How to Sound Like a Local When You Move to Tallahassee

Tallahassee is a city rife with transient residents, who stay for a few years to further their education then leave or what they think are greener pastures.

There is a significant swath of city residents who hail from the state capital and thus know more about the city’s culture than the average student. Continue reading if you’d like to at least sound like you have some ties to Tallahassee outside of its institutions of higher education.

Be wary of referring to “the locals”

Many people living in Tallahassee have been and raised in the area, and thus have a different tie to the community than the younger people who reside in the city on a short-term basis. Students tend to refer to “the locals” in a very condescending, hoi polloi way. If you’d like to sound like a local, never speak disparagingly of them.

MOFA (or MoFA)

This abbreviation refers to the Museum of Fine Arts, located on the campus of Florida State University. Thousands of pieces are at the facility, considered one of the premier museums in the north Florida and south Georgia area. It’s located within the university’s Fine Arts building at the corner of Tennessee and Copeland.

Kool Beanz Café

With both vegan and vegetarian options, Kool Beanz Cafe has distinguished itself in the city as a lively place with fresh food and top-tier ingredients. Residents will refer to it simply as Kool Beanz. It’s located closer to northeastern Tallahassee, which feels like a different world in comparison to the college side. Be aware: The menu changes frequently here, but for good reason: Staff insist on using local, in-season ingredients if at all possible.

“Go Noles”

Florida State University football (and to a much lesser extent, basketball) is tightly-woven into the city’s culture. You’ll hear this rallying cry on Saturdays prior to a game, read it on licence plates, and you may even see it on a banner trailing a crop duster plane that flies over the stadium every now and again.


Most people, especially locals don’t actually call the city by its full four-syllable name, opting for the moniker above instead. This is not to be confused with T-Town, a moniker denoting another college town in the southeast — Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Bradley’s Country Store or simply “Bradley’s”

Located just north of Tallahassee, this family-owned business known colloquially as Bradley’s is known for excellent sausage and grits, which it makes on site. Open since 1927, the business is listed on National Register of Historic Places and has an online site for those who can’t make the trip. Sausage hot dogs are especially popular here.

Potbelly’s, or “Pots”

This is short for Potbelly’s, popular club located near Florida State. Some students consider Potbelly’s the premier college bar in the city, and happy hour attracts a great many there on a regular basis.


This is a popular bar close to the FSU campus, appreciated especially for the eclectic live bands it hosts. Thursday, Friday, or Saturday are the best days to go. Complex actually featured the establishment before, noting its quirky member structure and cheap alcohol.

“Bless (his or her) heart”

Southern hospitality is thought to be one of the distinct characteristics of the south, so this phrase should be familiar to a great many coming Tallahassee from other parts of the southeastern United States. It can be used genuinely, to express concern, but is usually reserved as a passive-aggressive way to express disdain. It’s to you to know which is which, and you’ll get a feel for it with enough time.


Osceola is the Florida State University mascot, representing a Native American man who fought and led his peers valiantly in the Second Seminole War and died in 1838. Prior to each  Florida State University home football game, Osceola will thrust a spear into the field to the delight of thousands. It’s a tradition that has been tied to gameday for quite some time.


Considered some of the best pizza the city has to offer, Momo’s Pizza is an oft-visited business by students and ordinary residents alike. Those born in Tallahassee may in fact prefer Momo’s over the big chain pizzas, and for good reason.

Wesley Wright