I’ve been having multiple “battles” (using that term VERY loosely), online, about the importance of food, while on vacation. Some go to certain restaurants for location (aka: the scenery), others go for the cocktails…I go for the food. Personally, I’d rather go off the beaten path and get amazing food, that just might not be ocean side, then get stuck with mediocre food, on the beach. Food is part of my vacation experience. But, that’s just me – there’s no right or wrong. I realize that I talk and think about food more than the average person. After eating for 2 full weeks (yeah, you read that correctly), in Destin, my a$$, definitely realizes it.
But, I’m willing to take the 3# hit, so that you can salivate over my multitude of pictures! See how nice I am?
We blend in our favorite restaurants, with some new ones – so, yes, I’ve already reviewed a few that I’ll mention below. But, I’ll do it again because that’s how I roll.
However, before we even GET to Destin, I force the family to one eating spot, for lunch…Krystal in Alabama. The same location, every year, for 7 years. We (Cincinnati peeps) have White Castle. The south has Krystal. Krystal is better.
What’s the difference? The buns (*snort*) are fluffier, there are less onions and they add the magic ingredient, mustard. FINALLY, 7 years, later, the husband has finally said that he thinks Krystal are better, too. See? I AM always right.
Okay…back on the road.
After settling into our condo, I asked the family, where they wanted to go to eat. I mapped out the next 13 meals, so I thought that I’d toss them a bone. I KNEW that they would pick McGuire’s. I would lose that bet. My girl wanted crab legs and the boy didn’t care – they picked The Black Pearl.
Day 1 – The Black Pearl
I really have no issues with The Black Pearl – it DOES take a hit on most of the review sites but, personally, we’ve never had any problems. It’s in FWB (that would be Fort Walton Beach – I’m not typing that again!), so we had to take a jaunt across the bridge.
Oh, wait – before I REALLY get into it, let me talk about service. We had REALLY great service ALL week. There was a restaurant that I didn’t like (look for it later!) but service wasn’t the issue. I know I complained about service, the past couple of years, but this year, the south totally redeemed themselves!
Okay – back to The Black Pearl
First day in, I’m getting a drink – Lava Flow, baby!
Nothing says vacation, like being on the beach, cool breeze, my family…and a strawberry filled pina colada. Yum!
Bread for the table
Mike got the Sunset Platter (he’s such a girl, sometimes)
Maddie got her Crab Legs
There IS something, really delicious, about their crab – they wood fire them…so they don’t get waterlogged. The shells are nice and crispy!
Mikey got his first steak of the trip – Tenderloin Medallions
I got the Blackened Mahi Sandwich
It was REALLY delicious – the fish was cooked properly and the bun wasn’t super hard, like ciabatta can be. Even the fries were tasty (coming from me and my attitude about fries, that says a LOT).
I’m going to have to give The Black Pearl a YUM, this year. But, I’m a little peeved that they did away with the Cannonball Shrimp.
Okay – here’s the deal. Donuts are delicious. But, nothing, not a single donut (don’t come at me with that Dunkin’ Donut crap either), beats hot, fresh, glazed Krispy Kreme. With that said, I’ve created a monster. My son, is now addicted. Our first night in, we stopped at Krispy Kreme. One of many stops. I’ll give you the donut count, at the end.
I’ll catch up with you, later, with more pics.:)
Suffice it to say, these were gone before we got to the condo.(And there were 12!)
Day 2 – (NEW!) Hog’s Breath Saloon
I heard that Hog’s Breath had a great fish sandwich – and, you know that I’m always down with that!
For an app, we got the Buffalo Shrimp
I only got about 3 bites in – my hoggy husband and daughter were fighting over it! Pigs.
Mike got the Seafood Platter (which, I don’t see on the menu but I know he got it!)
I love my husband. And, as I type this, I have to remind myself, of that. I don’t like oysters. It’s not the taste, really, but the texture. I just can’t handle it. He KNOWS this. He got FRIED oysters, on his. I asked if the frying, helped the texture. He said, “Sure, you should try one.” Took a bite and calmly said, “Yep, that texture makes me want to puke.” (I mean, if you like the taste and texture of fried cow’s balls, then this is probably for you!) His reply? “I KNEW you’d say that!” Why does he enjoy torturing me?
Southwestern Chicken Sandwich
The girl professed it to be the best chicken sandwich she’s ever had, in her entire life.
And, I got the Fried Fish Sandwich
It was pretty good – Bridgetown Finer Meat’s is better. Just sayin’.
I loved the atmosphere at Hog’s Breath – it seemed like a fun place to hang out. But, just visiting, once a year, I wouldn’t have to go back.
And, because I enjoy torturing the people who I love…
Day 3 - Dewey Destin (FAV!)
We were all really excited about Dewey Destin! And, when I tell you all to go to Dewey Destin, you must go to the CRAB ISLAND location. It looks a little scary but it is delicious and fresh and just perfection!
As I was bemoaning and bitching about the fact that my camera was fogged up – thanks, Florida humidity – the family scarfed down on the Tuna Dip.
She loves me. Really.
Soft Shell Crab Sandwich
The husband LOVES this! It’s what he gets every time.
Crab Cake Sandwich
Kid’s Hot Dog
And me - Crabmeat Stuffed Shrimp, Wrapped in Bacon!
I will stand firm, though, that Dewey’s needs to work on their sides. And, the tartar is sad.
We played some mini-golf and got some ice cream at Sweeties
It’s blueberry gelato – it was just “eh”. I didn’t finish it.
Day 4 – (NEW!) Hurricane Oyster Bar
Hurricane Oyster Bar, is in Grayton Beach – which is just a smidgen away, from Destin – like 23 minutes? We did some shopping, in Panama and stopped here, for dinner.
Adorable and funky, right?
They DO only take cash – no credit!
Contrary to its name, they DO have a ton of food, other than oysters. But, wait and see what I got!
We started with the Hurricane Debris Nachos
They were REALLY good – NOT perfect, however…the cheese needed to be melted. ;) But, I’d take them again!
My Crab and Lobster Bisque
Look at that picture. You know what that is? A PERFECT soup. Seriously, one of the best soups that I’ve ever had…or made!
Chipotle Honey Wings
Look at those grill lines!
Lobster tacos with coconut corn fritters
Surprisingly, that wasn’t mine. ;)
THIS was mine - Baked Oysters St. Jack
Verdict? LOVED them. Texturely, like mussels (which I love). Raw and fried are out. Baked – in!
We all, adored, Hurricane Oyster Bar. It was a very laid back, cool atmosphere. Grayton Beach seemed to be lacking all the hustle and bustle. Just an, all around, great meal!
Oh, almost forgot! I stopped at Blalock’s Seafood, for some fresh shrimp. I always love meat guys. They’re crazy fun. It was a couple of minutes til close, so I didn’t want to hold them up. I just snagged 1# of shrimp, paid and left.
After I shelled them and de-pooped them, we had Shrimp Salads with Bacon Vinaigrette, the next day, for lunch. Sorry that the pic sucks – it was my phone!
There’s NOTHING like fresh shrimp – the texture is entirely different!
While we’re on the subject of lunches – I made some awesome ones! Here’s another one – Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Burgers, with Fried Egg. Who needs Red Robin when you have me? (again, with my phone)
And, that’s all the lunch photos, I took! ;)
Day 5 – (our besties arrived!!!!) The Back Porch
My fav frozen drink – Key Lime Freeze
Okay, since there are many of us, now (7), you’re just getting a rundown of the food and I’ll let you know what I got, at the end!
Crab and Spinach Dip
Kid’s Grilled Fish
And, MINE – Grouper Florentine (yep, what I got last year!)
It was delicious, again! However, that succotash crap, REALLY needs to go. I think most restaurants, in Destin, need to revisit their sides. Seriously, how many steamed potatoes and corn, and hush puppies and fries do I need?
Day 6 – (NEW!) Stewby’s Seafood Shanty (FWB)
It was about a 30+ minute drive, thru FWB (it was a clusterpluck!), to get to Stewby’s. But…it WAS worth it.
Because I liked to pronounce Wahoo as Woohoo (I think it’s funny), I decided that’s the route I was going to take. But, I’ll post mine last. ;) And, a couple of us, got the same thing, so, not as many pics!
Soft Shell Crab Sandwich (guess who got that!)
And, MINE – Wahoo (fried) Dinner
Yep, those are tasty cheese grits (I know I’m a southern belle, deep, deep down). The fries were awesome. And the fish? Crispy and flaky. I am, so very much, in love with Stewby’s. Check out the menu – their sides are awesome. The cole slaw – delicious. Tartar sauce – okay. I think we’re spoiled by how yummy Frisch’s tartar sauce is. ;)
Dewey’s needs to watch out!
And – Krispy Kreme
Count – 3
Day 7 - McGuire’s (Fav!)
I love McGuire’s. But, right off the bat, 2 complaints. One, the lighting. You’ll understand when you see the pictures. (And, I would apologize to McGuire’s, but it’s their fault that the pictures of their food are crappy). It’s just RED, in there. Like, seizure inducing, red. And, the music – I enjoy the Irish tunes. But, it’s so damn loud. And, I say that as a girl who likes to rock out. Well, mildly rock out. There’s only so many damn bagpipes a girl can take before she pokes someone’s eye out with a fork!
Okay, vent over.
We ordered our usual – Nachos!
I said it last year and I’ll say it again – they suck now. (I can’t get the husband on board with this one, yet). Too many chips, not enough stuff. Not well-distributed. I wouldn’t need to order these ever again.
Yummy Bread, with honey
Crock of Onion Soup
NY Strip (still my son’s fav steak!)
And, MINE – Grilled Prime Rib
Eh – I wasn’t in love. But, that was my fault. I didn’t like it last year but I was convinced that it was going to be better this year. I swear to you – I’m not ordering an entrée, next time. There was so much food that I felt like I was going to burst, when I stepped out of there. We’ll see how that promise goes for me.
I love McGuire’s, but it was a tad disappointing, this year. :(
Day 8 – (NEW and LUNCH) Vinnie McGuire’s (yeah, you read that right)
Since we were going to the fish market, later, and having dinner IN, we decided to go out to lunch. The Irish do pizza?
We’re morons and have never noticed Vinnie McGuire’s, RIGHT NEXT DOOR, to McGuire’s.
I loved the ordering system – you get to fill out forms!
And, we have the same lighting issues…
Pepperoni and Bacon
Bacon, Goat Cheese and Mushroom (that’s ours!)
They smoke all of their meats. Everything is fresh and homemade. It was perfect pizza. It did need more sauce. But, it makes me sad that we’ll have to wait another year, for it.
My one complaint – the damn music. LOUD and really annoying.
DINNER – Sexton’s Fish Market
I’ll have to admit. I was sickly excited about visiting the fish market and cooking dinner. I love fish and cooking – I was hyperventilating a little.
My daughter’s comment…”It smells fishy.”
REALLY – are you sure?!?!?
We got some Royal Reds (headless), Grouper (I was pushing for Red Snapper but I lost that war) and some Stuffed Crab, for my non-fish eating daughter.
THEN, we stopped at Sarah K’s Gourmet (FAV!), for our sides and to get the boy, a steak.
We got the baked potato casserole, a filet and 2 desserts (you’ll see them later!)
They are, always, just amazing, at Sarah K’s. The food is homemade and delicious and just really well done. If I lived in Destin, I could see myself working here!
Back at the condo…
I shelled and de-pooped the Royal Reds
Look how pretty!
And, the finished shrimp! Royal Reds are sweet, like crab meat. And, really tender. I bought some garlic olive oil, in Panama City and used a scampi blend, on them. Finished them with some lemon balsamic!
Raw and seasoned
We be grillin’!
Here’s the complete plate – with both shrimp and fish, potato casserole and a spring mix salad!
Maddie’s Stuffed Crab
Mikey’s filet (and, that’s butter – not ice cream!)
Sarah K’s Death by Chocolate Brownie
Do I even have to tell you that it was a perfect brownie?
Sarah K’s Peanut Butter Tower
That wasn’t mine but I heard it was good. ;)
This was one of my favorite nights/dinners!
If you want to eat “out” but not go out, go to Sarah K’s! Everything is already made and she gives you fabulous, fool-proof reheat directions. Everything maintains it’s integrity and quality! (She makes amazing crab cakes, too!)
Day 9 – Floyd’s Shrimp House
This was our view, as we were eating…
…and, that is why we go.
All you can Eat – Popcorn Shrimp
And, I got the Grouper Tacos and I think I, accidentally, erased the picture. They looked just like the shrimp tacos, but I got rice and beans –> which were God-awful. I didn’t like my fish tacos either. I’m really outnumbered with this restaurant. The rest of the group really likes it – the ambiance and the food. I like the scenic view, I find the food to be very average.
And, Krispy Kreme
I promised you more pics! The sign above us, is the mother ship, luring us in.
I’ll make sure he never gets any chics. ;)
Day 10 – Dewey’s (FAV and AGAIN)
We had friends, with us, this time.
And, again, she loves me…
And, she had a mini- melt down, when realized that she had to pop their heads off. ;)
And, MINE – Grilled Scallops
Mine was just okay, that night. I still love Dewey’s, though.
You get such fun sights, too!
Later that night, we went to Baytowne Wharf – the boys played games and ran around. The girl and I went to Rum Runners, to listen to live music. Loved the music, but my drinks were uber pricey. I got 2 real drinks and 2 soft drinks. I spent well over $30. Ouch.
Day 11 – (NEW and LUNCH!) Hartell’s
It was a rainy day! Since my kids had a blast at BLAST arcade (I know I’m a nerd), we went to Baytowne Wharf, for some eats and some games!
We passed Hartell’s a few nights before and the onion ring smell was tempting us – so, we got lassoed in for lunch.
Looks like an old cheesy diner!
BTW – the menu must have changed…we got some items that aren’t listed on the online one!
They were crispy and really damn good!
Mikey’s (not MY Mikey) Chili Burger
The Big Juanita
And, MINE – Chili Cheese Tater Tots
What can I say? I like tater tots (and they were damn good, too!)
A nice lunch spot – kind of like Steak’n’Shake, with bigger burgers.
DINNER THAT NIGHT (NEW) - Louisiana Lagniappe
I’ve heard marvelous things about Louisiana Lagniappe – but, I’ll admit the price tags, kept me away. You know that I’m not scared to spend money on food, but I’m hesitant to shell out mega bucks for 2 kids that would just as easily eat a Big Mac.
So, we decided to make a date night out of it (one of the benefits to having older children) ;)
We sat outside and loved that the bay area/water was so low, that there was a cute dog, prancing around, with his owner!
The table gets hush puppies..
They were awesome – super crunchy. More cornbread, versus cakey!
Corn and Crab Bisque
M loved it!
MINE – Lobster Bisque
The server said that 8 out of 10 people, didn’t like this new soup, so she let me try it first. I liked it a lot – guess I’m in the freaky 20%. ;) It wasn’t as good as Hurricane’s, but I wouldn’t turn it down!
Lagniappe Seafood Platter
And, MINE – Blackened Redfish
The fish was perfect – spicy and flaky, not even a little overcooked. Loved the sauce and the side potato. A couple of pieces of my lobster were a little tough. Surprisingly, I’m not a huge fan of lobster. I’ll eat it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not my “luxury” eating item. I’d rather have King Crab.
It was a fabulous dining experience – I did like the ambiance and that it felt like a “special” place to dine. With that said, I wouldn’t have to go back. If I’m going to spend that kind of money, I’d like to try another “trendy” place in Destin, next time.
We brought the kids back Pizza Hut and Chinese (Orange Chicken). ;)
DAY 12 – BREAKFAST – The Pancakery
I know I’ve been down this tirade road before. My favorite breakfast place, in Destin, is Another Broken Egg Cafe but…I just can’t justify spending $80 (with tip), for our family of 4, for some eggs/pancakes. So, since we eat one breakfast out, the kids all chose, The Pancakery.
LOVED our server here – she was a transplant, from Ohio!
The All Pig Omelette (that’s what my husband called his meat lovers eggs)
Kid’s Pancakes with M&M’s
The “small” stack of Pancakes that comes with all breakfasts!
And, MINE – Eggs Benedict
Since I hate ham (even the Canadian “bacon”, ham…), I swapped it out with bacon. (that would be REAL American bacon). The sauce was horrible. It did NOT taste like hollandaise sauce. There was something very off-putting in it. And, I still don’t love their pancakes. Everyone I was with, disagrees with me. Oh well…on my own little anti-pancake island.
We ate breakfast that day because…we were headed, much later, to Rick’s Crab Trap for AYCE (that’s All You Can Eat) Crab!
DINNER – Rick’s Crab Trap (no website)
Disclaimer: I wasn’t feeling well, for dinner, so I just ordered something small. My allergies were on high alert and I think I knocked my brain loose, during go-carts, that day.
Crab – First Round of FIVE!
Our server was awesome there and she had refills of crab out, faster than you could request them – loved her! AYCE Crab is $31.99 – a great deal when you figure that you only get #1 for $26, at other places. They all, definitely, got their money’s worth!
And, MINE – Kid’s Chicken Fingers (told you that I wasn’t feeling well – Mikey, ended up eating 2 of them…along with his steak)
These are just my thoughts about Rick’s Crab Trap – we only go because of the AYCE crab. I don’t *love* anything else there. Which makes me sad because the servers and management all seem to really care. They just need to do some menu rehabbing. When you’re in a hotel, you need to have a menu that’s unique enough, to bring in the masses.
DAY 13 – Mish Mash of things, first!
Since I wasn’t feeling well, the girl and I swung by CVS for some Benedryl. Then, we decided that gelato would make me feel better. ;)
San Gelato Cafe – Cookies and Cream and Blueberry
It was yummy and made my head feel better. ;)
And, then, there were 2 places, that I became obsessed with, while down there.
A new place, called Chicken Salad Chick
GREAT concept – different types of chicken salad, soups and a couple other kinds of sandwiches. Since I make fabulous chicken salad, I had to check out hers, right?
I got the Classic Carol
It was okay – I expected more since a whole deli was based on this one item. BFM’s is better…and so is mine. ;)
Then, I thought there would be ALL the soups listed – nope, there’s just ONE soup/day. Eh – I’m going to disagree with that strategy. If you only have one hot item, have all 4 soups, all the time! So, I was stuck with potato soup.
It was very good – just needed more salt.
And, the 2nd place that I had to swing by, to curb my OCD…The Alligator Pear Truck!
I had gone ALL week without guacamole – I was going nuts!
The girl working there was very fun and energetic and you could tell that she LOVED their products! She told me that I came to the right place for chips and guac.
They were both AWESOME. Chips were just like Nada’s! Homemade and crispy – lots of seasoning and flavor. And, the guac, was perfect. (yes, that rarely passes my lips) I would love to go again, for some other yummy Mexican food!
DINNER – (NEW!) The Boathouse Oyster Bar
I heard, via locals, that this was a great place to eat. So, off we went! Very limited parking and small restaurant. I’ll post more thoughts later…
Bang Me Shrimp
It was really good – not Bonefish Bang Bang Shrimp good, but good.
Kid’s Hot Dog
Blackened Mahi Sandwich
Cheeseburger with DELICIOUS Ruffles!
Action Burger with an awesome bag of Ruffles!
Yes, I’m bitter about the BAG of chips, that came with the burgers. If we’re paying $12, for a frickin’ burger, give me some damn fries! NO substitutions or upcharges…you had to order the basket of fries, separately. Bastards.
And, MINE – Steamed Shrimp
First, I hated the sides and they were hard asses about not substituting – way to go for customer service. Crappy steamed potatoes and mushy corn, suck. And, second, I thought that my steamed shrimp would be hot. They were cold – and had no flavor.
We won’t be returning here – it’s a BAR first, and restaurant, WAY down the line. We saw servers, chain-smoking and then going right to their tables. And, another server take 2 shots. Keep it classy, Boathouse. Guess we should have scoped that out better. If you’re there to get hammered with your server, feel free to visit. If you want a good meal, skip it.
FINAL KRISPY KREME
Final Count: 5 TIMES! Let’s do the math, shall we? 5 trips X 12 glazed donuts = 60 donuts. 3 of those trips, we got an extra 6 variety of donuts = 18. So, 60 + 18 = 78. 78 donuts, in a 14 day period. I’m not proud, people. With that said, my piggy son (whom, I found one night, at 4AM, sleep-eating one of the glazed Krispy Kreme – addict, much?), probably ate 32 of those donuts. He needs to do some sit ups, this week. They’re really delicious. What can I say?
DAY 14 – (NEW!) Stinky’s Fish Camp (Santa Rosa Beach)
I’ve had my eye on this one, for a while. It’s about 25 minutes, from Destin (but, most places take a while, with Destin traffic).
They only had valet, for dinner, which WE enjoy. ;) Our wait was about 20 minutes, so we went next door, to their gift shop and got some t-shirts. The place had a great vibe, from the start.
Loved the menu – very unique. The inside is very rustic, but NICE rustic. Before I get to it, I’ll show you pics!
Bloody Mary – it’s like a feast!
Buffalo Frog Legs
You just can’t mess with the plate presentation – it was all beautiful! And, the tamales were awesome! Little packages of deliciousness.
Baked Shells and Cheese
Kid’s Shells and Cheese
Grilled Shrimp and Angel Hair Pasta
Ribeye (special menu)
Braised Short Ribs
And, MINE – Grilled Corvina (it’s like Sea Bass) on Cheese Grits!
The husband and I split the short ribs and the fish – they were both, equally, delicious – all the sauce and meat, mingled in with the cheese grits. Every bite was a little like heaven. I tried A LOT of what was on the table – EVERYTHING was good. Mikey’s garlic potatoes were awesome. Even the shells and cheese were fantastic. By far, one of my (ALL of ours!) favorite meals/restaurants of the whole trip! We can’t wait to go back, next year. In the mean time, we all still have our Stinky’s shirts. ;)
Since we were so full, from delicious Stinky’s it made sense to stop at Kilwin’s, right? I, usually, get my drink, in Panama, but didn’t – so, the husband owed me a final trip!
Raspberry Kilwin Kooler
It’s raspberrily delicious.
And, Mike’s Cookies’n’ Cream (see, he didn’t protest that trip, too much!)
Let’s recap – we still like our old favs (all picked for a variety of reasons/people, in our vacation family)…
Dewey Destin (out of these, this one is my fav – the others, minus McGuire’s, are “eh” to me)
The Back Porch
Floyd’s Shrimp House
Rick’s Crab Trap (AYCE)
Things that we LOVED, this trip – NEW!
Hurricane Oyster Bar – LOVE!
Stewby’s – LOVE!
Vinnie McGuire’s – LOVE!
Sexton’s and Blalocks – fish markets – LOVE!
Sarah K’s – LOVE!
Alligator Pear – LOVE!
Stinky’s Fish Camp – LOVE LOVE LOVE!
If you love Destin and the surrounding areas, like I do, check out some of the restaurants, above! I had some really delicious food, this year. Honestly, I wouldn’t even say anything was BAD – just a few things were average.
Oh – and, the bonus news!!!!! Fred got married!!!!
Til next year, Destin!
Oh – and you KNOW what our first meal back, in Cincinnati was, right?
What can I say? I’m a Cincinnati girl at heart.