Destin Chow

If you know me at all, you know how much I love Destin, FL. Not just love, but LOVE. Like, if we won the lottery, we’d move, in a heartbeat. No thought about it – gone…living life out as beach bums and retirees.

I love the ocean, the clear water and white beaches, the southern, slow life, the shopping, the salty air, the relaxation and peace…and the FOOD. (I’m a hog…it’s okay, I know it)

And, even though, after each meal, we vow that we’re never eating again – we wake up, the next day, looking forward to the next dinner!

So – this might seem a little overwhelming, cause we were in Destin for 10 days and ate A LOT but bear with me, look at the yummy pictures and if you’re ever IN Destin (which, let’s face it, half the people I know vacation there!), stop by at some of my favorites!

DAY 1

We were tired. We just pulled in from a 12 hour drive. We wanted to unload our stuff, maybe pee real quick and EAT. First on our list – was Ciao Bella. One of our absolute favorites! We’ve been here, maybe 6 times, and love it each and every time. (We also had some Ciao Bella virgins with us!)

Hands down – the BEST dipping oil EVER. Garlicky and spicy – slightly fruity with the extra virgin olive oil. So delicious – seriously, THE dipping oil that every dipping oil should aspire to be! The bread, eh – I doubt it’s baked there. Just average. AND – I think that it should be included with every meal but I don’t make the rules of the restaurant so…so much for that!

Our meals…

Cheese ravioli

chix parm sand

Fett Alfredo

meat pizza

Chicken Catt

And, what I ate…well, what my daughter and I split (she picked and did a FINE job!)

penne cio something

Can’t remember the name of what I got – and our server couldn’t pronounce it anyway, but it was TASTY. A slightly spicy, creamy tomato sauce – the sausage was perfect, the pasta was perfect and I actually ENJOYED it and thought that it was worth the $. (I have issues with spending a lot on pasta!)

LOVE Ciao Bella and HIGHLY recommend it!

Ciao Bella Pizza on Urbanspoon

DAY 2

We were ready for some ocean food – since we were well-rested and ready to go on Day 2. So, off to The Back Porch we went…

No – not a very good or interesting picture but I am a sucker for all things “lime”. This drink is so damn tasty. It tastes like key lime pie…but daiquiri form! My absolute favorite drink while in Destin!

I’ve been reading about the infamous Destin smoked tuna dips, that circulate around there – but have never tried any. Decided to give The Back Porch’s a whirl. It was good – sort of like a glorified tuna salad, sort of pate-like. It needed more crackers (which we did request).

That is the Seafood Gumbo that is voted the best in Destin – I thought it was just okay.

angus burger

Blackened Mahi

Blackened Mahi 2

Crab and Spin Dip

Crab Cakes

Above is mine – I was craving some really delicious, seasoned, peel and eat shrimp…those were NOT it. They were boiled poorly and had zero seasoning on them. I ended up eating part of my daughter’s crab cakes!

I deem The Back Porch’s food as average – nothing that gets me excited (minus the key lime freeze) but, you can’t beat the scenery. It’s ON the beach and you eat and hear the waves at the same time. Might be booted from my list.

Back Porch Restaurant on Urbanspoon

DAY 3

Because I am a dork – I was immediately sucked in to a restaurant, called, The Black Pearl. Yes, the whole pirates bit. I wanted to go last year but got voted down! So – this year, I demanded that we go.

Okay – it was delicious but not nearly as delicious as Ciao Bella’s bread and oil. Well, just oil, really. I think that they might use the same bread company! This dipping oil was very good – I like the addition of the Parmesan. BUT – it need the garlic kick that Ciao Bella’s has! (BUT, it came WITH the meals…hear that, Ciao Bella?!?!)

Cannonball Shrimp...

Absolutely YUM – one of the best things we ate all week. Sort of reminiscent of Bonefish’s Bang Bang shrimp. The shrimp were HUGE, perfectly cooked, crispy and the sauce was delicious (could have used a little more)

Calamari

My daughter got the crab legs – a TON of crab for $21! She claims that they were delicious – cracking easily and not in the least bit soggy. (guess it has to do with the wood firing and all)

NY Strip

Pearl Platter

Shrimp Scampi

I got the above – Sunset Platter maybe? It was on the early bird special – Mahi, scallops and shrimp. It had lots of hopes and dreams of being delicious, but just wasn’t. The Mahi was horribly dry, the scallops were rubbery – the shrimp were very good. I tried the cajun mac’n’cheese – it was delicious!

I would go back to The Black Pearl again BUT – it’s not on my MUST list.

The Black Pearl (Wood Fired Steaks & Seafood) on Urbanspoon

DAY 4

I was dying for some Mexican AND we heard that The Dancing Iguana (no website) had tasty fish tacos, so – off we went!

Pina Colada

Strawberry Margarita

Boring! Chips and Salsa

Taquitos, poppers and nachos – average.

Chimichanga

Chimichanga 2

Burrito Grande

I had the fish tacos – I liked that they were FRIED but the corn/bean salsa stuff needed to be GONE. Good though – after the addition of some guacamole.

The Dancing Iguana is in Harbor Walk – the hostess seemed very confused. I wasn’t even sure that she worked there…she was aimlessly walking around. The air movement was horrible – it was stifling hot and the ceiling fan placement was poor.

Service was borderline – given a small push, it could have been horrible. I can see why this place gets so many bad reviews for service.

The cost was UBER high – our total bill was well over $100, for Mexican food! If it was awesome, that would be one thing. But, it was very okay. I guess a lot of people felt that way because I just heard that the Dancing Iguana CLOSED and that something else is moving in!

DAY 5

I can’t even try to be impartial to the next place – my heart is totally with McGuire’s Irish Pub. We’ve been here, numerous times, and it’s still a favorite. I won’t visit Destin without going here. It’s interesting, service is awesome, the bathrooms never stop entertaining and the food is just outrageous!

money ceiling mcguire's

 

 

 

These are the nachos that we CRAVE – BUT, it seems like they got smaller this year. Hard to believe, huh? They arrive, on a HUGE napkin, with large sides of sour cream and salsa. (my only complaint? Needs guac!)

“Black” bread – yummy, moist and sweet, with a drizzle (okay, more than a drizzle) of honey and butter!

House Salad

Ribs

NY Strip

Kid Corndog

Pasta

Prime Rib was so frickin’ delicious – super smoky, with a creamy, spicy horseradish dip, on the side. LOVED it.Also came with a huge baked potato – served with unlimited amounts of cheese, bacon, chives and sour cream, on the side!

I’ve never had anything bad at McGuire’s – service is ALWAYS good. It’s just a fun place to go and you don’t feel like you’re “wasting” your money. Yes, we WILL be back next year!

McGuire's Irish Pub of Destin on Urbanspoon

DAY 6

We were soooo ready for some CRAB – so, we went to The Crab Trap. Okay, I scratched The Crab Trap off my list 2 years ago – I thought that although the view was amazing, the food wasn’t. But, our peeps liked to eat ocean-side, so I put it back on, for this year.

NO apps – we were all just down for some crab!

Pasta

Snow Crab Legs

Yep, I got the King Crab. I’m going BIG or going HOME.

Not that I’m lazy – but I like to have my King Crab split open for me. Quite frankly, they’re really hard and pointy and it hurts my fingers!

I didn’t think the crab was all that good – it was soggy and lukewarm. Most of the time, my crab meat was stuck inside the broken shell. I think I liked the drawn butter more than anything. AND – the side “choices” were awful. Really, no choices at all – you just got what they decide to give you! I asked for a side salad substitute (which was not on the menu) and it was lettuce, with some overly strong onions. Seriously? I’m paying $40 for crab and you can’t give me a frickin’ salad?!?!?!

However – there’s NO place to get fresh crab in Destin. If I was using my brain, crab comes from Alaska and cold water – so, really, you’re screwed if you’re looking for “fresh”, in Destin. They do have Stone Crab BUT…the season is October through March!

The service was average, at The Crab Trap – sort of like, she knew that she was getting a ridiculous amount of money for crappy crab so…why bother?

This could be booted from my list!

Crab Trap on Urbanspoon

DAY 7

After a LONG and HOT, miserable day at SHELL Island, we needed some place with A/C! So, we decided to go to The Crazy Lobster. Okay, it gets HORRIBLE reviews on Tripadvisor but we’ve never had a bad experience there! And, it’s in Harbor Walk AND we wanted to the kids to be able to see the fireworks that night! And, did I mention that we were all sunburned to bits?

After the day from HELL – I needed an Ocean Water. It’s a yummy drink and I needed it to be large!

Steam Bucket for 2

Fried Shrimp

Crab cake Sandwich

Cheeseburger

Hands down, one of the best things I ate all week! It was moist, not even a smidgen dry. Spicy but not overbearing – the cajun butter (that I got extra of!) was delicious poured on top. The veggie choice was a little “eh” but…it’s all good.

The ONLY place we got dessert from all week!

Need I say more?

Service is very average – but, like I said, we’ve never had issues. The place smells a little, but they ARE right by the fishing boats. I’m sure we’ll be back! I can’t keep the kids (and husband) away from the cake!

Poppy's Crazy Lobster on Urbanspoon

DAY 8

And, we come to my absolute new favorite place, in Destin, to eat. EVERY year, I want to go, but we just haven’t. This year, I was demanding it! Dewey Destin. I’ll comment more later – I’ll let you see the food first.

There are 2 locations – this is the original and overlooks Crab Island.

Seating is fantastic and minimal – picnic tables, outside, with napkins in holders…

We pulled up to a gravel road – we parked. A trailer contained every piece of cooking equipment. We heard cooking noises as we passed. The line was average – it wasn’t too bad, heat-wise, until we hit the inside ordering room. The menu was written on a chalkboard. We ordered at a walk up window. Drinks were given to us in cans – tea, in a cup, that we could refill. We gave them our name, after ordering and sat down.

Buffalo Shrimp

Grilled Shrimp

Soft Shell Crab Sandwich

I was going back and forth between the Colossal Shrimp basket and the grouper sandwich – my husband convinced me to get the Shrimp. I think he was selfishly motivated.

This was, by far, my favorite meal of our trip! All the seafood is fresh – they serve what they catch that day. The cost is low because they are super simple – a dive! The kitchen guys were jamming at the grill, while yelling out orders. Everything just screamed “ME”.

The food was absolutely tasty – my shrimp were huge, seasoned well, with a great crunch but not too much breading. The tartar was good – the cole slaw, not so much. The hush puppies were amazing – they had jalapenos in them, nothing dry about them. Fries were okay – I’m not big on crinkle fries (my husband, on the other hand, is a crinkle fry maniac).

Everyone raved about their food – and only $54! Our least expensive meal of the trip. I can’t wait to eat there next year. A few times!

Dewey Destin's Seafood on Urbanspoon

Day 9

Our final night – *sniff sniff*

We went to someplace that we knew would be delicious. La Paz. Even my daughter, who despises Mexican food, loves La Paz. They just do it right – they even take a siesta in the afternoon before re-opening at 5! Come on! How can you not love that?!?!

This IS my place to get fish tacos, while in Destin!

I love their salsa – I would love it, however, if they made fresh chips!

There’s no such thing as too much Guac!

Poppers

Burrito

Cozumel

Fish Tacos

I got the special – which was a shrimp and a fish taco! As always, delicious! I can’t find a thing wrong with them! (well, minus the fish should be fried…)

Sopapillas

ALWAYS get these as dessert – delicious fried dough! (needs some powdered sugar though…just sayin’)

Sopapilla drizzled with honey!

Love La Paz and I know we’ll be back next year!

La Paz Restaurant & Cantina on Urbanspoon

LUNCH

We eat breakfast and lunch, in our room, most days. When we went to Panama City, for some shopping, we did eat lunch at Red Brick Pizza. I’ve never been there and it reminded me of the Chipotle of Italian food. You order your food at a register – they give you a number and you wait. Limited menu.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Veggie Pizza

I got the Italian Fhazani – it was okay. The bread was awkward – didn’t hold the sandwich well and kept falling apart. Needs to be re-created!

Red Brick Pizza on Urbanspoon

BREAKFAST

We used to be in love with Another Broken Egg Cafe – it used to be a place that we craved and a place that we looked forward to. After this year, we’re just not sure. Our disenchantment started last year – with the shock of sticker prices. $65, for breakfast, hurt our feelings a little. But, we always felt that the food was delicious enough to justify it. Now? We’re not so sure!

Last year, I saw these and thought that I must have them…

Beignets

I expected them to be better – they were very dense. I did like the orange marmalade that came with them though.

That is why my kids like coming to Another Broken Egg!

Kid Waffles

French Toast

Basic Breakfast

Biscuits and Gravy

Omelette

Pancakes

Southwest Scramble

I had the Potato Sensation – with chorizo, mushrooms and onions. I don’t know that any of those items were hiding in my potatoes? I felt like I got hosed.

Keep in mind, we’re only 4 of these pictures! (one of those being a kid meal) Our breakfast was $85 this year. Those are some really expensive eggs!

Another Broken Egg is on my “eh” list.

Another Broken Egg Cafe on Urbanspoon

Breakfast Day #2 – we wanted to try The Pancakery. It’s brand spanking new – and who doesn’t like pancakes?

It’s very small. It’s in a strip mall – it’s cute though. They just seemed a little disorganized, with the waiting list. But, we only waited about 10 minutes – so, all is well.

Basic Breakfast

Cherry Crepes

The Chocolatier

Omelette

Kids Smiley Face Pancakes

Steak and Eggs

I just wanted normal, old pancakes! They were huge and I totally could have split them with the boy! I think I maybe ate 6 bites – just too filling!

With that said – I didn’t like them. BUT, I was the only one who didn’t! I thought that they weren’t fluffy, kind of crispy and they had way too much vanilla in them.  I was outnumbered in my pancake critique! Everyone else thought that this breakfast was much better than Another Broken Egg. The price was way more justified too! People WERE talking about THIS breakfast. So, I’m sure we’ll be back!

The Pancakery on Urbanspoon

A couple things – before my fingers fall off…

My daughter and I attacked the San Gelato Cafe a couple times – it was super yummy!

They gave you the cutest damn spoons EVER.

San Gelato Cafe on Urbanspoon

AND – because I’ve heard so much about Sarah K’s Gourmet, having the best crab cakes, I stopped by one day. Each crab cake was $9.95 but it was THE best crab cake I’ve ever had. Granted, this is not a restaurant – it’s, basically, food, to go.

I had to re-heat the crab cake, at the condo but it didn’t compromise it’s taste, at all.

That picture really doesn’t do it justice – it was mighty tasty. NO filler – ALL crab. And, it seemed to multiply, definitely worth the almost $10.

Sarah K's Gourmet on Urbanspoon

So, our Destin food trip made me happy – and I’ve been chatting with the locals, getting the skinny on where THEY eat. Can’t wait til next year! (Have I mentioned that we’re going for 2 weeks?!?!)

15 thoughts on “Destin Chow

  1. Mc Guire’s is my absolute favorite and now can’t wait to try the dive you raved about. By the way we refer to the Crab Trap as the Crap Trap.

  2. My friend, Laura Walker, sent the link to your blog to me today. We are in Destin this week and looking for yummy places to eat. Your blog hit the mark – thanks!

  3. Patti,
    This has been incredibly helpful. I’m sure we will try a few of these places and leave some off the list, thanks to your blog!

  4. You found some of my Destin favorite eateries, and Sara K’s does have the best crab cakes! You are correct about Snow Crab and Alaskan King Crab- it is not fresh typically in Destin, unless flown in. Stone Crab is but seasonal. We are known for fresh seafood and some of the best Blue Crab and Soft Shell Crab on the Gulf Coast. There is nothing finer than jumbo lump crab cakes, lump crab on top of local fresh fish, or the Soft Shell Crab fried up at local eateries like Capt. Dave’s on the Gulf. Enjoyed your post and so glad you enjoyed Destin! I live on 30A, in Destin, and occasionally in Pensacola.

  5. Love your reviews! Thank you for pointing out some excellent food options! McGuire’s Irish Pub and Dewey Destin here we come!

  6. For many years, 3 of our faves have been Ocean Club, Cuvee Bistro and Graffeti’s. We will try Dewey Destin next time we go based on your review.

  7. Wow. What a fantastic review of the local eateries you visited here in Destin, and interestingly enough your opinions are quite in line with how I see things at those restaurants. The only one I haven’t had yet (though I’ve been living here since ’95) is the older Dewey’s. My one experience at the newer Dewey’s on the Harbor side was quite forgettable and I’ll probably never go back again, considering I have so many choices. I live right across the street from Dewey’s at Crab Island and I need to get off my duff, walk across the road, and eat there to see if it’s better than its newer sister-location. Callahan’s for Sunday breakfast is a winner, but also you’ve gotta check out Another Broken Egg and The Donut Hole as breakfast options. The Crab Trap will never again see my money for seafood, although evening drinks with the sun going down is a great experience. One place I recommend everyone try for seafood is Old Bay Steamer on Okaloosa Island just around the corner from Brooks Bridge. Nobody in the area does it better.

    • tlavonlawrence – thanks for reading (and liking) my blog! Love to chat, with other Destin lovers! I love Another Broken Egg but…I can’t justify spending $80, on breakfast. ;) We’ve never been able to get IN to the Donut Hole! I want to try Old Bay Steamer!

      • Donut Hole in Destin is the best. Better than SRB. ABEgg can be expensive. Try the Whale’s Tail for breakfast. Great prices and can’t beat the view! I like the Dewey’s on the Harbor, more so than the one on Crab Island. Since you enjoyed Ciao Bella you should try the owners main restaurant, Tuscany in Destin. Also Fat Clemenza’s and La Famiglia’s original location next to Dippin Dots. :)

  8. Thanks, I took your advise and loved Dewey Destin and McGuires. You said you love crab.
    We got the seafood fiesta at O’Quigleys across from Bass Pro Shop at Destin Commins and it was amazing. $129.00 and fed 4-6 people. You have to try it. Also we tried Travinia in the Sandestin Resort. Best seafood stuffed callazone and spaghetti & meatballs we found anywhere. Give these 2 a try next time you go and thanks for all the helpful info!
    Brenda Fowler
    7-5-2014

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