Where to Eat ~that’s the #1 question we get when we have guests looking for the best places to eat while at the beach. We have compiled a list below sorted by location. Most of the restaurant links have their menus online as well as any specials they may have. Check them out and let me know if you find something that’s not on our list, we always like to try new restaurants!
At Pier Park:
Pompano Joe’s – good seafood, etc with a caribbean flair. We like the Shrimp Po Boy, Blackened Mahi Mahi Sandwich, Tuna BLT and the Crabcake Sandwich. We also like their sweet potato fries.
Margaritaville – the volcano nachos is our favorite here, enough for a crowd. The cheeseburger in paradise is really good as well as the coconut shrimp. They have a good caesar salad and I love their gumbo. They usually have live music here also.
Backporch Seafood & Oyster House – always good but somewhat expensive, we like the shrimp and scallops combination plate and their mahi mahi, grouper, or crab cake sandwich.
Hook’d – this is a tiny little restaurant right on the pier. We like it because the food is good and it’s right on the beach, which is hard to find. There’s usually not as long of a wait, or no wait in the off season, which is always a plus!
Hofbrau Beer Garden – A very popular place and a change of pace. I haven’t personally eaten here but my husband says he had the best chicken sandwich he’s ever eaten here. This place is usually always busy which is a good sign. They usually have specials, especially in the off season.
Then there are the other places that you probably have close to home like Buffalo Wild Wings, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Red Brick Pizza, Olive Garden, Longhorn, etc but we like to eat somewhere that we can’t eat at home.
Within a few miles but directly on the beach:
Runaway Island – This is a little upscale compared to some of the other restaurants on the beach. They have a great selection of seafood dishes with a few selections for the non-seafood eaters. Beautiful location, very nice atmosphere.
Barefoot Beach – small place, we went once a few years back and it was good and reasonably priced. A nice walk along the beach to the east will get you there.
Sharky’s – usually has good food and about the same prices as everyone else. Another short walk to the east along the beach.
Schooners (known as the last local beach club) we used to go here a lot, the food was always good, the view is good and they fire a small cannon at sunset (a long tradition)
Spinnakers Paradise Grill – If you’re not into the party scene you definitely want to go early here. Most people don’t know they have a restaurant here but the food is great and reasonably priced. They used to have a combination basket, ask for it if it’s not on the menu. They also have a really good hamburger, etc. I always tell my guests to be very careful of the clubs here, especially if you have young daughters.
Some of our favorites that aren’t directly on the beach:
Mike’s Diner & Oyster Bar- This is a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Mike Thomas, Panama City Beach’s mayor, owns this little restaurant as well as the Thomas Drive Donuts a little further west. The diner serves delicious homestyle dishes as well as great seafood dishes. There are only a few places we eat raw oysters and this is one of them. And you’ll usually see Mike himself greeting customers and making sure everyone leaves full and happy!
Sandbar Seafood House & BBQ – a great selection of seafood and bbq. Can be ordered by the pound, basket, salad, or platter. Lots of great menu choices.
Eat My Pasty – all the locals are talking about this place. Their bison burger was voted one of the top 5 burgers in Panama City Beach. Better known for their British version of Fish and Chips. We will definitely be trying this place next trip to the beach!
Finns Island Style Grub – voted #6 of 412 top places to eat in Panama City Beach on TripAdvisors. This is a great little food truck located next door to Mr. Surf’s Surf Shop. Good choices and great food!
Saltwater Grill – The best part of this restaurant is the GINORMOUS saltwater aquarium. It’s absolutely beautiful with all kinds of tropical fish and beautiful corals. The menu consists of mostly seafood and steaks, with a few other selections. There’s also a piano bar with live music most nights.
Hunts Oyster Bar – in the St Andrews Area. Known for really good seafood at reasonable prices. A local favorite and one of our favorites for fresh oysters. If you go during peak times the wait can be very long.
Montego Bay – really good seafood platter, grouper sandwich, mahi mahi
Scampy’s – small place but good food with a great selection of seafood, steaks, chicken, etc.
Dusty’s – this place is a dive but really good food, nothing fancy and can be kinda loud at times. Really good oysters, scallops, fried green tomatoes, fried shrimp. We like to sit at the oyster bar and watch them shuck oysters or on the back porch that overlooks a small lagoon. We usually always see fish, turtles, ducks, and an occasional otter or raccoon. This is one of our favorites! Located just west of Calypso across from the beach. Parking is limited but it’s within walking distance of Calypso.
Firefly- this restaurant is in a little strip mall on the east end of the beach. It has a beautiful dining area and the food is awesome. We went for our anniversary one year, probably one of the best meals we’ve ever had. Very nice atmosphere, you will probably need to make reservations. The she crab soup is fabulous, they also have a sushi bar- really good sushi! Check our their sunset specials for an early dinner.
In the Grand Lagoon Area
Captain Anderson’s (on Grand Lagoon about 5 miles east of Calypso) one of the most expensive as well. This is probably the best known restaurant on Panama City Beach, the food is good but quite pricey. They are still casual, but a little more dressy casual.
Dockside – also located on Grand Lagoon. This place has a really great location for views of the lagoon/marina. It’s fairly new so we haven’t had the opportunity to try it yet but the menu looks awesome! If you check it out let me know what you think!
We usually buy fresh seafood and cook it in the condo at least once during our time at the beach. The closest place to buy fresh seafood is Buddy’s Seafood or Sandbar Seafood House & Deli, both on hwy 79 just a mile west of Calypso. You can either buy it raw or have them cook it for you.
There is a local beach channel (channel 7- I think) that advertises almost every restaurant on the beach and in St Andrews. Caution: it will make you hungry watching!