Livin’ Like a Local – Local Recommendations


Easy Vacation Services’ recommendations:


Local restaurants we recommend & where we eat:

  •  The Gulf – Okaloosa Island – New! Great outdoor dining, drinks & fun!  Right on the Bay.
  •  Sushi – Harbor Docks – Destin – best ever!  BE sure to sit at the Sushi Bar. They actually ship all their fish regionally…. yum!
  • Stewby’s – Seafood Shanty – Fort Walton Beach – Locals FAVORITE – not fancy- eating, not dining (order at the window, no alcohol served, cash) – it’s a HAVE to for lunch!
  • *Healthy Coast Meals – Individually packaged meals  – for delivery or pick up! They are gluten free, low sodium, all natural, and fully cooked by chefs!
  • Gulf Coast Seafood – Seafood Market!
  • Tommy Mattonie’s- Breakfast or quick sandwiches featuring Cajun seafood.
  • Clemeza’s  at Uptown– Fabulous authentic Italian! GREAT pizza (wood fire brick oven) & daily specials.
  • Soi Bistro – Hip Sushi. Fresh off the Gulf!
  • CowHead – brand new burger joint on the strip! Fabulous!
  • Tradewinds – reservation only. Limited availability because it is so good!
  • The Original Crab Shack – waterfront, locals place. Not fancy, but great deck!
  • Bon Appetit- Café and Bakery with French-American menu. Incredible desserts!
  • Our Favorite! Giovani’s – little more upscale and just over the bridge (under the bridge) in Fort Walton – EXCELLENT Italian food & wine!  Usually pretty busy and closes early in the winter/cooler months, so go before 8:00pm. Sometimes they have live music & they have a great deck!
  • Tail Fins in Destin on the Harbor Walk – 4 story restaurant and bar right on the water with FABULOUS view, service and good food! TVs, music and a seagull’s view 😉
  • Kiwis is the Tiki Bar at the Sheratons 4 points  (at the top of Okaloosa Island) and they have EXCELLENT bar food – made fresh. Its pool & Gulf-side. Nothing fancy, but good view and drinks. Go in your bathing suits.
  • The Wyndham (next door) also has a small Tiki Bar that is open in season. Manatee Grill – what you would expect at a “snack bar”.
  • Burrito de Sol – Fantastic Mexican right on the Strip!
  • Props Brewery – just over the bridge (in the Publix shopping center) – great craft beer, bar food, burgers and sometimes music.
  • SwizzleStick – locals bar INSIDE the Best Western. TINY, but all locals and live music. You can walk – by beach or sidewalk. No food, just drinks J They have a small Tiki Bar outside by the pool in season – again no food.
  • Fusion Bistro – Great Asian American Cuisine. VERY fresh and humble little restaurant J
  • World Famous AJs – dancing and partying all night! – In Destin.
  • THE NEW location AJs Shanty now open on Okaloosa Island!!!! Oysters, burgers, etc – it’s good! You passed it on your way in…
  • Brotula’s – Destin – Great upscale casual right on Destin Harbor – great drinks, food and view!
  • Rockin Tacos – The Boardwalk (at the top of the Island) – one of our favorites!  Really good Mexican food, but even BETTER view and drinks! We go here EVERY time we are on the Island.
  • Japan & China Taste- Delivers Sushi!! Open late
  • Ole Time Country Buffet & BBQ- Cheap lunch, large selection
  • Tijuana Flats- Great Tex-Mex

A few others worth mentioning:

Ali’s Bistro (Ft Walton), Boshamps (Destin) – awesome deck! Little more upscale, the Boathouse (for oysters), McGuires (Destin), Donut Hole (several locations), Taste (Ft Walton) – Tapas on the Strip, La Famiglia (Destin x2), Crab Island Cantina (Destin), *Anglers (on the Island) – overpriced, and just okay food, but on the pier (you can walk) and they have bottomless mimosas on Sundays J, Marina Café – Upscale Destin dining, LuLu’s in Destin features boat slips and ALLERGY MENU.

Downtown Fort Walton has recently opened SEVERAL new little restaurants and bars!

Places we do NOT recommend (either too touristy, overpriced, or subpar (in my opinion):

  • Old BaySteamer
  • Magnoila Room
  • Margaritaville
  • Harry T’s (though they have a good view and brunch)
  • Crap Trap
  • Floyds Shrimp House
  • Shrimp Basket
  • High Tide (great fresh oysters – dingy atomosphere)
  • SeaLand
  • Bay Café
  • Slick Mick’s


  • Destin Fishing Rodeo! – October 1- 31st – Every day there are fish weigh-ins, live music, arts, crafts and lots of locals! (This is the event we wait for ALL year!) –
  • Billy Bow Legs – Pirate Festival – Usually the first weekend in June –
  • Seafood Festival – usually the opening of the Fishing Rodeo – First weekend in October –
  • Fireworks every Wednesday night on Okaloosa Island Pier – Memorial Day – Labor Day!
  • And dozens of festivals, concerts, races, etc!


  • Liz’s Fashions – Woman’s Beach Attire & FABULOUS bathing suit selection!
  • Buccaneer Gift Shop
  • Artesano Boutique – Arts, Gifts & Jewelry all by local artists!
  • The Islander on The Boardwalk
  • Silver Sands Outlet Mall
  • Destin Commons
  • Fluid Surf Shop- Water Sports Gear!


UNIQUE SPECIAL EVENTS!  – There is ALWAYS something going on down here! Here some extra notable events, if you can ever make plans to attend, these are worth your time:


Stay Salty!

CareySue & Capt. Paul


Easy Vacation Services, LLC