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Any Hope in Panama City Beach?

The Fam is going to PCB for 3 days in June. I used to live there, but don't remember any memorable eateries. REally hoping to avoid purely touristy places, so I'm hoping someone can make a few recommendations for some (a) good, local family type places, (b) One good place for 1 fairly elegant meal for my high maintenance wife; and (c) some place really funky and down-home just for a hoot. P.S. I abhor Captan Anderson's, if it's stil there, but another good local seafood place would be welcome.

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  1. If you're to the west side of the beach, you're reasonably close to some of the eastern Walton County 30-A spots like Cafe 30-A or Orano in Rosemary Beach for elegant fare.

    1. I am from there but have not lived there for many years. I just emailed my sister who lives there (and loves food and wine) and asked her for a good non-fancy seafood recommendation and for a more upscale recommendation. I'll report back tomorrow.

      1. We just returned from 9 days of camping at St. Andrews on the eastern side of Panama City Beach. I have to say that almost every meal that we had out was very good- even in the so-called "tourist" places. Billy's Oyster Bar had some very fine steamed blue crabs and steamed shrimp, Liza's Kitchen serves a wonderful cajun eggs benedict (with fried eggplant), even the Boatyard, where I have had some pretty bad meals in the past, came through this time- I forget what they called it, but it was some kind of grilled fish and shrimp served over cheese grits. Very tasty but very rich. And you can't beat the view there... The marinated crab claws were huge and tasty, but they were also tough- I would probably avoid them.

        We had fried shrimp at the Schooner- they were ok, but nothing to write home about. Their crab claws were awesome though, and you can't beat the atmosphere...

        Hope this helps!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Clarkafella

          I'm glad to hear you liked Billy's! I miss eating there! Schooners used to be the best beach bar ever until a Opal took it out about 10 years back and they remodeled "fancy". I heard it's slated to become condos. It was my favorite hangout from about 18-21 and then every time I would go back and visit.

          1. re: rhnault

            Didn't mean to sound negative about Schooners- while the food wasn't all that great, I loved the drinks, service, and the place itself. I had some kind of "house special" Margarita that had coconut in it! Actually, I don't think that it was supposed to have coconut- I think that they mixed it with the same blender that was used for my wife's Pina Colada a few minutes earlier- but oddly enough, the combination worked, and was pretty good!

            1. re: Clarkafella

              They were never known for their cuisine in the first place. Just a great relaxed beach bar. I didn't think you were being negative at all. I was just nostalgic ; )

        2. I appreciate the suggestions, and will report back.
          About 20 years ago I lived in Panama City. There was a soul food restaurant (really, just an old shack/house) near downtown which was run by an old african american lady and her family. The foood was to die for; greens, chicken, taters; real, southern SOUL food. It was packed with the city's movers and shakers every lunch. CAN anyone from that area tell me the name? Is it still there? In all my years, I've never seen another place like it, and I wanna go back.

          4 Replies
          1. re: wishbugger

            That was Mama Cole's. It burned down and all the local businessmen loved it so much they paid to rebuild it. I doubt she is still alive but family could have carried on.
            I just googled. It's still there, MAMA COLE'S CAFE, 580 HARMON AVE, PANAMA CITY, FL (850) 872-9611
            I agree with you, it was amazing.

            1. re: rhnault

              Mama Coles! That's it! Thank you very much. I wanna go back, but... I know that they could not have rebuilt that shack and that atmosphere. There would just be no way to replicate that bit of soulful southern history.

              1. re: wishbugger

                yeah but the rebuild was probably close to 20 years now lol. I'll have to ask my Mom if the food is still amazing. I think that's where the soul came from, not the shack ; )

            2. re: wishbugger

              It's called Big Mama's now. The food is very good...even better than when it was Mama Cole's. Go hungry!! My fav: macaroni and cheese (cooked the old fashioned way, with custard binding the noodles), but they have a great variety of items and all those Southern vegetables that are hard to find like lady finger peas, okra, mustard greens, etc. Big Mamas Country Cooking 580 Harmon Ave Panama City, FL Phone: (850) 784-6009. There are a bunch of good restaurants in downtown Panama City and St. Andrews now. If you haven't been in a while you're in for a treat.

              Downtown: Chef Imondi's, The Cheese Barn, Ferrucci's, The Caspian (Persian), Dock at Joes, Jimmy's Drive-In, Tally-Ho Drive-In

              In Millville: Gene's (the absolute best) Oyster Bar and Sweet Magnolia's (Save room for dessert)

              In St. Andrews: Shane's, Hunt's,Captain's Table, Uncle Ernie's, St. Andrews Coffee House for amazing 5 star desserts. Oh and Hilltop meats nearby for take-out BBQ and great old fashioned smoked sausage.

            3. OK from my sister...I asked her for casual and upscale...

              Saltwater Grill for both. They have good steaks and seafood. And live entertainment. A guy plays the piano - popular tunes etc. You can sit at the piano bar. Have a 25,000 gallon saltwater aquarium. The chef came from Canopies, same people own it. Similar food but larger portions. We go there alot. Also, Boatyard located on Grand Lagoon. It's very casual. Schooners people own it. It's kind of like Schooners but on the lagoon. They have live entertainment most nights. Floribean cuisine. It's just down from Capt. Andersons. Schooners is still open. 30 Degree Blue is at Bay Point, Resort Casual, fine dining. Very pretty. Need reservations. We went there on our anniversary. Tell them to go to Andy's Flour Power for breakfast. All homemade pastries, omelets, wraps. Very nice people own and work there. On Thomas Dr. near Capt. Andersons. Now I've made myself hungry . . .

              1 Reply
              1. re: rhnault

                For a funkier place with excellent seafood, try Louie`s Florida Grill. Right in the middle of the "Y", if you remember. If you don`t, it`s the intersection of Front Beach and Florida 79. I had lunch there yesterday, Blue Crab cake for me and Grouper for the wife. Very good, and the portions are extremely generous. That`s because most of their weekday customers are local "workin folks".

                This is plain "cracker style", but of course they`ve added some NO touches, that flavor has been pretty much absorbed, IMO.

                For elegance, there are several places in Seaside, not sure, was it Cafe33?