Beach vacations are special occasions. You’re surrounded by some of the most beautiful elements of nature, have an opportunity to relax and renew, and get to dine on foods that may not be available to you at home.
The interesting thing about many restaurants that cater to tourists (along with faithful locals) is how unremarkable they are aesthetically. The first thing we were struck by is the way the exterior of Dee’s Hangout offered no clue as to what awaited us inside. The building is fine, but nondescript enough that it could have housed any kind of eatery.
Other than the wonderful aroma of seafood being prepared, nothing much changed as we stepped into the establishment. Simply put, no one visits Dee’s for its cookie-cutter looks. Here is where Mom’s old adage about not judging a book by its cover comes in. The food is as fresh and expertly prepared as any seafood restaurant we’ve visited in Florida.
Panama City Beach has it all: 320 days of sunshine a year, powdery white beaches, fascinating historical sites around every corner, and now – Dee’s Hangout.
Although we were familiar with most of the menu options, it would be a lie to deny being surprised by how well these traditional dishes were executed. Here are some of our favorites:
Dee’s Dip Sampler
We wanted to mention a few of the appetizers here because truly, it would be a crime to miss them. The first is Dee’s Dip Sampler, including tuna and pimento cheese dips, served with tortilla chips and crackers. Just to give you an idea of how great this appetizer is, the pimento cheese dip is made with a blend of sharp cheddar, gouda, and cream cheese — a fine combination of taste and texture.
Seared Ahi Tuna
Although it’s offered as an appetizer, this serving of tuna and cucumber wasabi slaw is as flavorful as it is attractive.
Hang-Out Hush Puppies
We’ve all had hush puppies, but these are truly special. Deep fried to a golden brown, these puppies are served with a Cajun remoulade (a sauce made with hard-boiled egg yolks, oil, and vinegar). We cannot overemphasized the extra kick Cajun seasonings add.
New Orleans Style Barbecue Shrimp
A nicely prepared shrimp dish consisting of peeled, tail-on shrimp that has been smothered in New Orleans style barbecue shrimp sauce. Served with rice and French bread, the sauce is perfect for dipping your bread.
This is all for you if you’re feeling hungry (really, really hungry). The platter includes shrimp etouffee (a stew of sorts consisting of onion, celery, bell pepper, and spices), chicken gumbo, red beans and rice, fried catfish, hush puppies, and French bread. Granted, this is a lot of food, but makes the perfect share-with-a-friend meal if you’re not absolutely starving.
Argentine Steak Tacos or Taco Bowl
Not in the mood for seafood (or just aren’t crazy about it)? Dee’s offers a number of alternative dishes. One of our favorites is the Argentine Steak Taco Bowl, with steak, shredded cabbage, Monterey Jack cheese, Pico de Gallo, and chimichurri sauce.
Hang-Out Chocolate Delight
If you have room for dessert, you certainly have options. There’s key lime pie, banana pudding, and this decadent dish that includes crispy cookie crust with layers of rich chocolate and fluffy cream cheese filling. It’s enough to make us wonder how many people simply stop by for the dessert.
If there’s a line for tables, order a drink. They are happy to serve you while you wait.