Summer weather’s making me yearn for the beach… particularly, my visit to Panama City Beach, Fla. last October. I mean, hello… look at this view… I’m surprised we ever came home.
The kiddo and I drove down during his fall break for the annual Pirates of the High Seas Festival, and had a blast. Gorgeous accommodations, perfect weather and, of course, tons of tasty fresh Gulf Coast seafood.
Here’s a sampling of what we ate:
First stop after rolling into town was Finns Island Style Grub, former food truck-turned-stationary stop on Thomas Drive next to a surf shop (there’s a second location in town as well according to the web site). This was the perfect intro to PCB cuisine — fresh, casual, tasty… the kind of food you can enjoy with your kids at a picnic table on your way to or from the beach. We enjoy red snapper fish tacos on special that day, and my little guy pronounced them yummy. Kid-tested and soundly approved.
With a gorgeous backdrop of white sand, jade green water and spectacular sunsets, beachfront dinners are all but required here, and there are plenty of eateries ready and willing to accommodate. Menus focus on local seafood, of course, as well as standard beach fare like burgers, fries, pizza, basic salads and the like.
I figured Barefoot Hideaway Grill would be a good spot to order up my favorite Florida cocktail — a rum runner, and I was right. Think fruity, boozy Hawaiian Punch,strictly for grownups. A great accompaniment to the blackened Mahi Mahi I had for dinner. And bring your camera; the giant ceramic feet at the entrance and the oversized Adironack chair on the beach present some fun photo ops.
For breakfast, you can’t go wrong with the signature French toast at Andy’s Flour Power Café and Bakery. I also loved the pistachio muffin, (which kids will probably think is cool simply because it’s green).
And speaking of kids, the nightly sunset cannon blast at Schooners Last Local Beach Club is a must-do. Kicking myself for not getting a photo, but my son sucked down the garlic butter-drenched crab claws as quickly as he could get them into his mouth. (A major foodie mom win!) In an ironic twist, he then refused to even taste my crabcakes with tropical fruit salsa, even after I presented them as “crabby patties.” (What can I say, we’re Spongebob fans in my house…)
I was also sadly remiss in not getting a pic of Fatty’s Sandwich Shop, a divey rock-and-roll themed strip mall stop that serves up menus printed on old vinyl albums (sweet!) and a damn good muffuletta. P.S. they deliver. Good news if you’re staying at a hotel or condo in the immediate vicinity.
On our last night in town, we were walking toward Hook’d Pier Bar from the Pirate Festival activities at Pier Park for a final seafood supper when my kiddo spied the giant soft pretzels at the Hofbrau Beer Garden. There’s no passing that up. After all, man cannot live by fish alone. Between sharing one and a schnitzel bigger than my head (washed down with a nice big wheat beer for mom), we were happy stuffed. Arrrrrgh, matey.
Can’t wait to get back again.