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Ft Walton & Destin

Will be splitting time between the two from Saturday to the following Saturday (Ft Walton until Wednesday, Destin the remaining time). Looking for some suggestion in the area. Not looking for anything fancy (unless it is really fantastic) mainly trying to avoid the chains and the alluring but awful spots ("But it looked so nice from the road...). Any help would be appreciated.

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  1. If you like Thai food, try the Charity Thai Food Court on Sunday over by the Buddhist Temple. Harbor Docks in Destin will give you the best and freshest sea food. Also same area is Silver Sands with great biscuits and grits for breakfast. Some one on this board did a whole blog with these places and others back last year. Try searching seafood in Florida. And let us know your picks and pans. Ms Crew and I are headed that way at month's end. Been about 2 years since we were there so would love an update.

    6 Replies
    1. re: crewsweeper

      That blogger would be me! I definitely second the Thai Food Court. Also, Silver Sands is in the Harbor Docks premises - and they are both worth visiting. Dewey Destin's is another nice choice for cheap, mostly wonderful food. Also, we had a fabulous (and inexpensive) Italian dinner at Locanda Ristorante. Finally - make sure you get to Stinky's Fish Camp. Same price range as Harbor Docks, and some wonderful food.

      My report from our 2008 2 week trip to Destin is here: http://funplayingwithfood.blogspot.co...

      1. re: NancyH

        Thanks for the tips so far- going to be doing some websurfing tonight to get addresses, etc....

        1. re: NancyH

          NancyH,
          Thanks for the wonderful blog. My, but do we play with food!!
          I've just set reservations for Beachwalk Cafe on the 1 night we're there at the end of June. We'll probably try to make Silver Sands for Breakfast the next morning. Not sure if we'll still be around at lunchtime but will look over your report for something on the way out of town, maybe Chan's and get some wine and cheese to take home.

          1. re: crewsweeper

            Nancy gave some great advice, but I am hoping for a few more tips, just don't want to miss out on anything we might love...

            1. re: RobandLot

              Great tips throughout on this thread (including a couple for me to try next year)!

              RobandLot - you can see more of our dining adventures in the Destin Area from 2007 here: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s....

              Also - I can vouch for Staff's, which is one of those places that's been around forever and offers great value for the money. Our one experience at Sai-Kyo was positive and I'd go again, but stick to the Vietnamese food and go light on the sushi.

          2. re: NancyH

            Locanda is out of business already. High prices, inconsistent food.

        2. Giuseppe's Wharf in Niceville has always been one of my favorite seafood restaurants. The shrimp boats used to pull up to the restaurant dock with the day's catch. It's gone a bit upscale now, but still hard to beat.

          Also in Valparaiso is the Boat House Landing, excellent for lunch. I also enjoy the golf clubhouse at Bluewater Bay.

          These are all just a few minutes from Destin with the new Bay Bridge, but worlds away from the tourist traps along the beach.

          1. Best Thai food we've had lately was at Jasmine Thai over by Pier One in the Publix shopping center at the foot of the Mid Bay Bridge. Saikyo near Destin Walmart for Vietnamese- we nejoyed what we tried there. Staff's in FWB has had good fish the times we've been there. If you just need something quick, I like Tiajuana Flats on Eglin Pkwy for Americanized Mexican, even if it's a chain.

            Mediocre stealth chains to avoid- Pompano Joe's, Back Porch, Fisherman's Wharf, Crab Trap

            1. Just got back from a few days in the Destin area. My wife got to eat one more nice dinner than I did, and she spent it at Bud n' Allie's. She had excellent things to report, but since I wasn't there I can't really rate it. The next night was spent at Cafe 30A, and I'm happy to report that it was outstanding as usual. The menu is all over the place, but I suppose it has to be when you're trying to please the FL vacation crowd. We started with the tuna two ways, crabcake, and fried oyster salad. All were very good, but the tuna was my favorite. For entrees we got the grouper, scallops, and another appetizer - the clams. The grouper was outstanding, perfectly executed and flavored. The scallops were also very good. I wasn't too big a fan of the clams because of the italian sausage in the dish. I felt it overpowered the clams. For dessert, we got the Brie cheesecake. It was very original and might have been the highlight of my night because it offered a new taste to my palate. Overall, it was the best meal of the trip and my wife said it was better than Bud n' Allie's the night before - not by much but better nonetheless. Long story short, I live in New Orleans and 30A holds it own compared to the best restaurants in NOLA.

              The only other big dinner we spent at Borago. Borago was a big let down. We had never been before, but we expected good things based on CH posts and other reviews. We got the calamari and the scallop apps to start. The calamari was really good. I liked the cornmeal batter a lot. The scallops were cooked well and the polenta was just so, but the dish lacked flavor. It simply wasn't seasoned well, but it had enough to be called "good" and we anxiously awaited our entrees. I got the shrimp and scallop risotto, my wife got the shrimp pasta with prosciutto, and my mother in law got the grouper nicoise. What a disappointment. No dish was seasoned properly. Mine was bland, bland, bland. We make risotto all the time at my house and we make it with wine and some sort of stock. It comes out flavorful and delicious. I think they made theirs with water and added no salt or other seasonings. My wife's pasta had no hint of prosciutto, basil, or mascarpone cream - all of which the dish was supposed to have. The grouper suffered the same fate. Bland piece of fish over bland pasta with bland vegetables. No desserts were had. Overall, a bad experience that I wouldn't care to repeat. In sum, the calamari was the only good dish we had. The others weren't seasoned well at all and since there was no salt and pepper on the table, we got the impression that everything would come out of the kitchen perfectly spiced - which in nice restaurants, it should.

              We at breakfast at Another Broken Egg. It was good and filling. The dishes have all the subtlety of a sledghammer, but that's what it's supposed to be. If you're looking for a place to do a big brunch in a crowded place, it's a good spot. Also, if you measure the quality of a restaurant by the price per pound, this is a good place for that. If you want well crafted dishes for breakfast or brunch, look elsewhere.

              3 Replies
              1. re: N.O.Food

                We also had a disappointing experience at Borago this year, after enjoying an excellent meal there the year before. How was the quality/freshness of the fish and seafood? My shrimp was not fresh this year; last year, the Grouper Nicoise was excellent (I had them serve it with their fresh pasta rather than potatoes).

                We had an outstanding Italian meal this year at Cafe Locanda Italiana and Colosseum Bar, 4942 HWY 98 W, Santa Rosa Beach, (850) 622-1119. Though they use dried rather than fresh pasta, the quality of ingredients, skill of the kitchen, and care of service notched this place up (and the prices are very reasonable compared to 30A places).

                1. re: NancyH

                  After much debate, we decided to go to Borago instead of Locanda, mostly because they had a website, and it was a little bit closer. I found the seafood to be fresh, but my main complaint was that everything was woefully underseasoned and bland as could be. It'll be Locanda next time for sure.

                  1. re: N.O.Food

                    Locanda Italiana Ristorante in Santa Rosa Beach recently closed (June 2008). That's too bad about Borago as well - it's been one of my favs ever since we moved here but I haven't been in over 6 or 7 months. One you should try next time is Fat Clemenza's in Miramar Beach- excellent Italian (http://www.emeraldcoast.com/dining/ar...)

              2. Just back from what can be be described as an overnighter in Destin.Ft Walton Beach.
                Lunch on Monday at Harbor Docks. My Wahoo was good. Ms. Crew's Oyster sandwich was okay. She was expecting an atomsphere similar to Boathouse Oyster Bar just down the road. Evening reservations at Beachwalk Cafe scrubbed as Ms. Crew noticed Ruth's Chris sign and having never been there wanted to try on the fly. Place was packed with families in a down economy on a Monday night! Steaks were excellent! Ribeye and Strip at medium rare--very red in middle. Very tender. Huge could not finish. Creamed spinach not my favorite side but Ms. Crew loved it. Chocolate Explosion satisfied our chocoholic jones. Serve was attentive but not overly obtrusive.
                Tuesday breakfast, Silver Sands takeout cheese grits and biscuits enhanced by donuts from the Donut Hole across Hwy 98. DH was livelier than SS at 7 AM. Lunch heading out of town was at Nick's Seafood in Basin Bayou, which is much closer to Freeport than Niceville. Good fish sandwich and spicy but lukewarm gumbo. Loved reading all the bass tourney results. Speaking of Niceville, coming up 85 where it T's into the junction road to Rte 20, there's a coffee shop at the left end of the dollar General shopping Center, where we asked directions for Nick's. Place was packed. One of those local no checks, no credit cards, no shoes, noservice dner places. Don't know the name, just saw big Coffee Shop signs, but we were tempted to ditch driving all the way out to Nicks once we heard how far away it was. Any CH ever eat there? South Walton Foodie? And sorry Nancy H but drove by in the rain past Locanda's and it looked dark, so guss SWF is right about it closing.

                2 Replies
                1. re: crewsweeper

                  If it's the place I'm thinking of, it's pretty much a generic version of a Waffle House sort of place.

                  1. re: beachmouse

                    Blue " Coffee Shop" letters? Stand alone brick? I know places where all the locals rave about Waffle House type joints, so it wouldn't necessarily surprise me.

                2. Try Guglielmos (sp?) for great Italian. There are seveal in the area - a pretty casual spot at the outlet and a nicer one going towards Fort Walton. It's one of my favorite places.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sunsuze

                    Gugliemo's strength is on the pizza/sandwiches/salads part of their menu. Their pizza's out favorite relaible take-out when we don't feel like cooking. Pastas are decent but not great, and not as good of a value for the money that other parts of the menu are.