2012 Best of Tallahassee

From Day Spas to Fish Markets, Our Readers Select Tallahassee’s Finest

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Politics and football may be the heart and soul of Tallahassee, but it’s the local businesses that drive the everyday economics of the town we call home. And if you live here long enough, you’re bound to find the right people with which to do business. Sometimes, though, you need a little help to get pointed in the right direction. That’s why we’ve asked our readers to cast their votes for their favorite businesses, in almost 100 different categories. Here are the results — the Best of Tallahassee for 2012.

Some of the winners here are long-time favorites while others find themselves in the first-place spot for the first time. Either way, these entities have stepped up their game to become the best at what they do. Give them a try. We’re sure you’ll be pleased with what they have to offer.

Food & Beverage

Level 8
Chic. Daring. Exotic. Seductive. This luxury rooftop lounge puts you on top of the world with its upscale sophistication, comfy couches and signature cocktails served by some of the most alluring waitresses in town. And the sunsets aren’t bad, either. Cheers! Honorable mention: Midtown Filling Station

Bonefish Grill
On a night out at Bonefish Grill, enjoy fine wines and seafood under dim lights and an upscale atmosphere. The tangy Bang Bang Shrimp alone packs a punch that draws crowds, and for just $5 on Bang Bang Wednesday, it’s no wonder Bonefish landed best appetizer honors in Tallahassee. Honorable mention: Level 8

Asian Restaurant

Whether you like your seafood cooked or raw, Masa’s perfect fusion of Eastern and Western cuisines is what keeps readers voting it as a perennial Best of winner. Conveniently located in the Midtown area, Masa is the perfect place to go for lunch or dinner with family or friends. Honorable mention: Azu

The Cake Shop

For the third consecutive year, The Cake Shop has snagged “Best Bakery” — and Tallahassee’s sweet tooth. With an assortment of cakes, cookies, brownies and 18 flavors of cupcakes, this Capital Circle bakery and coffee shop indulges every dessert craving. Honorable mention: Lucy & Leo’s Cupcakery

Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q

Call it “comfort food, Southern style.” You can always count on Sonny’s to offer consistently mouthwatering ribs, chicken and beef with all the side dishes you come to expect: coleslaw, barbecue beans, corn nuggets, sweet potatoes and, oh yes, don’t forget the sweet tea. Sonny’s never fails to fill you up. Honorable mention: Piggy’s BBQ

The Egg Café and Eatery

Fresh, nutritious food, affordable prices and an elegant atmosphere to sit and talk. Whether you come for breakfast or lunch, and have a craving for beignets or English muffins, The Egg stands out as a uniquely upscale café that’s definitely worth checking out. Honorable mention: Village Inn

Mockingbird Café

From traditional Ham and Cheese Omelets to down-home Southern Chicken and Waffles, Mockingbird Café has a mid-morning menu that will make you too restless to wait for lunch. Served only on the weekends, brunch at Mockingbird is the getaway you need after a long week. Honorable mention: The Egg Café and Eatery

Cajun Restaurant
Po’ Boys

You can find the good times rolling daily at Po’ Boys’ three Tallahassee locations. Daily specials include Muffuletta Monday — just one bite of this Cajun delight and you’ll be transported to N’awlins. From beignets to fried Gator tail, Jambalaya and Bayou Gumbo, get a taste of Louisianna without the eight-hour drive. Honorable mention: Coosh’s Bayou Rouge

Casual Dining
Red Elephant Pizza and Grill

Few places are like “the Elephant.” It’s laid back, friendly to family and co-workers alike, and can accommodate your taste buds without emptying your wallet. Walk in, sit down and start out with hot boiled peanuts, have a pizza and finish off the meal with a tasty Elephant Ear pastry. Honorable mention: Kool Beanz Café

Klassic Katering

Kustomers are going krazy for Klassic Katering’s unique way of turning a ho-hum event into a customized catered experience. Whether you are having a small get-together or a large event, Klassic Katering — a Best of winner nine times in a row — shines by providing quality service and unforgettable celebrations. Honorable mention: Black Fig

Special Occasion Restaurant
Cypress Restaurant

At Cypress Restaurant, cooking reaches high art. And whether it’s graduation, a birthday, an engagement, an anniversary or “just because,” this sophisticated Southern-style restaurant is the place to celebrate. With their ever-changing menu, there is always something new to try. Just sit back, sip a glass of wine and celebrate with friends and family. Honorable mention: Shula’s 347 Grill

Level 8

Whether it’s a birthday celebration or just because it’s Wednesday, Level 8’s martinis provide a reason to go out with friends for any occasion. Their combination of a rooftop bar and an elegant drink is one of many reasons why Level 8 is always at the top of our list. Honorable mention: One-O-One Restaurant

Coffee Shop

Get a cup of java at RE3EYE, and you make a difference not only in Tallahassee but half a globe away. RE3EYE products are socially and environmentally responsible, and all their net profits go toward humanitarian efforts in the capital city and Guatemala. Who knew a simple cup of coffee could go so far? Honorable mention: Starbuck’s

Hopkins’ Eatery

This perennial Best of winner knows exactly how to take traditional lunch items and give them a twist. Whether it’s potato salad in your sandwich or chicken tetrazzini on your salad, the genius combination of flavors will leave any customer wanting to try more. Honorable mention: Jason’s Deli

Tie: Lucy & Leo’s, Food Glorious Food

When it comes to a post-prandial sweet, head on over to Midtown. Lucy & Leo’s offers delicious cake bites in creative flavor combinations, while for decades FGF has been offering a variety of delicious desserts. Our readers split evenly on which one of these was the best. Why not try both!? Honorable mention: The Cake Shop

Fine Dining Restaurant
Cypress Restaurant

Dinner at Cypress includes your choice of fresh seafood, delicious aged meats and gourmet cheeses. With a menu like this, what more could you ask for? Maybe their Southern Pecan Pie Turnover … if you’ve saved room for dessert. Honorable mention: Shula’s 347 Grill

Food Truck

This restaurant on wheels has an ever-changing menu ranging from Asian barbeque to Spanish-inspired dishes and everything in between. Open for lunch every Wednesday Downtown and for Food Truck Thursdays in Midtown, make sure to catch them before they ride away. Honorable mention: Cravings

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

If you want a fast food burger, you won’t find it at Five Guys. But if you want a good burger fast, there’s no better place to try one of eight mouthwatering burgers with a choice of 16 different toppings, all made with fresh ground beef. Honorable mention: Wells Brothers Bar and Grill (Monk’s)

Happy Hour
Level 8

Atop Hotel Duval, Level 8 offers a panoramic view of Tallahassee, spectacular sunsets and the comfiest couches in town. The locale is even sweeter during the lounge’s daily happy hour from 4 to 8 p.m. with discounted prices on beers, wines, wells, snacks and martinis. Honorable mention: One-O-One Restaurant

Osaka Japanese Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar

Hibachi at Osaka is a dining experience all Tallahassee natives know and love. Not only do customers enjoy a meal fit for kings, but they get a show while they’re waiting. Osaka is now serving hibachi items on the sushi side of the restaurant as well. Honorable mention: Mori

Italian Restaurant
Bella Bella Italian Restaurant

A repeat winner, this locally owned bistro serves homemade Italian cuisine for lunch or dinner in a cozy Mediterranean atmosphere. Freshly made salads and hearty pasta meals like Sicilian Lasagna dot the menu. Start your meal with Bella Bella’s yummy signature Bubble Bread, topped with garlic, gorgonzola and mozzarella and baked until bubbly. Honorable mention: Carrabba’s Italian Grill

Fickle Pickle Café and Catering

When Mad About Food left the building a year ago, Fickle Pickle carried on their tradition of good food. With a menu as light and playful as its name, the restaurant offers an array of fresh sandwiches and salads, ensuring you’ll never be fickle about where to head for lunch. Honorable mention: Paisley Café

Locally Owned Restaurant
Paisley Café

With Paisley’s mantra of seven ingredients or fewer in every meal, flavors don’t get much purer than this. Lunch items like an Apple Brie Panini and a Chicken Salad Croissant will make you feel like royalty, so it’s easy to forget the humble beginnings of this new local favorite. Honorable mention: Kool Beanz Café

Mexican/Latin American Restaurant
El Jalisco

Craving a chimichanga and the best frozen margarita in town? Stop in at El Jalisco, home to authentic Mexican cuisine and an upbeat, welcoming atmosphere that feels good after a hard day at the office. Relax and enjoy their two-for-one margaritas, huge portions and great prices. Honorable mention: Morelia’s

Outdoor Dining
Food Glorious Food

Cars zip along nearby on Thomasville Road, but you’ll never hear a thing when you’re noshing at FGF under the big oak tree surrounded by the vine-clad brick walls of Betton Place. And if the surroundings aren’t enough to distract you from the traffic, the “Mackin” Cheese certainly will. Honorable mention: Andrew’s Capital Grill & Bar


You’ll never have to settle for chain pizza again with Momo’s “slices as big as your head.” Recently, the Market District location introduced a brewery serving up ice-cold beer. This come-as-you-are pizza joint only uses fresh ingredients, so stop in for a pint and a pizza. Honorable mention: Decent Pizza

Seafood Market
Southern Seafood

Can’t always take the time to go catch your own fresh fish? Try a Southern sampling of the freshest fish, crab, shrimp and shellfish. Southern Seafood has the ability to move large quantities of seafood every other day, ensuring the freshest in snapper, grouper, tuna, scallops, salmon and more. It’s the next best thing to catching it yourself. Honorable mention: Mike’s Seafood

Seafood Restaurant
Bonefish Grill

Whether it’s the Bang Bang Shrimp or the Mussels Josephine, there’s always a reason to go to Bonefish. With fish baked, fried, grilled or sautéed, the options are endless and the tastes are to die for. Honorable mention: The Seinyard Seafood Restaurant

Sports Bar
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s

With walls full of television sets, sports are definitely on the menu at Beef’s. But you’ll certainly want to try out the highly praised wings and enjoy the family friendly atmosphere (check out the local school memorabilia on the walls) at one of the franchise’s three Tallahassee locations. Honorable mention: AJ Sports Bar & Grill

Marie Livingston’s Steak House

Dining at Marie Livingston’s Steak House is always a special treat. It’s not just a steakhouse that serves up savory cuts of prime rib or marbled beef, it’s a Tallahassee tradition wrapped up in a low-key, dignified setting that is perfect for any occasion. Honorable mention: Shula’s 347 Grill


Sushi lovers, rejoice; you’ll find more than the average California roll at this modern Japanese fusion restaurant. Choose from a selection of artfully crafted, authentic rolls, and you’ll see why this restaurant’s blend of Eastern and Western cultures have landed Masa honors as the No. 1 sushi restaurant year after year. Honorable mention: Osaka Japanese Hibachi Steakhouse
and Sushi Bar

Wine List
The Wine Loft

This chic, comfortable lounge in Midtown specializes in an eclectic list of wines, liquor and beer and has won this category three years running. There is a downstairs lounge and an upstairs balcony bar — the only one in Tallahassee — where you can order more than 50 specialty wines by the glass or more than 120 wines by the bottle. Cheers! Honorable mention: Shula’s 347 Grill


Wingstop can’t stop being Tallahassee’s top spot for wings. The chain has served more than two billion wings nationally and won best wings in Tallahassee six years in a row. Wingstop offers 10 unique flavors for their wings and a variety of homemade sides, including Fresh Cut Seasoned Fries made from Idaho potatoes. Honorable mention: Hobbit Hoagies

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