We’ve just returned from a family vacation in Destin, Florida. It was a beautiful, fun and relaxing trip. We spent hours on the beach and at the pool. We went on a dolphin cruise and visited the Big Kahuna waterpark. We took nice walks along the harbor and in shopping areas. BUT, this is a food blog so I’ll stick to talking about food! Since we stayed in a condo with a full kitchen, we decided to eat breakfast and lunch there. And the first night, we ate dinner at home as well because we were in a rush to eat and get in the pool. So, we ate three dinners out and breakfast on our last day. Our at-home meals were pretty healthy so I didn’t worry too much about what we ate when we were out. Here are some highlights of our visits to a few local restaurants.
Pompano Joe’s is one of Destin’s most popular seafood restaurants. They offer a variety of grilled, broiled and fried seafood with several Carribbean inspired options. It was at the top of my list of places to go. When we arrived, there were a ton of people standing around outside so we knew there would be a wait. When we put our name on the list, the estimated wait time was an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and forty five minutes! What did we do? We waited. Those who know me well enough know that at home this would never happen. But, I guess vacation makes me more tolerant. We’d gotten there early and weren’t even hungry yet…. plus, this place is right on the beach so you can’t complain about that. We headed out back to the beachside bar and I ordered a margarita. We walked around the beach. What else could we do to pass the time? Take pictures, of course!
As it turned out, we only waited an hour so I was happy. This was the view from our table:
Pretty perfect, huh?
We ordered two appetizers- Voodoo (jerk flavored) shrimp and voodoo chicken wings. Scott ordered the “P.J.’s Platter” which included fried shrimp, oysters, fish and scallops. I ordered fried scallops and the kids ordered popcorn shrimp and chicken fingers. Austin had beans and rice and the rest of us had baked potatoes and mixed vegetables. We loved everything! I really loved the shrimp and wished we had more of it. I’d never had fried scallops before and I think I picked a great time to try them! They were flavorful and crispy. They gave me a ton of them! We found all of the portions to be huge. Scott said he could have gotten full off of Austin’s kids’ meal. I snapped a quick picture of the appetizers but by the time our entrees came we were so I excited that I didn’t even think about it.
So, my overall review of this place is very good. The food was great, the atmosphere is fun and the view is beautiful. The service was good, too. We had a really nice waitress who took good care of us. When we go back to Destin, we will definitely eat here again.
The Back Porch
The Back Porch was recommended by several people- some of Scott’s co-workers raved about it as did some ladies from my cooking board. It was right behind the condo we stayed in so we saw it as soon as we got there and agreed to check it out. We were advised to get there early so we got there around 5:30 which was just in time because very soon after that the place was packed. I imagine the wait was pretty long. The atmosphere here is great- it opens to the beach so you have a great view.
I am sad to say that we did not enjoy the food as much as we thought we would. We started with popcorn shrimp and calamari appetizers. They didn’t get us too excited. The popcorn shrimp was ordinary and Scott is getting hard to please when it comes to calamari. He orders it a lot and there are a few places in Atlanta that have amazing calamari so his standard is getting pretty high. For dinner, I ordered Hibachi chicken with corn on the cob and rice pilaf and Scott ordered a shrimp sandwich with fries. The chicken was good but I hated the rice. The kids ate my corn because they didn’t want the fries that came with their kids’ meals. Scott wasn’t too impressed with his sandwich. The bright side was that the kids loved their food and ate it all. They ordered the usual- popcorn shrimp and chicken tenders. We were thrilled to see them eat so well. And their food was served in souvenir frisbees which came in handy on the beach the next day.
We’re not entirely sure why we didn’t love this place as much as everyone else does. We decided that we must have just ordered the wrong things. Maybe they have certain dishes that are great while the rest are just okay. Normally, I’d blame myself for ordering chicken at a seafood restaurant but the chicken wasn’t actually bad whereas the popcorn shrimp was almost disappointing. I don’t regret checking it out but when we walked past all the people waiting for tables on our way out, I was really glad that we’d gotten there early and been seated right away. It wasn’t the worst meal in the world. It just didn’t live up to our expectations and wouldn’t have been worth the long wait.
Here’s another pic that I took from our balcony.
McGuire’s Irish Pub
McGuire’s Irish Pub is listed as the #1 rated restaurant on Trip Advisor. At first, I had no plans to go there but when Scott wanted to go to a non-seafood restaurant, I looked into it. The reviews sounded really good so we decided to give it a try. People rave about their steaks, extensive burger menu, their fresh seafood, their drinks and much more. I am so glad we decided to eat there. The food was amazing!
When we first arrived, we were slightly in awe of all the dollar bills that are hanging from the ceiling, stapled to the walls, even attached to ceiling fans. There is some story about the first dollar tip being put up behind the bar years ago and how patrons started leaving a signed dollar for good luck. The tradition stuck and now there are dollar bills everywhere. It certaintly isn’t the classiest look but it was sort of mind boggling to know that there was over half a million dollars in $1 bills in that place!
I ordered a margarita and a few minutes later, the waitress arrived with two of them, saying that they were running a two for one special. This was a very pleasant surprise. And the margaritas were good! McGuire’s brews their own root beer and beer. Scott tried the root beer and loved it.
The food that followed was wonderful. I ordered cedar plank free range Galway salmon and Scott ate grilled lamb chops with old fashioned mint jelly. We had salads and potatoes as well. We were both very happy! The salmon was seasoned in a Black Mustard Irish Whiskey glaze. It was so good. The lamb chops were huge and afterwards Scott said they were actually too big but they tasted great. By the end we were so full! I could barely see straight. We were determined to eat everything because it was our last night. Somehow, we did it! The kids both ate cheese pizza which came with fries, an orange slice and a rice krispy treat. Shania didn’t care for her pizza much (it was on really thick bread, not pizza crust) but she still ate it. She attempted to eat brownie pie a la mode for dessert. The lighting was awful but I tried to take a few pics.
This was the place that MrsSchoon (from What’s Cooking) told me I had to visit. She said they had an extensive menu that goes way beyond doughnuts. The morning after we arrived we saw it on our way to the harbor and I said, “There it is! The Donut Hole!” We decided to eat breakfast there on our last day but we passed it several times while we were there and each time, I pointed it out. Finally Shania was like, “Will someone please get this girl some doughnuts?!” LOL. She didn’t realize it was a restaurant, too. So, it became a joke during the whole trip about how I was so obsessed with the Donut Hole.
On Saturday, Scott and Shania were so excited for me- I could finally GO to the Donut Hole and not point at it. We went there around 10:00 and I was worried about how crowded it might be. There were a lot of people lined up outside. Some were just buying doughnuts and leaving, but many were there for breakfast, too. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long to get a table though- maybe 15-20 minutes.
This place does have SO much more than doughnuts. At first, the smell of the cinnamon and sugar made me just want sweets but once I saw the menu I was ready for some food. It was the best restaurant breakfast I’d had in a long, long time. I ate a belgian waffle and home fried potatoes. I wanted to order more but I knew that would fill me up and I was right. Scott ate chopped steak, eggs and potatoes. Shania had eggs benedict and grits. Austin had pancakes with cinnamon apples. The kids shared a side of sausage. I took pictures of most of it. All I can say is- YUM!
On the way out the door, we bought some doughnuts- powdered, cinnamon sugar and glazed. I was so full that I hardly cared about them at the time. Later, I ate a powdered doughnut in the car. It was good but paled in comparison to that waffle which I think I had a dream about somewhere in Alabama on the way home…
So, overall we ate pretty good in Destin. And we had a great family vacation. I miss it already.