Florida State University junior Avery Centrella wrote this guide to Parents’ Weekends at FAMU and FSU for Tallahassee Table.
By Avery Centrella
Parents’ Weekends in Tallahassee are quickly approaching. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University presents its Parents’ Weekend on September 20th-22nd, and Florida State University is hosting its family event on September 27th-28th.
This is the perfect time for students to explore restaurants outside of the realm of dining hall swipes and fast food places with their families. Getting out into a new community to discover eateries can be overwhelming, which is where this guide to local restaurants comes in handy. Whether you’re looking for places that are fancy or laid-back, these are choices the whole family can enjoy.
Earlier in the day dining
The Bada Bean: The restaurant offers a locally renowned breakfast and lunch selection. Be sure to try their egg meals. Jacob’s Plate is a favorite, featuring a skillet of freshly cooked corned beef hash, topped with two eggs Bada Bean is a great place for families with quick and friendly service. 2500 Apalachee Pkwy # B; 850-562-2326.
Beans at Betton: Beans at Betton is a warm, inviting coffee shop that serves Southern-style breakfast made by the award-winning restaurant, Food Glorious Food, which is conveniently located within the same building. This local spot features a variety of breakfast sandwiches, platters, and freshly prepared eggs. Be sure to grab a slice of cake or pastry with your morning coffee, and enjoy the quiet and relaxed Midtown with your family out of the bustle of campus life. 1950 Thomasville Rd.; 850-224-9974.
Canopy Road Cafe: Originating in Tallahassee, Canopy Road Cafe has spread out to many locations around Florida. The diverse menu features both traditional breakfast dishes as well as special Canopy creations. The restaurant is also famous for its “For the Table” cinnamon roll, coated with rich icing and gooey cinnamon, so be sure to split one with the family. Otherwise, enjoy breakfast or lunch in a clean, open, environment that is good for large groups. 1913 N Monroe St., 850-668-6600; 1779 Apalachee Pkwy., 850-727-0263; and 1779 Apalachee Pkwy., 850-727-0263.
Jeri’s Midtown Cafe: Jeri’s is located behind Midtown Reader, marked by a white picket fence and trellis. The outdoor seating is dotted with flowers and brightly painted tables, perfect for seating on a mild September morning. Settle down with your family in their cozy dining room and enjoy a brunch with a Southern flair. Jeri’s, in the former home of Paisley Cafe, offers comfort dishes such as the Spicy Pimento Pressed Sandwich, and Gouda Grits and Shrimp. Be sure to try their Sweet Iced Coffee; brewed and mixed with condensed milk for a refreshing brunch treat. 1123 Thomasville Rd.; 850)-385-7268.
Olean’s Cafe: This local dining institution, which is across the street from the FAMU campus, has been serving down-home soul food for more than 20 years. Friendly owner Olean McCaskill offers a lineup that includes smothered steak, oxtail, fried chicken and catfish plus sides of black-eyed peas, mac and cheese and greens. The iconic restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. 1605 S. Adams St.; 850-521-0259.
Uptown Cafe: Uptown Cafe is a lively all-day breakfast and lunch spot located away from the chaos of campus. Feast on a wide array of diner-esque selections including griddle cakes, homemade omelets, hot sandwiches, salads, and more. Every member of your family will find something to enjoy, even the pickiest of eaters. If you’re overwhelmed with what to try, order the oven-roasted turkey Ruby Diamond Sandwich which has been a menu staple for almost 40 years. 1325 Miccosukee Rd.; 850-219-9800.
Bahn Thai Restaurant: If your family is craving flavorful noodles or savory curry, head to Bahn Thai for dinner. Start off with some fresh spring rolls and pan-fried gyoza. This is also a great establishment for seafood lovers, as they serve up dishes such as Volcano Shrimp and Ginger Soy Salmon. 1319 S Monroe St.; 850-224-4765.
Bella Bella: Located near Lake Ella, Bella Bella is a refreshing escape from the chaotic college scene. The cozy spot is a favorite among locals due to its homemade dishes and the kind wait staff. Favorites include Bubble Bread, heaped with cheese and garlic, as well as spinach and roasted garlic ravioli, stuffed with a vegetable filling and cheeses. The menu is on the smaller side because they create each dish so well. 123 E 5th Ave; 850-412-1114.
The Iron Daisy: A new addition to the Tallahassee food scene, the Iron Daisy is located in the All Saints District. This is a great place to feast on hand-made appetizers and handhelds made with local ingredients. Favorites include the various Gaines Street Tacos as well as the Beer Battered Fried Green Tomatoes. A bonus for vegan diners: Any item can be created with vegan substitutes such as jackfruit, vegan cheese, and Beyond Beef. The Iron Daisy also serves brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. 507 W Gaines St; 850-597-9997.
Isabella’s Pizza Napoletana: Isabella’s offers an authentic taste of Italian Neapolitan pizza in the heart of the College Town area. Each pizza is made to order and wood-fired in an onsite oven. Isabella’s employs wood-fired ovens to ensure a fresh, evenly cooked pie. Build your own, or pick from one of the many specialty creations such as the Margherita or Prosciutto e Arugula. Don’t forget to finish the meal off with a scoop of gelato. 799 West Gaines Street #101; 850- 558-6379.
Little Italy: Stepping into Little Italy’s courtyard will take your family out of Tallahassee and onto a Europea-style setting street with wrought iron tables outside, fountains, and twinkling lights. The menu is packed with variations of numerous pasta dishes, specialty pizzas, oven-baked calzones, and more. The portions are enough to satisfy a hungry family, and the restaurant is accommodating to large groups. This restaurant is good for picky eaters as well, as the menu offers a variety of options for everyone. A perk? Your family will be impressed with your knowledge of local gems. 111 S Magnolia Dr #17; 850-878-7781.
Mayuri Indian Restaurant: Mayuri is a more exotic gathering place for families craving authentic Indian food. Be sure to order garlic naan, a shareable, buttery, baked bread that can be dipped in their famous tikka masala. Mayuri’s menu is extensive, offering a variety of dosa specialties and vegetarian options, and other dishes. The best way to experience Mayuri is to order a multitude of dishes to pass around the table, so everyone can enjoy. You’ll also find a varied selection at their lunch buffet in Mayuri’s new, attractive location. 1324 Simpson Ave; 850-402-9993.
Spear It: Spear-It is a popular Parents Weekend eatery, located steps off of FSU campus with something on the menu for every member of your group. Families can enjoy a wide array of tavern-style meals including juicy burgers, artisan pizza, pasta bakes and filling sandwiches. For those who don’t prefer burgers, Spear-It also specializes in nutrient-packed “Legendary Bowls,” hearty salads, and more. Even if your family has a picky eater, everyone will be satisfied. 609 W Tennessee St.; 850-250-0045.
Backwoods Crossing: Backwoods Crossing is a farm-to-table eatery started by brothers Jesse and Tyler Rice in 2016. Enjoy fresh seafood such as the Crab Cake Stack, piled high sandwiches and a large dessert selection. Besides the main menu, the Garden Creations selections evolve with the seasons in order to keep fresh, local produce on the customer’s plates. Brunch is offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. 6725 Mahan Dr.; 850-765-3753.
Cypress Restaurant: The cozy high-end establishment features a menu you won’t find anywhere else. Choose from anything from Seared Diver Scallops on a bed of fresh squash noodles to a Smoked Shoulder Stack sandwich, heaped with pork and mustard barbecue sauce. Cypress has something for the whole family on the menu. Cypress has just been renovated so enjoy the new look. 320 E Tennessee St.; 850) 513-1100.
Food Glorious Food: The restaurant behind Beans at Betton is Food Glorious Food, a four-year winner of the Golden Spoon Award, and a Tallahassee staple. The downstairs dining room is a cozy, artsy space to enjoy one of the varieties of creative seasonal dishes offered. Enjoy a variety of global selections derived from around the world including stacked sandwiches, gooey “Mackin” Cheese, fresh fish Thai Stir Fry, Bangers and Mash, and Chicken Cordon Bleu. Come with a hungry family. 1950 Thomasville Rd.; 850-224-9974.
Il Lusso: Il Lusso means “luxury,” and the upscale Italian eatery lives up to its name. In downtown Tallahassee, Il Lusso is hard to miss with its sleek floor-to-ceiling windows, modern lighting, and stone steps. It’s a good spot for cocktails and appetizers or come with a large appetite for dinner. Whether you opt for a prime steak or a pasta dish, each dish arrives as a work of art. Popular items include the lamb shank, which is served with a bed of saffron risotto and garnished with almond and mint, and the squid ink Mafaldine, peppered with blue crab meat, calamari, clams, and mussels. Brunch is offered from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. 201 E Park Ave Suite 100; 850-765-8620.
Kool Beanz Cafe: Kool Beanz is undoubtedly one of the most talked-about upscale local restaurants in the Midtown area, and for a good reason. Their popularity is derived from the eclectic range of dining options on their ever-evolving menu. This is the perfect place for someone who enjoys seafood dishes Some of their ever-changing entrees include dishes such as blackened catfish, cobia, pork chops cooked with a coffee-chile rub with red-eye pan jus and seafood jambalaya. See for yourself why Kool Beanz is so loved in the Tallahassee community for lunch or dinner. Brunch is offered on Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 921 Thomasville Rd.; 850-224-2466.
Mimi’s Table: Mimi’s Table is a dinner-only bistro with French, Southern, and Italian cooking. Order shareables for the whole family such as french cheese boards, Provençal olives, and Frito Misto (fried calamari). Try a second-course menu item for yourself; whether it’s the Shrimp Risotto or the Grilled Pork Chop with wild mushroom cream sauce. Experience the fusion of different cultures in the most delicious way. 1311 Miccosukee Rd.; 850-999-8406.
Table 23: Midtown eaters flock to the twinkling lights that adorn the grand oak trees outside Table 23 for exceptional Southern dining with hospitality to match. The atmosphere is comfortable and bright, and the waitstaff offers true Southern hospitality. Appetizers include all of the true Southern favorites such as pecan-crusted okra, red hills gumbo, and fried green tomatoes. Don’t miss out on the savory shrimp and grits entree, a recommended favorite. 1215 Thomasville Rd.; 850-329-2261.
Vegan and vegetarian options
Sweet Pea Cafe: Impress your family with your knowledge of local establishments, and take them to Sweet Pea for a delicious and completely vegan experience. Sweet Pea is a farm-to-table eatery; all of the produce used in the food is locally sourced. Choose from filling sandwiches such as the Tempeh Reuben or the Spicy B.L.T and enjoy them in the twinkling light-lined picnic area. Be sure to try their sweet potato fries on the side of any meal. 832 W Tharpe St.; 850-692-3476.
The Bark: The Bark offers an entirely vegetarian menu, featuring many vegan and gluten-free options. Located in the All Saints District, it can be easily recognized by the vibrant murals that adorn the outside of the building. The toasty handhelds and salads comprise the majority of the menu, and you cannot go wrong with ordering anything from the menu. Popular items include Tofu Banh Mi and the Bean, Lentil and Brown Rice Burger. Live music and other events can be enjoyed after 8 p.m., for a fun family activity. 507 All Saints St.; 850-900-5936.