#39 of 196 Destin Restaurants

Captain Dave’s On The Gulf

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Captain Dave's On the Gulf - Margarita's and Seafood on the Gulf Shore
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Capt. Dave’s on the Gulf offers a large, varied menu, good service, and unbeatable views of the Gulf. The kitchen doesn't always hit the ball out of the park, but when it does it is impressive.

- The FloridaPanhandle.com Local Expert Team

Nestled in the Florida Panhandle, perched directly on the Gulf of Mexico is Captain Dave’s On The Gulf. This Destin eatery has been serving seafood along the Emerald Coast since 1968. After five decades in business, the restaurant is true to its roots and still comes across as the archetypal seafood house.

From the classic exterior to the light-filled interior with picturesque views of the Gulf, Capt. Dave’s On The Gulf is a full-sensory experience. Floor-to-ceiling windows make you feel as though you could walk right into the blue Gulf waters.

Rumor has it, many of today’s patrons are the children and grandchildren of original Capt. Dave customers. Whether or not this rumor is true, the welcoming hospitality means you’ll feel right at home during your first visit.

Capt. Dave’s on the Gulf offers a modest selection of steaks and chicken, but make no mistake about it, it’s all about the seafood. 

Here are some of our favorites:

Seafood Gumbo­­­
How foolish would it be to travel to the deep South and not try the local gumbo? We were not about to make that mistake. Capt. Dave’s gumbo is a fabulous blend of their homemade award-winning Florida-style tomato-based gumbo with shrimp, Mahi, scallops, and sausage. It’s warm, savory, and unforgettable.

House Salad
One quick note about Capt. Dave’s dinner salad. Sure, it contains all the regular suspects: mixed greens, three kinds of cheese, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. What puts it over the top is the addition of honey-roasted almonds. Seriously, how can one simple ingredient add so much flavor?

Cajun Redfish
One member of our party is a Cajun food fanatic. According to his Cajun-loving tastebuds, the blackened broiled redfish topped with hand-battered shrimp, diced peppers, and cayenne pepper cream sauce is utter perfection. The truth of the matter is, it takes a pretty great Cajun dish to remain on Capt. Dave’s menu.

Grouper Pontchartrain
It may not come as a surprise to learn that the only reason we ordered this dish was because we noticed that it features homemade honey-roasted almonds. Yes, we like them that much. Fortunately, the broiled grouper topped with fried shell crab and sweet basil bearnaise sauce blends perfectly with our new favorite honey-roasted nut.

Snapper Jane
One thing we’ve noticed about choosing from a large menu is that we tend to lean toward dishes that include some of our favorite ingredients, even if we’ve never tried the actual dish before. What initially drew us to order Snapper Jane is the inclusion of parmesan cheese, which is rather silly in retrospect. After all, snapper topped with a sprinkle of crab meat, shrimp, and homemade shrimp cream sauce would have been delicious on its own. The parmesan was really just a bonus.

Capt. Dave’s Bar Drinks
Whether you’re waiting for a table or gazing out of those floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s nice to have a well-made drink in front of you. We were impressed by the sheer variety of options and were anxious to try a couple of new cocktails. The first is called Millionaires Margarita. If you enjoy a traditional margarita, you’ll likely be as impressed as we were by this blend of Patron Silver, Patron Citronge, and lime juice poured into a salt-rimmed glass. The Dark ‘N’ Stormy is a tasty mix of dark rum and ginger beer, served over ice and garnished with lime. Both were perfect options as we tried one dish after another.

Maybe it’s the location, perhaps it’s the long and storied history — whatever that magical ingredient is, Capt. Dave’s on the Gulf is an experience worth having. May we suggest that every member of your party choose a different dish to share with the group? With a menu this extensive, it’s an easy thing to do.

Insider Tip:
Although it’s not always the case, we have found that it is often faster to be seated in the outdoor area than indoors. If the line seems long, check on the wait time for outdoor seating.