Eat Like a Local in Destin
July 31, 2021
Destin may be best-known for sugar-white sands and emerald-green waters, but peppered throughout this peninsula is a tantalizing tapestry of gastronomic gems that could easily put it on the map as one of the region’s top foodie destinations.
From gloriously fresh seafood straight from the Gulf to artisanal pizzas to downhome burgers to Baja-style tacos, the fare is exquisitely eclectic and comparably comprehensive.
Not to mention, the restaurants themselves have all the vibes you could ever want. Elegant date night? You got it. No-frills fish joints? Practically on every corner. Live music and killer bars? All over the place. The only thing you won’t find food-wise in Destin is maybe an appetite large enough to experience it all.
So, when you’re looking for an amazing food experience (and when Whataburger doesn’t quite cut it), here’s how to eat like a local in Destin—for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Say so long to boring old bran cereal and hello to Destin’s best-known restaurants for the most important meal of the day.
Mama Clemenza’s European Breakfast
Located between Miramar Beach and Destin, Mama Clemenza’s is a bona fide breakfast staple in the area. It’s basically what happens when you combine the best of old-world Europe with old-school American diner and Gulf Coast Florida fare and flair. How many places exist where you can order Seafood Crepes, Eastern European Cheese Blintzes, Homemade Espresso Biscuits, and New Orleans Shrimp & Smoked Gouda Grits off the same menu? For an iconic and can’t-miss Mama’s staple, get the bechamel-covered Croque Madame and a fresh-squeezed mimosa. Delicioso!
Camille’s at Crystal Beach
Beach café by day, upstairs dining by night, Camille’s is so much more than a simple breakfast joint. It’s a community and local hotspot. It just so happens to also have life-changing yummy sandwiches and super fresh Gulf-to-table cuisine. In the mornings, Camille’s is known for a refreshingly healthy lineup of offerings: fruit-packed smoothies and juices, protein-packed breakfast bowls, creamy avocado toast, and a glorious breakfast taco. During the day, you can eat legendary sandwiches and hang with truly friendly staff and often catch some live music depending on the day. At night, the restaurant upstairs opens, and the sushi menu from Executive Sushi Chef Yoshie Eddings is internationally acclaimed as having catered to an A-list celebrity clientele.
2 Birds Coffee + Cafe
Don’t let this casual stop fool you. 2 Birds Coffee + Cafe serves up good, quality ingredients in a delicious, easy-to-scarf-down meal. They bring it back to the basics, and by that, we mean they ensure their dishes include only the finest in flakey sea salt and the perfect amount of olive oil, leaving you feeling full yet not stuffed. Try any of their assorted pastries, but act quick; they go fast. If you don’t beat the crowd to the pastry counter, opt for some of their breakfast staples. Our personal favorite? The Mushroom “benedict,” a bagel topped with portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, sunny egg, and avocado. If you’ve ever taken on the daunting task of caramelizing onions, you can definitely respect this dish.
So, you’ve just wrapped up an early morning bike ride, snorkel session, or fishing charter. It’s time to refuel with some of Destin’s very best lunch options.
The Craft Bar
For some of the best burgers around, go to The Craft Bar. Located at Paradise Key, this game-changing gastropub serves up elevated bar food and one of the most extensive craft brew and artisanal cocktail menus in the area. But the burger menu is where things get interesting. We’re talking locally sourced ground beef and a wild lineup of fixings. For something decadent, the bistro burger comes topped with brie, fig jam, arugula, and smoked bacon. For a reimagined classic, the craft bar burger features caramelized onions and your choice of Tillamook cheddar, aged gouda, or Point Reyes blue cheese. But the real show-stopper, and our humble recommendation, is the Lamb Burger—a house-ground leg of lamb with feta cheese, caramelized onions, tzatziki, and a distinctively Greek flare.
Burrito del Sol
On a hot Destin day, there are few things better than fresh salsa, guac, Baja-tacos, and a refreshing brew. For all that and more, Burrito del Sol is the place to be. This Mexican coastal grill is family-owned and operated, serving Baja-Style Mexican food and some of the best fish and shrimp tacos this side of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a build-your-own style menu, so you pick your tortilla or dish, then your protein and style (Baja, chipotle, southwest, BBQ). Everything is fresh, flavorful, and fully topped off with a fun & friendly atmosphere.
Dinnertime in Destin is arguably the best time in Destin. Here are a few of the can’t-miss gems.
Located in the Grand Boulevard Shopping Center at Sandestin, Vin’tij is an award-winning restaurant that’s been serving the Emerald Coast for over 20 years. This is THE place to go for an upscale night out. For wine lovers, it’ll quickly have you asking: “Napa Valley, who? Tuscany, what?” And for food lovers, Vin’tij delivers seasonally-inspired goods. Utilizing fresh ingredients from local farmers, fishermen, and purveyors in the Deep South, the culinary experience here is thoughtfully considered and decadently delicious. The wine shop is also fully stocked with boutique wines from family wineries all over the world, and one of the coolest parts of the experience is that you can purchase wine in the store to take with you or drink at your table. Be sure to make a reservation for this one!
For a slice of Sicily in the heart of Destin, Fat Clemenza’s is the place of pizza dreams. Located right next to Mama Clemenza’s, this husband-and-wife-led establishment serves Italian-inspired staples made with equal parts love and total expertise. While best known for amazing, lightly-charred, fluffy-crusted, wood-fired pizzas, Fat Clemenza’s is also so much more. The pasta is as authentic as they come. The antipasti options are eclectic and amazing (like burrata Caprese, toasted ravioli, and clam Sorrento). And the seafood linguine—the dish the owners grew up on and were inspired by—is positively to die for.
No trip to Destin is complete without a visit to Boshamps. This seafood and oyster house has been a go-to for visitors and locals for years. Situated right on the Destin Harbor with a great view of the pier, you can watch boats go in and out while you scarf down locally sourced seafood dishes of all varieties. With two bars on the premises and live music multiple nights per week, the atmosphere is as fun as it gets. And the Gulf-to-table Southern cuisine is like something straight from a Garden & Gun coffee table collection. AKA, the menu features all your flavorful favorites: fried grouper, sauteed snapper, shrimp baskets, jumbo crab, and of course, an ever-mouth-watering “Off the Docks Catch of the Day.” For a good time and a grand epicurean experience, Boshamps will never disappoint.
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