As breezes drift in from Sandestin Marina on the Choctawhatchee Bay, live blues tunes also permeate the air at Graffiti & The Funky Blues Shack. An eclectic Italian American menu offers dishes such as escargot Milano, which comes sautéed in garlic, olive oil, and fennel seeds. Entrees include gourmet pastas such as chicken parmesan and fettuccine bolognese, as well as familiar fare including wild buffalo meatloaf and cedar planked salmon.
After a lifetime of conquering comedy and literature, renaissance man Steve Martin along with his crackerjack journeymen The Steep Canyon Rangers brings chart-topping bluegrass to The Woods at Fontanel. Steve Martin’s Grammy Award-winning banjo playing is paired with the smooth vocals, smart songwriting, ferocious instrumentals, and callused fingers of The Steep Canyon Rangers to promote their new album Rare Bird Alert, which debuted at number one on the Billboard Bluegrass Albums chart. The harmonious performance promises the highest-quality bluegrass available without dragging a time machine through an Appalachian hootenanny.
Beal Street Bottle Club mixes an engaging cocktail of music, local art, and community, and invites visitors to add their own imbibe-able ingredients. A BYOB joint, the club invites patrons to bring favorite spirits, wines, or invisibility potions before augmenting libations with the bar's purchasable selection of mixers, ice, and non-alcoholic drinks. Local blues and jazz musicians, DJs, and other performers brandish their talents and hone their crafts on Beal Street's intimate stage. Carefully mixed sound levels envelop listeners without overwhelming ears, foregrounding each band member's contribution and packing the dance floor with rug-cutting revelers. Between sets, step outside of the Club’s red door and sample the wares of street-side food vendors or gossip of the city’s town crier.
The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music. On Sunday nights at the Fort Walton Beach location, a comedy show cranks up the revelry at 9 p.m. after the dueling pianos stop for a rest.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. The menu includes military specials and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 32-ounce booze buckets filled with fruit-flavored rum or other fruity libations. Honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Stella Artois and Dos Equis.
The Boathouse Oyster Bar has shucked local Apalachicola oysters and ladled specialty gumbo at their harbor-side restaurant for a quarter-century. With gulf winds gently blowing through the open-air dining area carrying breezy live tunes, customers can slurp raw oysters ($5.95 half-dozen, $7.95 dozen) or polish off prepared pearl-maker varieties including the Baked Action oysters, doused in butter and flavored with onions, bacon bits, and melted mozzarella ($13.95 dozen). In addition to rib-sticking bowls of gumbo ($7.95), The Boathouse Oyster Bar's chefs prepare savory fruits of the sea such as grilled or fried mahi-mahi ($15.95) and a one-pound-plus stack of Alaskan snow-crab legs, which can be placed on fingers to span large intervals on the piano ($18.95). Landlubbing appetites can be sated with juicy burgers ($8.95+) and sandwiches such as grilled chicken ($8.95) or Black Angus prime rib ($12.95).