Top 5 (Secret) Restaurants in Destin, FL!
Updated: Apr 1
While there are many seafood spots along the gulf coast, check out these 5 local restaurants the next time you visit Destin. Best eats are hard to find!
If you live in the south off I-65, you have likely heard of the beautiful beaches of the Florida panhandle. Destin and 30A are marvelous vacation spots with white sand beaches. Destin is home to about 13,000 local residents but swells to over 400,000 during the summer months as tourists descend on the resorts. While many restaurants offer sunset views and local seafood, not all are created equal. You can find a list of seafood options anywhere on the internet, but I wanted to share my favorite spots that are often overlooked. Having grown up in Destin, these places have stood the test of time, including the pandemic. So, the next time you're in the panhandle, be sure to check one out.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t have at least one seafood option. Camille’s at Crystal Beach on old highway 98 is a local’s favorite for their fresh sushi and locally sourced fish from the nearby Harbor Dock’s Seafood Market. Their fresh catch of the day, sushi rolls and fried green tomatoes are divine. Open daily at 5 pm, they don’t take reservations during the high season, so come early to sit at the bar while you wait for one of the limited tables.
Not exactly the first place you think of when you think of suntans and cocktails, but McGuire’s Irish Pub down by the Destin harbor has been a staple in the city for over 25 years. The brassieres hanging from the center bar and the dollar bills stapled around the restaurant create quite a unique atmosphere. Try the $0.18 Senate Bean Soup along with a famous angus steak burger. If you are feeling adventurous, what about the peanut butter burger? Or splurge on the Grand Burger made of filet mignon and topped with caviar. Live music and their own craft beer will keep you entertained long into the evening. McGuire’s original location in Pensacola beach has an online waitlist though no reservations are available.
I’m constantly on the hunt for authentic Asian food, and when Real Thai Fusion opened I was ecstatic! Family owned and recently relocated to the shopping center by the Silver Sands Outlet mall, this Thai restaurant offers some of the best dishes, including their tom kha soup and green curry. Open for lunch and dinner, their portions are generous, and the staff is always willing to make suggestions. Ask for Yupin to recommend a dish and you won’t be disappointed! Try the larb, seafood volcano or pad eggplant. Let me know your favorite entrée!
We originally discovered this Indian restaurant at their Fort Walton Beach location. We got lucky when they opened another spot in Miramar Beach just off Highway 98. Holi Indian also has a third location in Panama City, along with a roaming food truck. Holi is a Hindu festival that celebrates good over evil, and this restaurant’s festive décor brings those celebrations to life while you enjoy some tasty treats! They have great lunch specials, but I like to come with a group for dinner so we can share various dishes, including pani puri, tandoori paneer tikka and goat curry. All dishes can have spice level adjusted, so even if you don’t like spicy food (like my mother), you can enjoy these flavorful meals with friends and family. Make sure to save room for a mango lassi!
Bitterroot is somewhat new to the food scene, located in the heart of Destin off Commons Drive. Don’t let the strip mall location or outside fool you. This restaurant is a hidden gem with craft cocktails and high-end cuisine. They are open for lunch and dinner and have an excellent brunch on the weekends. Try their whipped ricotta or harissa hummus to start. Each entrée is flavorful and unique, especially the short rib gnocchi. Make sure you save room for a dessert wine or cocktail. A small, yet beautifully decorated restaurant. Reservations are accepted.