Eat Local

The Red Bar is Definitely Worth the Drive…


Memorial Day weekend…. A weekend typically spent beaching, hanging out with friends and family, relaxing, and of course… eating! Many of you are probably doing a combination of these things: relaxing with friends and family on the beach, wondering where you should eat dinner.  Well, if you are in the Grayton Beach area, or anywhere remotely close, may I recommend The Red Bar!

I was at the beach a couple of weeks ago (Sandestin to be exact) with some friends for a little vacation. All of us had eaten at The Red Bar before, and all of us had fond memories of the place. We decided that we definitely needed to set aside an evening to make the 30-minute drive from Sandestin to Grayton Beach and visit this jewel of a restaurant.

Cheesy Manicotti

The oh-so-cheesy Manicotti

The Red Bar does not take reservations, so we just showed up and put our names on the list, hoping that the wait would not be too long.  We got really lucky in that we only had to wait about 20 minutes for our table. (There have been times when there has been a two-hour wait, but I promise, it is always worth it, no matter how long!) As we were getting settled in at our table, which was right in the middle of a pretty crowded room, we were taking in the unique atmosphere.  All of the lights on the inside are (wait for it…) RED!  They have cool red string lights draped asymmetrically all over the place, which makes for a really warm, cozy, unstuffy atmosphere. There is nothing too fancy about this place, which is perfect for the beach. They also had some great live music!

Shortly after we were seated, our awesome waiter greeted us and went over the menu (written on a chalkboard.) If you have been to this place before, you know that they have their menu system down pat.  They only have six items to choose from at dinner:  Fish, shrimp and crawfish, eggplant, chicken, manicotti, and crab cakes. There are not a million choices, which makes it easy. Don’t like seafood? Your pool of choices just got cut in half. Don’t like meat? Bam- you’re ordering the eggplant or manicotti. See? Easy.

When it came time to order, I got the Manicotti, and my friend sitting to my left ordered the Panne Chicken.  We made a pact to share a few bites with each other. I  started with a salad, which was pretty much out of this world. Their homemade vineagrette atop a bed of fresh greens was really well done. When our main food arrived, we could not believe how good it looked! The Manicotti was a big bowl of cheesy deliciousness, plus a roll. The chicken was exceptionally beautiful, with the same side salad that I had started with, plus mashed potatoes and a roll.

The perfect Panne Chicken

The Panne Chicken was perfection

The Manicotti was a cheese lover’s dream. There were some manicotti rolls underneath the sea of cheese, but it took a little digging. My friend who I had pacted to share some bites with actually had trouble getting a bite that wasn’t just full cheese!  But seriously, the Manicotti was stuffed with a delicious, light cheese, and topped with homemade tomato sauce. I loved what I got.

I loved the Panne Chicken too! It was lightly fried, then baked, so it had a wonderful thin crispy outside, and a perfectly cooked chicken inside! I don’t remember much about the potatoes, but I’m sure they were awesome.  The chicken just stole the show. We heard rave reviews on the crab cakes from across our table, but I didn’t ever actually get a bite of those.

The portions on the chicken and manicotti were pretty big for just one person to eat, so I would suggest that if you want to get dessert, you should split a dish with someone so you’ll have room.  We are all so stuffed by the end of our entrée that none of us could handle another bite. We were all extremely happy with the food and with the wonderful service. We’ve already planned our trip back for next year!

The Red Bar on Urbanspoon

70 Hotz Ave
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Price $$$