Searching for the best restaurants on the Emerald Coast? Destin, FL is known for a bustling fresh seafood market providing some of the finest dining in the world. Dozens of Destin restaurants offer a diverse menu, breath-taking views, and exciting entertainment, that brings travelers back year after year to the beachside community.
From Irish eats to the freshest sushi, let Tripshock.com help you find the five best Destin restaurants for your family beach vacation!
McGuire's Irish Pub
The most famous Irish Pub on the Gulf Coast is found in downtown Destin! McGuire's Irish Pub started in Pensacola, FL in 1977, with a 2nd location appearing in Destin, FL in 1996. As an Irish Pub, expect delicious Irish fare from land and sea. The steaks are the highlight of McGuire's Irish Pub, with a full menu of U.S.D.A. certified prime steaks prepared just the way you like it! Seafood at McGuire's is premium grade, with anything from shellfish to tuna entrees cooked using recipes from around the world including Maryland Style Crab Cakes, and Irish Fishmonger's Bouillabaisse.
If you're in the mood for more casual options, McGuire's offers a slew of pub fare including build your own burgers, soups, salads, and traditional Irish meals like Shepherd's Pie and Corned Beef & Cabbage. The atmosphere inside McGuire's Irish Pub in Destin, FL is delightfully overstated, and in one word, fun! Patron-signed dollar bills grace the walls and ceilings of the Irish joint, and Irish paraphernalia is peppered throughout. After regular hours, head up to the rooftop club for entertainment, delicious drink specials, and stunning views of the bay, gulf, and Destin Harbor. Rocking Emerald Coast bands hold frequent shows at McGuire's including The Good Lookings.
Aj's Seafood & Oyster Bar
Aj's Seafood & Oyster Bar located in the Destin Harbor is a key staple of Destin waterside dining and entertainment! With clear views of famous Emerald Coast sunsets, and plenty of exciting harbor sights to be witnessed, AJ's offers second to none in coastal scenery. Although many Destin diners visit Aj's Seafood & Oyster Bar for the atmosphere, even more come for the food! The raw bar at Aj's shucks fresh oysters daily, with happy hour specials running Monday through Friday.
Appetizers feature American bar favorites like cheese sticks, and seafood selections including peel and eat shrimp and home-made tuna dip. The entrees rely heavy on gulf seafood to satisfy patrons searching for something fresh and local. Pasta dishes blend Italian favorites with shrimp, scallops, and fish, and steamer buckets supply hours of scrumptious entertainment. The menu at Aj's Seafood & Oyster Bar is sure to appeal to the ficklest taste buds!
Located directly on the Destin Harbor, stop into AJ's while perusing the famous fish-filled landmark for a tropical drink at AJ's waterside Tiki Hut. Head in late-night for live music at AJ's Club Bimini and stay for the dancing and live music.
Fudpucker's Beachside Bar & Grill
Fudpucker's in Destin, FL delivers not only a fun name to say (try to say it three times fast, I dare ya!), but an even more entertaining atmosphere. Fudpucker's Beachside Bar & Grill in Destin is the only place in Destin where you can see, feed, and even take a picture with a LIVE ALLIGATOR. A souvenir shop offering award-winning t-shirts, arcade, playground, and nifty novelty atmosphere definitely make Fudpucker's the most kid-friendly place to eat on this list, and perhaps the most family-friendly restaurant in Destin. Just ask the Emerald Coast locals, who voted Fudpucker's Beachside Bar & Grill in Destin the 'Best Family-Friendly Restaurant' in 2014.
Food at Fudpucker's is best described as casual with an upbeat and exotic touch. Take a walk on the wild side with one of Fud's many gator items including alligator gumbo, or an alligator pucker sandwich. Eat like you're on a Florida beach vacation (which you probably are) with shareable entree's including hot crab dip, fried pickles, stuffed shrimp, and gator balls! Generous portions are always a constant at Fudpucker's Beachside Bar & Grill with menu items ranging from seafood to steak, to an old fashioned American sandwich just like mom used to make.
With a full bar at your disposal, enjoy a Mudslide, Pina colada, or one of Fudpucker's many specialty drinks like the Fudpuckerita, a frozen lime juice infused Margarita!
As our only listed eatery without direct Gulf views, Fudpucker's does their best to make up for it with plenty to focus on in and around the restaurant. Funny signage, colorful beach nick-knacks, and a draw-anywhere atmosphere will be sure to bring customers back vacation after vacation.
The Back Porch Seafood & Oyster House
The Back Porch Seafood & Oyster House is located directly on the white sand beach of Destin, FL, and takes the honor as the longest running restaurant on our list. Serving Destin locals and visitors since 1974, The Back Porch sets itself apart from other Destin seafood restaurants with a focus on no-frill seafood and stunning ocean views. What started out as a beach bungalow, has grown into a thriving Emerald Coast dining destination due to a strong local following and central location smack dab in the center of the family beach vacation haven of Destin. Bring the whole family for a sampling of the finest seafood the Gulf of Mexico has to offer. Fried seafood platters are my personal favorite, with your choice of Gulf shrimp, oysters, scallops, locally caught fish, or a combination of your two or three favorites. Grab an entree fresh off the grill, or try a house specialty including the famous Porch Crab Cakes.
Looking for something more casual? Take a seat on the "back porch" and watch the sunset with one of the restaurant's many appetizers, sandwiches, and a beer or mixed drink (up size to a 32oz souvenir take-home bucket to show your friends back home what they missed).
Anxious parents can rest easy at The Back Porch in Destin. Kid-friendly activities come in the form of an on-site playground, souvenir gift shop, and the best of all, a white-sand beach and emerald ocean just off the back patio! Bottom line, if you're in the mood for beach view dining with a straight forward and always-fresh seafood menu, get to The Back Porch Seafood & Oyster House.
Harbor DocksEstablished in 1979, Harbor Docks has been providing fresh seafood to the Destin Harbor for over three decades. Harbor Docks is one of the few restaurants in Destin with a personal wholesale seafood market in operation on it's lower level, guaranteeing that all the Gulf Seafood on Harbor Dock's menu is caught daily by local fisherman. Local ingredients are utilized whenever possible, giving consumers a true sense of Gulf Coast dining. Perhaps the most exciting element of Harbor Docks' menu is the authentic sushi meals. Yoshia Eddings has been the sushi chef for over 25 years, introducing more people to the Japanese cuisine than any other cuisiner in the Southeast.
The atmosphere at Harbor Docks is relaxed and elegant, with a valet out front, and harbor views in the back. Catch live music on the main stage with world-renowned acts including "I'll Be" singer Edwin McCain stopping by more than a few times a year, and plenty of drink specials to give visitors enough courage to hit the dance floor. If you're looking for a one stop destination for dining, drinks, and entertainment in the Destin Harbor, look no further than Harbor Docks in Destin, Florida.