I’ve visited the Florida Panhandle almost every year since 1989. This year, my wife and I vacationed at Panama City Beach.
We ended up in Panama City Beach this year due to a last minute trip decision. Fortunately, Andrea (wife) found a beautiful corner condo on Airbnb. Since we visited during spring break season, the city was very busy and so were restaurants. Many touristy spots were packed, so we decided to explore.
Whether you visit during spring break, the summer, or you decide to winter in PCB, you should definitely mark these spots on your to-eat list.
Food, Drinks, and Sweets in Panama City Beach
Saltwater Grill: This choice was the result of a long wait at a different restaurant with beach front views. We were really happy with our decision too! Saltwater Grill might not provide you with sunset views, but it was absolutely delicious. Andrea had grilled grouper imperial, and I had their redfish étouffée (paired with Woodford Reserve Bourbon). You can also check out what others think of Saltwater Grill by visiting their profile on Tripadvisor.
Guadalajara Mexican Grill: At some point, like the good American that you are, you will probably crave Mexican food. There are plenty of burrito shacks and taco stands around PCB, but you would be making a mistake by going to one of those spots over Guadalajara Mexican Grill.
We had high hopes for Guadalajara because it was suggested to us by locals, and we were not disappointed. First, you must get there for happy hour. Happy hour is from 5-7pm, and 4 house margaritas ended up costing us around $7 total after tax. Our total bill, after queso and 2 entrées, came in under $40. Looking back, I’m disappointed that we only went here once.
Pink Pelican Ice Cream Bar: If your sweet tooth kicks in, then the Pink Pelican Ice Cream Bar is a must during your visit. This ice cream shop in Panama City Beach was a pure surprise. We were expecting your basic chocolate, vanilla, and cookies & cream. However, we were pleasantly surprised by the 3-4 different types of cookie dough ice cream and about 20 other flavors that were anything but vanilla. After debating which ice cream with cookie dough to get, we both settled on the Pink Pelican Special.
Pineapple Willy’s: Yes, I’m suggesting Pineapple Willy’s, one of the most popular tourist spots at PCB. There’s nothing fancy about the food, and it’s not trying to be a 5 star restaurant. If the only thing you do when going to Pineapple Willy’s is go to the restaurant, then you’re missing out. Go ahead and grab yourself a 32oz sugar packed frozen drink, and follow the tunes. Across the host/hostess booth at Pineapple Willy’s is Willy’s Live, their music venue/bar. Andrea and I loved listening to the band, Latitude 29, before and after dinner.
Runaway Island: Towards the end of our trip, we realized that we hadn’t taken advantage of a dinner/sunset experience. As many of you know, finding a good restaurant with beach views can be tough. They’re usually packed, and the food is well… meh. We chose Runaway Island because of a few recommendations and again, we were pleasantly surprised. Again, their menu doesn’t appear fancy, but they do the simple things well. They also happen to have a fun drink menu that’s more Jimmy Buffet than a speakeasy bar. That’s not always a bad thing.
During our trip, we also hit up Great Southern Cafe in Seaside (still love their mojitos) and of course, The Donut Hole (new location towards east end of 30A).