Known as the “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village”, Destin Florida has gone from a quiet fishing community to a world-class tourist destination.
Captain Leonard Destin began fishing the gulf waters in 1835 and permanently settled in the area around 1850. Captain Destin helped establish the local fishing industry well over a century ago, but the Emerald Coast continues to maintain its long maritime heritage. Destin has one of the largest and well-equipped fishing fleets in the State of Florida.
Thanks to some of the most stunning, sugar-white beaches in the world, Destin has also evolved into one of the premier visitor destinations in the Southeastern United States. While it still maintains its beauty and rich fishing history, you’ll now find miles of hotels, condos, tourist attractions, shopping, and some of the best restaurants on the entire Gulf Coast.
If you’re looking for fresh Gulf seafood, the Destin/Emerald Coast area has you covered – several times over. Along with seafood, there’s an eclectic mix of cuisines that will satisfy just about everyone’s palette. We’ve gone through the painstaking process of selecting 15 of the top places to eat, but we also wanted to make sure we covered all that Destin has to offer.
How We Chose the Top 15
Yummy Food – A no-brainer, right? There are so many great restaurants in Destin, it’s almost impossible to narrow it down to fifteen. Regardless of the style of cuisine, these top restaurants consistently rank high on internet search engines, review websites, social media, and local recommendations.
Supporting Local – There are plenty of outstanding chain restaurants in the Destin area, but if you want to experience more of the local flare, we highly recommend getting “off the beaten path”. A couple of them have more than one location, but they are all exclusive to the Gulf Coast region.
Atmosphere and Vibe – Whether it’s indoor, outdoor, casual, or fine dining, these restaurants get high marks for a unique and enjoyable dining experience.
Hours may vary, so call ahead if you’re planning a late-night excursion to these or any other restaurants. Here are 15 of the top places to eat in Destin (in no particular order).
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Open 7 Days: 11a – 9p
414 Harbor Boulevard
Located on the beautiful Destin Harbor, Boshamps offers visitors a casual and comfortable dining atmosphere along with some of the best seafood in the area. Fresh gulf seafood, Angus steaks, zesty corn & crab chowder, local Gulf seafood gumbo, cool salads, and five options from the oyster bar – raw, fried, and three types of baked oysters. You’ll love the food and the view overlooking Destin Harbor.
Open Daily: 7a – 3p
950 Gulf Shore Dr.
Appropriately named, The Local Market is a local Destin favorite. Stop by and experience the rustic cafe with a chalkboard menu of American comfort foods plus smoothies, juices, coffee and beer. Voted best sandwich shop in Destin, they offer delicious menu options for breakfast or lunch. Choose from 11 breakfast items (including homemade donuts) to get your day started, and 17 delicious sandwiches and several crispy salad options for lunch.
Monday – Friday: 11a – 10p
Saturday & Sunday: 5p – 10p
79 US Hwy 98 E. Ste. 5
One of the hottest restaurants in Destin and a favorite with locals, Mimmo’s serves up homemade Southern Italian cuisine bursting with flavor and color. Enjoy made from scratch recipes created by owner/Chef Mimmo – handcrafted pasta, fresh-baked bread, brick oven pizza, and a whole lot more.
Stop by for dinner in their elegant dining room with wood and stone accents, or enjoy a handcrafted cocktail or martini at their full bar.
Sunday – Thursday: 11a – 9p
Friday & Saturday: 11a – 10p
538 Harbor Blvd.
Harbor Docks has been a Destin seafood restaurant tradition since 1979. If you want to get a taste of Destin’s historical fishing lifestyle, put this locals’ favorite at the top of your list. They serve fresh Gulf to Table® seafood and sushi, directly from their own market located below the restaurant. Simply put, it doesn’t get any fresher than Harbor Docks.
7 Days a Week: 11a – Close (Usually 2 am)
McGuire’s opened their original Pensacola location in 1977. It was so successful, they just couldn’t resist opening a second Destin location in 1996. Even though it’s 20 years younger, the Destin version offers the same great food, live Irish entertainment and thousands of dollar bills decorating the walls and ceiling.
You can dine in the 500 seat pub or sit outside on the 150 seat deck. A true Irish Pub experience with some of the best steaks and prime rib you’ll ever eat. Plus Irish traditions like shepherd’s pie, corned beef & cabbage, fish & chips, Angus steak burgers, and an in-house brewery.
Related: Top 20 Places to Eat in Pensacola
Monday – Saturday: 11a – 9p
517 Harbor Blvd
Burrito Del Sol serves fresh “Baja-Style” Mexican food in two Gulf Coast locations – downtown Fort Walton Beach the newest location in Destin. The menu is a simple three-step process. Step 1 – Choose your tortilla/base (burrito, tacos, quesadilla or taco salad). Step 2 – Pick your protein (chicken, beef, steak, tempeh, grilled shrimp or fish). Step 3 – Pick your style (Baja, chipotle, southwest, BBQ).
Their guacamole, red salsa, Baja, chipotle, and pineapple salsas are prepared fresh every day. Popular menu items include blackened shrimp tacos served “Baja style”, steak nachos served “chipotle style, and chicken burritos served “Southwest style”.
Monday – Saturday: 11a – 9p
Sunday: 11a – 3p
529 Harbor Blvd.
If you’re looking for tasty, international-themed cuisine in a quaint atmosphere, be sure to add Red Onion Organic to your itinerary. Although the restaurant is smaller in size, the cuisine is huge in flavor. You’ll find a full menu of authentic and healthy Mediterranean cuisine. Dining is available inside or outdoors.
Start off with one of their homemade tapas including hummus, tabbouleh, stuffed grape leaves, and feta cheese rolls. For lunch, order one of their signature gyros or chicken/beef kabob wraps. Seven uniquely Mediterranean entrees include olive oil ribeye, french alpine rack of lamb, chicken cava, and the shish kabob platter.
Monday – Sunday: 11a – 3p
9 Calhoun Ave.
The Destin family and the City of Destin have been intertwined since Dewey’s great, great grandfather, Captain Leonard Destin, founded it way back in the mid-1800s. Dewey Destin’s Seafood Restaurant is the original location and where it all began. They continue that long fishing tradition by serving fresh, sustainable seafood in their family-owned restaurants – two in Destin and one in Navarre, FL.
This is old-school Florida. If you want to scout out the history of Destin, this is a good location to start. The restaurant is actually an older metal building located next to the water. Order at the window, grab a seat and soak up some of Destin’s historical rays. You can always count on beautiful views of Crab Island and some of the best seafood in town.
Tuesday – Sunday: 7a – 2p
979 Highway 98 E
If you’re looking to start your day off right, it’s hard to find many places better than Cracklings. Whether it’s breakfast before a day at the beach, or a leisurely lunch while shopping, Cracklings can satisfy any appetite.
Start with favorites like the lobster gouda grits, seven types of egg benedicts, omelets, scrambles, and specialty sweets like the tiramisu french toast (Yum!). For lunch and brunch, Cracklings has a variety of hearty and healthy options including shrimp & grits, huevos rancheros, and the quinoa berry bowl.
Open Daily at 4:30p
(closing time varies)
775 Gulf Shore Drive
For over thirty years, Louisiana Lagniappe has consistently served up fresh Gulf seafood with a Creole flair. The attire is casual, yet it offers an upscale waterfront dining experience for a date night or with the family. Combine amazing food with beautiful sunsets and you have the makings of a memorable dining experience.
Louisiana Lagniappe is consistently ranked in the Top 10 restaurants on TripAdvisor and frequent winner of the local “Award of Excellence”. Favorite selections include Grouper Kevin, barbeque jumbo shrimp, jambalaya, Lagniappe seafood platter, and the surf and turf.
Monday – Friday 11a – 3p | 5p – 9p
Saturday 12p – 9p
Rufus Ray Plaza
11275 US-98 #12
Miramar Beach, FL
The Ft. Walton Beach and Destin areas are known for having lots of Thai cuisine options. Destin is fortunate to have one of the best. Located in the Miramar Beach area, Real Thai Fusion is a local favorite where authentic traditional Thai meets the Emerald Coast.
Family owned and operated, they serve authentic Thai dishes accompanied along with friendly Thai hospitality. If you like Asian food with a kick, definitely give Real Thai Fusion a try.
Monday – Sunday: 6a – 2p
826 Hwy 98
Capriccio Cafe specializes in gourmet coffee, pastries, crepes, sandwiches, and salads. Best of all, their coffee, meats, and cheeses are imported directly from Italy. Stop by and try one of their famous crepes for breakfast or a delicious salad or gourmet sandwich for lunch.
If you’re looking for a great cup of coffee, do yourself a favor and stop by Capriccio Cafe. Try one of their hand-brewed coffees, espressos or iced coffee imported directly from Italy. Italian coffee and gourmet food in a relaxed atmosphere make Capriccio one of the more unique places to visit in Destin.
Sunday – Thursday: 11a – 8:30p
Friday & Saturday: 11a – 9p
235 Santa Rosa Blvd.
Fort Walton Beach, FL
MENU (3rd Party – Be sure to check with restaurant)
Stewby’s opened its first take-out and dine-in seafood restaurant in Fort Walton Beach around 2012.
You didn’t have to eat there to know it was popular with the locals. Just drive by during lunch or dinner hours and see the line of people waiting to order. It’s been so popular, they opened a second restaurant and seafood market on Okaloosa Island (just down the highway from Destin).
From the fish of the day to the oysters and shrimp, all the seafood is caught locally. If you’re looking for a great bowl of gumbo, look no further than Stewby’s. Besides the freshest Gulf Coast seafood and gumbo, the new Okaloosa Island location sells a variety of seafood for you to take home and cook. Or call ahead and take one of their steamed seafood dinners to the beach.
Monday – Friday: 11a – 10p
Saturday: 4p – 10p
34904 Emerald Coast Parkway Ste. 114
Pazzo describes itself as a “trendy local eatery featuring indulgent Italian traditional cuisine, wood-fired pizza… in a cosmopolitan yet family-friendly and relaxed atmosphere.”
While they are known for their handcrafted artisanal pizzas, they also have a tempting selection of pasta, salads, traditional Italian dishes, and main courses like veal/chicken marsala, and salmone piccante.
All dishes are created from family recipes and their wood-fired oven is imported directly from Naples (Italy). Traditional Italian cuisine served in a trendy, upscale setting is sure to please anyone with an appetite for delicious food.
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Sunday
4p – 9p
Tuesday, Friday & Saturday
4p – 9:30p
950 Gulf Shore Dr.
Laz Paz has been setting the standard for Mexican cuisine along with Emerald Coast since 1993. They offer a combination of traditional Tex-Mex, along with fresh gulf seafood. Whenever possible, they use locally sourced ingredients including fresh, hand-select catch from the nearby Harbor Docks Seafood Market.
Their most popular entrees are fish tacos, shrimp fajitas, enchiladas, and street tacos. A couple of other signature dishes include “championes” (grilled fresh catch, mango salsa, garlic-mushroom sauté and lime cabbage) and tequila lime shrimp. If you’re looking for one of the best margaritas in town, La Paz should be at the top of your list. Their margaritas are made with fresh-squeezed citrus and 100% agave tequilas and mezcals.