12 Best Restaurants in Tallahassee, Florida

Last Updated on March 4, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Tallahassee, the capital of Florida, is home to a vibrant food scene with restaurants offering diverse cuisines and dining experiences. From farm-to-table Southern fare to creative fusions and flavors from around the world, foodies visiting or living in Tallahassee are spoiled for choice.

The city’s close proximity to farms, ranches, and the Gulf of Mexico make finding the freshest local ingredients easy for its talented chefs and restaurateurs. Food culture here is infused with hospitality and a welcoming spirit unique to the Southern way of life.

The 12 best restaurants in Tallahassee featured below range from upscale dining rooms perfect for special occasions to casual cafes and family-friendly eateries any local would recommend. Flavorful Lowcountry cuisine, mouthwatering barbecue, and the iconic Southern staples done right await visitors hungry for memorable meals. Read on for the inside scoop about the top tables that showcase the vibrant, tasty side of Florida’s capital city.

Il Lusso

Il Lusso is a fine dining Italian restaurant on the outskirts of Tallahassee with an elegant interior and an ever-changing, seasonal menu created by Sicilian-American chef and owner, Rob Pietri. With sweeping archways, immaculate table settings, and ambient lighting, the sophisticated restaurant will impress. There are also outdoor tables overlooking a peaceful lake that sets a particularly romantic scene.

The evolution menu celebrates the best seasonal ingredients and traditional Italian techniques in dishes like ricotta gnocchi, wood-fired steaks, and squid ink fregola pasta. The seafood selections from the raw bar including Alaskan king crab and oysters from both coasts are standouts to start.

The wine program features a cellar of over 200 handpicked labels from Italy and other major wine regions in Europe and the US, curated by Il Lusso’s sommelier. Staff are extremely knowledgeable about the list so guests can find the perfect complement to Rob’s cooking. For special occasions, the private wine lockers offer intimate seating while enjoying exclusive selections from their personal collection.

It’s not the place for a quick bite so come prepared to linger and savor the meal. This prevents disappointment for both staff and walk-ins when reservations cannot be accommodated. Whether an intimate date night or a celebratory feast with the whole family, guests are in for a world-class Italian meal of impeccable quality in the finest ambiance at Il Lusso.

Kool Beanz Cafe

Kool Beanz Café is a quirky, colorful hub for seasonally inspired creative cuisine using fresh, high-quality ingredients. The inviting atmosphere makes for a wonderful dining experience any time of day. The menu bursts with flavor and pulls inspiration from global comfort classics.

Walk into the eclectic dining room splashed with bright murals and you’ll find dishes like flaky empanadas stuffed with bison chili or ancho pork, crispy Brussels sprouts tossed with nam pla prik (Thai fish sauce) and crushed peanuts, hearty vegetarian black bean chili loaded with veggies, and beautifully seared scallops served over cheesy polenta.

The weekend brunch is a local favorite with unique plates like the BLTNC (bacon, lettuce, tomato, and fried nectarine sandwich), buttermilk biscuit benedict topped with andouille sausage gravy, and French toast stuffed with mascarpone and topped with berries. Prices are reasonable and portions are generous.

Wines by the glass or bottle are available to complement your meal with a focus on small, family-owned wineries that represent the best of sustainable and low-manipulation winemaking. There’s also a great cocktail menu if you prefer a handcrafted drink like the refreshing hibiscus margarita or blood orange mimosa.

The welcoming atmosphere and scratch-made food at Kool Beanz ensures it’s favored by locals but it’s also an excellent, authentic taste of Tallahassee any visitor should put on their list.

Chantilly’s Cafe and Fine Pastries

Chantilly’s Café and Fine Pastries is a quaint bistro, bakery, and patisserie run by pastry chef Danielle Revord, churning out drool-worthy cakes, tarts, biscuits, and other sweets freshly made every day. The brunch and lunch menu is full of comforting homemade dishes using local ingredients, perfect for any carb lover. Standouts include the red velvet waffle, jalapeño bacon Benedict smothered in avocado Hollandaise, and the fried green BLT with green tomato jam and goat cheese. Inside the vintage cottage with flowing white curtains, guests are transported to a neighborhood bistro in rural France.

Ensconced at your table with hot coffee, admiring the artisan pastries displayed in ornate glass cases, the little bakery, known for elegant wedding cakes, is a sweet escape. Head to the bakery case to select your choice of gourmet confections like vanilla bean cream puffs or macarons in raspberry, blueberry, or chocolate. The chocolate peanut butter cream pie is so rich and indulgent it could be eternal punishment in the underworld. Or grab a French pastry like a fruit tart, almond croissant, or eclair to enjoy with tea at one of the small bistro tables.

Guests who time their visit for weekend brunch are in for an extra special, sweet experience with the restaurant’s renowned sticky buns slathered in a warm caramel glaze are enough for a sugar overdose. The little bistro fulfills all fantasies and sweet tooth cravings in a cozy, welcoming space dressed with feminine decor that matches the delicate flavor palettes.

[Stock] Restaurant

[Stock] Restaurant occupies an airy, modern dining room downtown, serving global fusion dishes starring high-quality ingredients sourced hyperlocally. The menu centers around two options: the seven-course Chef’s Selections or the three-course Market Menu, both featuring the most seasonal ingredients Tallahassee has to offer.

Chef and owner Yianni Sefanidis has always been passionate about providing his guests with sustainable seafood and the best local products, even naming the restaurant after supporting local and regional food producers. For special occasions or a truly spectacular experience, opt for the Chef’s Selections where Chef Yianni artfully composes each course to tell a culinary story using unexpected flavor combinations based on the most exceptional ingredients available that week. His dishes always harmonize tastes and textures beautifully like the sous-vide pork belly with whipped avocado, blood orange fluid gel, and sweet potato chips.

Before or after your meal, grab a craft cocktail or wine from their extensive, curated list at the chef’s counter. Their rotating taps also feature local craft beers you won’t find anywhere else.

Elegant and understated but still relaxed and inviting, [Stock] presents Tallahassee cuisine at its finest with seasonally inspired menus chef Sefanidis passionately crafts to highlight the region’s flavors and bounty in their purest form. Every course will leave your palate singing and enjoying the literal farm-to-table experience.

Backwoods Bistro

Backwoods Bistro is an award-winning Southern gourmet farm-to-table restaurant owned by Chef Rob McGowan, serving refined Lowcountry flavors using heirloom vegetables, pasture-raised heritage pork, local seafood, and humanely raised beef and lamb. The seasonally inspired creative cuisine lets the natural flavors of pristine ingredients sing. Their products come from nearby farms and food artisans dedicated to regenerative agriculture and animal welfare.

Starters like the heirloom tomato terrine with burrata, basil, and balsamic or the grilled peach flatbread with prosciutto and goat cheese whet the palate. Main dishes feature Lowcountry specialties like shrimp and creamy stone-ground grits, chicken saltimbocca with cured ham, sage, provolone, and charred vegetable succotash, or an Iron Skillet rainbow trout topped with a gingered pecan crust. Finish with authentic Southern sweets like blueberry bread pudding, spiced sugar apple pie with vanilla Chantilly cream, or the crowd favorite, the Life-Changing Carrot CakeTM, and you’ll drift out quite satisfied.

Enjoy your meal at rustically elegant tables next to a wall of wine racks or cozy up for an intimate experience at the Chef’s Counter overlooking the action of the open kitchen. The 120-label wine list was designed specifically for the local cuisine. Each dish is skillfully seasoned to highlight the flavor profiles of farm fresh ingredients in refined Southern fare. With an inventive menu that changes seasonally, Backwoods Bistro makes the most of flavors in Florida’s capital. It’s a standout Tallahassee dining gem.

Cypress Restaurant

Located inside Betton Place, a historic Southern mansion in midtown Tallahassee, Cypress Restaurant elevates traditional Lowcountry cooking to an art form. Their dishes masterfully balance rustic and refined, showcasing the deep, regional flavors that Executive Chef and co-owner William Lawson grew up with in his native Savannah kitchen as a child.

Staples like smoked gouda mac ‘n cheese, fried green tomatoes, or shrimp n’ grits can be pedestrian at some eateries but Chef Lawson gilds these Southern classics by cooking with a meticulous focus on technique. Cypress has its own in-house butcher providing the best quality local and regional meats including Tomahawk pork chops with bourbon peaches and pecan agro dolce and cast iron seared duck breast with Carolina Gold rice and strawberry preserves.

Seafood is always pristine with selections like salmon croquettes with meyer lemon aioli, seared scallops over strawberry risotto, or crispy fried whole catfish with Cajun red eye gravy and cabbage slaw. Cypress even grows herbs and veggies onsite to maximize freshness and flavor for dishes like their signature fried green tomatoes topped with crab salad and lemon basil aioli.

The restored 1918 Betton Place mansion makes a picturesque backdrop for a refined Southern meal. The grand dining rooms and rustically elegant outdoor pavilion preserve the property’s historic charms while guests savor Chef Lawson’s cuisine. Cypress infuses traditional flavors with refined recipes and pristine regional ingredients to present an exceptional Southern food experience unique to Florida’s capital cuisine.

Table 23

For a degustation-style dining experience highlighting Tallahassee food and culture, Table 23 offers a contemporary space with a welcoming vibe and passionately prepared seasonal American cuisine. Their frequently changing tasting menus incorporate the region’s freshest and most flavorful ingredients into surprising flavor combinations and intricate plating presentations.

Chef and owner Justin Brown has a strategic and focused vision to not just feed patrons but engage them in local stories told through his dishes and modernist cooking techniques. His passion and dedication to driving Tallahassee’s culinary arts forward comes through in every bite. Parties of two to twenty can select five or seven courses with optional wine pairings all seamlessly orchestrated by the service team. Savor Brown’s prodigious talents, often preparing ingredients through multiple cooking methods to perfect the textures and dimensions of each component on the plate.

Some recent dishes included Napa cabbage sous-vide pork belly with charred scallion chimichurri, compressed watermelon with labneh, pickled red onion and marcona almonds, and Maine diver scallops with lemon beurre blanc and bacon lardons. Table 23 promises artful plates packed with flavor, thoughtful wine pairings, impeccable technique, and a modern dining room suited for any special celebration of Tallahassee’s seasonal bounty. Open just over a year, Chef Brown is already making a name re-imagining the city’s cuisine in surprising ways to critical acclaim.

A La Provence

For 30 years, A La Provence has been Tallahassee’s go-to neighborhood bistro for casual daytime dining and special occasion nights. The charming Provençal-inspired interior, friendly staff, and accolades for excellent classic bistro fare made it a local favorite loved for meals both quick and lingering. Chef owners Cindy and Philippe Drouilhet use classical French techniques to let bright flavors shine with bistro classics like buttery escargots on toasted baguettes, fresh mussels simmered in white wine, or bouillabaisse brimming with the day’s freshest seafood harvest.

The French brasserie menu includes iconic dishes like duck confit, pan seared salmon in lemon caper butter sauce, seared pork loin with bacon Brussels sprouts, and steak au poivre alongside specials showcasing seasonal ingredients. Save room for authentic French pastries like their silky crème brûlée, berry clafoutis, or chocolate pot de crème.

Pair any dish with a bottle from the smartly curated French and Californian wine list in a casual yet refined setting suited for neighborhood regulars, romantic dates, and special occasion nights out. Savvy wait staff eager to provide customized service further enhances visits. In an area where chain eateries dominate, A La Provence is that calming refuge of authentic Provençal cooking that locals cherish as their own sweet little secret in the capital.

Avenue Eat & Drink

With its chic atmosphere of dim lighting, sleek furniture, and creative cuisine, Avenue Eat & Drink offers guests a sophisticated evening of innovative flavors and craft cocktails. Chef and owner Anthony Kostelecky spices up New American fare with globally inspired flavors like Korean and Indian in small plates perfect for sharing with friends. Dishes pass through the hands of at least three expert cooks before leaving the kitchen, ensuring complex layers of flavor in each bite.

Start off with elevated bar snacks like the chicken liver terrine, elote fritters with jalapeño ranch, or the ever-popular duck fat fries with bacon ketchup. Moving on, larger plates star consciously sourced proteins like ropa vieja chimichurri, Southern fried yard bird with biscuits and jam, or duck fat gnocchi with mushroom confit and sherry cream. Finish with creative cocktails like the Blood and Sand with scotch, blood orange juice, and cherry heering before indulging in pastry chef Kostelecky’s molten chocolate bomb cake with espresso ice cream.

With its stylish vibe and outstanding contemporary American fare packed with complex flavors, Avenue Eat & Drink will convince the most discerning foodies that Tallahassee’s fine dining scene keeps pace with the country’s top culinary destinations for exciting cuisine, exceptional drinks, and memorable nights out.

Paisley Cafe

A visit to Paisley Café is like stepping into a friend’s beautifully decorated kitchen for lunch. Local restaurateur Summer Myers delights guests in her intimate, polished bistro with a concise menu of freshly made, seasonal New Southern cuisine using classic recipes from family matriarchs across multiple generations infused with her own creative flair. From heirloom tomato bisque with grilled pimento cheese to crispy buttermilk fried chicken atop delicate angel hair pasta draped in homemade chicken gravy, Summer nails comforting soul food made from scratch.

Breakfast regulars rave about Summer’s fried green tomato benedict topped with silky lemon basil hollandaise while her shrimp n’ stone-ground cheddar grits cake Benedict is another local favorite. Sweet treats like hummingbird cake with fresh pineapple and banana finished with cinnamon cream cheese icing rarely last a day in the cooled bakery case. Her Southern deviled eggs with brown sugar bacon and candied pecans put the sin in sinfully delicious.

The bright, feminine interior matches Summer’s warm hospitality as she floats between hosting and checking on guests like the dinner party maven channeling her girlhood memories coming of age in her aunt’s kitchens across the South.

Craving homemade comfort fare with a side of grace and charm? Paisley Café’s nourishing Southern specialties perfectly capture Tallahassee flavors reimagined with Summer’s fresh perspective and just a pinch of sassy.

Lucy and Leo’s Cupcakery

The capital’s popular Lucy and Leo’s Cupcakery is a must visit for those craving fantastic homemade sweets, especially their signature sweet cream cheese buttercream frosting. The cheery bakery café with colorful decor has been churning out gorgeous artisan cakes and cupcakes for over a decade, satisfying Tallahassee’s collective sweet tooth.

Owners Jessi and Matt Lindsay named their adorable daughter the inspiration behind the shop, crafting each pretty confection with enthusiasm and joy – two feelings you’ll likely experience from your first bite. Their cupcakes, from red velvet to Boston cream pie, are tall as muffins and swirled with billowing frosting.

Two petite cakelettes make the perfect personal treat. Flavors range from basics done to perfection like classic vanilla with sprinkles or chocolate explosions to monthly creative concoctions like lemon blueberry in spring or s’mores with graham cracker toppings in July. Gluten free and vegan options are always available with regular dairy-free selections too.

Beyond cupcakes, Lucy and Leo’s monster slices are phenomenal if committing to just one flavor seems daunting or order one of their showstopping layer cakes for special occasions and gatherings. Their kitchen also whips up delicious Whoopie pies, cookies, macarons, and cake truffles so all visitors leave satisfied. For outstanding sweets bursting with nostalgia, smiles, and awesomeness, Lucy and Leo’s day-brightening, flavor-packed creations hit that sweet spot for locals and tourists alike.

Tupelo’s Bakery and Cafe

For a welcoming spot dishing out Southern hospitality alongside classic bakery fare and comfort food made from scratch daily, visit Tupelo’s Bakery and Cafe. It has been a homespun neighborhood favorite in Midtown Tallahassee for 20 years, cherished for soul-satisfying breakfasts and lunches.

Country cooking queen Lee Gunby took over operations from her mentor Brenda Barry in 2016 after working side by side for a decade prior, maintaining their legacy for scratch-made biscuits, gravies, barbecue, layer cakes and fruit pies bursting with homemade flavor. Rise and shine for cheddar bacon ranch omelets smothered in ranch hollandaise or their flaky croissant French toast drowning in amaretto maple syrup then wash it down with bottomless coffee.

Lee’s mastery of classic Southern cuisine enhances simple dishes like fried chicken livers with caramelized onions or the Southern shrimp po’boy with a tangy boom boom sauce. Her grandmother’s sacred banana pudding recipe with crisp vanilla wafers and decadent cream cheese frosting is legendary. Construct your perfect picnic-ready sandwich from overstuffed delights like the Georgia pulled pork piled high on a sesame seed bun or keep it light with the grilled pimento cheese and fresh peach conserve on cinnamon raisin bread.

Beyond stellar forever comfort foods like mashed potato casserole, dreamy coconut cream pie with toasted coconut topping, and Lee’s special thick cut fried pork chops, Tupelo’s cozy ambiance and sincere hospitality distinguish any visit. The staff makes guests instantly feel like part of the family with welcoming smiles and that signature down home graciousness that solidifies Tupelo’s as a Tallahassee must visit.

Conclusion


Tallahassee’s vibrant and ever-evolving dining scene offers a delicious diversity of high quality cuisine for locals and visitors. The wide range of restaurants featured here, whether delightfully quirky cafes or five star fine dining destinations, showcase the breadth of distinct flavors made possible by devoted chefs tapping into the agricultural richness surrounding Florida’s capital. These 12 bastions of culinary creativity truly capture Tallahassee’s delectable side.

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