If you’re looking for the best restaurants in Destin, Florida then you came to the right place. Destin, is one of the most popular beach destinations in the entire US. It sits on an area of the Panhandle that’s referred to as the Emerald Coast due to the white sand beaches with emerald colored water along the Gulf of Mexico.
Destin is also nicknamed “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” and so you can find fresh seafood at many restaurants in town. There are so many great bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and even a brewery. You can also find my lists of the best happy hour spots and favorite breakfast places in town.
Here are a few of my favorite bars and restaurants in Destin along with my reason for listing it as a “Best of Destin.”
East Pass Coffee
"Best Coffee Shop in Destin"
When you’re here in Destin, you have a few choices before heading to the beach, pool, or wherever else you have planned for the day…. a full sit-down breakfast or a quick stop for coffee and breakfast sandwiches. If you choose the latter, there is no better place to come in Destin than East Pass Coffee.
You wouldn’t think a coffee shop in an old motel with only a few food items on the menu would be anything special, but the breakfast sandwich here is fantastic. It has multigrain bread, egg cooked over easy, bacon, cheddar, arugula, and the secret ingredient is a hot pepper jelly.
They also have good WiFi, which is rare in this town, and so it’s a great spot to go if you need to get some work done. Plus, it has some great coffee!
Alternative Recommendation: If you have a little more time, then the Donut Hole Bakery & Cafe is a great sit-down breakfast option. You can find both these on my list of best breakfast spots.
Dewey Destin's Seafood Restaurant
"Best Seafood Lunch on the Water"
I’m always down for a place on the water with great seafood. Dewey Destin’s on the Bay (overlooking Crab Island) has got both covered. it has great fired seafood baskets (such shrimp, fish, oysters, scallops) or you can order them grilled for a healthier option. They are only open during the day, but their other location on the Harbor is open for both lunch and dinner. This is my preferred location for a more casual lunch sitting on their dock though. People even bring their jet ski in from Crab Island for a quick lunch.
"Best Local's Restaurant in Destin"
It’s not surprising that Harbor Docks has the freshest seafood in town, since they own their own wholesale seafood market located right beneath the restaurant. It was originally opened to provide the restaurant with fresh local seafood, but they now supply many of the restaurants in the Destin area and beyond.
In addition to the great seafood, Harbor Docks has an interesting menu that includes Asian fare that includes a large sushi menu, Pad Thai, and fried rice. This is because Yoshi Eddings is the star of the show here, just as much as the fresh seafood (and maybe more). Yoshi grew up in Tokyo and learned all about sushi at her parents’ restaurant. When her husband’s job brought them to Destin in 1988, she found a job at harbor Docks. Sushi was barely known here at this time, but she figured the fresh fish was an opportunity to introduce sushi to the area. And now over 30 years later, the sushi bar at Harbor Docks is still a huge draw. And that’s how Yoshi Eddings brought sushi to Destin.
If I had to choose just one restaurant to come on a regular basis, then sitting at the bar at Harbor Docks would be my choice.
Alternative Recommendation: Camille’s at Crystal Beach along Scenic Rt 98 has the same owners. while the menu is different, they serve the same great fresh seafood and sushi plus more casual items like pizza.
"Destin's Most Loved Bar & Non-Seafood Restaurant"
Man…. after I just raved about how I could hang out at Harbor Docks on a regular basis, McGuires enters the equation. Although the original McGuires is over in Pensacola, McGuires opened a Destin location in 1996 and both are among the most popular bars and restaurants on the Florida panhandle.
The food, prices, and atmosphere help make this such a beloved place. While many places around here focus on seafood (understandably so), McGuires specializes in steak, Irish fare, and pub food. Don’t let the bar atmosphere fool you, the food is great. They also have live music and are open til 2am.
Boshamps Seafood & Oyster House
"Best Restaurant in Destin for Seafood"
Boshamps is simply my favorite dinner spot in town for seafood. Just like many restaurants in Destin, they serve local snapper, grouper, and then whatever they have as a catch of the day.
The “Original Snapper Destin” with jumbo lump crab and fresh local shrimp is one of my favorite dishes in the entire town but is priced at a hefty $46.95 (as of summer 2022).
As one of the best restaurants in Destin, Boshamps will have a wait every single night during the busy season, so I suggest getting there early to beat the rush. Even the bar seats fill up quickly.
Alternative Recommendation: Although they have many differences, Louisiana Lagniappe has some similar seafood items and is many people’s favorite spot.
Beach Walk Cafe
"Best Restaurant in Destin for Special Occasions & Romantic Dinner"
There are several restaurants along the beach on Scenic Rt 98 that attract large crowds (such as Crab Trap, Pompano Joes, and Captain Dave’s). But for a fine dining experience suited for a special night out, it’s hard to beat the Beach Walk Cafe.
Located within the beautiful Henderson Park Inn, Both the food and ambiance make this a special place. The menu is relatively small, and items change based on seasonality and availability. You’ll typically find some local fish such grouper and snapper as well as meats such as a filet or pork chop among other things.
Executive Chef Daniel Peters is a Destin native. And after honing his skills at various places in Napa Valley, he moved back to helm the kitchen here. And if you are staying at this small Inn, then you have access to the amenities such as spa and pool at Henderson Beach Resort that is right across the street. They also have some excellent dining options there. But Beach Walk Cafe is my pick for the best restaurant in Destin for a romantic night out.
Note: Guests must be at least 13 years old, and reservations recommended (if not required)
Bric à Brac
"Best Hidden Gem in Destin"
There’s probably no such thing is a “hidden gem” in Destin, as it’s a tourist town and everywhere is pretty much well known. However, I feel Bric à Brac might be the closest thing to it. That doesn’t mean nobody knowns about it, it’s just that I don’t see it mentioned nearly as often as many of the restaurants along the water.
Although there are seafood options such as blackened or grilled fish, I really like the stuffed peppers and crab cakes. It’s not as fancy as some of the other places, but has good food that is more reasonably priced, a fun lively atmosphere, and live music at night.
More "Best Restaurants" in Destin, Florida
The Boathouse Oyster Bar: “Best Bar for Live Music” – An Oyster bar on the water with live rock bands. What more do I need to say? boathouseoysterbardestin.com
Red Door Saloon: “Best Locals Bar” – This outpost of a Nashville bar with the same name is the best bar for reasonably priced beers with people that live and work in town. Some call it a dive bar, I just call it my kinda bar.
Marina Cafe: “Best Happy Hour Dinner” – This is a relatively upscale restaurant that has the most popular happy hour food deal in town… 2 for 1 entrées in the dining room from 5-6pm. Reservations required in peak season. The scallops, redfish, and steaks are all great (steaks are excluded from the free entrée deal). marinacafe.com
Louisiana Lagniappe: This is many people’s choice as their favorite seafood restaurant in Destin. They serve Louisiana seafood with a Creole flair. Stop by for some Jambalaya or any of the various local grouper preparations. thelouisianalagniappe.com
Mimmo’s: Great locally owned Italian restaurant. They have what they call the “Famous Italian Garlic Rolls” which are essentially their version of garlic knots and they are delicious. mimmos.com
Camille’s at Crystal Beach: You wouldn’t know by looking up at this restaurant on the 2nd floor of a small motel, but Camille’s is one of the most beloved spots around. It’s owned by the same people as Harbor Docks and while most of the menu is different, it does serve the same fresh seafood and sushi. During the day the bottom floor operates as a cafe with quick food items such as breakfast tacos, pastries, and coffee. But it’s common to see people stopping in for their afternoon cocktails as they take a break from the beach. camillesatcrystalbeach.com
Bitterroot: “Best Under-Rated Restaurant” – Bitterroot is situated in a small shopping center on Commons Drive, so perhaps that’s why I don’t see it talked about as often as many of the other restaurants. Like other Farm to Table places, they have a small menu that changes frequently. Some items you might find on any given night include whipped ricotta dip, pasta Bolognese, or a duck confit. bitterrootdestin.com
Fudpucker’s and LuLu’s: “Best Restaurants for Kids” – Ok, so let’s be honest… neither of these would appear on any best of list based on the food. But they are easily the two best restaurants in Destin for kids. Fudpucker’s has an area they call “Gator Beach” where they put on alligator shows at specified times throughout the day. Fudpucker’s is also attached to Fat Daddy’s arcade, and you can book for birthday parties. fudpucker.com
LuLu’s is located on the bay, just off the Mid-Bay Bridge, and has a small beach area. You can rent paddle boards here, and they also have an arcade and a henna station in the summer months. lulusfunfoodmusic.com
And now a final note…
There are many other great bars and restaurants in Destin. I have excluded some that are extremely popular. Some have great views along the beach, great happy hours, and a fun atmosphere. Just because it didn’t make my list of “Best” spots, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go there. In fact, I urge you to try everywhere and decide where you like the best! My only exception to this is I hope you avoid the chain restaurants that you can visit back home if possible. Please support the locally owned restaurants and fishermen in Destin.