The balcony at Helen Back Again affords views of bustling Palafox Place below. As guests sun and people-watch, bartenders keep busy doling out ice-cold beers. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, fresh ingredients are tossed onto award-winning pizzas with a butter garlic crust lauded by writers from Esquire. Helen Back Again caters to bar and restaurant employees, and they have a deep and abiding appreciation for the military. Open 7 days a week, they host live entertainment as well as Military Night, Guys Night, Ladies Night, Bike Night, and Sin Night, in addition to broadcasting all sports games on a collection of HD televisions.
Higher Ground Coffee & Tea Co. presents a bevy of sandwiches, breakfast specialties, and coffee-and-tea-based beverages. Locally inspired eats include the Hot Brown sandwich, which the staff constructs by layering an open-faced sandwich spread with chicken, cheese sauce, bacon, and a fresh tomato on top to throw off the food pyramid's watchful eye. By preparing vegetarian options, the eatery accommodates the culinary predilections of different diners amid the interplay of yellow, red, and turquoise colors. Behind the counter, a polished brass steamer churns out tall cups of coffee served chilled or hot, and between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m., staffers man skillets to sizzle eggs, bacon, sausage, and evidence.
Only a short burger flip from the Santa Rosa Sound, the red-and-yellow-checkered façade of Tops Hamburgers hints at the ample spread of ketchup and mustard one can expect to find on each of the restaurant’s burgers and dogs. Rather than overthink the menu, chefs keep things refreshingly simple with 100% beef patties and produce cut as the sun rises each morning. Cruise through the drive-thru for fried pickles or tots to go, or stop by the brick-paved dining room to challenge a server to a burger-skipping contest on the waters of the nearby Gulf of Mexico.
Chef Daniel McDonald folds fresh ingredients, including flour and tomatoes imported from Italy, into a variety of pizzas, pastas, and traditional Italian specialties, showering his dishes in fresh herbs, olive oil, and housemade sauces. The versatile chef crafts authentic Italian pizzas, tossing crusts with gourmet toppings such as buffalata mozzarella and grilled steak. Diners await meals out in the warmly colored dining room, sipping gluten-free beers and selections from the 36-bottle wine list.
Drawing upon decades of experience, the chefs at Guglielmo's Italian Grill & Pizza blend fresh ingredients into daily-made pasta, dough and sauce to craft a menu of authentic Italian cuisine. Bruschetta alla toscana antipasto beckons dinner parties to share bites and play games of Jenga with tuscan bread brushed in olive oil and topped with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil. Bolognese sauce drizzles over pasta shells stuffed with ricotta cheese, while veal marsala tells taste buds the story of sautéed mushrooms, wine sauce, and walking 5 miles to school through 3 feet of parade confetti. For piccante gourmet pizza, culinary artisans slather 12-inch dough tapestries with tomato sauce, and then sprinkle on cheese, mushrooms, italian sausage, and pepperoni. Green vines cut across the casual dining room's archways, where patrons sip house wine in comfy booths or highlight the pages of their mouth's instruction manual at tables painted in the glow of wall sconces.
Brian, DR, and Lee at Dirt Road Cookers are a tight-knit gang of old-fashioned sausage-smokers and brisket-wranglers, and they have the cowboy hats to prove it. Now, within the trio’s shrine to all things sauce-slathered, customers dine on a menu tangy barbecue chicken, tender pork ribs, and spicy housemade sausage paired with summertime mainstays including potato salad, baked beans, and coleslaw. In addition to helping them hone their barbecuing chops, their years behind the smoker also taught them the value of efficient eating; all of their eats are available for munching on the premises or in handy to-go orders.