Some of the best restaurants in Fort Walton can be found just over the bridge near Fort Walton Beach on Okaloosa Island. With a variety of beachfront restaurants looking out onto the Gulf of Mexico, there’s no place quite like it to eat while you watch the sunset. We’ve compiled a list of our personal favorites from family-friendly restaurants to the best spots to get a bite to eat before heading out to party.
Quirky & Fun
There’s plenty of old-school charm and quirkiness in the Okaloosa Island restaurants. Here are two of our favorites.
Old Bay Steamer
If you’ve got a big appetite and you’re hunting for great seafood restaurants near Destin, check out Old Bay Steamer(opens in a new tab). This quirky spot is locally owned and operated and a great place for dinner or evening drinks while you enjoy live music. Don’t miss the legendary Old Lady by the bar, take a photo with her for your vacation photo album.
When you’re hungry, it’s time to try out the steamers. These metal platters feed 1 or 2 people and serve up perfectly cooked fish, crab, and lobster. There’s plenty of meat options from the grill if you don’t fancy fish, or if the steamer is too much, opt for scallops, seared tuna, or crab cakes. There’s something for everyone and a great atmosphere to keep you all entertained.
AJ’s Oyster Shanty
Standing in front of the charming, sprawling wooden fort that it is AJ’s Oyster Shanty(opens in a new tab), it’s hard to believe that this iconic spot started out as people shucking oysters from the back of a trailer in Destin Harbor. It has become such a local favorite that it now has four locations, each decorated in a way that reflects its surrounding neighborhood.
As you can guess, oysters are their specialty. Cooked in a variety of ways – raw, fried, or topped with garlic, crabmeat, or herbs and baked in the oven – if oysters are your thing, you shouldn’t miss a bite at this spot. If this salty shellfish is not your thing, there are plenty of other dishes to tempt you. Tuck into shrimps and grits, fresh shrimp po’boys, or one of the sharing platters. Sit down with a cold drink and watch the boats pass by in front of you as you relax to the music played by a live band in this iconic Destin Harbor hot spot.
Okaloosa Island is a popular destination for families so here are some of our family favorite hangouts.
Floyd’s Shrimp House
Kids will love this tuck-in and get your hands dirty way of eating. The all-you-can-eat fish and shrimp platters require a lot of hungry mouths and are a great way of getting everyone involved. Since it opened in 2003, Floyd’s Shrimp House(opens in a new tab) has become a local favorite for families due to its varied menu. Being on the boardwalk, it’s a great place to have lunch if you’re spending the day on the beach.
FuBar Pizza Bar
If you and your family are spending the day out on a pontoon boat, then FuBar Pizza Bar(opens in a new tab) is the ideal spot to dock your boat (they have their own boat slips) and sit down to a delicious lunch. Located on the waterfront of Choctawhatchee Bay (just across from Crab Island Watersports) you can watch the world go by and enjoy people watching. For kids, there are sports games to keep them entertained, think pool tables, dart boards, and corn holes. While your little ones are off playing, you can enjoy a delicious pizza pie, calzone, or pasta dish.
A vacation is a perfect time to treat yourself to a special meal. Whether that be a romantic meal for two or a special breakfast for your crew, here are our top two recommendations.
The Gulf on Okaloosa Island
If you are looking for a sophisticated meal in a stylish setting, check out The Gulf on Okaloosa Island(opens in a new tab). These refurbished shipping containers that have been combined with reclaimed and recycled building materials make for a unique setting on the waterfront. The casual elegance is topped off with natural features such as swaying palm trees and white sand – think chic beach club vibes.
Once you’ve secured a spot on the comfortable beach couches or a table on the lawn, it’s time to turn your focus to the food. The Gulf is all about local ingredients and seasonal menus. Enjoy freshly grilled shrimp and homemade crusty bread, or our personal favorite; blackened mahi tacos served with mango salsa, sweet chili aioli, and purple chips. The menu is condensed and the kitchen concentrate on offering a few excellent dishes rather than something to please everyone. After your meal, swing by the adjoining shop which sells a mix of clothing, accessories, gifts, and home decor – the perfect place to buy a souvenir to remind you of a dreamy vacation. If retail therapy isn’t what you’re after. Relax with a cocktail on the beachfront couches and watch the sun set over Choctawhatchee Bay.
The Fish House
The Island Hotel Resort, once known as The Ramada Inn, has been in business since 1966 and The Fish House(opens in a new tab) is one of its associated restaurants. Open for breakfast and dinner, it has a casual yet elegant vibe that attracts people in the search of good food! The great-value breakfast menu is an American buffet or a continental spread and it is sure to set you up for the day. The evening menu has a selection of gourmet sandwiches and burgers or seasonal chef specialty dishes. This is a great option for those looking for something more special than a burger on the beachfront but who also want to avoid a stuffy restaurant.
Get the Party Started
If you’re looking to let your hair down and enjoy a night of music and dancing, there are plenty of spots that serve food and host live bands. Check out our recommendations.
Rockin’ Tacos(opens in a new tab) is much more than your average taco joint. Its location right on the beachfront means you get unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico making it a great spot to catch the sunset. You can expect typical Mexican dishes made with the freshest ingredients and seafood arriving fresh daily. Prepare your taste buds for fried avocados, Baja fish tacos, Mexican burgers, homemade tortillas, and mega blackened shrimp burritos. The emphasis on the authenticity of flavor is key to this place’s success – something that was highlighted by features on the Travel Channel and in Forbes Magazine(opens in a new tab).
In the prime position on the Boardwalk, this venue is a great place for those looking to party. With a selection of around 75 tequilas and craft margaritas, you can start your night with a cocktail while you dance to the sounds of the live DJ. The happy hour runs from 9 till close every night and you are in a great location to carry on the party when the bar closes.
Al’s Beach Club
Another beachfront favorite, Al’s Beach Club(opens in a new tab) will satisfy your craving for a classic burger. With an emphasis on sustainable food sources, you’ll get a burger with a priceless sea view. As well as delicious food, you can try one of their frozen custard shakes or choose from the largest craft beer selection on Okaloosa Island. This venue has plenty in the way of entertainment options, with movie nights on the beach, fireworks, and live bands. All the ingredients for a great evening in one place!
That’s the lowdown on the best restaurants on Okaloosa Island. Whether you’re looking for fresh seafood or an American classic – there’s an option for everything here. Remember that if you’re spending the day on the beach or a pontoon boat rental, you don’t always need to bring a picnic. Booking a restaurant in advance takes off the pressure of having to prepare food and carry it around with you all day. What’s more, there’s nothing like tasting fish and seafood straight from the sea.