Tucked away on Florida’s Emerald Coast, the town of Destin is home to cerulean waters that have earned it the moniker of “world’s luckiest fishing village.” The pristine waterfront has also attracted some of the restaurant industry’s top talent, who come here for the coastal town’s white-sand beaches, endless supply of fresh seafood, and let’s face it, a damn good view. Surrounded by beach towns with heavenly names like Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach, WaterColor and Seaside, the entire 30A corridor has been turned into one foodie haven by the sea, er, gulf.
It may be located in a nondescript strip mall, but Vin’tij Bistro is anything but ordinary, with a deliciously unexpected culinary lineup. Begin your meal with a bottle from the bistro’s impressive boutique. Then settle down in the dimly lit and eclectically designed dining area for dishes you won’t soon forget, like griddled crab cakes, masala grilled pork chops and more. With a focus on locally sourced ingredients that vary seasonally but can include tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, beets, watermelon radish and baby sweet potatoes, the menu is an ever-changing rotation of Southern classics with a twist.
This come-as-you-are rustic seafood house is a local favorite. While the tongue-in-cheek name may imply nothing is taken too seriously here, the food begs to differ. With classics like baked oysters and crab legs, to the restaurant’s own version of a NOLA “peace maker” po’ boy (1/2 fried shrimp, 1/2 roast beef, grilled ham and provolone), this relaxed seafood establishment is a must-visit during any family vacation on the Gulf Coast.
“V” is for …? Located inside Destin’s Hotel Viridian, V Seagrove will have you grasping for adjectives that do this seafood restaurant’s culinary (and visual) charms justice. With panoramic windows that offer amazing views of the Gulf of Mexico and a dining room that celebrates relaxed glamour with an open-show kitchen and touches of azure-colored tile work throughout the main dining area, this is the place to see and be seen. For those who prefer dining alfresco, V’s fountain-lined patio offers a whimsical, romantic retreat. Under chef David Cunningham, who cut his teeth behind the line at New Orleans’ legendary dining establishment, Commander's Palace, expect the menu to be locally sourced with a Big Easy flair. “V” may very well be for vibrant … vivacious … and certainly versatile.
Ashley Hardaway is a freelance travel and food writer based in Washington, D.C. and the author of the Other Places travel guide Ukraine: Discover the Real Ukraine. A Florida Emerald Coast native, she enjoys running outdoors, exploring markets and talking about what's for dinner while eating lunch.