This long-standing local favorite, named for a dog and a cat, is a half hour's drive from Destin but definitely worth the trip. Devoted to fresh seafood, the owners also choose the best ingredients from area farmers. They transform these goods into creative entrees, such as Basque-style seafood stew, grilled duck breast, Florida blue crab cakes and grilled beef tenderloin stuffed with fried oysters. The menu extends well beyond these dishes and constantly reveals new flavors and textures. Whether in the light-filled dining room or outside in the sea air, the cuisine is impeccable. Upstairs, an open-air bar serves drinks and light meals and provides an incredible vista across the gulf.
Twinkling with white lights, this restaurant resides in a large home beside the water. Offering both indoor and outdoor dining, Caffe Italia prepares classic Italian cuisine with only the best ingredients. The bistecca alla pizzaiola flavors beef tenderloin with a spicy sauce of tomatoes, capers, black olives and oregano, while the farfalle al salmone tops pasta with smoked salmon, peas and tomatoes in a white wine-vodka sauce. Along with these dishes, the menu offers selections of chicken, veal and pork. Pizzas are also popular; toppings include anchovies, prosciutto, green olives and roasted red peppers. Guests may enjoy live music Wed-Sun.
One of the Emerald Coast's most celebrated restaurants, this waterfront eatery serves American cuisine with Asian and European influences. Its chef, Tim Creehan, creates dishes such as tempura-fried grouper with black bean sauce and stir-fried vegetables, oven-roasted pork with shiitake mushroom dressing, or roasted lamb with eggplant and goat cheese rolls. He is also known for his hot crawfish salad, crabmeat spring rolls, white chocolate banana cream pie, and a delightful Sunday brunch. These, along with his other specialties, reveal why he has been chosen as chef for dinners hosted by celebrities such as Amy Grant, Vince Gill and Cybill Shepherd.
Situated at the base of the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier, this casual eatery offers both beachside and outdoor dining. Popular with families, the restaurant has selections for children and adults. Salads, hamburgers and sandwiches satisfy any appetite, and a variety of "beach baskets" showcases shrimp, fish or oysters and accompanies them with hushpuppies, cole slaw and fries. If you just want a quick bite, Anglers also has an appetizer menu with nachos, salsa and chips, and buffalo wings.
Unassuming and relaxed, this simple, waterside eatery doesn't buy into the commercialization found so frequently at beach resorts. It doesn't pretend to be fancy, and it doesn't expect its clientele to be either. Grafitti marks the walls, and physical comforts are at a minimum. It does, however, have a great view of the harbor and is known for its fresh, cold oysters. The cheeseburgers, huge and juicy, aren't too shabby either, and the gumbo is award-winning. Live music during the week adds an energetic note of local flavor.
Its beach location somehow seems appropriate for a restaurant that specializes in seafood. Pompano Joe's, ideal for the whole family, is open to gulf breezes and adds an island flair to local cuisine. Coconut shrimp comes with pineapple-jalapeno salsa, and grouper guadalupe features crab meat and a sun-dried tomato butter sauce. You'll also find amberjack grilled or fried, and oysters, scallops and mahi mahi. House favorites include snow crab, a combination platter of seafood, and crab cakes. Steaks and pork are also on the menu, and a child's menu and full bar will satisfy a wide range of interests.
An ocean view and trendy blue-tiled sushi bar enhance this large dining room's appeal. Soft shades of yellow and green dominate the interior, and guests may dine at either a table or semi-circular booth. The kitchen boasts flavorful fish and meat prepared with homegrown veggies and exotic seasonings. The short but intriguing menu might include wild striped bass with butternut squash lasagna, baby carrots, turnips, and apple curry sauce or moulard duck breast with poached quince, polenta, frisse, and orange coriander sauce. An extensive selection of wines is offered, and a limited assortment is available by the glass.
The cat lounging out front gives indication of this place's casual atmosphere. Set right on the beach, windows are thrown open to gulf breezes and the crashing of the surf. Nautical lanterns and painted fish accent the all-wood interior, and several bars in the multi-leveled eatery serve cold drinks of all formulations. Naturally, the menu boasts a bevy of fresh seafood. Steamed, fried or broiled, it's all delicious. House specialties include chargrilled amberjack, stuffed lobster tails, stuffed shrimp casserole and grouper florentine. You'll also find sandwiches, pastas and a token steak. In the evenings, the sunsets are spectacular.
AJ's is everyone's favorite place in Destin; the parking lot alone gives credence to that fact. The restaurant section of the complex, down by the harbor, is marked by a cascading water wall and fishing floats hanging overhead. The dining room gleams with varnished wood, and windows are open to the breezes and the view. Jimmy Buffett tunes play in the background. On the menu, seafood is prominent and is served grilled, fried and steamed. There's a selection of oysters as well, along with pasta dishes and a ribeye. The catch of the day, unloaded from the docks just outside of the restaurant, is guaranteed fresh. If you're in the area, make sure you give the place a try, but come early.
Photos of proud fishermen bearing their catches cover the walls of this rustic establishment. Famous for its fresh seafood, Harbor Docks has several venues, including two hibachi tables, two bars and an upper deck. Entrees feature fried crab cakes, marinated yellowfin tuna and a seafood platter with the catch of the day and a variety of shellfish. All of these come with a salad and rice or potato. A substantial sushi menu offers sashimi, nigiri and maki selections, too. In the evenings, the deck is a popular destination for those who come to hear live bands play. As you might expect, the views from inside and outside are amazing.