I love going back home. My last trip was this past Thanksgiving and it wasn’t the most traditional of holiday experiences. I missed my cousin dearly though, and so I enjoyed spending time with my family. It was a lot of down time, this vacation. Pretty relaxing on the surface, we got to spread ourselves thin simply doing things we missed doing. Part of going home almost always includes hitting up our favorite local restaurants.
Like it would any local to “the fort,” these places bring back memories just snuggling into a familiar table or booth. In the fof chance you’re headed there for your next holiday break or family vacation, let me enlighten your experience a little. Below you will find my Top 5 places to eat at in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
1. Joe & Eddies
This place has been around forever. Established in 1954, Joe & Eddies used to be located in the armpit of Eglin and Highway 98. They tore the place down to make room for a condo that was never built. We waited for maybe two years because the rumor was Joe & Eddies was going to be the featured restaurant on the first floor. The building was never constructed, so they set up shop a few miles north on Eglin in the old Po’ Folks building. Though it’s now a bit out of the way, the food is still delicious and worth the drive.
Recommended: Mother Tom Omelete
If you’re looking for amazingly greasy hamburgers to make you feel satisfied and guilty all at the same time, Tops has totally got you covered. It’s a tiny drive-through building where you order at a modest little window and continue on your journey towards a happier day. On busy days the employees dance along the line outside taking orders on notepads and whisking it away to be finished by the time you make your way to the window. There are three more locations in Navarre, Pensacola, and Destin, Florida serving hamburgers, hot dogs, fires and tots… it can’t get more American than that.
Recommended: Cheeseburger with all the fixin’s.
3. Taco Town
If tacos and burritos are your thing, then visit Taco Town. “No music. Terrible view. Just good food at low prices!” Yes, that is their little side slogan. It’s so honest you have to check it out, amirite? They closed my most frequented location (I was so sad to find this out on my most recent trip home), but the original Racetrack Road location stands strong! We prefer Mondays where every taco is just 60 cents, but HUGE taco salads for $4 on Tuesdays is just as legit. With daily deals all throughout the week, there’s just no excuse not go try your hand at real Mexican deliciousness.
Recommended: The taco salads are seriously huge!
4. Neighborhood Cafe
Now this is a classy joint! The Neighborhood Cafe is mostly frequented by lovely seasoned citizens, but it’s probably one of the best places to go and get your grub on. A true hidden gem of the area, The Neighborhood Cafe is located in a small Publix plaza on Mary Esther Cutoff. Their omeletes are awesome! Although the menu might seem expensive at first glance, you won’t leave hungry. If you’re planning on going for breakfast, get in early… There’s almost always a wait list.
Recommended: Pigs in a Blanket
5. The Donut Hole
Now this restaurant is not actually in Fort Walton Beach. You’ll have to travel east for about 20 minutes [in good traffic], but once you sit down all cozy inside The Donut Hole you won’t regret it. Don’t be fooled by the name… This place has a full menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. I actually used to work there (for 4 years off and on) and I loved every minute of it! The Donut Hole is open 24-hours and has two locations (the most popular being right in the heart of Destin on Highway 98). Each location also has a wide variety of hand made, fresh baked goods for you to take home and indulge on later.
Recommended: Chicken Salad Sandwich. And anything with sausage gravy.
Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to visit The Donut Hole this time around due to funds and lack of adventures headed east. But we enjoyed our fair share of good food and took part in lots of local business support. Next visit we’ll start there and work our way around once more. If you visit the area, make sure you get a bite to eat and judge these great restaurants for yourself!