Destin gets a lot of travellers every year and, as such, plenty of restaurants, bars and breweries have popped up to serve them. But where do the locals eat when they’re craving a southern staple or seafood favourites? Where are their top breakfast spots, as well as their preferred restaurants for a good date night? What do they recommend for dinner with a good view or even international fare?

    If you’re planning a trip to Destin in the near future and asking yourself these questions, then you’ll want to check out the places locals love to eat in Destin below.


    The Donut Hole

    For some of Florida’s best doughnuts

    • Food

    The Donut Hole is lauded by both locals and visitors, and for good reason. The longstanding Destin staple with a handful of locations has been serving up all-day breakfast, entrees and bakery items for years, to rave reviews. Of course, the doughnuts are the main attraction. Make your selection from the glass case and devour them alongside your dinner, or grab them in a white paper bag to go.

    You’ll find all the doughnut classics, such as maple and chocolate glazed, and with strawberry and blueberry filling. If you plan to stop by for a full breakfast, be sure to arrive early; the lines can start as early as 8 am.

    Location: 635 Harbor Boulevard, Destin, FL 32541, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 850-837-8824


    Dewey Destin’s Seafood Restaurant

    Fresh seafood with stellar views of the water

    • Food
    • Couples

    The Dewey Destin’s brand encompasses a handful of restaurants, most dedicated to fresh Florida seafood. It makes sense, given the Destin family’s long success in the fishing industry. And if you think the name is a mere coincidence, think again; Dewey’s great-great-grandfather founded Destin in 1835.

    The original location is a simple shack on the water, but the flavours are anything but ordinary. Place your order at the window and take an outdoor seat overlooking the harbour. The small menu includes tantalising options such as fried gulf shrimp, steamed snow crab legs, grilled sea scallops and key lime pie.

    Location: 9 Calhoun Avenue, Destin, FL 32541, USA

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 850-837-7575


    Harry T’s Lighthouse

    Seafood, spirits and sunsets

    • Food
    • Nightlife
    • Couples

    Walk into Harry T’s Lighthouse, and the décor will probably be the first thing that’ll catch your eye. The walls are filled with circus and sports memorabilia. But the focus isn’t just on the casual eatery’s fun vibe; the seafood menu will soon take up all your attention.

    Choose from fresh favourites like grouper and snapper, both served with risotto, or stuffed shrimp wrapped in bacon. If there’s someone in your party who doesn’t enjoy seafood, however, they can rest easy, and choose from the standard American fare, including burgers and salads.

    Location: 46 Harbor Boulevard, Destin, FL 32541, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 10 am to 10 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 9 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 850-654-4800


    photo by Infrogmation (CC BY 3.0) modified


    McGuire's Irish Pub

    Authentic Irish cuisine in the middle of Florida

    • Food
    • Nightlife

    While it might seem unusual, locals claim McGuire’s Irish Pub is the place to go for pub food in the area. It offers authentic Irish cuisine like what you’d find in any Irish neighbourhood in the Northeast.

    The menu features corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and other delicacies you’d expect from an Irish joint. You can even find New York cheesecake and Yankee pot roast on the menu. And don’t forget the Irish cocktails, ales and, of course, Guinness.

    Location: 33 US-98 East, Destin, FL 32541, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 11 am to 2 am, Sunday from 10 am to 2 am

    Phone: +1 850-650-0000


    photo by Infrogmation (CC BY 3.0) modified


    Brotula's Seafood House

    A casual yet refined restaurant serving up New Southern cuisine

    • Food
    • Couples

    Brotula’s Seafood House is a casual, family-friendly and locally-owned eatery that specialises in local flavours and an awesome brunch menu. The name “brotula” even refers to a delicacy, the bearded brotula, or cusk eel, that’s considered a “best kept” secret among the locals.

    The dinner menu includes lots of fresh Gulf of Mexico seafood, such as gulf grouper with orzo and baby shrimp, and blackened red snapper with creamy grits. There’s also some New Southern cuisine, for classics with a twist, like the country meatloaf that features a blend of beef, pork and veal, covered with mushroom gravy and served alongside mashed potatoes and southern collard greens.

    Location: 210D Harbor Boulevard, Destin, FL 32541, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 12 pm to 9 pm, Friday–Saturday from 12 pm to 10 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 850-460-8900


    Louisiana Lagniappe

    Creole cuisine with views of the water

    • Families
    • Food
    • Couples

    Louisiana Lagniappe is the place to go if it’s creole cuisine you crave while in Destin. For more than 30 years, this restaurant has served up Gulf-caught seafood with a creole twist, in an upscale environment that’s good for both date nights and family events, paired with beautiful views of the waterfront.

    Menu favourites include the classic jambalaya, grouper louisianne and barbecue jumbo shrimp – all served with homemade hushpuppies, twice-baked potatoes and salads. Celiacs and health-conscious diners aren’t left out of the fun as the restaurant offers an extensive gluten-free menu and even a healthy kids’ menu.

    Location: 775 Gulf Shore Drive, Destin, FL 32541, USA

    Open: Daily from 4.30 pm to 9.30 pm

    Phone: +1 850-837-0881


    Jackacuda's Seafood & Sushi

    A waterside spot for a different style of seafood

    • Food

    Jackacuda’s Seafood & Sushi departs from the standard Floridian seafood fare and offers a more Asian style of seafood, though the restaurant still incorporates the local catches. Think sushi rolls, poke bowls, fried rice and ramen.

    For travellers who’ve been to several seafood spots around the area and are tiring when it comes to fried and grilled fish, this is the place to go. For those who aren’t a fan of fish at all, the dinner menu also offers southern-style macaroni and cheese, steak and even pork chops.

    Location: 36120 Emerald Coast Parkway, Destin, FL 32541, USA

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 12 pm to 9 pm, Friday–Saturday from 12 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 850-460-2909


    Mimmo's Ristorante Italiano

    Classic Italian served in a classy atmosphere

    • Food
    • Couples

    To Destin locals, Mimmo’s is the place to go for authentic, high-end Italian cuisine. One of the most in-demand restaurants in the area, the classy and modern atmosphere is suitable for date nights, or an evening out with friends. But at the same time, it’s not too stuffy that kids will feel out of place.

    Try Mimmo’s famous Italian garlic rolls to start, served with a garlic butter sauce, and then move on to your selection of pasta; veal, lamb and chicken dishes; or pizza. The classic Mimmo’s pizza is topped with imported prosciutto, tomatoes, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce.

    Location: 979 U.S. Highway 98 East, Suite 5, Destin, FL 32541, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 11 am to 10 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 5 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 850-460-7353


    Beach Walk Cafe

    Fine dining directly on the Gulf of Mexico

    • Food
    • Couples

    Beach Walk Cafe may be located within a luxury hotel, but that certainly doesn’t stop the locals from enjoying this fine-dining restaurant. Maybe that’s because it’s the most award-winning place in the area and the only fine-dining restaurant in Florida located directly on the Gulf of Mexico.

    The limited menu includes truffled marsala chicken with English pea risotto and shaved truffles, blackened diver sea scallop pasta with wild mushrooms, asparagus and red peppers, and grouper vince with crispy potato cakes and a honey Worcestershire sauce.

    Location: 2700 Scenic Highway 98, Destin, FL 32541, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 5 pm to 8 pm (closed on Sundays)


    Callahan’s Restaurant & Deli

    Cook your own catch with extensive options

    • Food

    Callahan’s is a casual diner and deli in Destin. Locals love the low-key atmosphere and simple eats, from the classic spinach salad to the soups of the day. Choose from an array of sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers during lunchtime, or try heartier favourites in the evening, such as pasta or steak.

    The restaurant offers a “cook your catch” service as well, where you can bring in a freshly caught fish and have it prepared to your liking. You can also choose your own steak from the deli case, and have it cut and cooked to your preferences.

    Location: 791 Harbor Boulevard, Destin, FL 32541, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10.30 am to 9 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +1 850-837-6328

    Holly Riddle | Contributing Writer

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