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  • Writer's pictureMelody Dunn

Eat Like A Local... Fresh From The Gulf Seafood

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

Looking for “fresh from the Gulf” Coconut Shrimp, Crab Feast or Grouper Basket… but not in the mood for a fancy restaurant? Wondering where the locals go? The 30A corridor between Panama City Beach and Destin offers many great upscale and fine dining options. However, some of the smaller and older local establishments have prepared delicious catches without the added formality or expense. After a day of sun, fun and “Livin’ The Dream” gather your beach tribe and check out these lively hotspots for a relaxed environment and some local seafood grub.

A “reel” expert living between Panama City Beach and Destin can tackle finding the best local seafood, but if you are only in town for a week on vacation... here’s a great list of restaurants to try...

Stinky’s Fish Camp

Rumor is…this is one of Emeril’s favorite restaurants! If you ask the locals where to get great seafood in a casual environment…this restaurant is a favorite of many. They offer a daily selection of fresh local seafood with everything made in-house… down to the mayo. The menu boasts genuine casual seafood in large portions made from freshest ingredients and local produce. The menu features diverse preparations of local seafood, many with a Cajun flare with local favorites like crawfish pie, blue crab cakes, fried baskets, frog legs, crab claws, shrimp and grits, crawfish hushpuppies, papaya slaw, a chum line oyster bar, Louisiana garlic bread and amazing Key Lime Pie. A variety of wines, beer and cocktails along with live music create a fun casual environment. They are open for lunch and dinner and brunch on Sundays. Go early to wait less, but be sure to go.

5994 West County Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach

Open Mon-Sat. 11 am -10 pm, Sun. 10 am - 10 pm

Price range: $11-30

Salty Sue’s

You had me at coconut shrimp! Salty Sue’s is known for it’s Bar and Grill featuring BBQ and seafood in a brick lined setting with games on TV and live music. The coconut fried shrimp is delicious, but they get a lot of raves for the smoked wings, BBQ nachos, burgers, fish and chips, grouper bites, brisket and fried pickles. They run lunch and happy hour specials and welcome To Go orders. The ambience is a little loud and the food seems to take a while getting out of the kitchen, however the drinks are more stiff than some places and they do have quick menu option.

17501 Back Beach Rd., Panama City Beach

Open 7 days 11 am - 9 pm

Price range: $11-30

The Bay

This family friendly waterfront restaurant is Chef Jim Shirley’s latest South Walton sensation. It’s a cool bayside hangout that sits at the foot of the 331 bridge overlooking the Choctawhatchee Bay and offers a little more sophisticated version of your down home favorite seafood selections along with various fried options. The menu features a variety of gulf coast seafood cuisine with a southern flare, kids menu, steaks and great sushi. Bar seating is indoor and outside and overlooks the bay. They have a great wine selection, bar-crafted cocktails and a 12 draft beer system. On Wednesday nights their private beach shines with a cozy Beach Bonfire and live music.

24215 Hwy. 331 South, Santa Rosa Beach, FL

Open 7 days 11 am - 9:30 pm

Price range: $11-32

Shades Bar & Grill

Need to go out for dinner, but don’t want to miss that game? Shades is the place to meet and eat on 30A. Shades is family friendly “American Bar” style restaurant with a kids game room and 17 HD TV's and 2 projectors with all the premium packages to accommodate every sports fan. The large bar features a draft selection of 46 beers from around the world and craft cocktails. The menu offers a fresh take on many bar and grill dishes, but includes lots of fresh from the Gulf seafood too. You’ll find lighter fare like Shrimp and Avocado Salad as well as golden fried fish, crispy fries and homemade hushpuppies. They also have great burgers, interesting salads and piping hot flatbread pizza. Indoor/outdoor seating and takeout are available. The Volcano Shrimp appetizer is my “go to” with a salad and a Fire & Ice Cocktail.

10952 E County Hwy 30A, Inlet Beach, FL

Open 7 days 11 a.m. - 1 a.m.

Price range: $10-25

Old Florida Fish House

This hidden gem and favorite local hot spot provides a family friendly atmosphere in a one of a kind setting overlooking Eastern Lake. It’s known as the “Old Florida Soul” in the heart of 30A. The panoramic views, relaxed setting, coastal decor and high definition TV's create a memorable setting for daily Gulf-fresh seafood specials and some of the best sushi on 30A. A fan favorite is the “Grouper Fish House,” featuring fresh caught sautéed Grouper topped with Butter poached Lump Crab Meat and sautéed Shrimp, all served over mashed potatoes with a lemon Beurre Blanc! Go early, wait less!

33 Heron’s Watch Way, Santa Rosa Beach, FL

Open 7 days: 11 am -10 pm

Price range: $$-$$$

Steamboat Grill

This little dive of a seafood bar still gets some good “street cred” for yummy seafood, wings, burgers etc., along with 70’s music, a lively atmosphere and decent beer selection. When you are ready for a break from upscale restaurants and their pricing, check it out. It’s a small place with limited staffing so beware if there’s a crowd. It’s a great little super casual place to stop for lunch or dinner!

4935 E County Hwy 30A, Seagrove Beach, FL

Open Sat. 8-11, all other days 8-10

Price range: $11-30

Seagrove Village Market Café

Sitting close to the corner of Hwy 395 and 30A, they’ve been serving deep fried love since 1949.

This menu boasts some bold southern flare down to the collards and mashed potatoes. Create your own seafood platters or try to decide between the seafood tacos, shrimp and grits, gumbo, chicken and waffles, smoked beef brisket, ½ lb. burgers, crab cakes, salads and po-boys. Yes, this is the place for a fried oyster po-boy!

2976 S. Highway 395, Seagrove Beach, FL

Open: Mon. - Sat. Lunch: 10:30 am - 4 pm, Dinner begins at 4 pm, Sunday 10:30 am - 2:30 pm

Price range: $13-28

Phat Crab

While staying at “Livin’ The Dream”it’s so convenient to stroll over to the Carillon Marketplace (inside the neighborhood) and take a seat at “Phat Crab.” Whether dining on the patio or inside, you will notice this menu has some very unique and fresh preparations of some of your favorite local seafood and the menu changes often enough to keep it interesting. The bar is a welcomed feature fully stocked with beer, nice wines and thirst quenching cocktails and it’s all within walking distance for Carillon residents and guests. Enjoy specialties like… Drunken Mussels, Crab and Avocado Salad, Blackened Snapper, Fried Snapper with lobster cream sauce, delicious Shrimp Bowl or even steak and potatoes.

105 Carillon Market Street Ste 101, Panama City Beach, FL

Open 5 pm. - 10 pm Closed on Wednesdays

Price range: $10-28

Bayou Bill’s Crab House

This lively, family-friendly standby for seafood, including crab legs, oysters and blackened fish is famous for their Crab Feast and sits just outside the Carillon Neighborhood. The kids will enjoy kid friendly dishes and the live gators while the grown-ups enjoy a full bar. Take Out is available and very convenient while staying at “Livin’ The Dream”.

23100 Front Beach Rd., Panama City Beach, FL

Open 5 pm -10 pm Sunday - Saturday

Price range: $10-35

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