circle NE

You can’t miss the nautical exterior of the new eatery, which has been open a few weeks in the former site of Cody’s Original Roadhouse. Saltwater can seat nearly 300 people, has outdoor seating and private dining.

Let me know of any other new places or upcoming spots that I’ve missed. And I’d love your feedback on these new additions to our dining world.