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Archive for the 'South Walton Living' Category

Condos Sold & Condos For Sale in Grand Dunes – September

There was one condo sold in Grand Dunes in September.  The unit (740) is in the North Tower and was an assignment of contract.  The unit sold for $1,045,000.  This is one of the last units that will be sold as an assignment of contract, as the time frame to close on all units contracted for in pre-construction has pretty much passed. 

There are currently 45 condos for sale in Grand Dunes at the beginning of October.  They range in price from a third floor unit in the North Tower for $1,088,000 to a two story penthouse in the South Tower for $4.5 million.  The penthouse has 4,956 square feet with five bedrooms and five baths. 

Condos for Sale in Grand Dunes – October 1

Total # of Listings     45
Lowest Price Listing   $1,088,000
Highest Price Listing   $4,500,000
Average Price           $1,801,904
Avg. Price/SqFt         $631
Avg. Days on Mkt      226

Grand Dunes Active September






(Click Graph to Enlarge).

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You Don’t Have To Be A Member – Santa Rosa Beach Club

SRB Club exteriorSanta Rosa Beach Club is the only white table cloth restaurant on CR-30A directly on the beach with an unobstructed view right down the coast line.

Even though it’s been serving good food for years, there are still many people who think the restaurant is a private club – but not so. (Click above to Enlarge).

SRB Club soupWe were in one Friday night not long hoping to see a nice sunset over the gulf, but we got a different kind of show instead. As the evening began, dark clouds over the horizon prevented any sunset but made for a beautiful setting. As darkness fell the lightning lit up the shoreline, the dark clouds in the sky and the white caps of the sizeable waves rolling in from the storm.

SRB Club oystersThere was live entertainment that night, and everyone was in a festive mood. We made friends with the couple sitting at the table next to us and compared notes on our dishes and drinks. We started with some fried oysters with tartar sauce that were done just right, some asparagus and crabmeat soup and the house salad. I thought the soup was a little salty but overall we enjoyed all three dishes.

SRB Club fishI have eaten at Santa Rosa Beach Club on many occasions to include lunch (try their meat salads – such as chicken, shrimp, etc) and dinner. The main course on this night was one of the best dishes I’ve ever had there. It was offered as a head on snapper (but my guest insisted the head be removed – not in her presence) stuffed with lemon, topped with jumbo lump crabmeat in a beurre blanc sauce. The side dish was grilled eggplant with a little goat cheese and marinara topped with fried leaks. The fish had a great charcoal taste to it, the sauce wasn’t too heavy, the eggplant still had a crispness to it and well the chef just hit the nail on the head with this dish. Outstanding – try it if it’s available when you go. (Click on the fish to Enlarge).

SRB Club dessertOur new friends were celebrating their anniversary and after my guest commented how much she loved chocolate – a portion was shared with us. She is the dessert expert and I’m not even a huge chocolate fan, but that was a good chocolate tort in my book. (Click to Enlarge).

Santa Rosa Beach Club is the sort of restaurant that for some reason I tend to overlook when I’m dining on CR-30A, even though I definitely know it’s open to the public. Based on our last dining experience there, we will be back soon. Call 267-1240 for reservations.

We very much enjoy writing these restaurant reviews. This is our avocation, but our vocation is representing Buyers and Sellers in real estate transactions on the Emerald Coast. If you are interested in learning more about our real estate services, please Click Here.

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Condos Sold & Condos for Sale in Grand Dunes – August

There was one condo sold in Grand Dunes in August.  It was Unit 2240 in the North Tower (this being one floor below the penthouse level) and has three bedrooms, three baths and 2,333 square feet.  The unit was nicely furnished and sold for $1.215 million.  

There are currently 48 condos for sale in Grand Dunes at the beginning of September.  The entry level unit has a very motivated Seller at $1,098,000.  The unit is on the third floor of the North Tower with three bedrooms, three baths and 2,490 square feet.  At the other end of the price spectrum is a Penthouse Unit in the South Tower that is five bedrooms, five baths, 4,956 square feet and priced at $4.5 million

Condos for Sale in Grand Dunes – Beginning of September 

Total # of Listings    48
Lowest Price Listing  $1,098,000
Highest Price Listing  $4,500,000
Average Price          $1,738,540
Avg. Price/SqFt        $612
Avg. Days on Mkt     260

(Click on the graph below to Enlarge)

Grand Dunes - Active First of September






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Breakfast Surprise – Don Pedro’s in Santa Rosa Beach

Don Pedros Outside 2You wouldn’t naturally think of Don Pedros on Highway 98 in Santa Rosa Beach for breakfast, but it is one of our favorite places for breakfast in South Walton County.

They serve a good lunch and dinner, but on a recent Saturday morning Vicki and I enjoyed another excellent breakfast -another in a long line at Don Pedros.

Don Pedros InteriorMany years ago Pedro Alvarez worked in the kitchen at a restaurant that was located not far from the current Don Pedros location – Nena’s. After leaving Nena’s, Pedro moved on to the Donut Hole II. The opportunity arose to open his own place seven years ago, and the rest is a Mexican restaurant success story. Don Pedros is a no frills kind of establishment, but the food and service is what has made this restaurant a success. The future is in good hands with Pedro Alvarez, Jr., a very personable and knowledgeable young man, who helped us on this Saturday morning.

Don Pedros Huevos RancherosAlthough they have Sopapillas and all kinds of pancakes, we went with a more traditional Mexican breakfast. My guest had the classic Huevos Rancheros – a Tortilla Topped with Two Eggs, Salsa, Cheese & Sour Cream. The salsa there isn’t our favorite thing (no kick), but with the salsa and cheese grits on the side – she gave it two thumbs up. (Click on the Picture above to Enlarge).

Don Pedros Mexican OmeletI went with the Mexican Omelet – Tomato, Onion, Peppers, Topped with Salsa (on the side for me), Cheese, Sour Cream & Jalapeno. I also opted for Home Fries and an order of their excellent (and unique for breakfast) Chilaquiles. Chilaquiles are kind of like Doritos with melted Sour Cream. I highly recommend this dish and throw in a side of bacon if you are inclined I was. (Click ^ to Enlarge).

This is one of the top restaurants in South Walton for breakfast. Don Pedros serves breakfast seven days a week starting at 7:00 a.m. They can be reached at 850-267-0009, and be aware that they do not take credit cards.

We very much enjoy writing these restaurant reviews. This is our avocation, but our vocation is representing Buyers and Sellers in real estate transactions on the Emerald Coast. If you are interested in learning more about our real estate services, please Click Here.

For our Restaurant Review Credentials, please Click Here.

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What’s That Smell – Good Food & Good Times at Stinky’s Fish Camp

Chef/Owner Jim Richard has bounced back from the tragic fire and closing of The Lake Place in Santa Rosa Beach with the opening of the adjoining property and now wildly popular Stinky’s Fish Camp.  Richard had physically moved in to the kitchen at Zampieri’s on the Destin Harbor (formerly Harry T’s) after the fire and is still involved with that operation, but the folks on CR-30A are very happy that he has returned to our neighborhood with Stinky’s.  

Stinkys InteriorThere are several rooms to dine in, but I like the bar area.  Be forewarned that on Thursday through Sunday nights it can be hard to hear more than the person next to you with the live music playing, the happy and talkative mood that seems to engulf everyone upon entry and delighted diners cleaning their plates and toasting to the vibe of Stinky’s. 

Stinkys SquashStinky’s does all kinds of oysters that are shucked right at the bar.  There are four raw offerings (different toppings) and five preparations to choose from for their baked oysters.  I like the Ceviche topping for the raw and the Smoked Cheese, Bacon and Horseradish on the baked.  But my guest and I opted for their most popular appetizer – the Jumbo Lump Stuffed Squash Gratin.  The half fried squash was jammed with the sweet lump crabmeat in a wonderful creamy sauce.  Stinky’s has a very, very good wine list, and it’s fairly priced.  We chose a bottle of Erath Pinot Gris from Oregon, and it worked beautifully with the squash appetizer and our upcoming fish dishes. 

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Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire – Restaurant Grayton Beach

New Orleans loss is South Walton’s gain as Fire Restaurant has transplanted from the Big Easy to Grayton Beach. This outstanding little restaurant excels at both lunch and dinner.

Fire SignThere is a lot of restaurant competition in the little hamlet of Grayton Beach. At last count there are about a dozen restaurants in this tiny commmunity, and many of them are very good. I’m hoping that the people who have homes in Seaside, homes in Watercolor and homes in The Lake Place in Grayton and others will support this unique little restaurant as often as possible.

Fire InsideFire opened in New Orleans a few months before Katrina and then reopened fairly quickly after the storm, but the unsteadiness of the market took its toll.

So the owners, who vacationed here, took nine of their employees and came to Grayton Beach. And boy are we glad they did.

There’s a great little bar area with flat panel televisions for sporting events and enough tables/seats for about 30 or so people. There are several small dining areas if you want things a little more private.

Fire DipsThe upbeat attitude of the waitstaff is a real positive, but the food is the real star of the show. The unique Dip Trio is an excellent starter. You have the choice of six dips in which to choose your trio. On a recent lunch excursion my guest and I were with our clients and friends, Laura Blumberg and Ruth Horn, and we started with the Apricot-Habanero, Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Peanut Cilantro and Sun Dried Tomato dips. The really fresh chips and grilled pita bread are excellent accompinaments. (Click Above ^ to Enlarge Picture).

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Condos Sold & Condos for Sale Grand Dunes – July

Four condos sold in July in Grand Dunes.  They ranged from a three bedroom, three bath unit on the 19th floor of the North Tower for $1,050,000 to a four bedroom, four bath, 3150 square foot unit on the seventh floor in the South Tower for $2.5 million.  

Condos Sold in Grand Dunes – July  

Total # of Listings    4
Lowest Price Listing  $1,050,000
Highest Price Listing $2,300,000
Average Price          $1,497,500
Avg. Price/SqFt       $540
Avg. Days on Mkt     228 

(Click on the graph below to enlarge)Grand Dunes Sold Graph July





At the beginning of August there were 50 condos for sale in Grand Dunes in Miramar Beach.  At the low end is a second floor unit in the North Tower with three bedrooms, three baths for $1,049,000 and at the high end are two units priced at $2.2 million – one on the third floor of the South Tower and the other on the 23rd floor of the North Tower.  Both have four bedrooms and four baths. 

Condos for Sale in Grand Dunes – Beginning of August 

Total # of Listings      50
Lowest Price Listing    $1,049,000
Highest Price Listing    $2,200,000
Average Price            $1,535,550
Avg. Price/SqFt          $577
Avg. Days on Mkt       269

Grand Dunes Active Beginning August




(Click on the graph above to enlarge)

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No Fear of Intimacy at Cafe Tango in South Walton

Cafe Tango outsideDo you ever need to take that special someone to a romantic, intimate, adult oriented little restaurant? There’s no need to fear because we’ve got just the place, Cafe Tango in Dune Allen Beach.  This small cottage is framed with a jasmine covered walkway and has only about a dozen tables.  The mustard colored walls, wood ceiling and subdued lighting create a warm and inviting ambiance. 

 Cafe Tango Olive OilThe meal begins with some outstanding extra virgin olive oil, a large pile of parmesan/romano cheese and a pinch of raw garlic.  I liked to put a little of this on just about all parts of the meal except dessert.  I also like to place the oil/cheese on one side of the Tango’s House Salad and their excellent ginger soy vinaigrette on the other half. 

Cafe Tango ScallopsOn a recent visit my guest and I started with the Grilled Jumbo Sea Scallops, served with Caramelized Belgium Endive, and finished with a Key Lime Honey Sauce.  The scallops were cooked perfectly, the sauce is slightly too sweet for my tastes – so I asked for it on the side.  My guest thought the dish was great and that the sauce was fine.  A glass from the bottle of King Estate Oregon Pinot Gris that we ordered along with some lemon juice really made the dish sing for me. 

Cafe Tango has a very good wine list of about 100 bottles in addition to about a dozen wines by the glass and another half dozen dessert wines.  I like the Don Miguel Pinot Noir when I have their excellent duck dish here.  We didn’t get the duck this time, but it’s finished with a Madeira Wine, Plum and Orange Reduction Sauce.

Cafe Tango PistachioInstead, we then went with my favorite dish at Tango – Pistachio Crusted Grouper, drizzled with Amaretto Buerre Blanc and topped with Jumbo Gulf Shrimp.  This dish comes with Mashed Potatoes and an excellent vegetable medley that includes snow peas, mushrooms, roasted peppers and goat cheese.  If you are on a diet go with all vegetables – on both veggies and potatoes I come back with  the olive oil/cheese mixture.  This is really an outstanding dish and this occasion the grouper was tougher than I’ve ever had it, but I’ve had it 20 times and this was the first time it wasn’t just right – so I see it as an anomaly. 

Cafe Tango Pecan PieMy guest fixated on the caramel pecan pie topped with whipped marscapone cheese and vanilla bean ice cream casually on the side.  I only take (or get) one or two bites of most desserts, but I found the combination of ingredients to be definitely good eats.  There are a couple of nice dessert wines by the glass from Bonny Doon (the Framboise and the Muscat) that I have enjoyed in the past – but we passed on this evening. 

Cafe Tango InsideThis is easily one of the most intimate and romantic restaurants in South Walton – and really anywhere on the coast.  So, if you feel like an intimate getaway – try Cafe Tango in South Walton.  Reservations at 850-267-0054.

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The “Secret” of Fine Dining – Gravel Road in Grayton Beach

Gravel Road insideEvery town seems to have restaurants that open and close in the same spot that becomes known as a doomed location.

I caught some heat a few years back while writing restaurant reviews for our local paper, The Walton Sun. I wrote about a restaurant in Uptown Grayton and implied that the restaurant was in a “doomed location”. Maybe the better/more discrete wording should have been “Secret Location”. That restaurant is no longer with us, but there is a very good “Secret” restaurant in that location now that deserves a visit from you – Gravel Road Restaurant in Grayton Beach.

GR entranceGravel Road does a brisk lunch business, and I have enjoyed several. It’s located across the way from a more well known restaurant, Another Broken Egg Cafe (excellent for breakfast).

You can’t see Gravel Road from the highway, but you turn at a Starbucks just past Criolla’s going. There are some really cool neighborhoods close by that keep the center busy. I have friends who have homes in The Lake Place in Grayton Beach who walk or bike over to Uptown Grayton.

GR Spring Rolls2

My guest and I had a really nice dinner there last week with our clients and friends, Larry and Laura Blumberg – along with their daughter, Elizabeth, and son in law, Scott.

A bottle of Oregon Pinot Gris (King Estate) for the table and a couple orders of the Shrimp Spring Rolls with Peanut Hoison Sauce. The Hoison sauce had some crunchy peanuts along with the phyllo type dough surrounding the spring rolls.

GR Papaya SaladGR House SaladMy guest and I split the Papaya and Cilantro Salad tossed with lime and champagne vinaigarette, served with fresh mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto. I felt the mozzarella/prosciutto was a little dry, but a little olive oil solved that problem and the rest of the dish was light, refreshing and tasty.

The Blumbergs had the House Salad – Mesculan Greens, Asparagus,Walnuts, Red Peppers and Bleu Cheese. I typically would ask to swap goat cheese for the bleu cheese, and even though I didn’t order the dish and didn’t request it – I have noticed that they are not overly keen on substitutions.

GR SnapperGR BuffaloMy guest and I got a glass of Morgan Pinot Noir and split the Buffalo Mignon over Tasso Ham and Gouda Creamy Bliss Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts, Truffled Demi-Glace and a side of spaghetti squash note the sliver of spaghetti squash at the left edge of the picture above. That was what Vicki left for me.

The sauce was particularly good as were the vegetables while the buffalo mignon was good but slightly undercooked for the doneness that I had requested. The tasso wasn’t quite as assertive as I had been expecting, but tasso can easily overwhelm a dish so it was probably best that it was somewhat dormant. Most of the rest of the table got seafood most notably the (pictured above right) Sauteed Snapper with Seared Sea Scallops, Spaghetti Squash and Broccolini, finished with Citrus Buerre Blanc. I had a bite of that, and it really was a very well done dish.

GR Pecan PieGR Reese's Cup

We opted for a couple of desserts and six forks. My guest says it was the best pecan pie she has ever had and plans to go back and buy a whole pie. We all were sharing that along with kind of a Reeses cup made with hard chocolate and crunchy peanut butter in the middle.

I cut a small slice of the pie to share with my guest, but I talked too long to Larry and cant personally give you a review of the pie. but I trust her review. I did like the Reeses cup a lot with it’s hard chocolate outer shell and crunchy peanuts in the middle.This was a really enjoyable dining experience for all. This restaurant is hard to find for the tourists in our area, but it’s worth the search. Hopefully enough of us locals will support Gravel Road and transform it from our favorite “Secret” Restaurant to a well known restaurant.

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Spoken by Ronnie Coleman | Discussion: 2 Comments »

Criolla’s Restaurant in Grayton Beach – How Johny got Criolla’s Groove Back!

Criolla's outsideYou know I’d been feeling a little melancholy about Criolla’s in the past year or so.

Johny Earles landmark restaurant seemed to have lost a little of the panache that it had held for so long – since 1989 to be exact -although I felt the food was always very good and the most creative on the coast. I could easily digress back to the 1980s when I used to visit the area just to eat at the wonderful Paradise Cafe in the site where the now legendary Red Bar resides in Grayton Beach. Johny was co-owner of Paradise, met his wife to be Debbie there and then moved on to Criolla’s.

Things took off from there and Criolla’s has been named “One of Florida’s Top Twenty Restaurants” since 1991 by Florida Trends Magazine. Still it needed a little something, something as things were a little too quiet and the crowd was almost too well behaved . I’m happy to say Criolla’s has gotten the shot in the arm that it needed with the complete rework of the bar area (formerly four seats and several tables) that now allows about a dozen diners to sit at an elevated bar and watch many of the dishes prepared in the center section – oftentimes by Johny himself. In addition, the music has been turned up a few decibels such that there now is a vibe in the place which seems to feed over in to the dining rooms as well.

Criollas ShrimpOn a recent outing my guest and I were joined by Richard and Dee McNeese (McNeese Title – for an excellent Criolla’s experience that made me have the same feel good feeling that I’ve enjoyed many times there over the years.

My guest and I always share the excellent Barbecue Shrimp with Tasso Cornbread appetizer – an absolutely excellent dish that will be gone without a bite for me if I talk too much. This dish is really good with chardonnay, and we had a glass of Mer Soleil Silver (unoaked) and Dee ordered a bottle of Martinelli – I know that seems like a lot, but she was thirsty.

Criolla's olivesWe all shared the Hummus and Guacamole Dip with Tropical Root Chips and then the Marinated Olives and Goat Cheese with Toasted Portuges Baguette.

As with all the dishes, the presentation is excellent at Criolla’s. Richard is a cabernet sauvignon guy, so he scored a bottle of Dalla Valle Napa Valley and pinot noir being my thing I selected a bottle of Merry Edwards for Vicki and me.

Criollas Surf and TurfThings were starting to get a little hazy in keeping up with the McNeese’s dishes, but I know my guest always wants dessert so we shared the Pan Seared Ribeye Steak and Butter Poached Lobster Tail with Wild Mushrooms, Truffle Butter and Cabernet reduction. My guest likes lobster, I like steak and we both like mushrooms and pretty much everything goes with pinor noir (although I think I remember Dee slipping a little chardonnay over to her at some point).

Criollas Cheesecake

On to the favorite part of the meal – the dessert.

All of us had the excellent Criolla’s Coffee, but we had the Key Lime Cheesecake, Graham Cracker Crust, Chocolate Ganache with Lychee Sorbet.

Criollas GateauThe McNeeses finished off their cabernet by pairing it with the decadent Warm Chocolate Gateau with Peppermint Mocha ice cream (note the picture to the right as Richard is thinking of becoming a hand model if the title business goes south).

There are many other fabulous desserts and dessert wines available. My guest and I go to Criollas sometimes just for the desserts alone.

Criollas CoffeeIf you thought Criolla’s had lost a step, go again. There’s a better vibe and the food and wine list are as good as it gets in South Walton.

Johny has always been our number one celebrity chef in South Walton (the nod goes to Tim Creehan in Destin) and after years of cooking at events like the James Beard Foundation, the Sonoma Valley Wine Auction, the Napa Valley Wine Auction and many more – Johny has now gotten Criolla’s back as a must visit destination in Grayton Beach. Get more information on Criolla’s at or call them at 8502671267.

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Spoken by Ronnie Coleman | Discussion: 1 Comment »

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