Foodie's Paradise

We can all agree, we live in paradise. Why else would we have so many tourists flocking to our shores and riding off into the horizon alongside us on Highway 98? Our powder white sand, emerald green Gulf water, and sunsets that set the sky ablaze in gold, purple and pink are all part of the allure, but our best kept secret is our fabulous local restaurants, and we don't mind spilling the beans about these. 

While you feast your eyes on the scenery, you should also enjoy an actual feast because there are a plethora of restaurants along our slice of the panhandle that might just steal your heart away.

Naturally, your first instinct when dining anywhere in Florida should be to ask, "where can I find great seafood?" This is especially true in the World's Luckiest Fishing Village. Uncover the secrets of the time-honored fishing hole when you savor some truly local and sustainable fare at Jackacuda's Seafood and Sushi. The atmosphere is comfortable and laid back with dishes that are casual yet exciting. Another fisherman's favorite is found at Brotula's Seafood House and Steamer named after the rather elusive deep water Gulf fish they pride themselves on emulating. The best part about these two is that they are sister restaurants who know how to make your belly full and happy by serving up freshness.

If you're hoping to catch a glimpse of the water while you chow down on some fancy fare, then Vue on 30a is your spot. They boast comfortable sophistication, a menu to impress from brunch to dinner, and of course, a view like no other. If you fall in love, you can even get married here- just not to your meal.

For a farm to table, honest to goodness meal make your way down 30a to Chanticleer Eatery in Grayton Beach. The rustic decór and seasonal menu are sure to remind you that even though this is Florida, we're definitely in the South. Their philosophy is to keep food wholesome and uncomplicated.

Looking for some fun in your food? Find your way to Cowgirl Kitchen for kick-back cuisine that's just as their motto says, "fun, no frills." They are all about the fan favorites like tuna dip, pizza, salsa, nachos, tacos, and queso. The fun just doesn't end!

If you're looking to pig out, head over to The Perfect Pig, where they believe in all things pig- pork, ham, bacon. Oh my gosh, bacon. We could write poems about bacon, but that might be considered weird- not to The Perfect Pig though. They also feature a healthy amount of cheese and wine sauces on their menu, and we can't say we're the least bit mad about that. 

 Steakhouses are a vacationer's staple when planning a formal evening on the town. We can pretend we're on our staycation when we dine out at Seagar's Prime Steaks and Seafood where Chef Dan Vargo has masterfully combined the nuance of a New York style steakhouse with the finest flavors you can find on Florida's Gulf Coast. This amazing restaurant also boasts an extensive wine list that is sure to excite your palate.

Ruth's Chris Steak House has a rich history and a long standing tradition of excellence. There is no exception to this at their beloved Destin location where they are serving up the classics alongside fresh local seafood with a New Orleans twist. They also have happy hour specials that are guaranteed to make you happy! Be sure to check out their beautiful glass wine room before the night is done.

If you want a fine dining experience with flavorful pairings and diverse ingredients, let Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Sandestin take your palate on an adventure. Their passion for seasonal cuisine is met with excellent hospitality to create a memorable meal like no other. They also serve 100 different wines by the glass, and that is reason enough to keep coming back for more.

You'll happily trade in your swimsuit for your resort chic just to dine at Bijoux. Awarded Emerald Coast Magazine's "Most Romantic Restaurant," the intimate space is the perfect spot for date night with your sweetheart, or a private celebration with close family and friends. Chef Jack McGuckin will stun your senses with his coastal cuisine, and award-winning French style culinary creations.

Love your life by starting your day with a delicious cup of organic Amavida Coffee & Tea. This warm cup of comfort will leave your conscience clear as their ingredients come from the finest farms around the world, that support fair and sustainable trade. They also offer amazing international lunch options and delectable snacks in any of their four artfully decorated locations. This local cafe brings the world to your table in a setting that feels like you're right at home.

Being a foodie is a somewhat millenial experience, but don't be discouraged. A foodie by any other word, is a person who appreciates the finer fare in life and has a passion for enjoying it as often as possible. If you consider yourself a foodie, we know you'll taste test your way through our list of favorite local restaurants, and we promise you will find yourself in a Foodie's Paradise.

We would like to extend a special THANK YOU to all of these restaurants who participated in the Reserve Tasting during our 11th Annual Auction for their continued support of our mission.


-Melissa Vidaurre

Published on Wednesday, June 8, 2016