As I finish up my senior year, I made a decision to embark on a journey—a journey through Tallahassee that would fulfill all the dreams my tastebuds have ever dreamed of. A quest to find the best little-known restaurants in our charismatic college town and bring them to light for others to enjoy. On this quest, I realized Tallahassee has more to offer than my silly little brain ever thought possible. Here, I've compiled a list of all the best-hidden gems in Tallahassee, in convenient categories so you can put down Yelp and find that special place you never knew you needed to try with ease.


1. O'Lean's Cafe

O'Lean's has been proudly serving traditional Southern soul food since it was established in 1996. Here you can find a wide variety of traditional and affordable southern fare and breakfast foods, like Southern fried chicken or catfish and cheese grits. Make sure to try the Jesus Passion Juice, a delicious favorite of O'Lean's regulars.

2. Woodchuck's Cafe

Attached to a gas station, Woodchuck's often passes under many people's radars. But to never experience the wonders of Woodchuck's would be a huge mistake. This hidden gem has different breakfast specials every day of the week, including All-You-Can-Eat pancakes on Fridays for just $4. Don't miss the homemade desserts tucked away in the cooler by the register.

3. Metro Deli

I am not afraid to unabashedly say that Metro Deli has the best chicken salad sandwich in Tallahassee, better known as "The Baze." This Deli has something on the menu to suit every taste bud, including specialty sandwiches, grinders, wraps, melts, and salads. And if you make it there before 10:30 A.M., you can indulge yourself with one of their epic breakfast sandwiches.

4. Freshroots Kitchen

While this weekday breakfast and lunch cafe isn't exactly close to campus, a trip to Freshroots is always worth it. Here, you can enjoy delicious meals made from ingredients you'll be happy to put in your body. Plus, everything on the menu is really affordable and the portions are hefty. You can also sip on Lucky Goat Coffee while you dine, so it's a win-win.

5. Savannah's Country Buffet

Ahhh, home of the $2 breakfast. Seriously, at Savannah's you can get two pancakes and two pieces of bacon for only $2, can you say ballin' on a budget? If you're too hungry for just that, you can get the country buffet for $10 and eat your heart out in soul food—we're talking fried chicken, fried pork chops, collard greens, black-eyed peas, the works. 


6. Shell Oyster Bar

If you're the kind of person that has a hankering for knocking back some oysters on the half shell, Shell Oyster Bar might be your new favorite Tallahassee gem. At Shell, you can enjoy fresh and affordable Apalachicola oysters, plus all the fresh Gulf shrimp and Florida seafood you could ask for on one menu. Be prepared for a true hole-in-the-wall, and come geared up with your own beer (the restaurant is BYOB) and cash, as Shell doesn't accept credit or debit cards.

7. Yostie's Chili Parlor

One of my favorite munching spots in all of Tallahassee, Yostie's has the best and cheapest chili dogs in town. Seriously, what could be better than two chili dogs (trust me, go ATW with the dogs), a bag of chips or a cookie, and a drink for only $6? Don't expect an abundant condiment bar here—mustard, chili, cheese sauce and onion are your options for dressing your hotdog, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a packet of ketchup anywhere in the building. But just trust the process, you will not, I repeat, will not regret it. If you're not hungry for a chili dog, try the "crack sketti," chili nachos, or the several types of bread and treats that are baked fresh daily—it's all delicious at Yostie's. And if you meet Yostie himself, don't be shy; he's a zany guy who's definitely not afraid to crack a few jokes, and his passion for food shines through everything on the restaurant's menu.

8. Krispy Krunchy Chicken

Don't spend another second contemplating how sketchy fried chicken from a gas station plaza may seem—once that first perfect bite of fried deliciousness hits your lips, you'll realize just how deceiving first impressions can be. The pre-marinated and Cajun-seasoned chicken pairs great with a side of red beans and rice, honey butter biscuits, or their extra cheesy mac-n-cheese. Or all three, if you're me. Remember, Krispy Krunchy Chicken is a judgment-free zone.

9. Clusters & Hops

If you're bored of the typical Tallahassee fare and want to get a little ~fancy~ for your next meal, Clusters & Hops is for you. Tucked away in a plaza off Monroe next to only a mattress store, Cluster's & Hops offers an eclectic menu tailored to suit an adventurous palette. With entrees like panko-crusted Ahi tuna and slow-roasted pork shank ossobuco, C&H is a wonderful restaurant to enjoy a special occasion. Be sure to check out their extensive wine and cheese selections in the market at the storefront while you wait for a table.

10. Miccosukee Root Cellar

Owned by Ruben Fields, whose parents run Tallahassee's Turkey Hill Farm, Miccosukee Root Cellar strives to "showcase the abundant and beautiful foods grown by local farms." Its farm-to-table approach does just that with its creative fare that reflects whatever foods are in season at the time of your visit. Plus, Miccosukee Root Cellar has a great craft beer and wine list on which you'll find something to pair with your meal perfectly, and live music every Friday and Saturday. Don't miss the desserts, of which the menu is changed daily.

International Fare

11. G&G Caribbean Restaurant

If you've never experienced the true wonder that is Caribbean cuisine, get in your car right now and head to G&G. You'll feel like you're vacationing in Jamaica from the moment you walk in, and your stomach will be singing praises to the jerk chicken gods with your first bite. Besides the jerk chicken, fan favorites include the oxtail, Jamaican patties, brown stewed chicken, and the snapper—but it's all good. And be prepared to leave incredibly full or with a box of leftovers, because G&G is not shy with their portions.

12. Korean Barbecue & More

While the menu at Korean BBQ & More only has about eight items, what it lacks in options it makes up for with flavor. I seriously could eat their Korean beef every day of my life and never get sick of it, it's that good. Plus, with any entree, you get unlimited access to the soup and side bar. And be sure to not miss the weirdly satisfying rice malt drink for dessert.

13. Sushi Tokyo

Tucked away in the corner of a plaza off Apalachee Parkway, Sushi Tokyo would be easy to miss to the uninformed eye. But this small, family-owned sushi bar is known to the locals as one of the best sushi spots in Tallahassee, and for good reason. Sushi Tokyo provides diners with fresh sushi, fairly priced drinks, and friendly service. If you're in the mood for sushi but want to venture somewhere unfamiliar, Sushi Tokyo is worth the trip away from campus.

14. Nefetari's

At Nefetari's, you'll eat and drink like royalty—which is exactly the goal of this international-inspired restaurant named after Queen Nefetari and King Ramesses of Egypt. The menu is stocked with Nefetari's own creative take on cuisines from all corners of the world, including Pad Thai, Vegan Fettuccine, Ethiopian Stew, and Greek Red Snapper. There is truly something to suit all palettes and dietary restrictions (many vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options). On Saturdays and Sundays, head here for Nefetari's royal take on a classic brunch.

15. Bahn Thai

Since it began operating under new management in 2015, Bahn Thai has reestablished itself as one of the most—if not the most—authentic Thai restaurants in Tallahassee. Here, you can enjoy many traditional Thai dishes, including delicious curries and noodle dishes that you can make as mild or spicy as you'd like. My favorite is the Tom Kha soup, which provides you a hefty serving of chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, and lemongrass in a creamy coconut broth. And to finish your meal off with another authentic dish, enjoy the mango with sticky worth the indulgence.


16. Liberty Bar & Restaurant

Although I've heard nothing but great things about the drinking scene at Liberty—which has a hefty cocktail menu, wine list, and craft beer list—Liberty's brunch is the real star of the show, IMO. Try the Scotch Egg, a soft-boiled egg wrapped in roasted sausage and then fried. For a more traditional take on brunch, get the Crab Cake Benedict. You and your stomach will leave Liberty smiling. If you're in the mood for a nightcap, Liberty also has great tapas on their evening menu. 

17. The Wilbury

For a more laid-back night out with friends, The Wilbury is an awesome spot to grab a beer (and drunk munchies) and *plot twist* a round of bowling! That's right, The Wilbury has two mini bowling lanes, foosball, a pool table, a hand shuffle board, and live music almost every night. Don't sleep on their food menu, which offers some surprisingly great BBQ and a weekend brunch menu.

18. Beer Stop

Craft beer lovers rejoice: at Beer Stop, even the most well-versed beer drinkers will discover unfamiliar brews from all over the world. While this is just a beer shop and doesn't offer any food menu, their beer and cider selection is the best in Tallahassee and, therefore, deserving of a spot on the list.

Specialty Shops

19. Au Peche Mignon

For those days that warrant an extra special treat (or five), head to Au Peche Mignon, a French bakery, and chocolatier that will have you drooling over the counter. From macarons to freshly baked baguettes and croissants, or birthday cakes and Brie de kirsch, there's a goodie for every occasion at Au Peche Mignon, and it's definitely worth a try.

20. Bradley's Country Store

Every Tally local considers Bradley's a one-of-a-kind Tallahassee institution, for good reason. Their homemade bulk sausage and sausage links are to die for, not to mention the grits, preserves, and other Southern goodies you can find here. If you pay attention, you'll notice many restaurants throughout Tallahassee feature Bradley's sausage, but I encourage you to check this unique country store out for yourself and support Bradley's from the source. Plus, their menu features several awesome recipes that utilize their sausage so you can get *creative* after a trip to the storefront.

This list is full of delicious and adventurous options, but if there's one thing I've learned on this quest for hidden Tallahassee gems, it's that there are SO many awesome restaurant options in Tallahassee, just waiting to be discovered. The quest continues. My diet, not so much.