#63 of 159 Panama City Beach Restaurants

Hammerhead Fred’s

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Hammerhead Fred’s in Panama City Beach: Touristy Seafood Joint With Great Beer Selection & Live Music
Local Expert's Rating:
3.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Between the awesome outdoor patio and the frequent performances by live bands to the crowd-pleasing lineup of seafood and an epic tap list, it’s no surprise Hammerhead Fred’s has been a PCB staple for decades. All things considered, it’s the beach-party-style atmosphere that’s the chief draw, more than the caliber of the grub. It’s also a good place to catch the big game!

- The FloridaPanhandle.com Local Expert Team

Opened back in 1995, Hammerhead Fred’s is a bit on the touristy (some might even say tacky) side, but it’s also kind of a PCB rite of passage at this point, and the atmosphere’s nothing but fun. There’s a spacious interior as well as the 2,500-square-foot outdoor pavilion of “Fred’s Hangout,” which includes a full bar and regular live music.

The upside-down-hanging great white shark model outside makes a classic PCB photo op, by the way.

You and the gang might want to start with some appetizers—err, we mean Hammertizers (which kind of calls to mind “Hammer Time” more than anything, doesn’t it?). They range from Fred’s Cajun Nachos, wings, and Blue Crab Claws to the “Swamp Bites” gator meat served with a spicy remoulade.

The restaurant’s signature dishes include the Parmesan-crusted Flounder, Grilled Grouper, and the Bourbon Street Pasta. Entrees run from the New York Strip grilled over a wood fire to the heaping Captain’s Platter of fried fresh catch, shellfish, and crab claws.

The greasy celebration continues with the Hammerhead Fred’s spread of baskets, including popcorn shrimp, oysters, Catch of the Day fish, and chicken tenders. Speaking of oysters, you can also order a platter raw, baked, or char-grilled.

Other options include fish, shrimp, or lobster tacos, plus various burgers and sandwiches. If you’ve got room for dessert, you might try the Banana Foster Cake or perhaps the bread pudding.

The drinks at Hammerhead Fred’s are as big of an attraction as the food itself, whether you’re ordering one of the specialty cocktails—Fred’s Famous Voodoo Punch, The Hammerhead, the Southern Slushy, or some other poison of choice—or sifting through the impressive tap list of 50-plus brews, including many craft options.

Here are a few menu highlights to consider at Hammerhead Fred’s:

Gumbo Dip
You’ve got no shortage of “Hammertizers” to choose from—and nobody’s saying you can’t order a few for the table. Either way, make sure the Gumbo Dip’s on your bill: This melty masterwork of Andouille sausage, shrimp, onions, bell peppers, and cream cheese is bliss to dip into with a crunchy tortilla chip.

Blue Crab Claws
A great starter sidekick to the Gumbo Dip, the Hammerhead Fred’s Blue Crab Claws come lightly battered and fried to golden-brown perfection; you’ll have remoulade sauce—a classic Creole condiment—to enjoy them with.

Raw Oysters
Oysters aren’t for everyone, particularly raw oysters, but if their sea-salty tang appeals to you they’re a standout of Hammerhead Fred’s seafood offerings. (Again, you can also order various baked oyster platters as well as Fred’s Original Char-Grilled Oysters if the raw thing isn’t doing it for you.)

If gourmet seafood’s what you’re after, head elsewhere, but if you want to join the PCB beachfront party, it’s hard to beat Hammerhead Fred’s.

Insider Tip:
– This place can get packed, particularly on the weekends, and wait times can be significant, with slow service as well. So be aware if you’re strapped for time or particularly ravenous.