It’s all about Gulf seafood at many of the restaurants in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida. A highlight of many area seafood restaurants is their participation in the Gulf-to-Table movement. Destin is a fishing village with the largest charter fleet in the country which brings in fresh catches for locals and visitors to savor.
Dewey Destin’s Harborside has catch of the day specials that they feature on their blackboard. Depending on what fish is available fresh from the Gulf, you can have sea trout, grouper, flounder, red snapper, swordfish, wahoo, trigger, snap, or cobia prepared how you like it. To learn more about the flavor profiles of these Gulf fish, check out our for the foodie page.
Fresh catch plates also come with fish sourcing information through Fish Trax™, which includes a fish story and a QR code you can scan with your phone and find out the name of the fisherman, where it was caught, and when. If you’ve gone fishing, you’re also welcome to bring in your own catch as Dewey Destin’s and many area restaurants participate in the You Catch It, We’ll Cook It program.
Harry T’s Lighthouse, in addition to a top seafood menu, will also cook fish you’ve caught yourself. With ample outdoor seating on two levels plus Harbor and sunset views, Harry T’s is a relaxing spot to enjoy a few cocktails. Come by for Sunday brunch featuring a seafood omelet. Try the variety of fish dishes for lunch and dinner, as well as award-winning seafood gumbo.
For a fusion of Gulf, Southern, and Japanese seafood, try Jackacudas, another Gulf-to-Table restaurant. The restaurant gets its name from a portmanteau coined by Captain John Beebe who went out to catch amberjacks on an artificial reef in the Gulf. Instead, he was inundated with jumping barracudas. When asked, he reported that all he caught that day were “jackacudas,” and the fishing spot near the artificial reef was then renamed. With a variety of fresh fish on the menu from red snapper and grits to sushi rolls, this is a fun spot to enjoy a meal by the water.
Lulu’s, in north Destin overlooking Choctawhatchee Bay, is an oasis of Southern fare with Gulf-to-Table freshness. Try the peel and eat Gulf shrimp as a snack or feast on fried blue crab claws. Salads are never boring at Lulu’s where fresh Gulf red snapper or the fish of the day ― grilled, blackened, or fried ― can top your greens. Or get your fish plated or in a basket with classic sides like french fries, cole slaw, and hushpuppies. Not to miss is Lulu’s famous seafood gumbo with its signature hand-stirred roux.
If you’re near James Lee Park, stop into The Crab Trap Seafood and Oyster Bar. With sun-bleached wood, local art, and open-air windows, you can enjoy your meal with Gulf breezes. Start off the meal with raw oysters served on the half shell. For your main course, try the fishmongers fresh catch menu for mahi mahi, grouper, amberjack. You can add Gulf shrimp to any of these entrees as well. Of course, with a name like The Crab Trap, you can get a variety of crab dishes using Alaska snow crab, king crab, and bairdi crab or Pacific Northwest dungeness crab.
The Crab Trap on The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island has much the same menu items as the Destin location, but may have different specials and hours.
For shrimp any way you can think of, go to Floyd’s Shrimp House on The Boardwalk. In addition to shrimp galore, Floyd’s also does oyster appetizers, fish tacos made with grouper and cobia, and amberjack sandwiches, to name a few.
For coastal Mexican cuisine, Rockin Tacos Grill and Tequila Bar have a wide variety of tacos including Baja fish tacos and shrimp tacos. Try out a crab and shrimp enchilada, and you can have your other favorite Mexican dishes ― burritos, fajitas, quesadillas, and queso ― with shrimp!
The Gulf on Okaloosa Island is a cool restaurant on the northside of the island constructed of recycled and repurposed building materials like shipping containers, refashioned stylishly in outdoor seating with views of the Bay. The menu changes seasonally, with local Gulf fish in sandwiches, platters, tacos, and more.
Should you get a seafood craving upon landing at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport ― or for one more fantastic fish meal before you fly home ― go to The Boathouse Landing in Valparaiso. Enjoy the view of the Boggy Bayou along with Cajun-style seafood dishes from po’boys, cobia and shrimp etouffee, and seafood gumbo. Fried seafood platters are also popular. Downstairs at the Bilge Pub, you can even grab a cocktail as you ease in ― or out ― of your vacation.