Parent's Weekend in Tallahassee is the perfect opportunity to expand your eating horizons outside of Suwannee Dining Hall and Chick-Fil-A. No pressure, but you have approximately two dinners to eat to your heart's content until it's back to the meal plan. Since we are usually on a college budget, it can be tricky to decide on a nice restaurant. This comprehensive list will take some pressure off of the big dinner decisions in the upcoming week.

Pasta Lover's Places


Located in the Collegetown area of Tallahassee, Centrale is a hub and social spot for fine diners at Florida State, with an emphasis on Italian eats. The atmosphere is perfect for families; bright, spacious, and lively. Centrale specializes in shareable meals such as heaping pasta dishes (gluten-free options upon request), Brick Oven Pies, and even dessert pizza! Bring your family, large or small, for a modern Italian dining experience. Be sure to take a stroll down Madison Street afterward for a great view of the sunset over Doak Stadium.

Bella Bella

A local favorite, Bella Bella is a break from the bustling college scene. This cozy and rustic place prides itself on homemade  Italian dishes and its kind-mannered staff. Be sure to try their renowned Bubble Bread, heaped with cheeses and garlic. Bella Bella has a small menu because they've perfected their hand at each dish, from hearty pasta creations to fresh soups. Another perk? You can impress your parents with your knowledge of a local Tallahassee favorite.


Nestled in the Urban Food Market, +39 is a high-end spot for Italian eats. Making their pasta noodles by hand each day, the restaurant pays close attention to creating dishes that are the closest thing to dining in Tuscany. When traveling in Italy this summer, I was reminded of the authenticity of the dishes I had eaten at +39. Whether you get a fresh salad, pasta dish, veal, or chicken, you'll be thinking about it for days afterward. Be sure to try the Ravioli di Aragosta alla Vodka; lobster and shrimp ravioli with heaps of scallops and lobster basking in a lightly creamy pink vodka sauce. Save the plane ticket to Italy, and dine here for truly authentic Italian dishes.

Laid-Back Eateries


Spear-It is the classic Parents Weekend eatery with something on the menu for every family member. Offering a wide array of sports-bar-type appetizers and entrees, this spot has a casual and relaxed atmosphere. Catch up on sports and grab one of their widely talked-about burgers for a fun family night. For those who don't prefer burgers, Spear-It also serves hearty salads, nutrient-rich "Legendary Bowls," pizza, tasty sandwiches, and pasta. Even if your family has a picky eater, everyone will be satisfied. Spear-It is conveniently located right next to campus, facing Tennessee Street.

Dreamland Bar-B-Que

I originally heard of Dreamland Bar-B-Que through an online review of eateries around the world that people would travel long distances to visit. Bring your family here, (make sure they all have empty stomachs),  for genuine Southern hospitality in a laidback atmosphere. Dreamland is known for their tender and savory pulled pork sandwiches best eaten doused in their famous BBQ sauce and topped with "the works;" creamy coleslaw and pickles. Don't miss out on sides such as sweet baked beans and gooey mac and cheese. Beyond sandwiches, their ribs paired with sweet tea are also classic favorites. This spot is sure to please parents looking for a filling and satisfying meal.

For Fancy Foodies

Table 23

Drawn by the twinkling lights draped on the old oak trees outside, I took my parents here for my very first Parent's Weekend. Table 23 specializes in high-end Southern comfort food and even my parents from up North were incredibly impressed. The atmosphere is comfortable and bright, and the waitstaff offers true Southern hospitality. Appetizers include all of the true Southern favorites such as pecan-crusted okra, red hills gumbo, and fried green tomatoes. Don't miss out on the savory shrimp and grits entree, a recommended favorite. 

Kool Beanz Cafe

 Kool Beanz is a local staple of the Midtown area of Tallahassee. Their notoriety is derived from the eclectic range of dinner options on their ever-evolving menu. In fact, TripAdvisor ranked Kool Beanz as #1 out of 642 restaurants in the area. With entrees ranging from caramelized salmon to guajillo chile snapper, the seafood lover is in for a divine experience. See what everyone's talking about for yourself, and try out this funky spot. Check out their website listed below for the current menus.

Shula's 347 Grill

Located in Tallahassee's Hotel Duval, Shula's offers a quiet and elegant ambiance. For those going for the first time, a more formal dress code is recommended. Although entrees typically begin in the $20 range, the quality is worth the price tag. Shula's also offers exceptional burgers, sandwiches, and salads. The restaurant is recognized for their "Shula Cut," a premium Angus steak. Don't forget to finish the night off with their Fried Brownie Sundae! When you're done dining, be sure to visit Hotel Duval's rooftop bar, Level 8, for exceptional Tallahassee views. 

Whatever food mood your family is in this Parents Weekend, there is a place for everyone. Be sure to save this list for their next visit to keep a guide of upscale places on hand!