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Where to Get the Best Steak in Destin, Florida
I used to travel to the Destin / Fort Walton Beach area of Florida 5-6 times a year and I would typically stay there for 2-3 weeks each visit. I love steak and wine and like to try all the places known for great steaks. I typically ask the locals for their favorite places and try those, plus I do Internet research and read reviews too. In this article I summarize my favorite places to get a great steak in this area. Also, I prefer strip steaks and I prefer to eat my steaks with a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
1. McGuire’s Irish Pub (Destin)
I know, you’re probably thinking an Irish Pub for a great steak?!? Think again! This place has the best steak in this area and, probably, the best steak of all places I’ve ever traveled! The steak I recommend is the Peppercorn Steak. This is a New York Strip loaded with cracked peppercorns. This steak is awesome. I typically get the steak medium rare with the iceberg wedge and creamed spinach. Both the iceberg wedge and creamed spinach are awesome too! The wine selection is not that great at this place, but the Liberty School Cab goes well with this steak and they serve it by the glass.
I typically travel alone, so I often sit at the bar. This bar is typically full of characters….if you sit at the bar, be prepared for strange people to tell you their life stories, for tourists to get completely wasted, etc. The bartenders are great though. Depending on the night, there is typically a guy playing the guitar and singing Irish songs. Also, before, with, or after your steak, try one of their great beers! Another cool thing I like about their steaks is that they are served with a grilled tomato, cut in half. This is a nice touch.
I like this place so much, that I’ll typically eat dinner here at least 50% of the time I’m in Destin.
2. Ruth Chris (Destin)
This place is a chain and is more expensive than McGuire's, but the steak is pretty decent here. This is not a pub though…at McGuire's you can go in with shorts and a T-shirt. At Ruth Chris, they have valet parking and expect you to dress decently. I think this place is a little pretentious and the prices indicate so, but I still like the steak, despite the sizzling butter they put on it!
Unless you want to walk a long distance, you have to valet park here. So, be prepared for this. As I mentioned earlier, I typically travel alone. Therefore, I sit at the bar. Ruth Chris has a much better wine selection than McGuire's, but be prepared to pay through the nose. At McGuire's I think I paid about $6 / glass for the Liberty School Cabernet. At Ruth Chris, I paid about $12-$15 / glass for a decent Cabernet.
I typically order the New York Strip here – medium rare, as usual. The New York Strip is always great and I usually get the Creamed Spinach for a side, which is great too.
The bar is pretty small here and I usually feel under-dressed, despite what I’m wearing…just part of the pretentious aura, I guess. No one ever seems to eat at the bar here, so it is very different then the noisy, crowded bar at McGuire’s. It seems at Ruth Chris, the only people that are at the bar are guys just off the golf course waiting for table or old, rich ladies that must be widowed, because they outlived their husbands.
3. Pandora’s Steak House (Fort Walton Beach)
The steak is about the only thing decent at this place. This place doesn’t come close to McGuire's or Ruth Chris in anything, other than the steak. To be honest, I’m not sure why I’m even putting this place on the list, other than I feel like I need a number 3.
Everyone in Fort Walton Beach swears by this place….they all say it’s much better than McGuire's and Ruth Chris. I disagree. This place is basically a redneck, steak outfit, in the middle of a bunch of strip clubs. When I went to this place, I felt like I was entering a strip club…”Pandora’s,” you have to admit sounds more like a strip club place than a steak place. Although, I do like strips (New York, of course). Anyway, I digress…I went here at the urgings of the locals. I found this place lame…they actually don’t even have a bar area where they serve steak. So, I had to sit at a table by myself. The ambiance was really weird here. I think they were playing 70s classic rock, yet trying to act like this was a high-end steak place. I mean, the waiters and waitresses were actually dressed up!
The side choices were very limited here. Basically, I was able to order a steak with a salad with Ranch Dressing and a baked potato. I know….no wedge or no creamed spinach! Also, the wine selection totally sucked here. They only had one Cab by the glass and I think it was just because of a special. I got the Cab on special, but it wasn’t great at all. The steak was okay, but not nearly as good as McGuire's or Ruth Chris.
This is simple…I will only visit McGuire's for steak in the future. If, for some reason, I’m more concerned about the wine selection (by the glass), I’ll hit Ruth Chris. I’ll never go to Pandora’s again, unless forced at gun point!