Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Florida >
Jun 11, 2009 02:01 PM

Ft. Walton Destin Local, Quirky, Quaint, Family, Best bang for your buck?

We are a family of traveling foodies with many mini foodies in the making.

I've searched here, and elsewhere, and am hoping for some recommendations for those little out of the way fantastic finds. Affordable a huge plus. Diners are great, but they seldom have room for a family of 7, so bear that in mind when making your recommendations, please. :)

We love unique, local favorites - no chains, the most affordable we can. Our kids are well-behaved in nice restaurants, but this is a beach trip! We don't mind getting a little dressed up for dinner (have a birthday while we're down there) - but again, affordability is a must.

What'cha got, Okaloosa Island!? :)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Dewey Destin seafood in destin is a unique experience and great food....very local flavor

    1. We've been visiting Destin for the past 6 years or so. I've blogged about the last couple of visits, with photos - look here:


      Part 1:
      Part 2:

      Note that Stinky's Fish Camp has moved across the parking lot and the more upscale Lake Place has taken Stinky's building. Stinky's is a casual, but crowded, favorite.

      My "go to" in Destin is Harbor Docks - a better value at lunch then at dinner and should be able to accommodate your group's size. Second Dewey Destin's. The kids might also enjoy McGuire's, which is a local 2-outlet business. They brew their own beer, and are more meat than fish oriented, but kitschy, fun and not expensive and their food is pretty good.

      Callahan's was a very pleasant surprise for us this year. Family friendly, fresh, and not expensive.

      For your special occasion dinner - Commander's Palace might be fun - its a little pricey, but the food we tasted was marvelous and it channels its New Orleans namesake nicely.

      Nick's On the Bay is definitely worth the drive - it is a true local treasure. Kid friendly, casual and some of the best crab and alligator I've ever tasted!

      I'm hearing good things about Shorty's, which replaced D&K Cafe on Hotz Avenue in Grayton Beach. Also, if you're going to head down 30A, Smiling Fish Cafe is nice; if the weather is nice and it is crowded, you can eat outside!

      You should check out this chat board for more info, but bear in mind that it is focused a bit east of Destin.

        1. If you don't mind a drive, Nick's in the sticks is very old Florida and they're usually quite good for seafood. Take the Mid Bay Bridge north to Hwy 20, go east until you get to a little crossroad called Basin Bayou, and try not to hit the owner's chickens when you park.

          For chicken wings, Buffalo Reef on Eglin Pkwy is local and pretty affordable. Their super hot wings can make and air commando cry. Haven't been there in a while, but I liked Big City back when I worked downtown, and they're pretty reasonable for lunch. For Thai, I like Jasmine Thai in the strip mall by Destin Publix. In you're craving Asian food, Thai is almost always a better bet than Chinese in these parts.

          Local coffee sellers- Maas on US 98 in Ft. Walton Beach, and Emerald Coast Coffee at Emerald Grande in Destin and off Hwy 20 in Bluewater Bay.

          1. Thanks, Nancy - I spent a good part of the day reading many of your blogs and posts on the SoWal forum, coincidentally :)

            I'm off to look for these restaurants. If anyone has links to menus and/or website, I'd be MOST appreciative. Google isn't proving too helpful.