Seagrove Village Market Cafe
3004 S. Hwy. 395, Seagrove Beach, 850-231-5736 map

 In Chicago, you have the Italian Beef. In Philadelphia, the Philly Cheesesteak. Louisville, the Hot Brown, New Orleans, the Muffuletta.

Many regions around the US have their own claim-to-fame, signature sandwich. I think it’s high time SoWal be officially awarded it’s own distinctive sandwich and I vote that sandwich be …the Grouper Po’Boy.

I grew up in Milwaukee where my experience with fish – as something you eat – was not a very positive one. I’ll sum it up in two words – pickled herring. Beyond that, Friday Fish Fry was, and still is, a weekly Milwaukee tradition but the fish comes fried – doesn’t everything taste good fried?

It wasn’t until I went to culinary school on the outskirts of D.C. when I was 22 that I was exposed to, and began eating, fresh, delectable FISH – the kind-that-doesn’t-smell-to-high-heavens or have-to-be-fried-to-enjoy type of fish. I had missed out in my childhood for sure.

And now, living at the beach …. well … what can I say? We are just so dang lucky to have all this fresh fish to eat, folks – Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Wahoo, King & Spanish Mackerel, Red Snapper, Amberjack, Scamp, Trigger Fish, Grouper, etc. etc.

The fact that someone took a Po’Boy, a Louisiana specialty traditionally served hot with fried shrimp, oysters. Roast beef, soft shell crab, catfish or crawfish, and fused it with fried or grilled Grouper, an Emerald Coast specialty, just makes sense. Served on a slightly crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside bun with coleslaw and tartare sauce, it is a sandwich to absolutely die for!

 I’ve sampled several local Grouper Po’Boys and my hands down favorite so far can be found at one of South Walton’s non-registered historical monuments – the Seagrove Village Market Cafe. Located on the corner of Hwy 395 and Scenic 30A, The Village Market Cafe, a restaurant and general store, has been around since 1949.

Hungry for lunch, I hadn’t been there in a few years and decided to stop in last week. This is the kind of place that just doesn’t change – in a good way. The ambiance gives off a charming truck-stop-at-the-beach kind of feeling with a choice to sit in or outside on their large back patio. Gosh, and the staff are just so incredibly nice, endearingly addressing patrons as “hon” and “sweetie”. Svm1 Where do they find such nice people?

I had eaten their Fried Grouper Po’Poy last time I was there and remembered it to be delish. Since I am trying to take off …oh…about 25 lbs, I thought I would give the grilled Grouper Po’Boy ($8.99) a shot this time. When ordering, they will ask you if you would like the coleslaw on it and always say “yes”. All of their menu items come with a heaping pile of hot fries.

As I remembered the fried version to be, the grilled version was equally, if not more, tasty. I didn’t miss the fried part one bit. The grouper was cooked absolutely perfectly – you could tell it was fresh. It was moist, flaky and the grill flavor did not overpower – they have a real professional in the back cooking. I took a lemon from the drink area and squeezed that over the fish – I recommend doing this. The coleslaw and sauce dress the sandwich beautifully – neither are overpowering in flavor, again letting the taste of the fish shine through. The fries, although not home made, were piping hot and a great compliment to the sandwich. Gotta have a bit of grease in the meal!

In addition to Grouper, they also serve grilled or fried Shrimp, Oyster and Catfish Po’Boys (all $8.99 with fries), killer (so I’ve heard) 1/2 lb. all chuck burgers (plain $5.99, cheese $6.49, double cheese $7.49 all served with fries), all different kinds of sandwiches, seafood platters and more! (see website for full menu). They also have a variety of “to-go” items if you are headed to the beach or want to quickly pick up a snack.

The Village Market Cafe is open for lunch, I believe, at 11am until 3pm and for dinner from 5:30pm to 8pm. They may be closed on Sundays. Just call ahead to make sure on the hours, though, as I couldn’t locate them online and couldn’t reach them on the phone this morning. Their phone number is 850.231.5736.

Reviewed by Jill Gaupin of SoWal Scene

Jill is die-hard foodie and a big part of her life revolves around eating, cooking, and drinking wine…oh, and talking about eating, cooking and drinking wine, too.