Just a few miles up the road from Destin on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Fort Walton beach largely avoids the mass of tourists that inundate it’s sister city. But this town, while a little lower key, totes some under the radar local restaurants too. If you’ve never been to a beach, you need to know that fresh seafood is a completely different ball game from what you have inland, so the more little dives you can find to feast on seafood, the better. Hightide Restaurant is just one of those, along the Miracle Strip it’s a great place you might miss on Okaloosa Island.
While it is mostly known as an oyster bar, there is a wide variety of seafood options in the menu, with some really great options, among them:
- Mahi Mahi: this is a great fish if you don’t really like that fishy taste. It’s got a light and flaky texture and a very mild flavor. The options are to get it grilled, fried or charbroiled. Get it charbroiled, it’s absolutely fantastic that way.
- Grouper: This is a thicker fish fillet and has a stronger taste. I prefer this one with some tartar sauce on it, but once again this is a Greta option charbroiled, where the flavor of the fish really comes out strongly.
- Crab cakes: Just fantastic. The cakes are loaded with crab and a very mild, citrusy mix. The crab meat is fresh, it tastes just the part, and are easily a must try for seafood lovers.
The food is served in meals with several options for sides, including the classic seafood sides, a creamy coleslaw as well as hush puppies and a few options for a starchy side. The rice was fantastic, it is topped with onions and green peppers to make it a little acidic, and a good counterpart to the light flavor the fish provide.
the interior of the restaurant is great, it’s a bar concept but it generally attracts a family and older crowd and the bar itself remained sparse. The service was good, the restaurant seems attentive in bringing food out in a timely manner and at least they seem to be down to Earth. In all it’s a pretty safe experience for good seafood on the coast, a laid back offering to the packed out bars and restaurants along the strip. I would call this spot worth a try.
- The charbroiled option for cooking the fish is the best to bring out their flavor. Grilled is pretty simple and fried of course takes a lot away in terms of flavor.
- The catch of the day changes regularly, but when I visited, the mahi mahi was a great option and it ended up being my favorite menu item.
- This spot avoids a lot of the tourist glut that inundates the Destin area down the road. I went in on a Monday night about 8 p.m. and was instantly seated, while the places down the street said it was a 1-2 hour wait.