#191 of 198 Destin Restaurants

The Gulf on Okaloosa Island

Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

The Gulf isn't the cheapest place to grab lunch, but this counter-serve eatery serves up high-quality lunch grub and freshly-caught seafood with gorgeous views of the Gulf. Most of the seating is outdoors, with covers for shade or rain. Great for families, for a casual date, or for enjoying a margarita while watching the sunset. 

- The FloridaPanhandle.com Local Expert Team

If you’re looking for a lunch or dinner spot that’s a little classier than a typical fish-fry place but offers casual outdoor seating and views of the gulf, you’ve found it here. The Gulf on Okaloosa Island serves up a variety of dishes featuring seasonal flavors and local catches. Though they specialize in seafood, from fish tacos to an incomparable seafood boil, you’ll also find mouthwatering options for those who prefer a meal that doesn’t come from the sea. The fried chicken sandwich and burgers here are hard to beat. 

The atmosphere at The Gulf on Okaloosa Island is classy and a bit eclectic–welcoming for families, casual enough that you’ll feel comfortable in a beach cover-up, but a bit nicer than your average counter-serve greasy spoon. The covered seating ensures you’ll have shade and/or shelter from the wind in case of inclement weather, but most people agree that The Gulf shines its brightest when the weather is pleasant.

There is a small indoor seating area upstairs which is usually open for seating as well, though sometimes it is reserved for parties or events. The majority of the seating is on picnic tables outside, just adjacent to the Gulf. You could even pull up in a rented pontoon to enjoy your lunch. 

You can expect consistently friendly, fast service at The Gulf on Okaloosa Island though it’s definitely not fast food, the wait usually doesn’t go beyond 15 minutes or so. They use a pager system, so you can go claim the perfect table for your party and relax until your food is ready to be claimed. 

Some of our menu favorites at The Gulf on Okaloosa Island include… 

Fresh Catch 
Served blackened, fried, or grilled, enjoy the fresh catch of the day either on a sandwich, on a salad, or a la carte. It’s hard to go wrong with this option; it’s likely the freshest seafood you’ll find anywhere nearby, and it’s served up hot, perfectly seasoned, and bursting with flavor every time. 

Choose from either shrimp or mahi-mah at The Gulf on Okaloosa Island. Either way, you can’t go wrong with the tacos here, which are one of the most popular items on the menu. The shrimp tacos are served with blackened shrimp and sweet chili aioli. The mahi-mahi tacos show off their flavor to full effect paired with Cajun aioli. Both taco options are served with pineapple slaw, cilantro, lime, and diced tomatoes–a fresh, flavorful combination that keeps locals and visitors coming back for more. 

Seafood Boil 
Perfect for a family or a few friends sharing a meal, the seafood boil doesn’t disappoint. It includes jumbo snow crab legs, fresh Gulf shrimp, mussels, sweet corn, red potatoes, and Conecuh sausage. The entire pot is slow-poached with just the right Cajun-style seasonings that result in a savory, wholesome pot of comfort. 

Burgers and Sandwiches
You’ll find traditional 100% beef burgers on the menu, along with grouper and fried or grilled chicken sandwiches. All are delicious, and all are an easy choice when you’re just not sure what you’re in the mood to eat. 

Kids’ Options 
Even the pickiest of eaters will find something palate-friendly here. Kids’ meals include chicken tenders and grilled cheese sandwiches–served with fries, of course. 

Some visitors complain that price points at The Gulf Gulf on Okaloosa Island are a little high. While they aren’t the cheapest around, we found prices reasonable thanks to the quality of food and the clean, one-of-a-kind atmosphere. 


The Gulf Restaurant is located on Oskaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach. It’s right between Ross Marler Park and the Hwy 30 bridge connecting Oskaloosa Island to the mainland. 

Insider Tips:
-You’ll have the best luck with the outdoor seating in warm, pleasant weather–or at sunset if you’re not keen on being outside in the heat of the day. 
-The Gulf can be busy at peak times, so be prepared to wait a bit longer if you’re among the main lunch or dinner crowd.