Whether you live in Destin or are just visiting, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer amount of restaurant options you have. There are some absolutely amazing places to eat here, whether you are in the mood for seafood, Italian, American fare, fine dining, or maybe you just want to eat as close to the beach as possible! In fact, eating on the beach is my favorite, so I promise to include the best restaurants that are on the beach and even some restaurants that are on the Destin harbor. Some of these could be considered best kept secret restaurants in Destin while others may be more well known to tourists. Hopefully, I can help you decide which restaurants are the right fit for you!
Destin Beach Restaurants
- Beach Walk Cafe
- Pompano Joe’s
- Whale’s Tail
These are my picks for the best places to eat in Destin, FL !
1. Beach Walk Café
Price Range – $$$$
I’m going to go ahead and start with my FAVORITE restaurant. Beach Walk Café at the Henderson Park Inn is by far one of the most romantic, gorgeous, and delicious places I have ever eaten at – not limited to Destin! If you are looking for romantic restaurants in Destin, I cannot recommend a better place.
It is located right inside Henderson Park Inn and has an elegant, personable touch to it. The dining room is small and has limited seating so reservations are mandatory. There are only a few tables for parties of 4 or more so make sure you book in advance.
There is also outdoor seating with an amazing view of the Gulf of Mexico. During the spring or fall, I make an attempt to sit outside because the temperature is perfect (it gets very humid and sticky in the summer!). They even have heat lamps in the winter if you can stand the cold.
If the romantic aspect has you captivated, you haven’t seen anything yet. They have a couples’ dinner service on the beach – literally! You can sit right in front of the ocean and have a candlelight dinner. My favorite time to book would be at sunset. There really isn’t a more romantic and breathtaking experience.
While the view and atmosphere are to die for, so is the food! They bring you a bite-size sample from the chef at every meal, along with fresh-baked bread with olive oil and balsamic dipping oil. I think I could just eat that alone and be happy!
If you are a fan of wine, you will enjoy the wine list. I am a Rose and Pinot Grigio fan and the selections are constantly evolving. They get wine from all over the world and even manage to get rare batches. Definitely ask to try a few things while you are there.
The entrees, let me tell you, are superb. Seafood, steak, chicken, even venison – there is someone for everyone. The chef makes really good food. I have had almost everything on the menu and I cannot think of anything that was less than amazing, really. There is even a daily chef special – check it out if you go!
The desserts really shine. Beach Walk Café has a pastry chef that creates a daily dessert that never ceases to amaze me with the creativity and taste.
Here is the latest menu available.
beach-walk-cafe-beach-diningSeriously, does it get more romantic than this?
2. The Craft Bar – Destin
Price Range – $$
I love perusing Wine World in Destin when I need my wine fix but it was only recently I decided to try out the Craft Bar. I was instantly impressed and wondered why I didn’t try it sooner.
I love the architecture inside as it gives that weathered look that I expect from a gastropub. The seating is adequate, but parties over 8 will need to get reservations to guarantee being seated.
The bar is long, which is great because the Craft Bar is a popular spot so the bar stays full most of the time. There is also seating outside under a covering.
So how is the beer?
They have a packed list of great beers to choose from. Choose between bottled, on tap, cocktails, and wine (did I mention I like wine?).
Great beer and selections – Check
Great atmosphere – Check
What about the food?
Let’s start with the Chevre & Avocado Dip. Goat cheese, spicy avocado, Applewood smoked bacon, and pita chips comprise this tasty appetizer. I would say this is my favorite appetizer by far!
The burgers here are also really good. My husband really enjoyed the Bistro Burger. Local beef, brie, fig jam, arugula, bacon, bistro sauce, and a brioche bun. Hungry yet?
And finally, their dinner plates are worth checking out. The blackened grouper and steak frites are superb.
Check out their food menu, here.
3. Pompano Joe’s
Price range – $$$
While technically in Miramar Beach, Pompano Joe’s combines great seafood with unbeatable gulf views. In fact, you can get up from your table and walk right down to the beach! I refuse to eat there unless I can sit on the deck (I know, but I am a beachfront view junkie).
One of my favorite past times is coming over here to Pompano Joe’s on July 4th. There are some exceptional fireworks on display by some of the tourists and locals on the beach. You get to watch the Destin harbor fireworks down the way and also some up-close-and-personal fireworks by people on the beach. It is so much fun!
During the summer, the wait times can be quite extensive so try to get there a bit early. It helps that there is a minibar right out front to alleviate your wait time! Try one of their Pina Coladas – they are amazing. They even have nonalcoholic drinks for the kids. There is also a bar downstairs on the beach. It’s right in front of the volleyball nets – you can’t miss it.
Alright, so what about the food? Prepare yourself for some awesome seafood! Fresh local fish like grouper, red snapper, amberjack, and mahi-mahi are all so good. You cannot go wrong with the Red Snapper Galante and the Garlic Crusted Grouper with Lobster. Personally, the Snow Crab Feast wins every time. I like my Gulf views and my crab legs, what can I say?
The Caribbean-style appetizers are zesty and flavorful. The Reggae Rolls are my husband’s favorite – Jerk chicken, black beans, corn, tomatoes, cheese, and jalapenos!
Check out their current menu!
The Reggae Rolls are delicious. Careful, though, they have a little kick to them!
4. The Pancakery
Price range – $
Alrighty! How about some breakfast to switch it up?
I don’t wake up early enough to get out for breakfast (don’t judge me) but I have been lucky enough to get to try the Pancakery. It was so hard to figure out what to eat – it all looked so dang good.
First, the seating is spacious enough that we didn’t have to wait – even at the weekend. Our waitress was really nice and helped us figure out what to get. I am a crepes fanatic so when I saw they had crepes I was sold! My husband tried the Atomic Bomblette Omelette (try saying that 3 times fast) and swore on it as his favorite omelet, ever. Careful, though, that thing is spicy!
Are you on vacation or have the day off? You definitely have to get yourself a mimosa. I think I consumed some number over 2, can’t remember. The best part, they are bottomless!
Of course, you should also try the pancakes. I mean, it’s called the Pancakery for a reason! My kids had an M&Ms pancake (I know, sugar for breakfast? I deserve what happens next) and they really liked it. They also have steak and eggs, avocado toast if you are into that, and bananas foster from the griddle.
Didn’t make it for breakfast? They also serve a great lunch menu. Try a salad, burger, wrap, soup, or even an over-stuffed potato.
Crepes! They are so good here, or maybe I just like crepes too much?
5. Pazzo Italiano
Price range – $$$
It’s time for some Italian!
Italian is my husband’s favorite so I knew when he said he loved Pazzo Italiano I had to include it on this list.
Pazzo Italiano is the most authentic Italian restaurant in Destin, in my opinion. The current chef is from Italy and has baked authentic Italian pizza for over 8 years. Of all the Italians restaurants in Destin, this is our favorite!
The atmosphere is elegant with a touch of vintage. The brick and wood patterns add style and charm. The restaurant is quite small and seating is limited. However, they do accept reservations so you can avoid the wait. During the busy summer season, the wait can be extensive! There are a few tables outside that is great when it starts cooling off.
One of my favorite things about Italian restaurants is the bread and oil – and Pazzo delivers (not like pizza delivery, mind you!). The bread is so good, even without the olive oil (which is also fantastic).
If you like bread, this is the place to eat it. Their chef is skilled at baking and it shows. Try the Garlic Bread Rolls or the Focaccia. Don’t feel bad if you don’t make it to the entrees.
Speaking of entrees, no matter what your Italian food craving is, it can be appeased here. Pasta, pizza, calzones, and main courses like veal and salmon are all excellent choices. I am a fan of seafood and their seafood pasta is exceptional. Pizza restaurants who serve nothing but pizza don’t even hold a candle
The dessert was so much better than I anticipated. They limited-time selections to choose from so you never know what all the options are. The Tres Leches cake and the coconut cake were incredible. I went back and realized they were not available! If you visit Pazzo Italiano, check and see if they are serving one of those!
Check out the Pazzo Italiano dinner menu.
6. McGuire’s Irish Pub
Price range – $$$
Possibly the most popular restaurant in Destin and definitely one of the most unique restaurants, McGuire’s is a must-try if you haven’t yet. You’ll know you’re there when you see the creepy double-decker bus out front. Be careful about going there in the summer months, the parking is really bad and you may find yourself driving around forever. Do yourself a favor and go park off of Zerbe Street and walk on up if you can. If you are going to dinner before 5 PM or during the off-season you will have a much easier time.
When you walk in, the soft, red glow greets you and you notice a plethora of dollar bills on the ceiling. Hey, if the building ever burns down, at least they have insurance! According to Trip Advisor, there are $1.9 million dollars up there. Crazy!
The atmosphere is really cool, though it can get quite loud inside since McGuire’s practically stays busy all the time. The seating seems endless – there are so many rooms! You can even sit upstairs on the deck.
If you thought the atmosphere and scenery were unique, wait till you try the food and drinks. The beer flights are awesome. I recommend that if you want to drink, you must try them.
The steaks here are really good. My husband loves the traditional Irish fare, like the Irish Steak and Mushroom Pie. The burger menu is fantastic – cheeseburgers, pizza burgers, Reuben burger, and even a Hot Fudge burger (no, I haven’t tried it but feel free to do so and let me know how it is!).
There is also a lunch and brunch menu, if you aren’t going there for dinner.
Check out McGuire’s dinner menu.
Dolla bills, y’all
7. Camille’s at Crystal Beach
Price range – $$$
Located right at Crystal Beach, Camille’s is an elegant memorable experience. The small, yet alluring atmosphere is perfect for a date or with friends.
Camille’s serves dinner at their restaurant but also has a beach bar and coffee shop on the ground level that serves breakfast, lunch, and great drinks – check out the happy hour specials from 3-5 PM. There is even a wine pairing the last Thursday of every month, count me in!
Seafood at Camille’s is top-notch. Everything is caught fresh in the Gulf of Mexico by local fishermen and unloaded at the Harbor Docks Seafood Market. When you come to Destin, you cannot leave without trying fresh, local seafood. You will be hard-pressed to find fresher seafood anywhere else!
The seafood entrees are awesome, but I can’t pass over the sushi! My husband is a sushi fan and Camille’s and Harbor Docks are the best around town. It’s no surprise, as the executive sushi chef at Camille’s also trained the sushi artisans at Harbor Docks!
Also, check out Ladies’ Night (Wednesdays) and Sushi Night (Mondays at the bar).
Check out the dinner menu, here.
8. Louisiana Lagniappe
Price range – $$$$
How about some Creole?
Louisiana Lagniappe (pronounced lanny-yap, depending on who you ask) is a New Orleans-style seafood restaurant right off the water inside Sand Piper Cove. Speaking of Sand Piper Cove, you will need to get past the gate guard before you can get to the restaurant. Don’t worry, though, he or she will let you in!
Though Louisiana Lagniappe is an upscale restaurant, formal attire isn’t necessary. Just don’t look like you came from the beach!
I haven’t spoken much about appetizers so far, but I really must do so here. The Lobster Rangoons are so good. They are wontons stuffed with Maine Lobster, cream cheese, fried and served with a sweet chili sauce. I am also partial to the Smoked Tuna dip – this alone could fill you up before the entrée arrives.
Are the entrees good? Oh yeah.
Creole-style seafood like the Grouper Louisianne and the Maine Lobster and Shrimp Etouffee are staples at Louisiana Lagniappe and worth a try. They also have good steak if you aren’t in the mood for seafood. The 14oz Ribeye takes the cake for me – definitely my favorite cut. If you like pasta, you should really try the Seafood Lagniappe. Grouper, lobster medallions, and hollandaise sauce? Yes, please!
By the way, kids are welcome, even though it is more a fancy joint. They have a kids menu so don’t hesitate to bring them if you want a great place to eat with the family.
Finally, definitely try the desserts. The Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake actually says on their menu that it’s “Death by Chocolate” and I wholeheartedly agree. If a chocolate cake ends me, I consider that an acceptable way to leave this world. And, if you like Key Lime pie, you should try it. It’s my husband’s favorite, for sure.
Check out the menu!
9. Whale’s Tail
Price range – $$
If I want to relax and enjoy the sunset, Whale’s Tail is where I go, hands down. Though technically in Miramar Beach, Whale’s Tail is literally on the beach and you can descend the stairs if you want to walk on the sand.
The view of the Gulf is spectacular here. I always try to get seated as close to the edge of the restaurant as possible so I can watch the sunset in its glorious splendor. Of course, I have to be drinking a Mermaid’s Brew mixed drink to invoke the perfect moment. You should definitely try one if you go, it is a rum drink and I get it every time.
Ok, the views are amazing. But what about the food? It definitely complements the views.
My go-to is the crab legs. You get a hefty amount and the price isn’t too bad, either. The seafood plates are also good and just a great price point compared to many restaurants in the area.
If you decide to go, let me know how you like the gulf scenery!
Don’t forget to check out their menu.
The best place to sit is on the right side of the back. During the summer, you have a perfect view of the sunset.
10. Marina Café
Price range – $$$
My husband and I stumbled upon this amazing place by accident. We were trying to find somewhere to go on a date and the Beach Walk Café didn’t have any reservations. The Beach Walk manager recommended Marina Café and we decided to give it a try.
Boy, am I glad we did!
It is definitely a fine dining establishment but not so formal that you need anything more than business casual. Plenty of people go there in more casual attire. Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time. We didn’t and had to wait a while.
Depending on where you sit, you have a great view of the Destin Harbor. We went quite late in the evening so it was already dark. The darkness was complimented by an array of candles on all the tables. The atmosphere was quite worthy of a date night.
Since this was a date night, we were wanting to go all out with wine, entrees, and dessert.
The wine list is extensive. They had over 100 different wines to choose from. We settled on an excellent bottle of Pinot Grigio.
The food here is some of the best we have had. Not only is it delicious, but it is also arranged so well on your plate that you feel inclined to take a photo of it.
The menu is seasonal, so don’t always expect the same seafood every time. My husband got red snapper when we went but they don’t always have it. Check out the dinner menu to see what is currently available.
Besides seafood, they also have wood-fire grill pizza, steaks, and pasta. You can watch them cook pizza from the back of the dining room.
Located on the Destin Harbor, Boshamps is a fantastic mix of fine, chef-created cuisine and relaxed, casual dining. This is the perfect place for the family.
The atmosphere has that island vibe that makes you feel like you are on vacation – even if you aren’t! The terrific views of the Destin Harbor further enhance this feeling.
I really like spinach and artichoke dip and Boshamps does this well. You should also try the fried lobster bites. I never knew this was a thing until I saw it at Boshamps.
If you like oysters, they have baked, raw, and fried options. The Oysters Boshamp is really unique – baked with caramelized Vidalia onions, Alabama feta, and house-made bacon marmalade.
I haven’t mentioned soup in this post so far but I have to mention the corn and crab chowder. It is an original recipe from the Flamingo Café, the predecessor to the current Boshamps.
The main entrees have a strong southern vibe with a modern twist. Chicken, seafood, steak, lobster mac, and burgers are some examples to choose from. If you like snapper, then Boshamps is a great choice. You can get it as a pasta or a combination platter with shrimp and lump crab. Snapper is a favorite in our family so I must recommend it!
Don’t leave without trying the desserts. Between the “Six Layers of Chocolate Love” cake and the seasonal options, you really can’t go wrong.
If the food wasn’t enough, they even have live music! Here is the current schedule and check out the events!
The Corn and Crab chowder in all its glory
So, what do you consider the best restaurant in Destin?
If you want more restaurants to choose from, check out my list from the Harborwalk Village. Maybe you just want the best seafood joints? Check out the top seafood restaurants in Destin!
Is there one I didn’t cover that needs to be mentioned? Let me know in the comments!
1 thought on “11 Best Destin Restaurants (Locals Pick!)”
Harbour docks. Fresh fish and Thai menus for lunches. Yummy