Destin, Florida, is a coastal paradise that offers not only stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters but also a thriving culinary scene. With a plethora of dining options available, ranging from casual beachside cafes to upscale waterfront eateries, Destin is a food lover’s dream destination. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a gastronomic journey, exploring the best restaurants in Destin, Florida, that offer unforgettable dining experiences right on the beach.
Beachfront Seafood Shacks: A Taste of the Ocean
When it comes to seafood, Destin is synonymous with excellence. The beachfront seafood shacks in Destin offer an authentic taste of the ocean, serving up the freshest catches in a relaxed and casual atmosphere. Start your culinary adventure with a plate of succulent shrimp, delicately seasoned and grilled to perfection. Pair it with a side of tangy cocktail sauce or indulge in the classic Southern combination of shrimp and grits, where the creamy grits complement the flavorful seafood. For those seeking a true taste of the Gulf, dive into a platter of crab legs, cracked open to reveal the tender and sweet meat within.
For a true local experience, head to one of the beachfront shacks that specialize in fried seafood. Bite into golden-fried oysters, crispy fish tacos, or shrimp po’ boys, all served with a side of crispy fries and coleslaw. These shacks not only offer delicious seafood but also provide a laid-back atmosphere with stunning ocean views. So, grab a seat, savor the flavors of the sea, and let the ocean breeze transport you to a state of pure bliss.
Indulgent Seafood Platters: A Feast for the Senses
If you’re looking to indulge in a bountiful seafood feast, Destin’s beachfront seafood shacks have you covered. Treat yourself to a seafood platter piled high with a variety of delicacies from the sea. Dive into a mountain of steamed snow crab legs, peel and eat shrimp, and freshly shucked oysters. These platters often come with an assortment of dipping sauces, allowing you to customize your flavor experience. Pair your seafood extravaganza with a cold beer or a glass of chilled white wine for the perfect beachside dining experience.
Fresh Catches of the Day: From Boat to Plate
One of the highlights of dining at beachfront seafood shacks in Destin is the opportunity to savor the freshest catches of the day. Many of these establishments have direct access to local fishermen, ensuring that the seafood on your plate is as fresh as it gets. From snapper and grouper to mahi-mahi and flounder, the selection varies depending on the daily catch. Indulge in expertly prepared grilled fish, blackened to perfection and served with a side of seasonal vegetables. For those who prefer their seafood fried, opt for a basket of golden-fried fish fillets accompanied by hush puppies and tartar sauce. With every bite, you’ll taste the essence of the ocean.
Upscale Waterfront Dining: Fine Flavors with a View
If you’re looking for a more refined dining experience, Destin’s upscale waterfront restaurants are the perfect choice. These establishments offer breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico, elegant ambiance, and a culinary journey that combines impeccable flavors with top-notch service. Indulge in dishes prepared by world-class chefs who prioritize local and seasonal ingredients, ensuring a truly unforgettable dining experience.
Seafood Delicacies with a Gourmet Twist
At the upscale waterfront restaurants in Destin, you can expect seafood delicacies prepared with a gourmet touch. Start your culinary journey with a plate of seared scallops, perfectly caramelized on the outside and tender on the inside. These delicate morsels are often served with a flavorful sauce, such as a citrus beurre blanc or a decadent truffle butter. For a main course, savor a beautifully presented lobster tail, grilled to perfection and accompanied by a vibrant herb salad. Alternatively, opt for a whole roasted fish, such as branzino or red snapper, cooked to perfection and served with a side of seasonal vegetables.
Steaks and Chops: A Carnivore’s Delight
While seafood takes center stage in Destin, upscale waterfront restaurants also cater to meat lovers with their selection of prime steaks and chops. Sink your teeth into a perfectly seared filet mignon, cooked to your preferred level of doneness and served with a rich demi-glace. Indulge in a juicy and flavorful ribeye steak, marbled with just the right amount of fat to enhance its tenderness and taste. For those seeking a unique culinary experience, opt for a succulent lamb chop, seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices, and grilled to perfection. These upscale eateries pride themselves on their ability to satisfy even the most discerning carnivores.
International Cuisine: Flavors from Around the Globe
Destin’s culinary scene isn’t limited to seafood and American cuisine; it also boasts an impressive array of international restaurants. Embark on a gastronomic adventure as you explore flavors from around the globe, right in the heart of this beachside city. From Italian trattorias and French bistros to sushi bars and Mexican cantinas, Destin offers a diverse range of international cuisines to satisfy every palate.
Italian Delights: Pasta, Pizza, and More
Transport your taste buds to Italy with a visit to one of Destin’s authentic Italian trattorias. Indulge in a plate of handmade pasta, cooked al dente and tossed with rich and flavorful sauces. From classic favorites like spaghetti carbonara and fettuccine Alfredo to regional specialties like seafood linguine and wild mushroom risotto, the options are endless. Pair your pasta dish with a glass of Italian wine, and don’t forget to leave room for a slice of wood-fired pizza topped with fresh mozzarella and locally sourced ingredients.
French Fare: Elegance and Sophistication
Experience the elegance and sophistication of French cuisine at one of Destin’s charming bistros. Start your culinary journey with a traditional French onion soup, topped with a layer of melted gruyere cheese. Indulge in a plate of coq au vin, tender chicken braised in red wine and served with a side of buttery mashed potatoes. For seafood lovers, try the bouillabaisse, a fragrant and flavorful seafood stew made with a medley of fish, shellfish, and aromatic herbs. Complete your French dining experience with a decadent dessert like crème brûlée or a delicate profiterole.
Sushi and Sashimi: Japanese Delicacies
For those seeking a taste of Japan, Destin offers an array of sushi bars and Japanese restaurants that serve up the freshest and most exquisite sushi and sashimi. Start your culinary adventure with a plate of assorted sashimi, featuring thinly sliced raw fish like tuna, salmon, and yellowtail. Savor the delicate flavors and textures as they melt in your mouth. Indulge in a selection of sushi rolls, ranging from traditional favorites like California rolls to innovative creations that blend flavors and ingredients from both Japanese and American cuisines. Don’t forget to sample some sake or sip on a refreshing glass of green tea to complement your meal.
Family-Friendly Eateries: Fun for All Ages
Destin is not only a popular destination for couples and adults but also a fantastic place for families. With its range of family-friendly eateries, parents can relax and enjoy a delicious meal while kids can have fun and indulge in dishes tailored to their young palates. These establishments offer laid-back atmospheres, extensive menus, and playful beachside venues where the little ones can have a blast.
Kid-Friendly Classics: Burgers, Pizza, and More
When dining with kids, you can’t go wrong with classic favorites like burgers, pizza, and pasta. Many family-friendly eateries in Destin offer kid-friendly menus that feature these beloved dishes. Sink your teeth into a juicy cheeseburger, topped with all the fixings and served with a side of crispy fries. Alternatively, opt for a piping-hot slice of pizza, loaded with gooey cheese and a variety of toppings. For pasta lovers, there are options like spaghetti and meatballs or macaroni and cheese, guaranteed to please even the pickiest eaters. These family-friendly eateries prioritize creating a fun and relaxed atmosphere, allowing parents to enjoy their meal while the kids are entertained.
Playful Beachside Venues: Food and Entertainment
In Destin, many family-friendly eateries go the extra mile to create a memorable experience for children. With beachside venues that offer more than just great food, kids can play and have fun while parents unwind. Enjoy a meal at a restaurant with a playground or a sandy play area, allowing kids to build sandcastles or engage in friendly games. Some establishments even offer entertainment options such as face painting, balloon animals, or live music tailored to children. These playful beachside venues create an atmosphere of joy and excitement, making dining out a delightful experience for the whole family.
Brunch Spots: Start Your Day in Style
Brunch is a beloved tradition, and in Destin, you’ll find a variety of brunch spots that offer a delightful start to your day
Brunch Spots: Start Your Day in Style
Brunch is a beloved tradition, and in Destin, you’ll find a variety of brunch spots that offer a delightful start to your day. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely morning meal or a late breakfast after a morning spent exploring the beach, these establishments have something for everyone. Enjoy a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere as you indulge in classic brunch favorites with a coastal twist.
Coastal Classics: Seafood Brunch Delights
Destin’s proximity to the ocean means that seafood often takes center stage even during brunch. Start your day with a seafood omelette, filled with fresh shrimp, crab meat, and a medley of vegetables. Or opt for a classic eggs Benedict, with a twist – instead of traditional ham, enjoy a delicious crab cake nestled atop the poached eggs and drizzled with hollandaise sauce. For a lighter option, savor a plate of smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, garnished with fresh dill and served with a side of mixed greens. These coastal-inspired brunch dishes are sure to awaken your taste buds and provide a refreshing start to your day.
Sweet and Savory Creations: Pancakes, Waffles, and More
If you have a sweet tooth, Destin’s brunch spots have you covered with a range of delectable pancake and waffle creations. Indulge in fluffy pancakes topped with fresh berries, whipped cream, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Or opt for a stack of cinnamon-spiced French toast, served with a dollop of creamy mascarpone cheese and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. For those who prefer a savory start to the day, enjoy a plate of chicken and waffles, with tender fried chicken nestled on top of a crispy waffle and accompanied by a side of savory gravy. Whatever your preference, these sweet and savory brunch creations are sure to satisfy your cravings.
Bubbly Brunch: Bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys
No brunch is complete without a refreshing and bubbly beverage to accompany your meal. Many brunch spots in Destin offer bottomless mimosas, allowing you to sip on this classic brunch cocktail to your heart’s content. Enjoy the delightful combination of sparkling wine and freshly squeezed orange juice, creating a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. For those who prefer a savory option, indulge in a spicy Bloody Mary, garnished with celery, olives, and a hint of hot sauce. These brunch libations add an extra touch of indulgence to your dining experience, making your morning meal even more enjoyable.
Casual Beachside Cafes: Relaxed Dining with a View
When you want a quick and satisfying meal without sacrificing the views, head to the casual beachside cafes in Destin. These laid-back establishments offer a range of options, from juicy burgers and refreshing salads to fish sandwiches and crispy fried seafood baskets. Take a break from the sand and surf, grab a seat at one of these cafes, dig your toes in the sand, and enjoy the beach vibes as you savor your meal.
Beach Burger Bliss: Juicy Creations
Nothing beats a perfectly grilled burger, especially when enjoyed with a view of the beach. Destin’s beachside cafes offer a variety of juicy burger creations to satisfy your cravings. Sink your teeth into a classic cheeseburger, topped with melted cheddar cheese, crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and tangy pickles. For a taste of the Gulf, opt for a seafood burger made with a pan-seared fish fillet, accompanied by a zesty tartar sauce and served on a toasted bun. Vegetarian options are also available, with flavorful veggie patties topped with all your favorite burger fixings. Pair your burger with a side of crispy fries or a refreshing salad, and you’ve got the perfect beachside meal.
Fresh and Flavorful Salads: A Healthy Beachside Option
If you’re seeking a lighter option, the beachside cafes in Destin also offer a variety of fresh and flavorful salads. Enjoy a vibrant Greek salad, bursting with the flavors of crisp cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, briny olives, and tangy feta cheese. Or opt for a refreshing Caesar salad, with crisp romaine lettuce, garlicky croutons, and a creamy dressing. For those who prefer a heartier salad, indulge in a seafood Cobb salad, featuring a combination of tender shrimp, succulent crab meat, boiled eggs, and avocado. These salads are not only delicious but also provide a healthy and satisfying beachside dining experience.
Crispy Fried Seafood Baskets: A Beachside Classic
When at the beach, it’s hard to resist the allure of crispy fried seafood baskets. The casual beachside cafes in Destin serve up these beachside classics with a unique twist. Indulge in a basket of golden-fried shrimp, lightly breaded and seasoned to perfection. Or opt for a platter of crispy fish fillets, accompanied by a side of tangy tartar sauce. For a taste of the Gulf, try the fried oyster basket, featuring plump and briny oysters that melt in your mouth. These seafood baskets are the perfect beachside indulgence, allowing you to enjoy the flavors of the ocean while taking in the stunning views.
Romantic Hideaways: Intimate Dinners for Two
Destin is not only a destination for family-friendly dining and casual beachside cafes but also offers romantic hideaways for those seeking a more intimate dining experience. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply looking to enjoy a romantic evening with your loved one, these establishments provide the perfect ambiance and culinary delights to create a memorable dining experience.
Candlelit Dinners on the Beach: A Magical Setting
What could be more romantic than a candlelit dinner on the beach? In Destin, you can enjoy this enchanting experience at one of the romantic hideaways that offer private dining on the sand. Picture yourself sitting at a beautifully decorated table, with the sound of the waves crashing in the background and the soft glow of candlelight illuminating your surroundings. Indulge in a gourmet meal prepared with care and precision, featuring dishes like grilled lobster tail, tender filet mignon, or seared scallops. These beachside dining experiences create a magical setting for a romantic evening that you and your loved one will cherish forever.
Intimate Waterfront Dining: Panoramic Views
Many of Destin’s romantic hideaways are situated on the waterfront, offering panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico. These intimate dining spots provide a sense of exclusivity and tranquility, allowing you to enjoy an uninterrupted evening with your significant other. Start your romantic dining experience with a glass of champagne as you savor the breathtaking views. Indulge in dishes prepared with the finest ingredients, such as buttery lobster tail, perfectly seared foie gras, or delicate herb-crusted rack of lamb. The attentive service and elegant ambiance of these waterfront restaurants create a truly intimate and unforgettable dining experience.
Local Favorites: Taste the Essence of Destin
When visiting a new destination, it’s always exciting to discover the local favorites that showcase the region’s culinary heritage. In Destin, you’ll find hidden gem restaurants that offer a true taste of the city, with dishes that highlight the essence of this coastal paradise. From Southern comfort food to unique fusion creations, these local favorites are a must-try for any food enthusiast.
Southern Comfort: Classic Dishes with a Twist
Destin is located in the heart of the South, and the local favorites reflect the region’s rich culinary traditions. Indulge in classic Southern comfort food with a twist, such as creamy shrimp and grits made with stone-ground cornmeal and succulent Gulf shrimp. Savor a plate of fried green tomatoes, coated in a crispy cornmeal crust and served with a tangy remoulade sauce. For a taste of true Southern hospitality, try the mouthwatering fried chicken, seasoned with a secret blend of herbs and spices and served with all the fixings. These local favorites celebrate the flavors and traditions of the South, providing a true taste of Destin’s culinary heritage.
Fusion Creations: Blending Flavors and Cultures
Destin’s culinary scene is not limited to traditional Southern fare – it also embraces fusion cuisine that blends flavors and influences from different cultures. Experience the unique creations of local chefs who expertly combine ingredients and techniques to create dishes that are both familiar and innovative. Indulge in a plate of blackened Gulf shrimp tacos, topped with a refreshing mango salsa and served with a side of creamy avocado crema. Or try the Korean-inspired barbecue ribs, slow-cooked to perfection and glazed with a sticky and savory sauce. These fusion creations highlight the culinary diversity of Destin and offer a unique dining experience for adventurous food lovers.
Oceanfront Bars: Sip and Socialize
After a day of sun and surf, there’s nothing better than unwinding at one of Destin’s oceanfront bars. These establishments offer a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, where you can sip on refreshing cocktails, sample local craft beers, or indulge in a glass of wine while taking in the breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico. Whether you’re looking for a place to socialize with friends or enjoy a quiet evening by the water, the oceanfront bars in Destin provide the perfect setting.Oceanfront Bars: Sip and Socialize
After a day of sun and surf, there’s nothing better than unwinding at one of Destin’s oceanfront bars. These establishments offer a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, where you can sip on refreshing cocktails, sample local craft beers, or indulge in a glass of wine while taking in the breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico. Whether you’re looking for a place to socialize with friends or enjoy a quiet evening by the water, the oceanfront bars in Destin provide the perfect setting.
Tropical Cocktails: Sip on Paradise
Destin’s oceanfront bars are known for their creative and refreshing tropical cocktails that transport you to a state of pure relaxation. Savor a classic piña colada, made with creamy coconut milk, fresh pineapple juice, and a splash of rum. Alternatively, try a refreshing mojito, with muddled mint leaves, lime juice, and a hint of sweetness from simple syrup. For those who prefer a tangy and tropical twist, indulge in a margarita made with fresh-squeezed lime juice and served with a salted rim. These tropical cocktails are the perfect companions as you soak up the sun and enjoy the beachside vibes.
Local Craft Beers: Taste the Flavor of Destin
Destin is home to a thriving craft beer scene, and the oceanfront bars proudly showcase the local brews. Sample a flight of craft beers, featuring a variety of styles and flavors, from hoppy IPAs to smooth stouts. Sip on a refreshing wheat beer, with hints of citrus and coriander, or try a rich and malty amber ale. The local craft beers not only provide a refreshing and flavorful drinking experience but also offer a taste of Destin’s vibrant brewing community.
Wine and Sunset: Perfect Pairings
For wine enthusiasts, Destin’s oceanfront bars offer an excellent selection of wines to complement your evening by the water. Sip on a crisp and aromatic Sauvignon Blanc, with notes of tropical fruits and a refreshing acidity. Indulge in a smooth and velvety Merlot, with flavors of dark berries and a hint of chocolate. As the sun sets over the horizon, enjoy a glass of sparkling wine, toasting to the beauty of the moment. These oceanfront bars provide a serene ambiance for sipping on wine and watching the colors of the sky change as the day comes to a close.
Sweet Treats: Desserts to Delight
No meal is complete without a sweet ending, and Destin has an abundance of dessert options to satisfy your sweet tooth. After a delicious meal, treat yourself to a delectable dessert, whether it’s a scoop of homemade ice cream, a slice of decadent cake, or a creamy gelato. From artisanal ice cream shops to cozy bakeries, you’ll find a variety of sweet treats that are sure to delight your taste buds.
Artisanal Ice Cream: Creamy and Dreamy
Indulge in the creamy and dreamy flavors of artisanal ice cream in Destin. These ice cream shops pride themselves on using high-quality ingredients and creating unique and irresistible flavors. Savor a scoop of velvety chocolate, made with premium cocoa and real chocolate chunks. Or try a refreshing sorbet, bursting with the flavors of fresh fruits like mango, raspberry, or lemon. For the adventurous, sample innovative flavors like lavender honey or salted caramel pretzel. Whether enjoyed in a cone, a cup, or as part of a decadent sundae, artisanal ice cream is the perfect way to cool down and satisfy your sweet cravings.
Decadent Cakes: Indulgence at its Finest
If you’re in the mood for a more indulgent dessert, Destin’s bakeries offer a variety of decadent cakes that are sure to impress. Sink your fork into a slice of rich chocolate cake, layered with velvety ganache and topped with a silky smooth buttercream frosting. For those who prefer fruity flavors, try a slice of strawberry shortcake, with layers of fluffy sponge cake, fresh strawberries, and a dollop of whipped cream. If you’re feeling adventurous, opt for a slice of key lime pie, a classic Florida dessert that combines a tangy and creamy filling with a buttery graham cracker crust. These cakes are a true indulgence and the perfect way to end a memorable meal.
Creamy Gelato: Italian Delights
Transport yourself to Italy with a scoop of creamy gelato. Destin’s gelato shops offer a wide range of flavors, from traditional favorites like chocolate and vanilla to unique combinations like pistachio and sea salt caramel. Indulge in the smooth and dense texture of gelato, which is made with less air than traditional ice cream, resulting in a richer and more intense flavor. Savor a scoop of refreshing lemon gelato on a hot summer day or try a combination of hazelnut and dark chocolate for a decadent treat. With its creamy texture and authentic flavors, gelato is a must-try dessert in Destin.
In conclusion, Destin, Florida, offers a dining experience like no other, especially for those seeking beachfront restaurants. From beachfront seafood shacks that serve up the freshest catches of the day to upscale waterfront dining establishments that offer fine flavors with a view, there is something for every taste and occasion. Explore international cuisines that transport you to far-off lands, indulge in family-friendly eateries that cater to kids and adults alike, and discover the local favorites that highlight the essence of Destin’s culinary heritage. After a day of sun and surf, unwind at an oceanfront bar while sipping on tropical cocktails or sampling local craft beers. And don’t forget to satisfy your sweet tooth with a delectable dessert from one of Destin’s charming ice cream parlors or bakeries. Destin truly has it all when it comes to beachfront dining, and each culinary experience is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories of this coastal paradise.