Mexico Beach & Panama City FL recs?
I will be staying one night in Mexico Beach and am looking for the best I can find in the area. So far I've come up with 2: Capt. Andersons in Panama City Beach and Toucan's in Mexico Beach. Which would you go to? Is there some where else? Thanks.
I've been to both Toucan's and Capt. Andersons multiple times and prefer Toucan's (even though Capt. Andersons is def. something of local lore down there). Toucan's seafood is fresh and simple like Capt. Andersons but more inspired, perhaps because the restaurant is newer. I particularly enjoy the evenings of "all-u-can-eat shrimp" at Toucan's - one-pound buckets of boiled shrimp (shell still on to lock in the sweetness). It's a fun place.
That said, Apalachicola/Eastpoint just down the road (about the same distance as Panama City - the other way) is definitely the best way to go for the best seafood and cuisine in general along that stretch of coast.
In Eastpoint, That Place on 98 serves perhaps the best inexpensive fresh fried local seafood along the Florida Panhandle coast (other than Spring Creek Restaurant south of Tallahassee, which is a bit too far for your stay). http://www.thatplaceon98.net/ It's an unassuming place right there along the docks where the seafood is brought in from offshore - as fresh as it gets. Ashby Stiff of the Tallahassee Democrat gave it four out of five stars.
Apalachicola itself is a dining destination. You can find anything from cantinas to haute cuisine to continental to "sophisticated coastal southern." A few standouts include:
Chef Eddie's Magnolia Grill - the Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) Pontchartrian is perhaps the single best seafood dish I have ever tasted - a beautiful piece of fish smothered in an artichoke cream sauce and topped with flame-roasted corn and grilled shrimp - OUTSTANDING. http://www.chefeddiesmagnoliagrill.com/ It's a more dressy place, and garners 4.5/5 stars from the Tallahassee Democrat.
Also outstanding is the Owl Cafe, a local landmark that serves creative dishes like crab quesadillas, shrimp, chicken and sausage Jambalaya served over rice, Fried Soft Shell Crabs topped by Tuscan Tomato Salad and finished with Feta Cheese, Black Grouper sauteed with Roasted Garlic, Capers and Artichoke Hearts, and meat dishes as well. Another 4.5/5 from the Tallahassee Democrat.
For something mixing South American with N. Florida like no other, try Tamara's Cafe http://www.tamarascafe.com/ . They have the best tapas menu in N. Florida, along with some amazingly creative dishes employing local flavor with a latin touch. Another winner.
It's worth the 35-mile drive from Mexico Beach.
I lived in Panama City Beach for 10 years and moved back to Atlanta in 2000, so for me Captain Anderson's while good isn't the best seafood. If you want really good seafood try The Treasure Ship which is next to Captain Anderson's. I haven't been back in awhile but if it's still there the She-Crab soup is out of this world and even their house dressing which is a Gargonzola Cheese Dressing is incredible. They also have a desert called KokoMoko Pie and it's too big, you have to share it with someone else. Their seafood is very good! There used to be some really good seafood restaurants there but the last few hurricanes have closed some down. You might try Runaway Island if it's still there, they have great conch fritters.