Coastal Cuisine Meets Southern Flavor in Gulf County, Florida

Locally owned restaurants serve up variety, flavor and a few tunes

Gulf County, Florida Dining | I-10 Exit Guide

Gulf County, Florida, is known for its beautiful beaches, pristine waters and a low-rise lifestyle that truly sets it apart. And here, just two hours southwest of Tallahassee and an hour east of Panama City Beach, the beaches aren’t all visitors crave. This is where coastal cuisine meets Southern flavor and it’s all served up by local chefs and restaurateurs who mix in their own special ingredients. Below is just a “taste” of the variety of dining options Gulf County has to offer.

New additions to Gulf County’s dining options include:

White Marlin (602 Monument Avenue, Port Saint Joe, Florida 32456; 850-308-0938) offers the perfect Florida atmosphere with stunning sunset views. The creative menu is the result of the owners’ vision of creating an extraordinary dining experience. Carefully composed dishes are made from produce sourced locally, to ensure they are as fresh as can be. The bar menu is a collection of handcrafted creations created with house infusions and boutique liquors.

Keeper’s Bistro (114 Sailors Cove Drive, Port Saint Joe, Florida 32456; 850-227-9872) brings love and passion to its menu, with all house-made specialties. From Shrimp Beignets and Snapper Bites to the Local Catch and Seafood Linguine, the choices are fresh and unique. There are classic oysters, locally raised, on the half shell, thoughtful and delicious scallop preparations and much more. The bistro also has a monthly cocktail class where patrons join in creating libations. 

Some favorite local restaurants offer a little something unexpected when it comes to Gulf County dining:

Sand Dollar Café (301-B Monument Avenue, Port Saint Joe, Florida 32456; 850-227-4865) offers a classic cafeteria setting, where patrons can choose a meat and two sides. The options include mouth-watering Southern favorites, made from scratch with a twist. Many gluten free and vegetarian options are included. The space is filled with family memorabilia and has been described as a stroll down memory lane. From the chef’s choice Omelet of the Day to a classic meatloaf to a new twist on Gulf seafood, the café loves serving families for breakfast and lunch and has indoor and outdoor seating.

At Sisters Bistro (236 Reid Avenue, Port St. Joe, Florida 32456; 850-229-7121) guests enjoy an intimate dining experience with a French flair. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, their unique tapas menu, delicious crepes and French-style preparations are outstanding. Sisters also has an extensive wine list to complement its dinner specials.

For those who want to enjoy the spoils of a Gulf County fishing trip, there are some wonderful local restaurants that will prepare it for a feast. 

Cat 5 Raw Bar & Grill (1937 State Road 30A, Port Saint Joe, Florida 32456; 850-227-2285) is a classic waterfront restaurant that serves up fried and steamed seafood specialties and also features a Southern Sunday lunch special of classic regional favorites.

Shipwreck Raw Bar (7008 W. Highway 98, St. Joe Beach, Florida 32456; 850-647-5050) is a long-time favorite spot for locals and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with an extensive menu and casual atmosphere.

The View on Old 98 (51 Good Morning Street, Port Saint Joe, Florida 32456; 850-247-0317) offers an upscale yet casual waterfront dining experience with bay views and an innovative menu that combines fusion, steak, local seafood and craft cocktails. 

For those who want to add tunes to their experience, here are some of the spots to hear live music any time of year. The Mill Mercantile and Social (105 Good Morning Street, Port St. Joe, Florida 32456, 850-899-9149), the Haughty Heron (117 Sailors Cove, Port St. Joe, Florida 32456; 850-229-3463) and Scallop RePUBlic (411 Cape San Blas Road, Port St. Joe, Florida 32456;

850-227-9009) are great options for listening to local music while enjoying fabulous Gulf County cuisine. 

The new Gulf County Fusion Trail offers a unique way to experience the area’s music scene while enjoying the variety of restaurants and other venues throughout the county. By signing up for the online passport, visitors can accrue points for a chance to win a vacation package. 

Where to stay

Gulf County has a wide array of lodging choices to fit any group’s needs. There are vacation rental homes of all sizes and inns and cottages, each with a character all its own. Camping, both primitive beach camping and full hook-up RV sites, is a popular way to enjoy this coastal area, as well.

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