Known as the state capital and home of Florida State University, Tallahassee is far more than a college town or stuffy legislative hub. Along with a blossoming food scene that’s hit its stride in the last decade, Tally is also home to a thriving arts community and dozens of cultural events throughout the year. Warm weather marks the start of festival season, including the Springtime Tallahassee music festival and Word of South literature and music festival. Here’s how to spend a food-filled day around the capital city.
See, Eat, and Do in Tallahassee
Rise & Shine
Start your day right with a decadent treat from SōDOUGH Baking Co. Their brioche doughnuts are the stuff of legend, topped and filled with everything from cardamom-cinnamon sugar to scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough. Don’t miss the giant cinnamon buns, available only on weekends— there’s traditional and a rotating seasonal flavor, like candied apple and peaches ‘n’ cream.
If a sit-down restaurant is more your speed, the spiced honey chicken and waffles at Madison Social are the way to go. Situated on the edge of FSU’s stadium, this sports bar-meets-gastropub boasts an impressive weekend brunch menu.
A Hint of History
Spend a morning wandering the grounds of the Grove Museum, an antebellum home and former governor’s mansion-turned-museum that, uniquely, centers the narrative of the enslaved people who built and maintained the sprawling property.
Ladies (and Gents) Who Lunch
Come lunchtime, head to Jeri’s Midtown Cafe. This tiny, eclectic bistro specializes in scratch-made soups, salads, and sandwiches. Start with the smoked gouda grits swirled with apple butter, then move on to the Jill Bird (tarragon and Duke’s chicken salad, salami, mustard, and muscadine preserves piled on a croissant).
Or there’s Midtown Caboose, a railroad-themed restaurant with an outrageous burger menu—we’re talking patties fried in a chocolate-stout beer batter and topped with peanut butter and chili; burgers topped with all the fixings of shepherd’s pie, a Philly cheesesteak, or a reuben; and perhaps the most unusual, a burger crusted with graham crackers and topped with melted marshmallow, dark chocolate, and bacon.
Colorful street art and funky shops abound in Tallahassee’s Railroad Square Art Park, a creative center housed in a World War II era warehouse district. Wander aisles of oddities and retro threads at Other Side Vintage; commission a pair of custom-made jeans from denim designer Skinner American Goods; browse accessories and clothing from independent artists at Curio; and try your hand at vintage arcade games inside Flippin’ Great Pinball.
An Afternoon Nip
For a laid-back afternoon, check out Proof Brewing Company. Pair a giant soft pretzel and beer cheese or board of housemade pickles and spreads with a flight of their flavor-packed brews. (Our favorite? The tangy key lime pie berliner weisse.) Or, take in the sights of Tallahassee from the AC Marriott’s rooftop cocktail bar, Charlie Park. The Lush Slush, a sparkling wine-topped vodka cocktail with passionfruit, guava, hibiscus, and black lava salt, pairs perfectly with a sunset over the city skyline.
A Shop with Heart
In an unassuming strip mall off Thomasville Road sits artfully curated home goods and apparel store Hearth & Soul. The store is arranged in vignettes that flow like a home, from men’s and women’s closets to kitchenware, barware, library, and family room. Everything in the store is for sale, from display tables and rugs to the lighting fixtures.
Housemade pasta is the name of the game at Il Lusso, where half-orders of braised pork agnolotti, squid ink casarecce fra diavolo, and bucatini alla carbonara are perfect for sharing with a group. The charred octopus over gigante bean puree, though, is not to be missed.
It doesn’t get more farm-to-table fresh than Backwoods Crossing, where much of the menu comes from the on-site farm and other hyperlocal purveyors. Go all in with the garden stir fry: fresh vegetables and roasted red potatoes tossed in garlic butter.
Time to Imbibe
Wrap up your tour of Tallahassee with a craft cocktail in a historic library. The one-room, 36-seat Bar 1903 maintains the charm of its century-old surroundings, but the focal point is the expansive bar that stretches the length of the space. Behind it, a handful of mixologists work their magic, putting personal spins on classic drinks.
A Place to Lay Your Head
When it comes to boutique hotel experiences in Tallahassee, Hotel Duval’s circa-1951 property fits the bill. Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, the hotel features an artfully minimalist aesthetic with cool neutral tones and industrial-chic touches.
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by TLP's Partners
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by Jennifer Stewart Kornegay
- by Emily Havener