Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Florida >
Feb 6, 2012 07:01 PM

3 days in Sandestin

Help! My hubby and I are spending 3 days in Sandestin to escape Mardi Gras Madness in New Orleans. Need dinner/lunch recs. All over the board. Fancy, Dives, whatever, We do it all. We have dinner reservations at Cafe Tango in Santa Rosa already. Any advice as to what to order? Any help would be great! thanks, xoxo nola lawyer

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Counselor, my wife, three year old daughter, and I go there twice a year to escape winter in the Midwest. With that said, I have yet to try Cafe Tango. We stay at the Hilton, which has one of the nicest restaurants in the area [Seagar's]. It is an extremely high end steak/seafood restaurant with an excellent wine selection. The hotel has a few other offerings that are Hilton-esque. Lots of chain options within driving distance, such as P.F. Chang's, Hard Rock Cafe, Osaka, etc. We found two decent seafood restaurants [Finz and Fishbar] and a completely kitschy place called Fudpuckers, which is your classic fried seafood/cocktails with umbrellas type of place. Even if you do not stay at the Hilton, try to get a copy of the property's magazine called "Footprints," which served as a useful guide to restaurants, shopping, and other things to do there.

    Best of luck and I would like to hear what places you visit ....

    1 Reply
    1. re: hawkeyeui93

      Seagar's is under new management with new staff and chef... a focus on seafood. Cafe Tango owners now have main focus on new restaurant geared toward music loving and cocktail crowd called La Playa at Gulf Place where Smiling Fish once was. Hilton now has new restaurant/old revival, elephant Walk opened by Marlin Grill of Baytowne owners. Bistro Bijoux in Baytowne best choice as will be Vintij in Miramar Beach across from outlets. Always consistant. Stinky's fish Camp, west end of 30A not far from Sandestin also a great option.

    2. Here's some help.

      Stinky's Fish Camp @ 5960 West County Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 850 - 267 - 3053.

      The Red Bar @ 70 Hotz Ave., Santa Rosa Beach, FL 850 - 231 - 1008.

      J C's Off the Hook @ 2210 West County Highway 30A, Blue Mountain Beach, FL 850 - 267 - 0374.

      Louis Louis @ 35 Mussett Bayou Road, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 850 - 267 - 1500.

      Seagrove Market Cafe @ 3004 South County Highway 395, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 850 - 231 - 5736.

      Enzo's Italian Restaurant @ 1598 South County Highway 393, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 850 - 267 - 3003.

      George's at Alys Beach @ 30 Castle Harbour Drive, Scenic Highway 30A, Gulf Breeze, FL 850 - 641 - 0017.

      Cafe 30 A @ 3899 East County Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 850 - 231 - 2166.

      Cafe Tango @ 14 Vicki Street, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 850 - 267 - 0054.

      AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar @ 116 Harbor Boulevard, Destin, FL 850 – 837 -1913.

      Back Porch @ 1740 Scenic Highway 98, Destin, FL 850 - 837 - 9775.

      Callahan’s @ 791 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 850 – 837 – 6328.

      Crab Trap Seafood and Oyster Bar @ 3500 Scenic Highway 98 E, Destin, FL 850 - 654 - 2722.

      Cuvee Bistro @ 36120 Emerald Coast Parkway, Destin, FL 850 - 650 - 8900.

      Dewey Destin Seafood Restaurant @ 9 Calhoun Ave., Destin, FL 850 - 837 - 7575.

      Johnny O'Quigley's @ 34940 Emerald Coast Parkway, Destin, FL 850 - 837 - 1015.

      Marina Cafe @ 404 Harbor Boulevard, Destin, FL 850 - 837 - 7960.

      Time Out Sports Bar @ 4304 Legendary Drive, Destin, FL 850 – 424 – 7172.

      Buster’s Oyster Bar and Grill @ 125 Poinciana Boulevard, Miramar Beach, FL 850 - 837-4399.

      Great Southern Cafe @ 83 Center Avenue, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 850 - 231 - 7327.

      Restaurant Paradise @ 82 South Barrett Square, Rosemary Beach, FL 850 - 534 - 0400.

      Summer Kitchen Cafe @ 60 N. Barrett Sq., Rosemary Beach, FL 850 - 231 - 6264.

      Restaurant Fire @ 55 Clayton Lane, Grayton Beach, FL 850 231 - 9020.

      Shorty's Surfside and Topside @ 63 Hotz Ave., Grayton Beach, FL 850 - 468 - 0417.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Littleman

        Cool list .... I will have to print it out and use when I go in May. Any favorites?

        1. re: Littleman

          Good list with the exception of 4 or 5.

        2. We've enjoyed Vintij which is located in an otherwise forgettable strip mall on the south side of US 98 just across from the Silver Sands outlet mall. For sushi, I've had good luck at Sushimoto in another strip mall just west of Silver Sands. (same strip mall as the Melting Pot)

          Of the restaurants others have mentioned, Fishbar is closed last I saw. (Their former manager now owns Dockside on the bayou in Niceville.) J.C's off the Hook is also closed- I ant to say they're the ones who were leasing from Nick's and Nick's decided to reopen that location under their own name once the lease was up. Very old school fish camp sort of place, though they lack the live chickens and probably the bad taxidermy of their Basin Bayou location. I know George's closed for the winter. Not sure if they've repoened for the season yet. Back Porch, Crab Trap, and Pompano Joe's are pure Sysco and not particularly picky about their fish suppliers. (It's safe to eat, but the only thing vaguely local is the oysters.) Fuddpucker's is a total tourist trap, but I've got a bizarre love for their blackened tuna sandwich if it's still on the menu. Red Bar has reliable food and frequently good music, though I prefer their lunch menu to their dinner offerings. Louis Louis is same ownership as the Red Bar and can be easier to get a table at during peak times.

          If you find yourself on the west side of Destin through Ft. Walton Beach, Thai is to the Emerald Coast as Vietnamese is to NOLA in terms of culinary influence. We like Jasmine Thai by the Destin Publix though note that they tend to default to a little on the mild side if you aren't recognized as a regular when you go in. For fancy coffee, I'd either splurge on some of the good Kona at Bad Ass in Miramar Beach, or pick some up ground at the Fresh Market in Destin.

          2 Replies
          1. re: beachmouse

            For 15 years Vintij has consistently been a favorite. Always exceptional. Chef John Jacob rocks. Todd Reber knows his wine. Staff are excellent!

            1. re: beachmouse

              George's closes at end of season, opening for special holiday's and reopens before Spring Break. Same for LA Cocina in Seacrest. Owners keep Seagrove Village Market open. JC's is closed as is Fish Bar and Smiling Fish. Boshamp's in the old Flamingo Cafe location, Destin has been renovated by owners kids and reopened. Feel the same about Crab Trap, Popano's, Back Porch.. Fudpuckers has new huge location that opened in Ft. walton with 4 restaurants under one roof. Try Amavida coffee in Seaside and Rosemary. Free trade and many restaurants serving. Also enjoy Jasmine Thai but next door Chan's serves killer lunch and dinner along with an exceptional selection of cheeses. Red Bar on sunday is a must from 10-2. Get there early, and stay! Also love Stinky's in dune allen. Soft shell season, get the Busta soft shell crab eggs benedict and the awesome bloody mary! Oysters baked on wood plank are incredible.

            2. So, I'm going again in May and would love to hear if you found any jewels ....

              3 Replies
              1. re: hawkeyeui93

                beachmouse nailed it..take heed when dining in the Panhandle..

                1. re: vitaminD

                  I will report back upon my return in late-May ,,,,

                  1. re: 30AEATS

                    The Red Bar is the most popular indoor destination in Grayton Beach. My favorite and of locals and visitors to the area. It’s the place for the evening’s first cold beer - and sometimes the last. The short but varied menu includes pasta with crawfish and shrimp po-boy's, panne’ chicken and mashed potatoes, stuffed eggplant, fish of the day, and rotating specials. The Red Bar Jazz Band plays almost nightly. The volume and the party gets cranked up a notch after the dinner crowd thins. A cool family atmosphere turns more crazy. You might spot Jimmy Buffet,Sheryl Crow or Jim Carrey late at night. But please! Everybody just wants to be themselves and not important at the Red Bar. Belgian-born owner Oli Petit and brother Philippe welcome all comers.and you might want to buy a very cool t-shirt.

              2. The original comment has been removed