Gulf Gourmet: 11 Best Beachside Restaurants in Destin

Destin, Florida, of course, is one of America’s great beach destinations, so it only makes sense you’ll find more than a few awesome options for beachfront dining in this hub of the Emerald Coast. Here are our choices for the best beachside restaurants in Destin, from casual beach shacks to fancy houses of haute cuisine!

Sunset Bay Cafe

158 Sandestin Blvd N, Miramar Beach, FL 32550
(850) 267-7108

a plate of crispy potatoes with white sauce drizzle and herbs on top

Situated near the Linkside Conference Center at the Sandestin Golf & Beach  Resort, Sunset Bay Cafe serves charming ambiance and comfort food hitting all the right notes in equal measure. Breakfast and lunch are the focus here, with some of the top dishes including Chicken and Waffles, a great Fried Green Tomato Benedict, and the super-solid Sunset Bay Cafe Burger. You’ve got both indoor and outdoor seating to choose from, and the service—while not speedy—is warm and friendly.

Beach Walk Cafe at Henderson Park Inn

2700 Scenic Hwy 98, Destin, FL 32541
(850) 650-7100

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view of a building at night with lights lit up

Beach Walk Cafe provides some of the only true waterfront fine dining in Destin, with white tablecloths and everything. From the indoor dining room with its fireplace to the veranda tables overlooking the beach (and delivering front-row seats for fantastic Emerald Coast sunsets), this is a lovely and elegant spot for a special dinner. The surf-and-turf-style menu includes excellent seafood, steak, and salads; take our advice and try the Eggplant Medallions With Jumbo Lump Crab Meat appetizer.

Louisiana Lagniappe

775 Gulf Shore Dr, Destin, FL 32541
(850) 837-0881

view of the wooden pier on the water with white boats docking at it

Another more upscale option, Louisiana Lagniappe offers top-notch indoor and outdoor dining within the Sandpiper Cove condo community. Opened back in 1984, the restaurant lives up to its name with a Creole-inflected menu that features such favorites as hush puppies, shrimp and grits, and bread pudding. Other highlights include the Blackened Redfish and Grouper Pontchartrain entrees and a surprisingly extensive lineup of gluten-free dishes.

Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer

210D Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 32541
(850) 460-8900

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a plate of crab legs, a plate of bakes mac and cheese, and a plate of fish tacos with a side of chips

Set along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer tempts with an extensive menu of Gulf seafood, plus farm-fresh produce and other land-based fares. Some of the highlights include the fish and shrimp tacos, the Cajun Shrimp and Grits, the Floridian Grouper (paired with blue crab and mashed potatoes), and the seafood boils, which include a rather irresistible build-your-own-boil option. For such a fresh-catch-oriented place, Brotula’s also serves some fine burgers. Don’t miss the specialty martinis…

Boshamps Seafood & Oyster House

414 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 32541
(850) 424-7406

a covered outdoor dining area

Created as a casual revamping of the former fine-dining restaurant the Flamingo Cafe, Boshamps provides great “Gulf-to-table” cuisine with plenty of Cajun and Creole twists along Destin Harbor. Some of the many menu standouts include “The Original” Snapper Destin (with Gulf shrimp, jumbo lump crab, potatoes, and local greens), the Local Gulf Seafood Gumbo, and the Southern-Style Fine Fried Chicken—not to mention the “Off the Docks” catch-of-the-day entree.

The Back Porch

1740 Scenic Hwy 98, Destin, FL 32541
(850) 837-2022

a covered outdoor dining area along the beach, beachside restaurant in destin

Dating back to 1974, the Back Porch is a down-home favorite with an awesome atmosphere and great eats. You can’t beat the alfresco porch dining overlooking the beachfront! Its seafood-heavy menu includes the amberjack sandwich (a signature item), the Back Porch Oysters, the Snapper Paradise, and an irresistible Crab and Spinach Dip—not to mention the Florida Sunshine Cake for dessert. 

Pompano Joe’s

2237 Scenic Gulf Dr, Destin, FL 32550
(850) 837-2224

a wooden building with colorful outlining on the beach

Treat yourself to a beach-shack-style dining experience at Pompano Joe’s, which maintains a menu spotlighting local seafood and showing off a bit of Caribbean inspiration. The Seafood Gumbo here is a must-try—it’s taken top honors at the Sandestin Gumbo Festival three times, after all—as is the Garlic Crusted Grouper paired with Maine lobster. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to get into the beach vibe right quick with a few sips of PJ’s Punch or a house margarita.

The Surf Hut

551 Scenic Gulf Dr, Destin, FL 32550
(850) 460-7750

a beachside restaurant

Another postcard-perfect beach restaurant, the aptly named Surf Hut has a charming open-air interior, great Gulf views, and easy-access sands for strolling, sipping, and engaging in a bit of seaside corn hole. Some top items on the extensive menu are the Smoked Tuna Dip or open-face BBQ Sliders as appetizers, the Endless Summer Seafood Salad, and the Captain’s Platter (with fried fish, oysters, scallops, shrimp, and gumbo) and Create Your Own Catch (your choice of fish, cooking style, and signature sauce) entrees.

Harry T’s Lighthouse

46 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 32541
(850) 654-4800

a plate of raw tuna on a bed of salad with a slice of lemon on the side

A whimsical ambiance with a circus motif (honoring the restaurant’s namesake, trapeze master “Flying Harry T”) and an outstanding perch right on the Gulf make Harry T’s another champion Destin beachfront eatery. Enjoy views of East Pass, Noriega Point, and Crab Island alongside great drinks and such tasty dishes as the Seafood Nachos, Gouda Grits, Baja Avocado Burger, Grouper Florentine, and Fanta “Sea”: an absolute heap of snow crab, steamed shrimp, and mussels along with corn, potatoes, and French bread.

Jackacuda’s Seafood & Sushi

36120 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Destin, FL 32541
(850) 460-2909

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a covered outdoor dining area alongside a marina, beachside restaurant in destin

Jackacuda’s Seafood & Sushi gets its name from a local Destin fishing hole well known for both amberjack and barracuda. Sushi indeed is the main attraction of the menu; we especially recommend the Ultron baked roll, which includes shrimp, yellowtail, and crab and comes a bit on the fiery side with spicy mayo, sriracha, and black pepper seasoning. But there’s much else to tuck into here, including the Vegetarian Tofu Drunken Noodles, some very respectable chicken tenders, and the delectable dessert of Jack’s Pie, with a graham cracker crust, chocolate, and cream cheese filling, and fresh berries.

Marina Cafe

404 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 32541
(850) 837-7960

a dining area with big windows, beachside restaurant in destin

We’ll close this roundup with another of Destin’s waterfront fine-dining destinations: the Marina Cafe, which besides its upscale, white-tablecloth ambiance and high-end seafood menu delivers great harbor-side views from its big windows and porch. Menu highlights range from the Crispy Fried Calamari, Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, and Blackened Grouper Cheeks appetizers to Creole Barbecued Jumbo Shrimp, Grilled Gulf Swordfish, and a decadent Coconut Cream Pie for dessert. 

Beach Dining in Destin

Whether you’re looking for a date-night destination, a family lunch, or a casual happy-hour hangout, the above roundup should give you everything you need to strategize a great Gulf-side meal in Destin!