Destin/Santa Rosa Beach Restaurants
I came here to recommend Fish Out of Water, the restaurant at the Watercolor resort, but I see you mentioned prices. So, this is not an economical choice. Still, we had a terrific meal there in the fall. I highly recommend it as splurge option.
Fish Out of Water Restaurant
34 Golden Rod Cir, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
That's the Red Bar. They normally have a fish sandwich on their lunch menu that's a good value for the price. If price is a limited in general, I'd freqently aim for lunch out and then eat dinner back at home. Vintij by the outlet mall has a rotating fish lunch special that might work, and they try to be something other than the usual beach bar.
I agree that AJ's is an utter tourist trap, but McGuire's has some decent fish lunch menu options and $0.18 bean soup as an appetizer. We've also had some good luck with Dewey Destin's harborside, and I think they're going to ber finishing their remodel soon.