Where there is great fishing, there are usually great seafood restaurants, and the Emerald Coast is no exception. Here you’ll find cuisine that is both inventive and delicious. From rustic oyster bars and open-air cafes to candlelit restaurants, all our local eateries offer the freshest, largest variety of seafood.
Here there isn’t one catch of the day – there are several. On any given day, you can have your choice of fleet-fresh sea trout, grouper, swordfish, red snapper, flounder, wahoo, scamp, triggerfish and cobia. And, of course, shrimp, oysters, crab and scallops are always readily available. Don’t even try to save room for dessert.
The Emerald Chef:
Meet Kevin Wynn
Head chef at The Black Pearl
You can get grouper anywhere but you can’t get grouper like we get here anywhere.
– Chef Kevin Wynn
What’s the difference between eating fresh fish from a restaurant in the Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast and eating fish somewhere else? We asked Executive Chef Kevin Wynn of The Black Pearl in Ft. Walton Beach his opinion. According to Kevin, for many, eating fish on the Emerald Coast is like tasting fish for the first time.Read the full interview on our blog
Gulf to Table Fish Flavor Profiles
Ordering the “catch of the day” can be overwhelming when there are so many. This little chart will help you know what to order.
A light and flaky fish with an extremely delicate, light-salmon flavor.
This fish has a mild, sweet flavor and nice, firm meat. There’s nothing like a large, moist flake of black drum on the end of your fork.
A delicate yet rich-flavored fish. You don’t need to get too fancy with bonito. It tastes great with light seasonings.
Sweet and rich in flavor, cobia has firm, white, steak-like flesh, perfectly suited to sashimi.
A lean, flaky fish with a mild, sweet flavor and delicate texture.
White and lean with very mild yet unique flavor; some say grouper tastes like a cross between bass and halibut.
The pearly white meat of the pompano is firm but finely flaked, with a sweet, mild flavor.
This lean, moist fish has a firm texture and a distinctive sweet, nutty flavor. Don’t leave the Emerald Coast without ordering the red snapper.
The sweetest of the grouper family, scamp produces white, flaky fillets and has a light to medium taste.
This juicy fish’s diet consists mostly of shellfish, so it tends to have a sweet, surprisingly light, shellfish flavor.
This fish has a deliciously light flavor and flaky texture.
Known as “the steak of the sea,” swordfish is rich and juicy with a slightly sweet taste.
While several species from this family are notoriously ill-tempered, the grey triggerfish’s white flesh and vaguely sweet flavor leaves diners in a great mood.
This beautiful fish is prized around the world for its full flavor and firm, lean meat. What’s more, it’s rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
This mild, sweet-flavored fish has a firm texture and large, circular flakes when cooked. Grilled wahoo has been compared to chicken or veal.
Many restaurants on the Emerald Coast participate in the FishTraxTM program. When you order fish for your entrée, it comes with a little fish story. Scan a QR code to discover who caught your fish, where it was caught and what time it was caught.
FishTraxTM is a great way to ensure that the fish you’re being served is fresh, safe and local. Some people call it traceability. We call it telling the story.– David Krebs, Ariel Seafoods
Fish, Food & Fun: Annual Events & Festivals
Every year, the Emerald Coast hosts several events for people who love seafood and/or fishing. Check out this list and find out more at on our upcoming events page.