More than 25 restaurants opened in Bay County in 2022
Ebonee Burrell Panama City News Herald | USA TODAY NETWORK The restaurant scene is booming in Bay County.
In 2022 alone, the area has welcomed more than 25 restaurants, bars, cafes and more that helped steer the industry in the right direction.
Check out this list below of the restaurants that came onto the scene in 2022.
El Rodeo Tequila Bar and Grill
1136 Thomas Drive, Panama City Beach El Rodeo Tequila Bar and Grill kicked off the new year with its grand opening over lunch and tequila. The Mexican restaurant opened under business partners Angel Baez, Jose Cortez and David Martinez, who plan to open more locations in the future.
The restaurant features spacious indoor and outdoor seating, live music, flatscreen TVs and a bar. Some of the house’s favorite menu items are pollo asado, camarones Mexicanos, burrito loco and the Mexican mule cocktail, which includes Espolon Blanco tequila, simple syrup, lime juice, tonic water and fresh mint.
Sombreros Tacos and Bar
4933 Thomas Drive, Panama City Beach Sombreros Tacos and Bar originally opened in 2010 in Atlanta, and owner Joanna Yim brought a second location to Panama City Beach in January. Most menu items are custom made by Yim’s husband, who created home-based meals with that grew to become favorites, such as chunky guacamole, fajitas and ribeyes con papas. Other menu items include the enchilada mole, tortilla soup and Cancun salad. One of the house favorites is the mojarra, which is fried tilapia.
American Charlie Grill and Tavern King Kong Bubble Tea and Smoothies Taco Doctors Pressed Sola Coffee Bar Lone Star Boil House and Raw Bar Señor Frogs
473 Richard Jackson Blvd., Panama City Beach American Charlie Grill and Tavern, a patrioticthemed restaurant serving dishes from across the country, opened in Panama City Beach in February under Dave Trepanier and Mike Whitmer.
The menu features American-based foods from different parts of the country, such as southern fried chicken, traditional burgers, Philly cheesesteaks, New England clam chowder, Idaho baked potatoes and various seafood options. The restaurant’s name comes from a 1972 Classic Mad Magazine cartoon, “One Busy Day in a Highway Restaurant,” featuring a diner and sandwich called the American Charlie.
8730 Thomas Drive, Panama City Beach King Kong Bubble Tea and Smoothies expanded its franchise to Panama City Beach in February bringing some of the most popular styles of boba tea to the area.
Customers are given a choice to add more than one flavor and add any toppings of fresh fruit or boba. There are various fresh fruit options, including mango, strawberry, kiwi, orange, apple and pineapple. The boba options include black boba, white boba, passion boba, lychee jelly, coffee jelly and rainbow jelly.
2317 Thomas Drive, Panama City Beach What started as a Bay County ambulance is now the home of Taco Doctors, a mobile food truck run by friends Mike Gutierrez and Mark Leavell. Taco Doctors is best known for its birria beef tacos — a grill-fried corn tortilla with shredded beef, cheese, onions, cilantro and birria dipping sauce — and the Cuban sandwich with pressed ham, smoked pork, pickles and honey mustard. Each item is made from scratch, including the sauces.
Various locations After earning a culinary certificate and degree at Gulf Coast State College, Chef Erica Reynolds was pressed to make the most of it. From there, she catapulted her touch into a new concept: Pressed — a food trailer committed to the aura of her own signature culinary prowess.
The menu features a broad base of flavors on naan flatbread and slices of sourdough. Pressed also offers a Jamaica-inspired hibiscus flower and ginger tea to keep things balanced. And for dessert, try the chocolate chunk cookies, lemon-blueberry cookies, and house-made sweet tea.
1519 Tennessee Ave., Lynn Haven Frequent visits to nearby coffee shops has led Britton Roland to open his own business, Sola Coffee Bar, in Lynn Haven. Sola offers various coffee options, five types of teas and breakfast and lunch items. Most of the coffee blends and teas will come from Seeds Coffee in Birmingham, Alabama, Apolis Tea in Washington state and Jade Leaf Matcha. The interior features a bar, lounging area and high-top seating.
320 W. Fifth Street, Panama City You’ll get the combined flavors of a Texas and Louisiana Cajun seafood boil at Lone Star Boil House and Raw Bar in Panama City. Owners Brian and Ashley Alston officially opened their doors in April, putting a Cajun or Tex-Mex twist on seafood favorites, including crawfish, crab and shrimp with corn, potatoes and sausage thrown into the mix.
While seafood boils are offered year-round, crab boils are every Saturday and Sunday. Also, the restaurant boasts a full menu of crawfish boil specials during crawfish season — which runs from January to July.
15005 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach Señor Frog’s expanded to Panama City Beach in April at the former site of Hang Five Beach Bar and Grill. The restaurant offers the perfect mix of fun and flavor with live entertainment, Mexico-style food and a variety of alcoholic beverages.
Señor Frog’s is popularly known for its cantinastyle touristy locations across the Caribbean, and other U.S. locations including Orlando, Myrtle Beach and Las Vegas.
Thistle and Thorne
304 Harrison Ave., Panama City Sierra Latham opened Thistle and Thorne with the community in mind and wanted to give the best of two worlds – a tattoo parlor and a restaurant.
The restaurant offers flavors of Southern and coastal cuisine, and all brunch offerings are served with roasted red potatoes and brunch beans, in addition to wine options. Hidden at the back of the restaurant is The Prominent Goat, a small tattoo studio that follows a speakeasy concept.
Island Fin Poké
15500 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach Island Fin Poké, a popular Florida-based fast-casual concept known for its build-your-own Hawaiianstyle poké bowls, planted its roots in Panama City Beach in May.
Poké, a popular Hawaiian dish, consists of proteins and healthy toppings served over lettuce or rice. Guests can choose from various fresh ingredients and create their customized poké bowl, with a selection of more than a half-dozen protein options, 25 toppings, nine gluten-free house-made sauces, and specialty mix-ins. The ingredients are made to fit keto and vegetarian diets.
The restaurant also sells the popular Dole Soft Serve, a dairy-free frozen dessert.
Smashed Wine Bar
7119 W. U.S. 98, Panama City Beach In May, Madison Rose opened Smashed Wine Bar as Bay County’s first self-serve wine bar.
The new wine bar features flavors from all over the world, including 12 self-serve wine options, handcrafted wines, hard seltzers and Delta-8 infused drinks. More popular selections include a raspberry lemonade, ginger beer, honey and prosecco mixture called Honey Girl, and a fruit punch and key lime mixture with a touch of rosé called Florida Man. In addition, all beverages include a freeze-dried fruit or candy topping.
Captain’s Table Fish House
1110 Beck Ave., St. Andrews Captain’s Table Fish House Restaurant reopened in July after three years of rebuilding from Hurricane Michael’s destruction. The restaurant has been a popular family-oriented seafood establishment in St. Andrews since the late 1960s. For two decades, owner Mitch Holman has continued his family’s legacy of serving freshly caught seafood.
The restaurant reopened with the same menu and atmosphere as before, but with a few add-ons, including a larger kitchen, alcohol sales, outdoor seating and a waiting area.
209 S. Sudduth Place, Callaway Jimmy Ma opened his first Mr. Pho, an authentic Vietnamese restaurant, in Houston in 2019 and opened its second location in Callaway in July.
Pho is a noodle soup dish that is an icon in Vietnamese culture that can take up to 30 hours to make, Ma said. The unique flavors of pho come from the ingredients of the broth and the noodles, meat and vegetables, which typically include bean sprouts, basil, lime, jalapenos, cilantro and white onions.
2219 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Panama City Fazoli’s opened its fifth Florida location in Panama City in August. The nation’s largest Italian quick service restaurant serves Italian dishes including pasta entrees, sub sandwiches, salads, pizza and desserts and its signature hot, fresh breadsticks.
518 N. Tyndall Parkway, Callaway Slim Chickens opened its third location in Bay County in Callaway, bringing flavors of fresh and premium chicken tenderloins, wings and sandwiches hand-dipped in buttermilk each day, lightly handbreaded and cooked to order. All sauces are prepared in-house.
The menu also includes salads and sides, including fries, ranch chips, mac and cheese, coleslaw, potato salad, fried pickles, fried okra and fried mushrooms.
10260 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach Parlor Doughnuts brought its array of original donut flavors, specialty coffees and artisanal breakfasts to
Panama City Beach in August.
The Indiana-based franchise boasts more than 20 unique flavors, such as French toast, raspberry pistachio, strawberry shortcake, turtle cheesecake, blueberry hill, bourbon caramel, churro and coconut cream. The “layered” donut concept features a smooth and buttery inside dough and a crispy and flaky outside shell. There also are options available for keto, gluten-free and vegan, and even a dog-friendly doughnut.
In addition, a full breakfast menu is served all day with breakfast tacos, avocado toast, acai bowls, pressed juices and teas.
Harrison’s Kitchen and Bar
5 Harrison Ave., Panama City Harrison’s Kitchen and Bar opened in August in downtown Panama City, overlooking the Panama City Marina and St. Andrew Bay.
The restaurant’s cuisine reflects the historic location, with dishes inspired by traditional Southern flavors and fresh Gulf seafood. In addition, live music is offered at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and during Sunday brunch from 10 to 11 a.m.
1031 W. 15th St., Panama City RibCrib, an Oklahoma-based barbecue restaurant, expanded to a second location under The Panhandle Restaurant Group.
The barbecue joint built its reputation around hickory-smoked barbeque entrees of ribs, brisket and chicken. The RibCrib menu — for dine-in or take-out —features salads and spuds, barbecue sandwiches and plates. Plates include a half rack or three bones of ribs, or one meat to four meats, served with two sides. The sides include seasoned fries, sweet and smoky beans, potato salad, mac and cheese, coleslaw, green beans and salad.
Techspresso Lounge and Cafe
7948 Front Beach Road, Panama City
Beach Techspresso Lounge and Cafe is one of Bay County’s newest coffee shops and was created by six FSU Panama City students. The menu focuses on hot and iced beverages, including cold brews, espresso, teas and Lotus energy drinks.
More popular selections include a latte with vanilla, coconut, espresso milk and caramel drizzle called Java Script, and a latte with white chocolate sauce, milk, whipped cream and caramel drizzle called Doc’s Choice.
In addition, the shop offers two quiet rooms: the green room for relaxation and the Einstein room for studying. The name Techspresso comes from the combination of the words technology and espresso, which boasts select menu items that include a play on technological words.
Luna Muna Cafebar
1127 Beck Ave., St. Andrews Luna Muna Cafebar is the newest addition along the St. Andrews strip.
Brad and Melissa Smith opened the farm-to-table cafe bar in August and it offers a variety of locally sourced, and made-from-scratch items in the local area. Luna Muna sells everything from smoothies to ice cream, along with breakfast and lunch options. This is the couple’s second business in St. Andrews. Their first, Little Indigo Spa, opened last year only two doors down.
Panama City Coffee Co.
Various locations What started as selling coffee on a bicycle cart grew into serving it from a food truck. Daniel Pratt is locally known for driving “The Cold Brew Cycle” through neighborhoods to sell coffee out of his cart, which initially launched the Panama City Coffee Co. brand.
The food truck now travels throughout Bay County and partners with Water’s Edge Coffee Roasters, which roasts beans from 12 countries and creates a combination of 10 blends. Panama City Coffee Co. specializes in Panamanian Coffee and lives by its motto, “From Panama for Panama.” Pratt sprouted this idea from childhood when he frequently visited his grandmother’s home in Panama City, Panama.
9902 S. Thomas Drive, Panama City Beach The Press coffee shop opened in downtown Panama City in early 2021 and quickly became a favorite for local residents. In September, The Press expanded its flavors to Panama City Beach.
The new business offers a full coffeehouse menu served all day, selling everything from crepes to charcuterie and various hot or iced coffee and tea options. The interior features a spacious environment with a lounge area and a lakeside view, welcoming a friendly atmosphere for anyone to visit. With the opening of another location, the owners added The Press Express — a mobile coffee cart that will travel around town for community outreach and local events.
7623 N. U.S. 231, Bayou George Carla Brandt never thought she’d ever become a restaurant owner. But cooking was her natural-born talent, and she spent years growing her culinary skills in the restaurant industry. Now, Brandt is the owner of Crave 231, which she opened in Bayou George in September.
The menu focuses on various homestyle Italian and Southern dishes, selling everything from gourmet pasta to meatloaf dinners — all of which are Brandt’s creations.
Crave 231 also boasts a to-go market that features trays of fully prepared meals that can feed the whole family. The trays come in various options and are sold in three sizes: dinner serves two people; half serves 12 to 15 people; and full serves 30 to 40 people. The market also includes fresh flowers, homemade desserts and a Boars Head deli stand.
The Rusty Grill
2920 Thomas Drive, Panama City Beach The Panhandle Restaurant Group opened a Southern-style restaurant, The Rusty Grill, in Panama City Beach in October.
The Rusty Grill brings flavors of Southern and coastal cuisine, selling everything from steaks, grilled and fried seafood, wings, burgers, salads and desserts. The restaurant also boasts ice cream floats, low-carb options and a kids menu. Most menu items are made from in-house recipes and seasonings special to the brand.
The Local Café
401 E. 23rd St., Panama City The Local Café is a new meat-andthree restaurant that brought its Southern- style homemade recipes to Panama City in November.
Owner Greg Cash said most dishes are inspired by recipes from his late mother, Jeannie Abell, and some are his favorite meals that he ate growing up. The menu is based on her creations of meats, vegetables, bread, soups and desserts. Guests can expect homemade meatloaf, country fried steak, baked and fried chicken, fish, fresh baked cakes, brownies and pies.
Expansion plans are already in the works to open a sister restaurant next year called The Local, and serving seafood and oysters along with Abell’s homemade desserts.
226 W. 23rd St., Panama City Tijuana Flats, a popular Floridabased Tex-Mex chain, opened in Panama City in December and boasts a menu of fresh, made-to-order tacos, burritos and other Tex-Mex appetizers, entrées and desserts. Headquartered in Orlando, the fast-casual Tijuana Flats has grown to nearly 130 restaurants across four states since its founding in 1995. The brand is well known for its popular hot sauce bar with 12 flavors to choose from.