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 the best places to eat in Destin (in no particular order).
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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.
414 Harbor Boulevard
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.
950 Gulf Shore Dr.
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 the bar.
79 US Hwy 98 E. Ste. 5
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.
538 Harbor Blvd.
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
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”.
517 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.
529 Harbor Blvd.
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.
9 Calhoun Ave.
202 Harbor Blvd. (Harborside location)
The Donut Hole has been a Destin staple since it originally opened way back in 1978. Of course, they serve up some mouth-watering donuts, but they also serve up a full menu of delicious breakfast (served all day/night), lunch, and dinner options. During the busy spring and summer months, if you don’t get there early, you’ll probably be spending some time waiting in line – but it’s well worth the experience.
Let’s get back to those donuts… oh, and we didn’t even mention the desserts. You’ll find a nice selection of donuts including the usual favorites along with specialty donuts like red velvet, key lime, coconut cream, and more. You’ll also find an array of dessert confections including their world-famous key lime pie – grab a slice after dinner or take home an entire pie!
Depending on where you’re staying, The Donut Hole probably has a location near you at one of their three locations in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, and the 30a area.
635 Harbor Blvd.
12983 US-98 E,
Rosemary Beach, FL
6745 Hwy. 98
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
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.
775 Gulf Shore Drive
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.
Rufus Ray Plaza
11275 US-98 #12
Miramar Beach, FL
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.
826 Hwy 98
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.
235 Santa Rosa Blvd.
Fort Walton Beach, FL
427 Racetrack Rd NW
Fort Walton Beach, FL
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.
34904 Emerald Coast Parkway Ste. 114
Let’s be honest, you visit Destin and the beautiful Gulf Coast region for the amazing views and to escape the stresses of everyday life. Check off both those boxes at The Harbor Tavern. This laid-back spot with a terrace & marina offers up amazing views and vibes.
Besides the waterfront views and easygoing atmosphere, it’s the kind of place that will also make even the pickiest of eaters happy. Order off the menu of culinary favorites like tacos, burgers/sandwiches, and salads – or try one of their Mediterranean specialty pitas or bowls.
Harbor Tavern is definitely a place to grab a cool, frosty beverage, some tasty eats, and to soak up a Destin local favorite.
306 Harbor Blvd