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Mar 7, 2008 08:19 AM

Ft Walton & Destin

My wife and I will be in the area in the middle of June. I'm kind of familiar from past trips with the chain places, but want something more local and of course, yummy. We live in Baton Rouge, visit New Orleans often, and like everything from hole in the walls to fancier style places. Any tips?

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  1. First time poster here who's been lurking for a while on these boards.

    If you'll forgive my $0.02...

    I have to admit that while I grew up in Niceville (across the bay from Destin), I haven't been back to the area in over twelve years (can't say I really miss the place that much). The food choices weren't all that great then. It was either chains and local restaurants that catered to tourists with uneven food or relatively high prices (especially in the summer).

    That said, however; the only place that I have any nostalgic feelings for is Nick's Seafood Restaurant in Freeport (on the north side of the bay from Sandestin).

    It's a hole-in-the-wall cinder-block seafood joint, but I remember the food to always have been very fresh and reasonably priced.

    Having moved away from the area I always assumed that it would have closed down since places like this are quickly disappearing or trying to go upmarket (especially with seafood).

    Less than a year ago a friend of mine was in the Destin area and said it was still open and that it was quite good. They have a website you can check out: (

    According to their website they have the same cook still working there for 35 years. And from their website it looks like it hasn't changed one bit.

    The food you'll get there is similar to other seafood places in Destin with the difference that its very fresh and designed to appeal to locals rather than tourists.

    1 Reply
    1. re: evilcrossbar

      Nick's is still there and still caters to locals. Excellent seafood, but indifferent sides. We've been down here since 1998, and the food scene has improved a lot over that time.

      The stealth chains (restaurant groups with multiple locations that don't really care about return visits)- Crab Trap, Back Porch, Fisherman's Wharf, Pompano Joe's, Gratzi. Louisiana Langiappe is same ownership, but reportedly slightly better.

      If you want to eat on the water, Harbor Docks has many fans, and Dewey Destin's is where we end up when we want to eat on the water. Favorite dive with good food- The Red Bar in Grayton Beach.

      We haven't found good local Chinese yet. You're better off going with Thai, Japanese, or any other place the US Air Force has had bases in the past 40 years. Lots of military brides and their families have ended up running restaurants in the area that offer a taste of home.

      Lots of small places up and down CR 30-A. For a ton of feedback on them, try

    2. My husband and I are just returned to Cleveland after two weeks in Destin. For awesome New Orleans-inspired cuisine, don't miss D&K Cafe and Fire. More casual (and no credit cards) - Stinky's Fish Camp is a total winner.

      A great casual spot recently opened is Hurricane Oyster Bar; they have $5/dozen raw oysters and $1 drafts during happy hour (5-6pm). For casual and delicious Italian, Locanda Ristorante on Rt 98.

      We ate there for two weeks and only ate at one chain place (because we just had to try Cheeseburger in Paradise - but don't waste your time, money or mealtime on them) and we accidentally wound up at a "restaurant group" place (Fisherman's Wharf - fish was good, the rest was "eh"). Go to Nick's on Rt. 20 for great inexpensive and casual food.

      As Beachmouse says, the Chinese food is hit and miss, but if you like Thai, check out my blog for info on the Charity Thai Food Court in Fort Walton Beach for Sunday lunch. Also, there are new Thai places in Destin. One is where Nim's used to be, next to Chan's Wine & Cheese World, called Jasimine and the other is in the same plaza where Hurricane Oyster Bar and Fire are. I don't know how good they are. And for sushi, can't go wrong with either Harbor Docks or Camille's (same owners, same fish). Harbor Docks is our "go to" and we are never disappointed.
      You can read my full photo-report at