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Panama Beach area

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My husband and I will be staying on the west side of Panama Beach next month with our three year old daughter. Any recommendations for great places to eat? We love seafood and chef-owned places but they would need to be kid friendly. We eat out with our daughter a lot and she does pretty well in restaurants. I guess most of all we are looking for great seafood. Thanks!

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  1. Any recommendations will do though.

    2 Replies
    1. re: zkrg3

      Capt. Anderson's is the decades-old family owned place, but be prepared for a wait, particularly on a weekend. Try going early (4 PM) or so. You should enjoy it. www.captanderson.com

      1. re: steakman55

        Thanks! We will check Capt. Anderson's out for sure. My research has also brought up Boatyard as a possibility. Any opinion on that restaurant? Thanks again!

    2. I would also recommend Captain Anderson's. Their grilled fish is very good to me. I think the whole snapper will be out of season and unavailable but it is one of my all time favorites. You should be able to get a really nice piece of genuine Gulf Grouper. Lots of the places on the beach will sell you some farm raised in Asia fish as grouper.

      If you should pull up in front of Capt. Anderson's and see 75-100 people standing out front, don't be too dismayed, they are remarkably efficient and moving people in and out. We have never had to wait more than an hour and that was at the very peak of season and peak hour. You can kill time walking up the docks and looking at boats and fish.

      We have eaten at the Boatyard a couple of times and thought it was ok. With a young child you might want to go quite early, every time we have been they have had a band it and gets more club like as the evening progresses.

      We like Hunt's and the Captain's Table, across the bridge in Panama City proper. Both are old school dive kind of places.

      Let me think on it and I'll come up with some more. When you say you are staying on the west end; about how far from the Hathaway bridge and how much time are you willing to spend driving to dinner? Traffic shouldn't be too bad in September.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kengk

        We will be staying near Conservation Park but on the beach (I don't know where the bridge is). Driving is really not an issue for us. Thank you so much for your help! I have also read about the Captain's Table and thought it sounded great.

      2. Try Dee's Hangout, right on front beach. New Orleansish/Southern style seafood.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lowtone9

          Thanks! We love New Orleans style seafood.

        2. Staying that far west you might consider going up 79 to West Bay and eating at Boondocks. If you want some donuts for breakfast or a sandwich for lunch there is Thomas' Donuts.

          Dusty's Oyster Bar is a possibility, should have as good or better than any oysters in town. Service is VERY hit or miss. I think it gets kind of rowdy after dark.

          Also, being that far west you could consider some of the more high zoot places out 30-A in the made up towns.

          If you don't mind eating fish off the bone and want something different; you can usually get fried Grouper throats at the Captains Table.

          That's all I can think of at the moment.

          Please give us a report back when you return.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kengk

            Thank you so much for your help! I will give a report when we return. Thanks to all these great recommendations I have no doubt we will be eating well while we are there.

          2. 30a has some great places. We tend to go for late lunch more than dinner especially if we have kiddos with us. The Red Bar is fun but can be loud if crowded. September is great because this is less likely to be the case. I love the smoked tuna salad there but all the food is good. Stinky's is also on our list of places we have to go to. We had shrimp and cheesy grits that were delicious as is the grouper sandwich with smoked tomato tarter sauce. Lunch runs $8-15 and dinner more-no sandwiches or big salads. We also like George's in Alys Beach. 30 A is a nice drive and a mix of old and new. Be sure to see Seaside where they filmed the Truman show. Checkout the Modica Market.

            3 Replies
            1. re: wekick

              If Red Bar is crowded/loud - head to Louis Louis on 98- same family and food and similar atmosphere. No credit cards.

              Marie's on 30A in Blue Mountain Beach is also yummy.

                1. re: kengk

                  I meant to write about our experiences earlier but time just got away from me!

                  We first went to Dee's Hangout for lunch which we really enjoyed. We tried the red beans and rice which were excellent, the oyster po' boy and the grouper sandwich which were both very good. A local guy outside the restaurant said the smoked tuna dip was very good but we did not try it there. Their menu looked so wonderful as did their specials on the chalkboard that I wish we could have tried more of their food. I would definitely recommend this place.

                  Later we went to Captain Andersons which is located at the marina. We went early on a weekday and had no trouble getting seated right away but the restaurant did become busy pretty quickly. The atmosphere was wonderful especially considering we got a table next to the window overlooking the marina. I ordered the grilled grouper which was excellent and the portion huge! It took up the whole plate actually. My husband ordered the whole fish pompano which was even better. It had more seasoning than the grouper. My only complaint about Captain Andersons is the quality of the food that came with the meal. I know the most important thing is for the main dish to be high quality but I still think the side dishes, bread, salad, etc. should be good as well. To me they were not. The bread was just OK and the salad reminded me of the salads from 20 years ago with the iceberg comprising 95% of the salad and topped with a heavy creamy dressing. Some people may really like those types of salads but I do not. Also the broccoli side was overcooked with a goopy cheese sauce. Also not a winner for me. My husband however got the soup instead of a salad which I highly recommend. It was very good. It was either the she-crab or an oyster soup of the day. Sorry, I can't remember which. For the price I am not sure I would go back again. Especially considering the place we found later in the week which we liked much better and was half the price.....

                  Across the street from where we stayed was a place called "Mike's Cafe and Oyster Bar” which we tried near the end of our trip on a whim. It was our favorite place by far! They have been around for decades and apparently it used to be a diner but recently they transformed it into the cafe and oyster bar. Every single thing we tried from appetizers to main dishes to sides was excellent! First we tried their smoked tuna appetizer which came with homemade tortilla chips (red, green, blue and plain), jalapeno peppers and tomatoes. So good!!! My husband ordered the raw Apalachicola oysters which were fabulous. He also had the seafood casserole which was very, very good. It was basically shrimp, fish, scallops in a cream sauce. Yum! I ordered the steamed local shrimp which was also great. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned and came with homemade cocktail sauce and drawn butter. It also came with chunks of smoked sausage and corn on the cob which was also seasoned wonderfully. Even the small salads were good and came with dressing choices of interesting vinaigrettes such as a lemon and an asian which was like a ginger soy if I am remembering correctly. I would highly recommend this place! Like I have already stated everything we ordered was great and it was all very reasonably priced. Even the wine and beer!

                  Oh, and all of these places were very kid friendly!

                  A couple of evenings we made a seafood dinner in our condo. We found a place called "Buddy's Seafood Market" (located on HWY 79 in Panama City Beach) which had excellent local seafood! We tried the shrimp, scallops and deviled crabs. All perfect! I would highly recommend this market if you enjoy cooking your own seafood.

                  Thanks again so much to everyone for the recommendations! We ate very well on our trip thanks to you!

                  1. re: zkrg3

                    Glad you had a good time.

                    I would pay $50 right now for one of those salads, with bleu cheese, and a couple of those crackle top rolls! If you ever go back try the Greek salad instead.

                    Interesting about Mike's Diner. Will give it a try the next time we are down there.

                    1. re: kengk

                      I realize some people like those types of salads and breads just not me. I am not much of an iceberg lettuce or a creamy dressing fan. And we just felt Mike's Cafe and Oyster Bar was better all around not to mention much cheaper. It is family owned too. Of course Captain Andersons does have a much better ambiance being located at the marina. I wish I had tried some of the special dishes at Capt Andersons or the whole snapper as you suggested. The whole fish pompano really was great.

                      1. re: kengk

                        This is the website by the way. After looking at some of the pictures on this website though it seems maybe there is another section of the restaurant that is more "diner" like which we didn't see. We were in the section where the bar was located which was more "restaurant like". Or perhaps the pictures on the website are from before they converted to a cafe and oyster bar from a diner. I don't know :) Also, the signage outside is different than what you see on google maps by the way. Just so no one is confused!


                        1. re: zkrg3

                          Hopefully they will do well with this makeover. I've noticed the place over the years but never went it, never seemed to be doing much business.

                          If he keeps the oysters cold and gives good service he should pull some customers from Dusty's.

                          1. re: kengk

                            Mike's really was great. And the oysters were indeed very good (and cold!).

                  2. We actually ate at Capltain Anderson's 44 years ago on our honeymoon. Last week we spent two days in PCB and stayed at our same honeymoon hotel. After checking out Captain Anderson's and Boat Yard we decided it wasn't our type of place and we really enjoy eating out. Too big, too touristy I thought. We opted for Billy's Oyster Bar which was right across the street. We sat at the bar and watched them shuck oysters, had their steamed blue crab, soft shell crab and wonderful Parmesan Crab steamed /grilled oysters. And of course key lime pie. If you see Hook'd down by the water. try their white chocolate key lime pie. Delicious.