14 Tastiest Restaurants in Destin

01/18/2024 | by BuildUp Bookings | Restaurants and Bars

Situated between Fort Walton Beach and Miramar Beach, it’s no wonder Destin, Florida, is now a star on the Emerald Coast. Affectionately named the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” after the once small town with seemingly little to offer the state, it blossomed into a vibrant beach town, attracting visitors from near and far attracted by its white sandy beaches, endless water activities, and of course, an eclectic and growing culinary scene.

Here’s the inside scoop on where to eat when staying at a Coastal Vibe vacation rental in this sunny beachfront city.

1. Sexton’s Seafood Market

Photo Credit: vsl
  • Price Point: $$
  • Address: 601 Harbor Blvd #1, Destin, FL
  • Cuisine: Unfussy Seafood House
  • Must-Eat Menu Item: Catch of the Day

Why not let you (or your spouse) be the chef tonight? The Sexton Seafood Market is the spot in Destin to find the freshest seafood products for the best price. Gulf Seafood spills from the ice buckets here in this quaint and well-stocked local fish market.

Keep in mind that while the market is operational daily, it’s still cash only!

2. AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar at Destin Harbor

Photo Credit: N K
  • Price Point: $$
  • Address: 116 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL
  • Cuisine: Seafood
  • Must-Eat Menu Item: Firecracker Shrimp and an Oyster Sampler platter.

Leave pretension behind with this casual and colorful seaside restaurant. Known for its fried seafood delights and raw oysters, AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar is a popular place to meet fellow tourists right in the heart of Destin.

The downstairs area is a scenic restaurant while upstairs the party keeps going well into the evening with a full bar and a well-established nightlife scene. Fun for a group, a couple, or the whole family.

3. Harry T’s Lighthouse

Photo Credit: Amarita
  • Price Point: $$
  • Address: 46 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL
  • Cuisine: Seafood
  • Must-Eat Menu Item: Fried shrimp and gouda grits with a precarious pile of seafood nachos.

Seafood on the seashore. Excellent eats without relying too heavily on fried food and a killer happy hour have Harry T’s at the top of the food chain.

Come swig a $5 margarita or bloody mary paired with some hearty favorites from our daily Brunch menu. Harry T’s also offers a large selection of libations at their wine bar.

4. Harbor Docks

Photo Credit: David Baylor
  • Address: 538 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL
  • Favorite Menu Item: Gulf Grouper Parmadine
  • Price Point: $$$

Harbor Docks has become a beloved seafood staple in Destin, featuring scratch-made dishes sourced from their popular wholesale market. Initially established to supply the Harbor Docks restaurant with fresh seafood, the market has expanded and now plays a crucial role in providing sustainably caught seafood to discerning local customers. 

Priding themselves on a “Gulf to Table” ethos, their menu centers around fresh catch items like Gulf Fish Tacos, Stuffed Gulf Shrimp, and Gulf Grouper Parmadine. Not letting the Surf outshine the Turf, they also find plenty of fans in their mouthwatering  Ribeye and Smoked Gouda Bacon Cheeseburger.

5. Mcguire’s Irish Pub of Destin

Photo Credit: vengerof
  • Price Point: $$
  • Address: 33 US-98, Destin, FL
  • Cuisine: Casual Pub fare
  • Must-Eat Menu Item: Mcguire’s 18 Cents Senate Bean Soup and the pub steaks.

Boasting a positively enormous dining area and live music nearly every night, Destin’s local Irish pub is the most famous spot on this list. But not for the reasons you would expect. More than 1.7 million signed dollar bills from previous patrons adorn the walls of this establishment. Quirky and quite a sight to behold! Decor aside, McGuire’s Irish Pub has some interesting menu items for adventurous eaters.

The “Garbage Burger” is literally a catch-all for everything they have to offer in the kitchen, with ingredients like peanut butter, sour kraut, wasabi, corned beef, hot fudge, blue cheese, and more. Don’t worry. There’s also an array of high-quality normal pub food items, like steak, Irish Boxty (made from potatoes), and Mcguire’s 18 cents Senate Bean Soup.

6. Pompano Joe’s

Photo Credit: Linda Hughes Photography
  • Price Point: $$
  • Address: 2237 Scenic Gulf Dr, Destin, FL 32550
  • Cuisine: Caribbean Seafood
  • Must-Eat Menu Item: The seafood gumbo is a 3-time champion at the annual Sandestin Gumbo Awards.

This colorful beachfront shack was once featured on the Travel Channel and named “The Ultimate Beach Snack Shack.”

Patrons at Pompano Joe’s can eat ocean-to-table here with the freshest seafood in town. If it swims off the Gulf Coast, they are serving it. Coconut and Caribbean spices liven up a seafood-heavy menu, and the beachfront ambiance is hard to beat.

7. Marina Cafe

Photo Credit: CTHB
  • Price Point: $$$
  • Address: 404 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL
  • Cuisine: Steak House
  • Must-Eat Menu Item: Grouper cheeks with Thai peanut sauce or the chargrilled Swordfish.

Tuck into a romantic evening at Destin’s most-awarded restaurant. The Marina Cafe has been serving succulent steaks for over 30 years, and their experience and attention to detail show.

Outdoor seating is available overlooking the harbor dock on the back porch, and a high-quality happy hour keeps the locals coming in for more. Entrees include Lobster Tail, Waygu Carpaccio, Pork Belly, Tuna Tartar, and more.

8. Boshamps Seafood & Oyster House

Photo Credit: Brent Hofacker
  • Price Point: $$$
  • Address: 414 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL
  • Cuisine: Southern Cooking with Seafood
  • Must-Eat Menu Item: Boshamp’s Grouper with collard greens or the Pimento cheese dip.

Casual, comfortable, and family-friendly, Boshamps Seafood & Oyster House offers one of the best beachfront dining experiences on this list. With gulf-to-table southern cuisine on the menu, you can expect grits, pimento cheese, cornmeal, crab, duck, collard greens, and mac and cheese to sit alongside all your favorite fresh seafood.

Boshamp’s also places a heavy emphasis on its bar concoctions, so don’t miss the drink specials.

9. Lulu’s

Photo Credit: Gayvoronskaya_Yana
  • Address: 4607 Legendary Marina Dr, Destin, FL
  • Favorite Menu Item: Fried Crab Claws
  • Price Point: $$

Looking for the quintessential casual meal out in Destin? LuLu’s is the spot for spirited boat, float, or paddle up fun with a side of regional favorite flavors. Lulu’s is renowned for its authentic coastal cuisine, serving up a variety of scratch-made recipes directly from Lucy Buffett herself. You’ll find your food dreams fulfilled with Shrimp & Grits topped with andouille sausage, the Key West bowl drizzled in Mojo Sauce, and Slow Smoked Pork Tacos. 

And when you’ve had your fill, stick around for regular live music and themed events.

10. Louisiana Lagniappe

Photo Credit: Tatiana Volgutova
  • Price Point: $$$
  • Address: 775 Gulf Shore Dr, Destin, FL
  • Cuisine: Upscale Creole cooking
  • Must-Eat Menu Item: Red Snapper with Shrimp and Crab Dressing and a side of Hush Puppies.

While many people who visit the southern states are familiar with Cajun cooking, Creole cooking is a little less widely celebrated, which is a shame. Don’t let the white tablecloths fool you; this is a spectacular, authentic taste of Creole cooking that’s fit for the whole family.

Louisiana Lagniappe serves up Lousiana Crabcakes, Grouper Pontchartrain, and Shrimp and Grits that will transport you straight to the Bayou.

11. Captain Dave’s on the Gulf

Photo Credit: Foodio
  • Price Point: $$
  • Address: 3796 Scenic Hwy 98, Destin, FL
  • Cuisine: Fried and Boiled Seafood
  • Must-Eat Menu Item: Coconut Shrimp or the Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Offering fresh daily seafood served in front of panoramic windows overlooking the gulf, Captain Dave’s on the Gulf has a full-service bar (with excellent margaritas) and top-tier seafood for the price point.

You’ll feel as though you are dining aboard a luxury yacht with the lovely decor. This spot has been a community favorite for more than 50 years now, and it’s not going anywhere!

12. Mimmo’s Ristorante Italiano

Photo Credit: petako
  • Price Point: $$
  • Address: 979 US-98 Ste. 5, Destin, FL
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Must-Eat Menu Item: Brick Oven Wood-fired Pizza or any of their pasta dishes.

Mimmo’s Ristorante Italiano is a super trendy restaurant that departs from the red-checkered classic Italian ambiance and instead offers exceptional food in a cozy brick-covered setting. Authentic and utilizing higher-end ingredients, this bistro is also unpretentious and family-friendly.

13. Pepito’s Mexican Restaurant

Photo Credit: Rimma Bondarenko
  • Price Point: $$
  • Address: 36112 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Destin, FL
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Must-Eat Menu Items: Poblano chicken, Seafood Enchiladas, and Happy Hour Margaritas!

Pepito’s is the place to go if you are craving south of the border flavors in Destin. You can’t go wrong with tacos and margs! The food here is fresh, delicious, and a favorite if you are looking for a filling lunch to fuel your day at the beach.

Unlike many of the other destinations on this list, Pepitos is not beachfront, but what it lacks in views, it makes up for with its consistently friendly service and delicious food.

14. Donut Hole Bakery & Cafe

Photo Credit: Goskova Tatiana
  • Price Point: $
  • Address: 635 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL
  • Cuisine: Downhome Breakfast
  • Must-Eat Menu Item: Florida’s Fresh Key Lime Pie & a box of their signature donuts.

This casual eatery has been capturing the attention of foodies around the country with its velvety, tangy slices of freshly baked key lime pie. While the Donut Hole Bakery & Cafe serves up hearty portions of all your American diner breakfast classics, they first landed on the map because of their signature donuts and donut holes.

The line out the door says it all – this shop is worth the wait!

Come Stay With Us in Sunny Destin, Florida!

From fine dining to casual beachfront fare, this quick list of Destin restaurants has a little something for everyone, and it’s perfect for your next family vacation or couples getaway to a relaxing resort.

Coastal Vibe has a variety of properties to choose from all along the Destin and Fort Walton Beach areas. Book your stay with us at a resort or condo in advance!

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