#79 of 198 Destin Restaurants

Tailfins Ale House & Oyster Bar

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Tailfins Ale House & Oyster Bar: Laid-Back Dining in Destin
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Good food in a fun environment with stunning views of the Gulf, enjoyed from three different vantage points. Tailfins is a Destin classic.

- The FloridaPanhandle.com Local Expert Team

Customers patronize Tailfins Ale House & Oyster Bar for different reasons. For some, it’s a place to meet friends and watch their favorite NFL team play on one of the restaurant’s 70-inch televisions. For others, it’s a relaxing place to enjoy a weekend brunch. For the remainder, Tailfins is the ideal spot to enjoy a spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico.

None of them are wrong. After a visit to Tailfins, you will likely come up with a reason of your own to return. We found a great deal to like about the eatery, not the least of which was an unbeatable view of the Gulf harbor. Whether you walk from the beach, arrive by boat, or find a parking spot nearby, something as simple as sipping iced tea from Tailfins’ rooftop feels like a special occasion.

Reviews depend upon words, and yet words seem wholly inadequate when describing the view from nearly every Tailfin vantage point. There’s the azure water, of course, but the views also offer a postcard-like view of everyday activity on this corner of the Gulf. There are boats, both humble and grand, and yachts impressive enough to inspire curiosity as to where they originate. In short, one could easily spend hours watching the life that springs from the Gulf

It’s not all about the view though. There’s plenty going on at Tailfins every day of the week. It’s not uncommon for friends to meet up for drinks and an appetizer or couples to celebrate a first date in its scenic setting.

We can normally find a menu item or two to brag about at a restaurant, but Tailfins offers a surprising number of truly memorable items.

We found the oysters to be hit or miss, but here are some of the dishes (and drinks) we did appreciate:

Carol’s Calamari
There are few things more disappointing than rubbery calamari. Fortunately, Tailfins does not disappoint. Their hand-breaded, fresh calamari is served with banana and red peppers, and drizzled with citrus aioli. Served with a side of marinara, it was one of our favorite menu options.

Shrimp Ceviche
As though simple shrimp is not enough on its own, Tailfins chefs up the ante by marinating their Gulf shrimp in fresh lime juice, mix it with onions, cilantro, garlic, tomatoes, and jalapenos. Served with tortilla chips, shrimp ceviche is both fresh and spicy.

Crab Claws
A popular option for seafood-loving groups is Tailfins’ crab claws, lightly breaded and served with cocktail sauce, these delectable favorites can be purchased by the plate or platterful. It’s not unusual to watch 100 claws being delivered to a table of hungry-looking patrons.

The Tailfin Stack
Speaking of hungry (and slightly indecisive diners), this meal includes Gulf Coast Grouper, topped with lump crab meat and shrimp. The initial trio of seafood is enhanced with Beurre Blanc sauce and served with petite lobster tail – just in case there wasn’t enough seafood on the plate. It’s served with seasonal vegetables and mashed potatoes. The challenge is to find a patron who can consume this meal and still order dessert.

Toms High Roller
While we’re on the subject of seafood on seafood options, Toms High Roller offers steamed Alaskan snow crab, mussels, clams, shrimp, and lobster tails, served with corn on the cob and new potatoes. If it sounds like a lot of seafood, it is.

Johnny’s Famous Kansas City Baby Back Ribs
Kansas City takes its barbecue seriously and Tailfins seems to have received the memo. These tender pork ribs are Applewood smoked and seasoned. Served with Texas toast, house fries, pit-style beans, and house-made slaw, it’s a little taste of Midwest on the Gulf of Mexico.

From the Bar
There are a couple of drinks we wanted to mention, special enough to stick in our minds. Mermaid H20 consists of Captain Morgan and Malibu Rum, Blue Curacao, pineapple juice, and a splash of cranberry. It tastes like sitting on a warm, sunny island feels. The aptly named Southern Gentleman is created by blending Tito’s Handmade Vodka, peach schnapps, lime juice, and lemon lime soda. It manages to be both strong and refreshing, and is the perfect complement to a seafood entrée.

From its lovely exterior to an interior that features views of the ocean, there is little about Tailfins Ale House to dislike. It’s the kind of place that could inspire us to visit over and over again.

Insider Tip:
-If sitting in any particular area of the restaurant is important to you, arrive early enough to be seated. For example, the bar area is swamped on game day and roof top seating is a popular option almost every day of the week.