Eat Like a Local in Destin
July 17, 2023
Destin’s claim to fame has always been its sandy white beaches and emerald-green waters. You might be surprised to find that this majestic landscape has surprising culinary treasures to delight even the most seasoned foodies. From Gulf-to-table seafood and mouthwatering burgers to artisanal pizzas and melt-in-your-mouth steaks, the list of local Destin restaurants is varied and lengthy, each delicious creation a testament to chefs utilizing locally sourced ingredients.
Each restaurant offers a different vibe, from casual, open-air eateries to swanky, upscale affairs and everything in between. 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 is an appetite large enough to experience it all.
Finding a memorable food experience for all three squares every day of the week is easy, and we’ve got the low down on local Destin restaurants you simply have to try.
Bid farewell to the monotony of plain bran cereal and say hello to Destin’s gastronomic gems, where breakfast reigns supreme!
Mama Clemenza’s European Breakfast
For a European breakfast with a coastal flair, try Mama Clemenza’s, a popular local Destin restaurant. Located in Miramar Beach, this delightful bistro is a bona fide breakfast staple, merging authentic European cuisine with a farm-to-table approach that’s nothing short of spectacular.
Grab a table, sit at the bar, or relax on the covered patio and dive head first into the New Orleans Shrimp with Smoked Gouda Grits, Avocado Crab Toast served with Cilantro Lime Aioli, or the Duck Crepes. We’d also suggest the bechamel-covered Croque Madame and a fresh-squeezed mimosa for an iconic and can’t-miss Mama’s staple. Delicioso!
Camille’s at Crystal Beach
With a cult following for over twenty years, Camille’s is also a favorite local Destin restaurant for visitors returning annually. A surprisingly diverse menu offers the perfect way to start the day, with refreshing parfait’s, breakfast tacos and bowls, and cinnamon rolls our absolute favorites. A vibrant fruit-packed smoothie menu and a selection of lattes and cappuccinos are the cherry on top of the perfect breakfast. If you miss them in the morning, swing by for lunch or dinner, enjoy live music Sidewalk Sessions, and try the sushi prepared by internationally acclaimed Sushi Chef Yoshie Eddings.
2 Birds Coffee + Cafe
Featuring breakfast staples, salads and bowls, fancy toasts, and handhelds, 2 Birds Coffee + Cafe is a casual stop with an elevated menu. Quality ingredients make each dish memorable, from grass-fed burgers to cured salmon to perfectly ripe avocados on each Breakfast Sammy. But first coffee! It may be hard to choose from the mix of coffee and espresso drinks; trust us – Birdie’s cold brew will kick start your day in the best possible way. Try the pan-fried banana bread, breakfast tacos, or Mushroom “benedict” while the kids check out the tot’s menu.
Whether you’ve just wrapped up a morning bike ride, snorkel session, or a paddle around the Destin harbor, few things are better than a refuel at a local Destin restaurant.
The Craft Bar
It’s easy to see why The Craft Bar has multiple locations stretching from Pensacola (coming soon!) to Panama City Beach. Although you’ll find Southern staples like fried chicken, meatloaf plates, and fried shrimp on the menu, the burgers bring people back time and again. Locally sourced ground beef and a wild lineup of fixings make this the spot to be any afternoon.
Try the Bistro Burger, topped with brie, fig jam, arugula, and smoked bacon for true decadence. 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. A game-changing gastropub, you’ll also find one of the most extensive craft brew and cocktail menus around.
Burrito del Sol
Burrito del Sol is the place to go for the freshest Baja-style Mexican food. With weekly drink specials and serving fresh salsa and guac daily, this coastal grill delivers big on every count. Build your own tortilla or bowl by selecting a protein (chicken, fish, steak, shrimp, and more), then a style (Baja, Chipotle, Southwest, or BBQ). Grab your favorite adult beverage and settle in for a taste sensation. Everything is fresh and flavorful, and the intimate atmosphere and friendly staff are a welcome sight after a day spent exploring Destin.
We’re hard-pressed to pick only a few local Destin restaurants serving dinner, but here are a few can’t-miss gems.
Winner of The Golden Spoon Award and Best of the Emerald Coast, Vin’tij has served the Emerald Coast for over two decades. Located in the Grand Boulevard Shopping Center in Sandestin, Vin’tij features seasonally-inspired dishes served in an upscale setting, promising a memorable evening for your whole crew. Utilizing fresh ingredients from local farmers, fishermen, and purveyors of the Deep South, the culinary experience here is thoughtfully considered and decadently delicious. Pair your Shrimp and Grits or Ziti Bolognese with the perfect wine you can select from their impressive wine shop. Find your favorite red or white, and grab a case to take home. This place fills up fast, so reserve your table in advance!
Indulge in pizza perfection at Fat Clemenza’s, your go-to spot for a taste of Sicilian heaven in Destin. Located next to Mama Clemenza’s, this local’s fave serves classic Italian food with a coastal twist. Sourcing olive oil from Italy, flour from Naples, and sausage from Chicago, you’ll definitely taste the love in every dish. The pasta is as authentic as they come, and the antipasti options are eclectic and impressive (like burrata Caprese, toasted ravioli, and clam Sorrento). The seafood linguine—the dish the owners grew up on and were inspired by—is positively to die for. Take note of the blackboard items, a rotating menu of specialty dishes with limited availability made with only the freshest ingredients.
We can’t mention the best local Destin restaurants without a nod to Boshamps, a seafood and oyster house that’s been a go-to for visitors and locals for years. Specializing in Gulf-to-table Southern cuisine, appetizers like fried green tomatoes with jumbo lump crab and cornmeal fried oysters are destined to get your taste buds going. Entrees feature seafood favorites, including fried grouper, sauteed snapper, and the freshest “Off the Docks” Catch of the Day. Prime steaks, burgers, chicken, and Duck Confit Cassoulet, round out a menu as robust as it is remarkable.
Unobstructed views of the Destin harbor, two fully stocked bars, and live music throughout the week take the whole experience up a notch. For a good time and a grand epicurean experience, Boshamps will never disappoint.
Best Kept Secret Restaurants in Destin
We feared a few of our favorites might fall under the radar with so many local Destin restaurants to choose from. Here are a few notable mentions you won’t want to miss.
Savor the flavors of the Mediterranean at Red Onion, where fresh, organic ingredients take center stage in every delectable dish. This relaxed, family-run business offers casual decor, friendly service, and beautifully prepared dishes that will bring you back for repeat visits. Start with some Stuffed Grape Leaves before diving into a Gyro Platter or Rack of Lamb, and finish it off with Turkish coffee and homemade Baklava for an incomparable taste sensation.
For a taste of India in the Florida Panhandle, look no further than Holi, featuring a wide selection of vegetarian and meat-based dishes. The staff is beyond friendly and eager to share exceptional fare from different regions of India, so ask questions before making your selections and deciding your spice level. Each dish is a delight, with the Butter Chicken, Mango Chicken Curry, and Tandoori Shrimp definite standouts among a dazzling menu packed with tasty dishes.
Just a few miles over in Fort Walton Beach, Helen Back is worth the drive, particularly if you love pizza. Sure, you can build your own pie, but their creations are just, well, special. Take the Big Dill, a doughy, flaky delight of crusty goodness topped with dill pickles, Lay’s potato chips, and a generous helping of mozzarella. Try the Rueben Me the Wrong Way or Pat’s Philly with White Sauce before diving into the Banana’s Foster cheesecake. Then head back to your vacation home or condo for a well-deserved nap!
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