Posted on 6/6/2023
Welcome to Destin, a gem nestled along Florida's Emerald Coast. Known for its white sandy beaches, emerald-green waters, and world-class fishing, Destin is often referred to as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village." But Destin's appeal isn't just limited to its beautiful scenery and vibrant aquatic life. The bountiful Gulf waters and the region's rich history have given rise to a culinary scene that's second to none, especially when it comes to seafood.
From beachfront shacks serving fresh-off-the-boat fish tacos to upscale restaurants presenting intricate seafood creations, the culinary culture of Destin thrives on the fruits of its surrounding waters. It's a place where local fishermen's catch of the day becomes the star of delectable dishes, prepared by talented chefs who know how to let these high-quality ingredients shine. If you're a seafood aficionado, Destin will feel like a true paradise. With so many fantastic dining options to choose from, it might be tough to decide where to start. That's why we've put together this list of the best and most popular Destin seafood restaurants, as voted by our local experts - our staff.
Why should you care what our staff has to say?
Because they are local experts! Ocean Reef Resorts prides itself on hiring locals who live, work, and play in this special piece of paradise. These local professionals know their stuff and are readily available to ensure guests have the most enjoyable and memorable Destin vacation. As more and more vacation companies are removing the "people" aspect out of the reservation process, and major national companies are buying out local companies, we want our guests to know that we take their vacation experience seriously. As a local company, we want to make sure your vacation is the best that it can be. And what better way to accomplish this than by providing all the insider details on everything that makes Destin so great?
In an effort to share our staff's local knowledge with our wonderful visitors, we polled the team on their favorite seafood restaurants. Here is what they came up with! (Pro tip: read to the end to discover the most popular Destin seafood restaurant, as voted by the staff.)
Kenny D's Beach Bar & Grill
2964 Scenic Gulf Dr, Destin, FL 32550
Located in Destin's Miramar Beach, Kenny D's Beach Bar & Grill boasts a delightful combination of fresh Gulf Coast seafood and Cajun-style cuisine. Kenny and Leta, the restaurant's owners, are native to New Orleans, but have brought a slice of their homeland to this paradise destination. This restaurant's award-winning gumbo is just the tip of the peninsula when it comes to providing mouthwatering dining options. Popular menu items include Oysters-onda-halfshell, Cajun Ken's Fish Couvillion, a Shrimp Feast, and more. Our Ocean Reef Resorts General Manager, warns guests not to judge a book by its cover. Or in this case, a restaurant by its exterior. Of Kenny D's, he says, "This classic diner-style restaurant may lack the curb appeal of some of its competitors, but it is right by the beach. And make no mistake, they have the best Oysters Rockefeller in town!"
538 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 32541
Harbor Docks has been a Destin staple for over 40 years. To operate this long in such a competitive market, you just know it has to be amazing! From local seafood to excellent service, this restaurant appeals to seafood lovers of all ages. The restaurant prides itself on serving local seafood provided by the Harbor Docks Wholesale Seafood Market. Unlike other areas in Florida these days, the food at Harbor Docks is fresh and made from scratch every single day. In addition to its dinner menu, Harbor Docks also offers lunch, breakfast, sushi, and cocktail menus. Tasty dishes include Boiled Gulf Shrimp, Blackened Catch of the Day, and Gulf Grouper Parmadine. You'll have to explore the whole menu yourself to find your favorite! So, what does our staff have to say about this popular seafood restaurant? Cameron in Guest Services says Harbor Docks has the "best seafood in the south, fresh as fresh can be. Locally sourced, caught right in our backyard."
Bayou Bill's Crab House
4748 US-98, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Bayou Bill's Crab House received multiple votes by our staff as a Destin's best seafood restaurant. This classic restaurant in near by Santa Rosa Beach offers a full seafood-to-table menu. From raw oysters, gumbo, crab feasts, shellfish, and fresh fish, there is something here for everyone. The raw oyster bar features the freshest Apalachicola oysters, from oysters on the half shell to char-grilled oysters. According to Sandy in Accounting, "Bayou Bill’s serves some of the best oysters in the area—fresh, huge, and delicious!" Other favorite dishes include Janie's Pontchartrain, Jimmy's Parmesan Shrimp, Pan Sautéed Orleans, Crab Feast for Two, Shrimp, and Scallops, and so much more. Guests should also be sure to take their picture with the Giant Alligator – after all, Florida is known for these scaly guys! Top the evening off with a fully stocked bar, and diners will bask in the full coastal dining experience.
Tailfins Waterfront Grill
172 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 32541
Another local favorite seafood restaurant is Tailfins Waterfront Grill. Ivan in Guest Services had nothing but great things to say about this popular establishment, so here it is in his own words:
"My favorite seafood restaurant is Tailfins. It’s a three-story restaurant with awesome outdoor views overlooking the harbor. They have an amazing menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dishes ranges from a nice avocado toast for breakfast, to some smoked tuna dip and sushi for lunch, to a good platter of snow crab legs for dinner. They have an open bar with tons of cocktail drinks, including our local breweries for those looking to enjoy a nice craft beer.
Personally, my wife and I enjoy some Mahi Mahi tacos with a nice alcoholic beverage just gazing into the sunset while listening to live music. Yeah, they have that too! It's also a popular location for sport events, and who doesn't love that. I recommend this location to all our guests who come down and visit Destin. Not to mention, it’s a short walk to AJ's, which is a nightlife location to keep the good times going!"
Dewey Destin’s Seafood Restaurant
9 Calhoun Ave, Destin, FL 32541
Dewey’s great, great grandfather may have founded the town of Destin, but Dewey has stamped his legacy on this old fishing town as well! His knowledge of the fishing industry ensures Dewey Destin’s serves the highest quality local seafood around. At Dewey Destin’s Seafood Restaurant you'll find a simple menu packed full of the freshest local seafood.
When asked to share his favorite seafood restaurant, Richard in Marketing responded, “This was a hard call, as I frequent Boshamps more often. However, not much beats pulling up from a boat and docking in front of Dewey Destin’s. To call it a simple place might be an overstatement. It's a shack right on the water overlooking Crab Island. What isn't an overstatement—is their food is simply incredible! No one does classic fried seafood better in Destin."
Boshamps Seafood & Oyster House
414 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 32541
Here it is – the best seafood restaurant in Destin, according to the knowledgeable, local, Ocean Reef Resorts Staff. And the winner is, drum roll, please…Boshamps Seafood & Oyster House! Boshamps is located directly on the Destin Harbor, offering incredible food and incredible views. This restaurant has been a local favorite for decades, providing its diners with seafood dishes made from the freshest local ingredients and a luxury dining experience.
According to Valerie in Reservations, “You have to start your night off right at Boshamps with The Devil’s Crab or a dozen Rockefeller oysters to share. And don’t forget to grab a DeeDee’s Strawberry Lemon Drop. Then for the main course: Pan-roasted Gulf grouper over garlic spinach, tomato jam, and citrus butter on feta cheese souffle.” Makes our mouths water just thinking about it—is your mouth watering too??
The restaurant's menu also boasts other delectable dishes, including Fried Green Tomato & Jumbo Lump Crab, Crispy Fried Calamari, Raw "Nekkid" Oysters, Yankee Lobster Mac 'N Cheese, Off the Docks Catch of the Day, and so much more. Custom cocktails, draft beer, and house wines add to the experience. Finally, guests can enjoy live music on the weekends, and who doesn't love dinner and a show? Boshamps is truly a local staple when it comes to Destin's best seafood restaurants. Although a little silly, our Grayton Beach General Manager Justin said it best, "The Alabama Feta Cheese Dip is ridiculous and the Oysters Boshamp are so good it'll make your tongue slap your brain." Talk about imagery!
In addition to our staff's knowledge, we also appreciate the input provided by our Emerald Coast visitors. Based on an informal Facebook poll, we discovered a few more Destin seafood fan favorites. These include: Louisiana Lagniappe, Pompano Joe's, and The Back Porch. Check out the details in the article Your Favorite Destin Restaurants.
If you plan to vacation to Destin, chances are you will want to grab some fresh seafood at some point. These restaurants are your ticket for the best seafood! All are within walking or driving distance of our Ocean Reef Resorts Destin vacation rentals, so be sure to talk to your vacation specialist for details. As mentioned previously, our staff is here to ensure you have the best time in the best beach destination, including experiencing the best seafood. Bon Appetit!