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Jan 22, 2009 06:18 AM

Panhandle - anything new near Destin?

We'll be in the Destin area in a few weeks and are wondering if there are any new chow-worthy places to try. We're willing to drive a bit and like all types of food. We've been to Harbor Docks and to some places near Santa Rosa on previous trips. All suggestions, for all types of food (seafood, ethnic, etc.) from hole-in-the-wall to upscale are welcome!

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Niki - check out this board: Lots of great info from the locals.

    Three of our favorites from past years have closed: Blue Orleans, Locanda Ristorante and Beachwalk Cafe.

    We are told that great food is now part of the scene at Chan's Wine & Cheese.

    Our "short list" for this year is shaping up like this:

    Nick's Seafood on Highway 20 L, D
    Café Tango D
    Fabrice B,L, D
    Gravel Road L, D
    Bloom's Café D (Th-Sat), BR (Sun)
    D&K’s Beach Cafe and Oyster Bar L, D (T-Sat
    )Stinky’s Fish Camp, D, BR (Sat/Sun only)
    Camille's at Crystal Beach B, L, D
    Dewey Destin's L
    Harbor Docks B, L, D
    Vin Tij, L, D
    Staff’s D
    Enzo's D
    Smiling Fish Café, L, D
    Seagrove Market L, D

    Since you love wine, you'd probably love Vin Tij, which is on 98, and which features lots of wine (and flights available with or without meals for a more extensive tasting experience).

    We'd also love some updates from you Hounds in the know; we'll be going there soon also. How is D&K doing? That ties with Cafe Tango as our favorite FWB eats.

    3 Replies
    1. re: NancyH

      Will be in Destin for first time for only 2 nights next month. Which of the above seafood places would you say has the best oysters? best shrimp? We don't need fancy, or touristy...or rah rah...just good food. Thanks!

      1. re: JulieF

        We are just returned from our trip. Cafe Tango remains our number one overall choice.

        For oysters - the best we tasted were at Senor Mojitos, closely followed by Stinky's Fish Camp and Hurricane Oyster Bar. The Blue Crabs at Nick's were simply amazing! But go early - they run out.

        1. re: NancyH

          Most appreciated! Will let you know where we wind up...Thanks.

    2. Unfortunately, there have been more closings than openings lately.

      Our current hole in the wall addiction is Jasmine Thai next to Chan's Wine World in the Destin Publix shopping center.

      Have heard good things about Fat Clemenza's pizza.

      4 Replies
      1. re: beachmouse

        Hey Beachmouse - any word on how D&K is doing?

        1. re: NancyH

          Haven't heard. Kat hasn't posted on SoWal lately.

          1. re: beachmouse

            I know - that's why I was concerned.

          2. re: NancyH

            From what I've heard D & K's is closing and a new place is opening up in that space. I can't remember what the name is yet but I'm sure it will be great. It should be opening in the next week or so. I'll try to report on it when I get out there.

        2. I finally have got our 2009 trip to Destin and environs blogged in two installments: and

          Biggest happy surprise of the trip was the new Commander's Palace in Destin. Delicious food, really nice people, happy drinks. Second best newcomer was Senor Mojitos at the food of the 331 Bridge - we enjoyed some snackies and an awesome Flaming Pineapple cocktail there. Honorable mentions to La Botana (way east on 30A) and Nick's (Rt. 20 in NIceville).

          5 Replies
          1. re: NancyH

            Thanks to Nancy for recommending Nicks and Stinky's. We hit Nick 's on the way into town. The first time we drove by the closed sign was the time we looped around and came back by they were open. As they're closed on Mondays, not everything was available -- they couldn't make fried tomatoes and only had 2 kinds of fish (mullett -- which my husbands thinks tastes like bait and catfish). Anyhow, we had the best fried oysters here and the best fried shrimp as well. We ordered one sandwich with oysters and one with shrimp, and one side of fries and one with cole slaw. We split them both.The oysters were sweet, plump and tender. Really fresh tasting. And the shrimp was quite good as well. Especially liked the very light batter. Pretty good homemade cole slaw too. Glad we came here for lunch, as it's a bit out of the way and would have been lost here at night. But certainly would stop here again -- no frills, nice view of the water and the roosters -- and a friendly waitress. Oh, yeah --skip the gumbo, though. It's not worth the price and fairly bland with mainly leftover shredded fish and a few pieces of okra. We tried Stinky's for dinner. My husband had oyster shooters -- six of them -- and said they were tender and sweet with a little kick (he added hot sauce). Gave them an A rating. To start, I had the fried green tomatoes appetizer which were topped with crawfish etoufee. The fried tomatoes were 3 firm thick slices (would have been good on their own, too) topped with creamy crawfish. Nice chucks of seafood in a tasty sauce -- needed a touch of salt (and hot sauce for the hubby). My husband's dinner of fried oysters was okay, but not nearly as good as the fried ones at Nicks. The batter just didn't match up. I tried another appetizer for my entree -- the baked oysters. Got 3 and 3 -- the bienville were a bit bland -- not like I expected. Tasted like canned tomato sauce and cream mixed together. Although the oyster underneath was fine. The other sauce -- the one with the horseradish and bacon was MUCH better. The menu at Stinky's is pretty extensive plus there are lots of specials and a wide variety of fish choices along with a larger wine selection than you'd expect to find. And their homemade blackberry pie (sans ice cream) was a perfect counterpart after all those creamy oysters.

            1. re: JulieF

              I am so missing Destin already! Thanks for the report!

              1. re: NancyH

                Dewey Destin's has opened up their second operation on 98 Near AJ's and it has the usual suspects ,but it serves cocktails and has a great deck.I still prepfer the old one though.Zampieris is doing lunch now and they do a good job. Commander's Palace is awesome and has 25 cent Martini's for lunch! Great new coffe shop in Emerald Green on the level overlooking the harbor. Sorry I forget the name. If you've never had a Top's burger, they're great. 86 the fries and stick w/ the tater tots(east of the Commons). The Red Bar in Graton Beach is a very cool old school beach joint with good food. Good Luck have fun in Destin

                1. re: wubba

                  I think the coffee shop you're thinking of is an outpost of Emerald Coast coffee. I hit their Bluewater Bay branch every so often for a tasty turkey-plantain paninni.

                  1. re: wubba

                    Tell me more about Dewey Destin's II!

            2. Louisiana Lagnappe, very high quality, also have one in Gulf Shores, AL, have not been in a while but very very good food and service in the past

              3 Replies
              1. re: crimsonfal

                Thank you Crimsonfal - we are all returned to the frigid (actually more saturated) North. LL is owned by a chain restaurant group, FYI.

                Best New Orleans food in SoWal = D&K's (soon to close) and Stinky's Fish Camp; close second is Fire.

                1. re: NancyH

                  Hi Nancy, Dewey's "original" is a down and dirty seafood(primarily)right on the harbor off of Calhoun St. Follow their sign, or dock your boat, and you'll swear that there can't be anything down there. It's basically a dock with tables and chairs, the kitchen is a trailer that in bad weather can be towed to higher ground, There is no service per se. You stand in line (usually for a while!) and order, get your own beverages, and the servers come out and yell your name when the food is ready.No booze, just beer and wine. Shrimp Basket is great. Prepared in the usual manner around here i.e. lightly breaded w/ a zatarains type seafood coating and fried. Dress casual.

                  1. re: NancyH

                    I agree LL is a favorite place and redecorated last year and has some of the best views in the area. Good food.