Any visit to Panama City, Florida, is an opportunity to enjoy fresh seafood. In fact, for most, savoring the flavors of the Gulf is a highlight of the trip. And dining here offers guests a chance to experience a variety of seafood as well as a diversity of settings in which to enjoy it. Many of those spots include outdoor dining options, some with waterfront views and live music.
Despite its small-town feeling, this is the largest city along its stretch of the central Gulf Coast, located three hours east of Pensacola and two hours west of Tallahassee. Both Panama City’s history and setting are centered around the water, but menus here feature not only the bounty of those waters but also an amazing variety of other delights. From fresh-shucked oysters at an iconic local shack to fine dining with waterfront views, there’s an atmosphere, and a menu, for every taste. Many of these spots offer a regular schedule of live music, adding both atmosphere and entertainment to any meal.
The lighter side
The Press (310 Harrison Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32401; 850-215-6950) in historic downtown is a top spot for coffee with an inviting atmosphere for relaxation or “focus time.” The menu includes a variety of hot and cold drinks and sweet treats.
Amavida Coffee & Tea (2997 West 10th Street, Panama City, Florida 32401; 850-387-2047) is a regional importer and roaster of specialty organic and fair-trade coffees. Its St. Andrews location is a popular spot among both locals and visitors for beverages and light fare.
The St. Andrews Slice House (1127½ Beck Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32401; 850-541-9126) prides itself on its tried-and-true and innovative flavor combinations. The eatery offers specialty pizza, by the pie or the slice, in a casual fun atmosphere.
Iconic casual spots
Bayou Joe’s Marina & Grill (112 East 3rd Court, Panama City, Florida 32401; 850-763-6442) has 180-degree waterfront views and a rustic, Old Florida vibe. Serving Southern favorites and seafood specialties, this casual dockside favorite is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The iconic Hunt’s Oyster Bar (1150 Beck Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32401; 850-763-9645) is known for its fresh local seafood, including ice cold raw oysters, shucked behind the bar. Just around the corner, Finns Island Style Grub (2808 West 12th Street, Panama City, Florida 32401; 850-215-9273) is a favorite locals spot on the water. Here, tacos, quesadillas and island-style specialties are most popular. Finns is located in Little Village, a live entertainment and retail space where “feel good shopping” means supporting fair trade companies that have a positive impact.
Trendy and tasty
Thistle & Thorn (304 Harrison Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32401) offers creative cocktails and food in a retro art-deco lounge atmosphere. The changing menu includes brunch items, salads, charcuterie and more. It is adjoined by The Prominent Goat, a speakeasy tattoo parlor, located in the rear of the restaurant.
More innovative recipes are on the menu at Copper Tap Grille (1316 Beck Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32401; 850-740-3333), which is filled with made-to-order, healthy seafood and multicultural specialties.
Los Antojitos (1236 Beck Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32401; 850-784-6633) is a popular spot for Mexican specialties as well as for its happy hour and live entertainment. The menu incorporates local seafood favorites into their ethnic specialties.
Ferrucci Ristorante (301 Harrison Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32401; 850-913-9131) has an Italian menu that includes mouth-watering pasta, juicy chicken, tender veal, and features dishes from both northern and southern regions of Italy. Nearby, House of Henry (461 Harrison Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32401; 850-481-1602) serves up traditional Irish favorites along with a long list of beers and spirts, all in a friendly pub atmosphere.
Seafood and more
Harrison’s Kitchen & Bar (5 Harrison Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32401; 850-979-5550) is the newest addition to Panama City’s downtown, serving coastal and Southern dishes with beautiful views of the Panama City Marina and St. Andrews Bay.
The quaint Alice’s on Bayview (1000 Bayview Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32401; 850-640-4516) is known for seafood and as a favorite brunch spot. Its outdoor deck conjures the atmosphere of a secret garden. Also on Bayview is the popular Uncle Ernie’s Bayfront Grill (1151 Bayview Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32401; 850-763-8427). Along with its extensive menu is an incredible waterfront view with three levels of outdoor dining.
Captain’s Table Fish House Restaurant (1110 Beck Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32401; 850-919-9933) is a long-time St. Andrews staple that has come back strong after recent renovations. The extensive menu is filled with seafood selections including Fresh Catch and Chef Specials and baked oysters.
If you go
Oysters are a favorite menu item here, whether freshly shucked and raw, baked, broiled or fried. There seems to be no limit to the tasty preparation options for this succulent seafood delicacy. To take on the challenge of discovering the best option, diners can take on the full list of restaurants listed on Panama City’s Oyster Trail.
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